Ecommerce Growth

31 Insanely Powerful Online Promotion Ideas For eCommerce

Online sales promotions are often overused by retailers. Here are 31 fresh promotional marketing ideas!

31 Insanely Powerful Online Promotion Ideas For eCommerce

As eCommerce business owners, you don't need any introduction to online sales promotions.

Statistics show that:

  • 2/3rds of customers end up purchasing even if they weren’t planning to if they get an online promotion code.
  • 4 out of 5 (80%) customers end up making a first-time purchase after receiving online promotions.
  • About 93% of shoppers use a coupon or discount code throughout the year 

However, when it comes to sales promotion campaigns, shoddy tactics bust conversions.

The problem is that the majority of out of the box marketing ideas have already been used to their full potential.

31 sales promotion examples for your eCommerce store

‍How to prepare for an eCommerce promotions

31 eCommerce Promotion Ideas with a FRESH Twist

Bookmark this blog to discuss at your next sales promotions meeting.

1. Plan a two-week campaigns

Back-to-school sales in July and August allow parents to get their children ready for the new school year in September, for example.

The same is true for Black Friday and the holiday shopping season that follows, as well as any other time of year when there is a higher volume of purchases made by consumers.

A two-week campaign with 5-7 emails calling out the various aspects of the promotion as well as showing promotional ads can be beneficial. 

You might like: 25 Creative Examples of Black Friday Deals

2. Offer an exclusive insider’s view

Most customers like limited-time sales promotions. 

Customers who receive unique incentives simply for being a member of a specific club will feel like they've earned their prize— and will appreciate a brand's generosity even more. - Luke Perry, CRO expert, Convertcart    

Providing unique discounts and promotions encourages new signups as well.

Take a look at Monki's sales promotion email:

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

Monki values a shopper's decision to subscribe to their newsletter and thanks them by giving first access to their mid-season discount.

3. Run selective flash sales

Flash sale is a promotional campaign that emphasizes a sense of urgency.

Swanson Vitamins, for example, offers flash promotions with discounts of up to 50% off for only 24 hours.

It's an excellent sale promotion idea for attracting both new and returning clients.

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

Flash sales can be a good idea when you do them periodically. 

Once every 5 to 6 weeks, and more frequently during peak shopping season, is a good idea. 

Just make sure not to do them often because then shoppers may lose the sense of urgency and interest. 

You must also read: eCommerce Shopping Cart Optimization: 50 Brilliant Strategies

4. Test 2 cart recovery methods at a time

The average percentage of cart abandonment in eCommerce is around 79.17%. This means, when shoppers add an item to their shopping cart, they have an almost 80% chance of not purchasing it. - Luke Perry, CRO expert, Convertcart    

See how Primally Pure email encourages customers to return and finish their purchase by reminding them that the items in their cart are popular and selling fast.

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

A few other idea for sales promotions:

Show retargeting promotional ads labeled with social proof.

Display a pop-up just as they’re abandoning the cart.

Add a “limited time” nudge in the cart and mini cart pages.

5. Rotate mystery offers

While advent calendars are one approach to elicit interest in your promotional marketing campaigns, mystery offers keep your prospects interested all year.

You may make your sales campaigns more attention-grabbing by disguising the incentive, which builds on the tension of a surprise offer.

You can create sitewide mystery offers as well as apply offers on specific products shoppers have browsed.

Consider how American Eagle employs mystery offers in their email marketing—and this one is email-only:

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

6. Run limited time offers

Limiting incentive with time, whether it's a discount code or free shipping, helps you convert more prospects when you create a targeted pitch.

So instead of saying “This 70% off sale will last for <insert countdown timer>”, say “Get 70% off your favorite items for <insert countdown timer>”

Pura Vida offers an excellent online promotions example—they make it clear that the offer is on the next purchase making it more personalized:

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

7. Appeal to outliers

Define the promotional campaign's objectives depending on time of the year, type of audience etc.

However, this does not mean you must exclude people who do not belong to the intended audience.

Consider offering recurring discounts to college students, military personnel, and/or the elderly.

Alternatively, you can target clients depending on how they’ve engaged with your individual offers.

There are discounts available for everyone at Best Buy, even if their "Back to School" promotion is geared toward high school and college students.

