Win and Keep Online Customers with Special Offers
Giving discounts, offers and limited-time deals are excellent marketing tools that let you win new customers, keep the existing ones loyal and improve conversions. In today’s competitive world of online retail, it pays to have a solid strategy that includes discounts and deals.
A word of caution, though. These deals need to be carefully thought-out. You need to look at how it can potentially cut on your margins. Special offers can also have a negative effect if you are not careful. Your offers may also end up “cannibalizing” potential sales. Your online customers may put their purchases on hold, as they await the latest offer. They may also just purchase to meet minimum requirements and then put off other purchases to make the most of the offer. Your special offers must also complement your brand. Giving out regular discounts may even be detrimental to your brand, giving the perception that it is not a popular brand or have poor-quality products.
That said, there are still ways and means for you to use online deals while avoiding potential negative effects. What is important is to first set out the specific goals of the offer. This enables you to choose the right offer, the duration and the terms and conditions of the offer.
Here are some of the special deals you can offer:
- Welcome voucher. Get a new customer firmly into your fold by offering them a specified amount off their first purchase. Offer this deal when a customer signs up for your newsletter or marketing offer. Once the potential customer signs up, you can send the voucher code upon checkout.
- Free shipping. “Purchase the minimum amount and your shipping is on us!” Some e-commerce shops may even provide this as a regular deal. Potential customers have the tendency to get sticker-shock when they see the shipping costs included in the bill, especially if they are buying a lot of items. The result is that they abandon their shipping carts. Of course, you need to have a minimum purchase amount for them to qualify for free shipping. Since you will be covering the shipping costs, be sure that you have already determined that you are able to absorb the shipping cost given a particular minimum purchase amount. As a general rule, you should offer free shipping to customers whose purchase amount exceeds 10 to 20% of the online store’s average order value.
- Account credit. This provides a specified amount taken off the total purchase price if the customer meets the minimum purchase requirement. This is quite effective since although you did not give out any amount before they use the voucher, customers will feel as if they are missing out and actually losing some money by not using the credit. You can use this for seasonal events, such as Christmas or Valentines. Remember to set exceptions for items that already have a very small margin. This exception should be clearly stated on the product page.
- Percentage discount. This works similar to the account credit offer but gives a percentage discount based on the purchase amount. You can offer this discount on specific products that you want to get clean from your inventory.
- Regularly featured product offer. You can feature a particular brand that is on sale. Each month or sales period, you can publish the related promo codes (which are used upon checkout).
- Abandon cart offer. Woo customers who have failed to complete the purchase. With this, you keep track of individuals who have placed items in their shopping carts but who did not see the purchase through until check out. Your e-commerce platform should be able to e-mail the potential customers, offering them a percentage discount on their next purchase if they complete the checkout within a limited time.
- Social media engagement offer. Let your customers do your advertising for you. Offer them a discount for following, liking and sharing your social media accounts and posts. This enables you to have a greater reach, as you are able to leverage off the customer’s social media account and get through to their social media friends.
- Bring a friend offer. Have a referral program for purchases that result from a customer’s referral. With this, you enable customers to send e-mails to their contacts. The e-mail contains the offer, with a specific code. Once a person completes a purchase using the code, the referring customer can receive credit that he can use for his purchase. You can also give similar credit to the person who responded to the referral.
- Social media offer. Build a following on your social media accounts by occasionally offering free gifts or discounts for people who just recently liked or followed you.
When presenting the special deal or offer, be sure that the terms and conditions are clearly set out. This can include the minimum purchase amount, products that are included or not included in the offer, as well as the time frame of the deadline. Be sure to set a cap on any discounts, so that the discount does not exceed a maximum threshold.
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