Science has shown consistently that humans equate scarcity with value.
A group of researchers ran a study to determine how scarcity influences value using two identical jars and 12 cookies. They placed ten cookies in one jar and just two in the other jar.
Surprisingly, the participants valued the cookies in the near-empty jar as more desirable, despite the jars containing the same cookies reinforcing one of the oldest marketers’ tricks.
Today, savvy marketers use limited time offers to drive urgency and scarcity; businesses use the fear of missing out (FOMO) to convert middle-of-the-funnel visitors into buyers.
In addition to converting shoppers to buyers, you can use limited time offers to clear old stocks or build interest in a new product.
Thankfully, the 10 compelling limited time offer examples here will help you get the results.
10 creative ways to use limited time offers to supercharge your conversions
After reviewing some high-converting eCommerce websites, we uncovered 10 ways top eCommerce brands are using limited time offers to drive store sales.
1. Using attention-grabbing popups to stop abandoning shoppers
Not every visitor is going to buy from your eCommerce store, notwithstanding how compelling the offer is.
A study found that close to 70% will add products to the cart and disappear without checking out. At 86 percent, mobile shoppers have a higher cart abandonment rate, which poses a huge problem considering that people are shopping on mobile more than ever.
Of course, this is incredibly frustrating, but you can cut into that number using attention-grabbing exit popups.
We love how SwissWatchExpo, an online retailer of pre-owned luxury watches, does it. So let’s see what we can learn from them.
The brand re-engages shoppers abandoning carts with an exit popup, offering them a huge discount plus free shipping.
The popup design and messaging are straightforward, focusing visitors on the offer effortlessly.
SwissWatchExpo’s countdown timer heightens urgency, making the offer fleeting. In addition, it uses a benefit-based CTA button to set clear expectations.
How to apply:
- Use a minimalist design and a nice contrast to make the popup less overwhelming
- Use a benefit-focused CTA to set clear expectations and enable sales on the fly
- Most of your visitors are likely shopping on mobile, so make the popup responsive for all, regardless of their screen sizes
- Use a countdown timer to create scarcity and a “now or never” moment with shoppers
- Avoid using generic popups for all products; personalize for relevancy
- Create popups like a human, not robots—use A/B tests to learn what your audience wants
- Use entrance animation to grab attention effortlessly
2. Use free shipping offers to improve your checkout rate
Consumers are becoming more sophisticated with their demands, with some expecting brands to offer them free shipping.
Though some brands often see this as a big ask, a study by Baymard Institute found such sacrifice can reduce cart abandonment by about 55%, providing savvy brands opportunities to improve their conversion numbers by more than half.
Furthermore, close to three-quarters of consumers will purchase a product faster if they don’t have to pay for a delivery, while almost a quarter will shop more to qualify for free shipping. Making the offer fleeting plays on consumers’ fear of missing out, enabling sales effortlessly, and giving you crazy checkout conversions.
Zappos, an American eCommerce fashion brand, does this so well. Let’s dive into their shiny little secrets.
The company delivers free and expedited shipping to customers, delivering more with less, in line with its core values.
Consequently, Zappos’s online store receives up to 21 million monthly visitors, who spend nearly 4 minutes on average navigating up to 5 pages per visit.
More than one-third of its visits are direct traffic, partly from delighted returning customers, while the other thirds are primarily organic, appealing to online searchers with its free shipping offerings.
Zappos’ free shipping offers are a huge draw for online shoppers. But the company makes the offer time-bound, leveraging consumers’ fear of missing out to drive its impressive engagement numbers.
It places the offer above the fold, making it accessible to all visitors, regardless of their session duration. Furthermore, the font color contrasts the website colors, also making it grab attention effortlessly.
How to apply:
Limited time free shipping offers can improve checkouts, boost average order value and drive customer retention.
Here’s a quick guide on applying it:
- Make the offer message benefit-focused, unambiguous, straightforward, and actionable.
- Visitors spend 54% of their viewing time above the fold, so place your free shipping above the fold, like Zappos did, to grab attention effortlessly.
- Tap into urgency by making the offer time-bound.
- Trigger a countdown timer when shoppers land on the page to heighten the urgency.
- A/B test the offer and the timer to learn what works for your audience.
3. Send limited sales email updates with psychological triggers
Email is the past, the present, and the future—and it’s not going anywhere yet.
It’s 40-times more effective than social media, and shoppers who receive email offers spend a staggering 138% more than those who don't. And most marketers believe it's the most effective revenue generation channel.
Of course, the current trends are inspiring. Luckily, you can tap into this magic to drive game-changing numbers by adding psychological triggers to the email and leveraging what consumers often hate the most—missing out on good deals.