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

8. Use the Tier method

Conditions such as tiers, scaling, and halts must be set before you set out on the promotional marketing journey.

In tiered discounts, the value of a discount adjusts as the customer's spending increases. In the following illustration, Pottery Barn employs a multi-tiered strategy:

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

You can apply an offer on numerous items (separately or simultaneously) or only to a single purchase per consumer based on the rules you set.

9. Show it prominently on the homepage

Sales promotions should be displayed in three crucial places:

  • Your eCommerce website
  • Your social media profiles
  • Your email content

On your store’s website, prioritize the homepage first fold for this.

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

There are numerous ways to use social media to market your promotional marketing offer:

- Creating discount coupons to followers

- Running promotional ads to target similar audiences

- Teaming up with influencers to publicize a discount campaign

Email also allows you to send highly relevant offers that add value to each individual customer.

10. Offer more than just ‘subscription’ discounts  

While subscription-based models do increase revenue, it can be tough to recommend options and other products.

Customers are also concerned that if they don’t want the products anymore, it can get complicated to cancel the subscription.

But there are workarounds.

Take, for example, The Patch Brand’s approach to encouraging subscriptions with clear selling points.

The brand offers free shipping and easy to pause, skip or cancel a subscription based on the customer’s needs.

They also let shoppers choose from different bundles to expose them to different products.

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

11. Use freebies

The "free gift with purchase" promotional marketing technique is straightforward. 

So, what constitutes a successful sales promotional gift?

It should appeal to the customer while remaining cost-effective for the company.

Take a look at the ActiveSkin sales promotion example below.

This promotional deal was shared with visitors via a website popup. 

As pop-ups can be displayed on almost any page, the popup worked well to maximize the deal's reach.

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

12. Offer cashback

Many customers think that spending money is less painful when you get something in return. It's almost as if you pay less upfront and then have more money to spend on more appealing products later on. - Mike Hale, UX specialist, Convertcart

Nike’s site offers a sales promotions example of this kind:

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

Plus, rewarding customers in this way frequently leads to increased loyalty and revenue. This is a win-win situation for both you and your consumers. 

13. Reward customers

Customers can be highly motivated by rewards and loyalty programs, even if they don't always pay off right away.

For a limited time, you could get double or triple loyalty points, which can be a terrific incentive to buy.

Online stores could even give shoppers a "lump sum" of points for signing up to a loyalty program, incentivising them to buy more immediately. 

This way, customers will keep returning for the benefits and stores can make enough money to cover the costs after offering discounts.

See how you can make your loyalty program offer tiered benefits for a tiered pricing:

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

Check out: 14 eCommerce Loyalty Programs Backed By Science (Examples)

14. Club your bestsellers with slower-moving products

It's tempting to obtain more value for less money, so consider bundling your most popular products with relatively less popular ones.

Bundles and branded gifts can both generate a lot of new interest in your company.

Alternatively, offer a one-time bundle promotional offer where over a certain spend value, the shopper gets the bundle for free. 

For orders exceeding €100, Respire offers Breathe Travel Kit, a product bundle consisting of two products.

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

15. Use *free shipping* as incentive  

With cross-sell and promotional ads campaigns, online stores can increase the AOV of those who’re in the decision stage of the conversion funnel.

In a promotional campaign, the best incentive has proven to be free shipping. A free shipping feature nudges shoppers to add more to the cart increasing overall AOV rates. - Luke Perry, CRO expert, Convertcart

Tarte's cross-sell campaigns skillfully incorporate free shipping. Take a look at this sales promotions email with the subject "1 + 1 = Free shipping":

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

16. Hype up brand-specific holidays 

Holidays are the best time to market products as the best gift options without being pushy.

While it's challenging to capture a shopper's attention during the holidays like Christmas or Black Friday, not all holidays are as hectic.

Pick holidays that are closely aligned with the values of your brand and the products you sell. 

Here's how BarkBox takes advantage of National Dog Day to provide a seasonal discount as it appeals to the company's target audience.

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

17. Run clearance discounts

For eCommerce stores, clearances are a great promotion marketing campaign to clear inventory for a new product line.

They also make for great promotional ads. 

