What is a sales promotion?
A sales promotion is a tried and true way to ramp up your sales, acquire new customers, and take advantage of seasonal opportunities. Sales promotions are a short-term marketing tactic to create urgency and increase sales.
The real question is, who doesn’t love a good deal?
In fact, as JCPenny discovered, customers are so psychologically tied to sales that they would rather pay more during one than always have low prices.
But not all sales promotions are created equal.
Below are 26 sales promotion examples curated from Milled.com to get your creative juices flowing when thinking through your own. They are grouped into five common categories: flash sale; buy one, get...; coupon or discount with purchase; tripwire; and recurring sale.
Read more about these categories in Amy Saunder’s post, “5 Sales Promotion Ideas that Small Businesses Can Execute.”
If You're looking for holiday promotion ideas, check out our guide to the Top 5 Holiday Promotions You Can Automate Today.
In this video, Jack goes over some of the most common examples of sales promotions like:
- flash sales
- buy one, get...
- coupons or discounts
- giveaways or free samples
- recurring sales
- limited time offer
You can also read about more types of sales and promotions below.
A flash sale is one that offers some sort of savings but only for a short time. A good flash sale creates urgency, hype, and a spike in sales.
Why it works: BuildAsign.com cleverly uses a GIF to catch your eye, drawing it immediately to what you’ll save. It’s a simple and not cluttered with too much detail. The call-to-action (CTA) stands out. It’s clear how long the sale is (48 hours) and a day and time are given as well to prevent confusion for those who look at the promotion a day or so after it’s started.
Why it works: Current takes advantage of a prime shopping time—lunch, to offer a quick flash sale. Its design is fun and ties well into the lunchtime. One thing would be to make the CTA a bit more prominent.
Why it works: Nothing creates a sense of urgency like realizing you already missed out on a deal—that is unless you now have an even better deal in front of you. If you were on the fence before, the extra 5 percent offered might just push you over the edge.
Why it works: Mystery. We love it, even if we don’t want to admit it. For many people, it would be almost impossible not to click to find out what “your deal” is. Plus the use of a GIF snaps your eyes immediately to the CTA, which stands out against the black backdrop.
Why it works: Pottery Barn Kids tugs at the heartstrings with a cute kid in a well-designed room. This could be your kid. This could be his room. Forty percent is a significant discount for an expensive item, and “select dressers” builds mystery. Which ones? Maybe there’s one that I’ll really love? One thing I’d have changed would be to have only one CTA. If they clicked “Shop Now,” you could easily have a CTA to find a store on the other side.
Why it works: J. Crew Factory takes advantage of good sailing weather to create urgency that ties to real life. If you need some sailing clothes, and it’s good sailing weather, and you’re a sailor, this is an irresistible offer. To pull this off, you need to have your segmentation dialed in.
Buy one, get…
People always like to get more for less. The buy one, get… offer allows for this. Additionally, you can use it to unload overstocked inventory in a way that helps you still have a profit margin. Especially enticing is buy one, get one free, as people have a hard time saying no to that word.
Why it works: People who utilize Ahava products will want to take advantage of this deal and stock up. The design is clean, and the CTA is clear. The offer to get free shipping also encourages bulk buying.
Why it works: Everyone in the medical industry needs to get scrubs, so a discount at 40 percent for buying some is an enticing offer. In this way, Scrubs & Beyond increases sales while unloading some inventory probably pretty close to their wholesale pricing. Additionally, this ad uses a recognized brand as a further enticement and also creates urgency by making it a flash sale. I would make the CTA stand out more, however.
Why it works: Active also utilizes a flash sale to create urgency for their shoe sale. They make it clear that it’s regular-priced shoes, so the buyer knows what he is getting into. They’ve named their sale to be in line with their brand, “What Up Wednesday” appeals to their target audience. The design is clean and appealing. Like Scrubs & More, they increase sales this way while unloading stock at 50 percent off, which is probably close to cost.
Why it works: Catherines uses imagery that transports you to a place you want to be, putting you in the frame of mind to think about swimwear. The bright yellow floaty draws your eye to the deal, and the company gives you two options for those that are more inclined to spend more.
Why it works: Dotti uses fun branding and a GIF that appeals to their target market, putting special emphasis on the word “free.” Who doesn’t like free? Additionally, they offer suggestions on what to “mix and match”, pricking the curiosity of their potential customers. What other things could be mixed and matched?