We love how Brooklinen does this during its 5th anniversary.
The email offered shoppers a time-bound 20% discount on all purchases, using emotional triggers in a compelling email copy to create memories and excitement.
Brooklinen’s email message is concise but powerful, creating a sense of urgency in a few words. In addition, the brand used a single CTA to focus shoppers on the offer.
Its countdown timer reinforces the audience's FOMO, boosting their anticipation with each passing second.
Below the timer, it uses an emotionally charged copy and benefit-based CTA button to set out what they stand to lose.
How to apply:
- Use an intuitive and less colorful design to make the email less overwhelming.
- Set clear expectations of what the audience is getting from the offer and use psychological triggers to create emotional moments.
- Consumers are loss averse, so tell them what they stand to lose by missing the offer, rather than boring them with the offer benefits.
- Use benefit-focused and actionable CTA to enable conversion effortlessly. Multiple CTAs work best for offers with several conversion paths.
- Videos convert like crazy. Sadly, most email clients don’t support video embedding. But you can convert and use it as a GIF image in the email as a walk around.
4. Meet daily AOV targets with countdown timers
Increasing average order value (AOV) helps eCommerce founders scale business revenue with minimal resources, making it one of their biggest challenges.
All this entails is improving the amount shoppers spend per purchase.
Of course, it’s not as simple as it sounds; however, it’s also not as difficult as people often make it seem. It’s evident in the numbers—research says it’s five times easier to sell to existing customers than acquiring new ones.
Thankfully, our recent article demystified this—providing baby steps to improving AOV with non-intrusive upsells.
Wondering how to put your upsells on steroids to meet daily AOV targets? It’s simple—use a countdown timer.
Best Buy does this so well—it receives up to 140 million monthly visits, and close to 45% of the visits were direct, likely from returning shoppers.
The brand doesn’t overtly rely on upsells to improve its daily AOV. It offers shoppers one-day exclusive deals plus free next-day delivery. With new incredible deals daily, it offers them limited quantities to create exclusivity.
The countdown timer puts the shoppers on the spot, heightening their FOMO with each countdown and reminding them what they stand to lose without being pushy.
Best Buy’s clutter-free “Deal of the Day” page is less distracting, enabling it to gain shoppers’ attention effortlessly. Furthermore, the company offers shoppers a price match guarantee to make the deals more compelling.
How to apply:
Action these tips to get shoppers to spend more per session:
- Incentivize upsells at checkout with free shipping or discount and make the offer time-bound.
- Create a Deal of the Day page, offering shoppers incredible one-day exclusive deals, as Best Buy does, and promote the page to shoppers.
- Focus buyers on the deal with a less overwhelming page design.
- Price intelligently—use a time-sensitive product bundle to get shoppers to spend more.
- Use a countdown timer to trigger shoppers’ FOMO.
5. Boost loyalty with limited period email deals
Consumers that trust your brand are more likely to make more significant commitments. So rewarding their loyalty with exclusive limited-period email deals can make them spend more.
And you could make it more potent by making the benefits transient, and ColourPop does this so well with its animated campaign.
The brand sells high-quality and cruelty-free cosmetics at affordable prices.
Its loyalty program leverages existing relationships to boost sales and customer loyalty. It offers loyal customers VIP deals, allowing them a 20% discount on selected luxury beauty products.
But there’s a catch, it allows them only six hours to take the deal or completely miss out, a nice trick to trigger their FOMO to make them vulnerable to reactive purchases.
How to apply:
Brands that do loyalty well grow revenue over two times faster than their industry peers. These tips could get yousimilar results:
- Personalize the offer to make it relatable—the era of one-size-fits-all email marketing is long gone; consumers expect brands to offer them a personalized experience.
- No two customers are the same, so segment your list for hyper-personalization.
- Use the psychology of loss aversion to your advantage—tell shoppers what they stand to lose rather than what they’ll gain.
- Customers buy more when they feel appreciated. Use a compelling email copy to inform them the offer is to reward their loyalty.
- Trigger their FOMO with a countdown timer.
6. Land year-round sales with seasonal period offers
Seasonal periods like Christmas, Cyber Mondays, and others provide opportunities to drive sales with limited time offers.
U.S. total holiday retail sales reached $789 billion in 2020, growing by 8.3% despite the pandemic, with eCommerce accounting for $209 billion of those sales.
Most retailers generate 20% to 30% of their annual sales during the holidays, according to reports from the National Retail Federation. This makes holiday marketing an effective channel to grow revenue and expand the customer base.