Customers equate clearance discounts with discounted prices, thus they're effective. Furthermore, because the number of available things is restricted, it features scarcity and urgency. - Mike Hale, UX specialist, Convertcart

In their emails, American Eagle uses this sales marketing approach. Take a look at this email with the subject line "Up to 70% off clearance:”

american eagle clearance email marketing example

18. Use social proof

Lack of trust is a common factor for abandoning a cart.

Customers may be apprehensive about the quality of your items or whether you are worth their money if your company is new.

Use social proof such as reviews, UGC and founder’s notes across your website and even in your emails  to convince skeptical shoppers.

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

Check out: eCommerce social proof: What, why & how (with proven examples)

19. Collab with other brands

Social media contests are a great way to engage shoppers and keep eCommerce sales promotions fresh.

Contests also enable stores to create a large amount of user-generated content.  

Encourage consumers to @tag a friend for a chance to win, increasing the reach of your business.

Equator Coffees created a giveaway with four other brands on Instagram to increase their following and overall engagement.

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

20. Introduce one-day birthday offers

Birthday emails are extremely successful, with 481% greater transaction rates and 342% higher income per message.

For example, Spalding offers a birthday sale with a 20% discount on any item. 

Want to make it more compelling? State that it only applies for that day!

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

21. Run exit-intent pop-ups

When it comes to an eCommerce sales promotion, the terms and conditions help explain everything about the deal.

Ordinarily, a promotion's conditions specify:

  • Who qualifies for the discount
  • Exactly what the client must do in order to take advantage of the deal
  • How long the promotion will run

Spelling out these terms and conditions in your exit-intent pop-up will help steer some customers back to the sale.

Take a look at how GAP achieves this.

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

22. Show great deals

It's more likely that sales promotional programs will overlap.

So give them a specific set of things to do to arrive at the best price. 

For example, in your marketing emails or promotional ads, specify whether a customer can utilize the offer in conjunction with another one you're currently offering.

If there are multiple offers that apply to a certain purchase, choose which one will be used.

Whatever the situation, the most valuable offer should always be the one that helps meet business objectives while also providing the most value to a customer.

Do give this a read: 5 Things That Harm eCommerce Domain Reputation (+ 10 Ways To Recover It)

23. Display ONE purpose

Before you begin creating a promotional offer, you need to arrive at ONE goal. 

Do not give away something for free "simply to see how well it works."

As an illustration, if your goal is to bring in new consumers, you'd present a special offer for individuals who haven't yet made a purchase.

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

24. Use urgency triggers

Create a sense of urgency to persuade prospects to buy right now.

Like the following example, the alert bar across your website is a good place to position this. 

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

Consider featuring an added incentive, such as free shipping or free returns for additional impact. 

25. Incentivize survey responders

Surveys are a great way to get direct feedback from customers.

It can be about products, website navigation, or the overall shopping experience.

However, customers tend to find it tiresome and annoying to fill out surveys. 

So, try to incentivise it to get more responders and eventually, boost sales.   

See how My Protein ran a sales promotion on a survey:

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

26. Run “inclusive marketing” discounts

Inclusive marketing is sort of a buzzword in the eCommerce world right now—and the good news is that you can use it as a promotional marketing tactic. 

A study by Fast Company found that brands performed better (with a 44% stock increase!) when they factored minority groups into their messaging.

Nowadays, it isn’t merely enough to support causes. It’s also critical that you do the work and show through actions. - Luke Perry, CRO expert, Convertcart    

Many eCommerce stores are writing supportive copy, encouraging equal employment programs, and more. 

Take, for example, Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon showing appreciation for community heroes by offering them discounts. All they have to do is verify their ID to get started. 

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

27. Try affiliate marketing 

Affiliate marketing is a great way to promote your products and reach new shoppers. 

An affiliate simply chooses a product they enjoy and promotes them to their audience through different methods and earns profit for each sale that the product makes. The sales are tracked using the affiliate links from one website to another.

Aside from a high return on investment, affiliate marketing helps to grow brand awareness and improve SEO through backlinks

See how Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon uses its affiliate program to reward customers as well. 

Check this: 10 Sure-Shot Ways to Boost Your eCommerce ROI

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

28. Implement refills

If you sell products in bulk or offer product ‘refilling’ options, then offering a discount will help you boost the bottom line. 