Coupons and discounts are great because they get people buying, and you still can realize some profit. They’re especially good for things that are overstocked, or that you can use as a baseline to upsell other complimentary products.
Why it works: Abandoned shopping carts are a pretty big deal, costing online retailers 67.45 percent of sales according to Shopify. Many times, it’s not that the person doesn’t want to buy, but instead something comes up, like your kid flooding the bathroom sink (cough, cough). So I love this idea of offering a coupon code to a person that abandoned a cart. It’s a smart way to recover revenue that would otherwise be lost.
Why it works: I love this series of deals that create urgency. You want to be one of the first 25, right? This is a great combination of a flash sale and a coupon/discount system. Losing half of a discount is a huge incentive to be quick on the draw.
Why it works: This is another good use of mystery and suspense. At the very least, you’ll get a lot of people clicking through to see what kind of discount they get. And when they do, you can entice them with the goods that are already on sale. Plus, the idea of saving additional money on already-marked down prices is tempting for almost anyone.
Why it works: This coupon is paired with a traditional traveling holiday. Maybe you had already discounted a trip because of the dog. This offer gets you dreaming again, and due to its timeliness, would be hard to resist.
Why it works: I love the simplicity of this. It even looks like an old-school coupon. 10 percent off. Shop now. OK.
The term tripwire comes from Ryan Deiss, CEO and founder of Digital Marketer. The idea is that you offer a lower, entry-level priced good to a potential customer to get them into your customer ecosystem. You can them build trust and offer higher-priced products.
Why it works: Tech-minded folks know about Oculus, the leader in Virtual Reality technology. But if you want their flagship product, Rift, you’ll need to drop $599. The Gear VR works with the Samsung GALAXY smartphone, and at $99, is a much cheaper alternative that helps people enter into the world of VR. If they get hooked, all of a sudden that $599 doesn’t seem as expensive any longer.
Why it works: Traditionally, a tripwire costs something. In this case, it costs time. The customer has to come in for the consultation. The end result is a 3-D design that helps the customer envision an ideal future. And as my friend Jesse Bryan says, “The future is perfect because it hasn’t happened yet.” This consultation significantly moves people towards a major purchase with Design Within Reach.
Why it works: At $14.99 for the whole store, there’s something for everyone. And once someone shops for kids clothes at this price point and is happy with the product, where do you think they’ll go next time they need an item?
Why it works: Rather than offer a different, entry-level product to entice new customers, HelloFresh simply discounts their main offering for a first time purchase. If you’ve been thinking of trying prepared meals, this would be tempting. And if you like it, well you might as well sign up for the service.
Why it works: This is another example of taking an expensive product and offering it at a more attractive price in order to obtain a new customer. More than likely, if someone purchases this product, they have other gear needs. Perhaps they’ll buy them at the same time. Or perhaps this builds the trust needed to come back to ProAudioStar when they are ready to purchase.
Brands like Nordstrom have carved out a niche by offering sales only twice a year. People wait all year for their chance to save some cash. A recurring sale creates pent up expectation, and when it comes around, people are ready to spend.
22. Think Geek
Why it works: In essence, this is you giving gifts away for your birthday. It’s fun for people to celebrate with you, especially when they’re saving money. This is something that customers will look forward to every year.
Why it works: It happens every year, back-to-school shopping. People expect a sale. eBags is a product ready made for the school shopping season, but any brand can take advantage of this time of year. After all, mom and dad might as well treat themselves while they buy stuff for the kiddos.
24. Lane Bryant
Why it works: Summer is traditionally a slow time for retailers. Lane Bryant takes advantage of the end of summer to unload unsold stock in preparation for next summer. The GIF is fun, the offers are enticing, and there is sense of urgency created by saying the summer clothes will be gone after the sale.
Why it works: Most places hike prices up for travel on Labor Day since it’s such a busy, high-demand time. Iberostar takes advantage of this. Since they aren’t based in the United States, they offer a huge discount to U.S. travelers to come to the Caribbean. U.S. fans of the chain would look forward to this and plan their vacation around it each year. How can your business take advantage of similar situations?
Why it works: There are cultural events that happen every year where people are in the mood to shop. The Super Bowl is one of those. By tying messaging in a fun way into the event, they get in on the fun with fans, who are feeling loose and happy. It’s a great time for a sale.
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