Seasonal periods already drive a sense of urgency, so you don’t even have to do more to trigger FOMO. Promoting the offer on a holiday-theme page and incentivizing purchase with free shipping could be all you need to tap into its magic.
A simple campaign might look like this.
Faherty Brand, a clothing eCommerce brand, promotes its winter sales on a clean and less-distracting winter-themed page, offering shoppers up to 50% discounts plus free shipping on orders above $95, a nice trick to increase AOV.
Faherty’s intelligent pricing lets shoppers see how much they’ll save taking the offer.
The brand’s straightforward page design makes the offers stand out, and it would have killed it totally with a countdown timer.
How to apply:
Here’s how to make your seasonal marketing more potent:
- Make the offer time-limited and use a countdown timer to put shoppers on the spot.
- Keep the page simple and reinforce it with your brand identity.
- Offer only limited quantities to create exclusivity.
- Use the decoy effect to your advantage. Get shoppers to spend more effortlessly with product bundles.
- Provides a FAQs section or live chat to enable shoppers to get help on the fly.
7. Promote products and categories With limited offer banners
Product categorization makes it effortless for online shoppers to discover products.
It streamlines product searches, enabling shoppers to browse products painlessly, compare prices on the fly, make a choice on the spot, and navigate quickly to the product page for checkout.
You could boost sales by promoting popular categories and products with limited offer banners.
Several brands like Amazon, Aliexpress, and LuckyVitamins do it so well.
Here’s how Bed Baths & Beyond does this.
Bed Bath & Beyond channels a lot of traffic to popular categories with attention-grabbing limited-offer banners, offering shoppers huge discounts to incentivize purchases.
Its benefit-focused copy makes the offer compelling. In addition, the brand uses a combination of limited quantities and limited-period to create scarcity and urgency.
How to apply:
Promoting categories and products with banners is a no-brainer. Action these tips for enjoying impressive numbers:
- First, follow the guide here to make your category page high-converting.
- Use benefit-focused products or categories titles to make the offer compelling.
- Create urgency and scarcity by offering time-bound limited inventory.
- Incentivize purchases with discounts or free shipping.
- Use a homepage feature banner to drive shoppers to the categories.
8. Experiment with your pricing using flash sales
Flash sales offer enormous discounts on limited stock selections for a short time.
It’s effective for enabling impulse buy. Most eCommerce brands often utilize the strategy to clear excess inventory, boost customer loyalty, attract new customers and drive short-term revenue.
Pricing is often at the center of most purchasing decisions. About 65% of shoppers check for price comparison while in a brick-and-mortar store, influencing 51% of purchasing decisions.
But flash sales could help you establish the price level your customers will love. However, over pushing it could make them develop flash sales fatigue.
Here’s how to set up a straightforward flash sale campaign.
JackRabbit makes flash sales look effortless. It runs week-long campaigns with a bold but straightforward landing page design that grabs attention on the spot and enables consumers to shop in any category without fiddling with the navigation menu.
JackRabbit makes the page stand out with a red theme, likely to create urgency and excitement.
Psychologists found that the red color creates urgency, encourages appetite, and gets people to act. It gives a 40% discount on selected products to make the offers irresistible, plus free shipping for orders above $75 to enable sales and grow the AOV.
JackRabbit makes product filtering and sorting seamless, enabling shoppers to match their intent with few mouse clicks.
How to apply:
Flash sales can boost return purchases by 385% on average. Follow these steps to make it work for you.
- Create a red-themed landing page for your flash sales campaigns to create appeal.
- Don’t overflog your flash sales campaigns—absence makes the heart grow fonder.
- Use product filtering and sorting to make product discovery seamless.
- Make your offers grab attention by placing them above the fold.
- Make it straightforward for people to shop in any category without navigating away from the offer page.
- Offer limited inventory and embed an indicator that shows the number of purchases.
- Keep the campaign window too narrow; anything above 72 hours is going wide.
- Kill it totally with a countdown timer.
- Promote flash sales campaigns to customers with email—research shows 67% of businesses have seen results.
9. Sell slow-moving products with clearance sale offers
The beginning of the year and post-holidays often offer most retail stores a slow start, perhaps due to bill hangovers. But for most savvy eCommerce brands, they provide ample opportunity to drive sales from penny-pinching consumers.
Clearance sales are potent if done sparingly, preferably during post-holidays, and can help brands clear slow-moving products off the shelves.
Its year-round nature makes shoppers anticipate them, creating a FOMO that pits them against each other in a frenzy competition to avoid missing out.
We love how Loft does it. Let’s see what we can learn from them.
Loft’s one-day clearance sales offer shoppers a 40% discount on selected products. And shoppers can get in with as little as $12.99. Also, the brand promotes the offer with a beautiful sidebar, making it grab attention on the fly.