Eco Egg offers exclusive discounts for students who are reusing their products through ‘refills’. 

They have a dedicated landing page that outlines the core benefits of adopting the refill program.  

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

29. Feature a referral program discount  

Referral programs increase your customer lifetime value and business revenue.

Just make sure the rules are easy and the prize you offer is redeemable immediately. 

Rebag has a dedicated landing page that encourages referrals with a strong selling point. 

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

30. Reward newsletter sign-ups

By now, it’s clear that newsletters encourage repeat purchases in the long run. 

This means that for such promotional marketing to bear fruit you’ll have to look at:

- Where in the website you place the sign-up opt-in

- What messaging you use to make it compelling

While most eCommerce brands utilize the alert bar, the footer and exit intent pop-ups, you can also indirectly seek their email to send future offers & alerts. 

Rad Soap, for example, prompts visitors to “take the quiz” and asks for the email when the shopper has gone through several multi-choice questions:

You can also do lottery-style discounts to get more sign-ups, just like Living Spaces. This can help you get more details than just an email ID. 

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

31. Offer early bird rewards 

A pre-order campaign builds hype around the product and increases sales. It also helps to forecast demand for the products which helps stores boost their stock.  

Barnes and Noble show clever pre-order nudges on their product page.   

They have benefits such as free shipping, price anchoring, and ‘reserve now, pay later’. 

They also add a nudge towards their loyalty program with a membership-only discount for pre-orders.

eCommerce Promotion Ideas

How to prepare for an eCommerce promotions

No matter how big your eCommerce brand is, promotional marketing is always a good idea from time to time. Now how you go about it depends on your intent, budget and goal—but here are some steps you must cover before: 

1. Look into your website UX

From the way your navigation works to how well your search is optimized to how easily scannable your pages are—this is the first step that will ensure your sales promotion idea has a good starting ground. 

Especially pay attention to A/B testing important elements like the CTAs, hero headers, category pages, product pages and the way your checkout flow is designed. 

2. Fix your landing pages

When it comes to promotional marketing and ad campaigns, landing pages can be the ultimate conversion drivers. 

However, for them to be successful in the final promotional run, they need to:

- Be distraction free (free of navigational links etc.)

- Be used for ONE promotion at a time (cramming one with multiple offers will only lead to confusion)

- Spell out the UVP clearly 

- Feature relevant social proof

- Align with the messaging you use in your promotional ads

3. Revisit your email strategy

This will include revisiting the cadence, the kind of emails you’re sending at the moment and the messaging you’re using to connect with your audiences. 

Segmenting your email list also becomes a top priority for an upcoming sales promotion if you want visitors to your store to convert. 

Actively growing your email list to reach out to the right people when the promotions are in full swing, is also important. 

4. Organize your social media channels

What this will entail is you looking at how often you’re going to post and building a content calendar. 

You may even have to shorten the time between a query and when you provide an answer from the brand side. 

Making it easy for your followers (many of whom will become customers during promotions) to get through to customer support will also be crucial. 

5. Set measurable goals

Define your marketing goals to start with—will your promotional marketing aim at more signups? Will it be only about conversions? Will it be about referrals?

Next step: define the numbers clearly so that when you look at data later you can clearly see what’s met the mark and what hasn’t. 

Once you have a fair idea about your marketing goals, you’ll need to look at aligning them with your business goals: traffic, leads and revenue. 

Recommended reading:

eCommerce Inbound Marketing: 17 Ideas That Still Work

2023 eCommerce Calendar (& Expert Marketing Advice for Businesses)

eCommerce marketing strategy: 12 questions founders should ask themselves

Getting Traffic But No Sales? 21 Reasons Why (+ How To Solve)

Make great UX drive your eCommerce promotions

98% of visitors who visit an eCommerce site—drop off without buying anything.

Even when you feature the best promotional marketing material.

Why: user experience issues that cause friction for visitors.

And this is the problem Convertcart solves.

We've helped 500+ eCommerce stores (in the US) improve user experience—and 2X their conversions.

How we can help you:

Our conversion experts can audit your site—identify UX issues, and suggest changes to improve conversions.

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