Loft uses the scarcity principle to its advantage. It offers shoppers limited stock and uses an intuitive indicator to show the number of available inventory to create a “now or never” moment.
Furthermore, it leverages customer rating to reinforce shoppers' trust, to make deciding easier.
How to apply:
Clearance sales are quite a business, of course, if done right. These tips help you set it up correctly:
- Run your clearance sales campaigns infrequently to retain its appeal; it’s often the most effective post-holiday sales.
- Promote the campaign ahead of time, keep the shopping window too narrow and offer shoppers huge discounts to create a shopping frenzy.
- Use color psychology to make the campaign’s landing page exciting. For example, darker colors are often overwhelming and energy-sapping. So, only use them intelligently on the landing page.
- Add customer ratings to help shoppers make quicker decisions.
- Use a countdown timer and stock indicator to trigger shoppers’ FOMO.
10. Convert window shoppers with limited period offer
A staggering 92% of eCommerce shoppers don’t buy on first visits.
They could be window shopping, comparing prices, discovering products, or doing other stuff without current intent to buy. However, it could be a rewarding experience both for the brand and the window shopper.
According to Lan Xia, a professor of marketing, window shopping could lead to serendipity (impulse buy). In her words, “One thing leads to another and you (shoppers) end up with something you (they) hadn’t thought of buying in the first place.”
Offering window shoppers compelling limited period deals could drive first-time purchases, preventing them from slipping away.
Let’s examine how to set this up, studying a brand that does it well.
thredUP offers a considerable discount, up to 50%, to incentivize first order purchases.
However, the brand understands most visitors will not convert at first visits, regardless of the offer. So, rather than go for a straight kill, it asks first-time shoppers to enter their emails to the discount code emailed to them.
Emailing the discount code helps thredUP grow its email list and lets them nurture non-converters into customers in the future.
It's not everyday shoppers get a 50% discount, so thredUP makes the offer time-sensitive to drive immediate action.
How to apply:
Follow these tips to convert window shoppers effortlessly.
- Use a time-limited popup offer on the homepage to offer a considerable discount to first-time visitors. Trigger the popup after 60 seconds or during exit to make it less intrusive.
- Use a countdown timer on the popup to trigger shoppers’ FOMO.
- Like thredUP, don’t go for a straight kill; request shoppers to submit their email to receive the discount code.
- Retarget non-converters to drive sales—a study shows that retargeted visitors are 43% more likely to buy.
5 Tips to Craft Limited Offer Campaigns That Convert
Creating a high-converting limited period offer goes beyond dragging and dropping elements onto the offer page and slapping a countdown timer to it; several things go into making one.
Action these 5 tips to create a compelling campaign.
1. Keep it simple and direct
You only have less than 12 seconds—the average human attention span—to make your impression. So keep the messaging to the point. Avoid unnecessary details, hit shoppers with value on the fly.
Use a clean design to eliminate distractions to focus them on the offer.
2. Use loss aversion as a winning strategy
Benefit-focused marketing aligns product value to shoppers’ pain points, but it’s not often enough to drive immediate traction.
It makes the offer compelling, but loss aversion makes it irresistible. Research found that humans would avoid losses than acquire equivalent gains—use this psychology as a winning strategy.
3. Emphasize the urgency
Urgency is the heart and soul of limited time offer marketing.
Play hard to get with the scarcity principle to trigger FOMO to drive impulse buys. Shoppers often hate to miss out on good deals, and like the numbers said, 60% will make reactive purchases 24 hours after experiencing FOMO.
Use a countdown timer to go for the kill; make it central to your FOMO marketing.
4. Avoid overusing it
A limited period offer is more potent when used sparingly. Groupon fell victim to this.
The company launched in 2008 and took the internet by storm with its daily deals, growing its monthly revenue from $11 million in 2010 to $89 million a year later. But it lost 84% of its stock value four years later.
Groupon’s endless daily deals made its customers develop discount fatigue.
A/B test them to remove the guesswork
It’s time you took action on these ten limited time offer marketing examples. They will help you level up with the eCommerce brands you admire their conversion numbers. You can start with optimizing mobile, if more of your shoppers are using that channel. Research your competitors to understand what they’re doing and get ahead of them.
Customers are often unpredictable with their expectations. But A/B testing your limited time offers helps you remove the guesswork, enabling you to run a campaign they’ll love, provide them with positive shopping experiences and align the offers to their expectations.
Buyers, markets, and regulations are always changing—A/B test your offers to deliver shopping experiences your audience will love. Using our free website conversion audit tool, you can uncover and fix frictions in your sales process.