The rules of announcing a sale have changed since your e-Commerce store is now “open” to the world.
You can reach a nearly infinite amount of potential customers from your laptop. There is no limit to how many people can buy from you. But it also means your sale is one in literally hundreds of thousands happening that those customers can take part in. You have to stand out and push them to take action efficiently to make your online sale a success. There are some brands that leverage sales very well online to outperform competitors and keep customers coming back.
Here are how the top performing e-Commerce stores organize and schedule online sales for maximum results:
Focus on building up a reachable, vetted audience:
It’s easier to build excitement and entice action to an already interested and vetted audience. You will spend less on advertising if you already have loyal fans to sell to. A focus long before you announce a sale is to work on building up a base of vetted potential customers. This can be in the form of followers or an email newsletter list. Many brands like Tobi and Lorna Jane have done a great job at building email lists by incentivizing customer information with discounts on a first purchase and engaging them for long after. Another trick you can use to reach more potential customers just like yours is asking users to share the offer with five to ten of their friends who can also sign up for a discount. It’s really easy to get potential customers to advertise and grow your list for you!
Consider data on what customers want the most:
You should never just assume anything about what customers want with e-Commerce. That’s the beauty of e-Commerce: you can collect and analyze data on just about anything to create the perfect, most effective offer. Use data on customer interaction on your site and social pages as well as direct feedback to determine what offer is going to be the most impactful. Offer a sale on the items most viewed, added to cart, or clicked through on email campaigns so that users are interested in your sale. If your sale is a general sale on all items with a discount code, make sure to advertise it with images of those items that are the most popular to get a better engagement. AdRoll is great at targeting ads for specific customers based on past behavior on your site.
Make sales frequent enough to excite and keep users checking:
This is one of the strategies of that e-Commerce clothing giant Tobi uses to create expectation and repeat purchases. They have 50% off sales fairly frequently; enough to the point where people expect sales to take place during certain times like holiday weekends, etc. Their customer expect sales and frequently check. They also incentive them to buy during these sale times. Customers also repeat purchase more often believing they are taking advantage of “sale times”. If your sales are too rare, potential customer may not be checking or expecting news from you and decide to never finish their purchase.
Make sure your announcement inspires immediate action:
Even if you announce sales frequently like Tobi, make sure there is an element of scarcity. Tobi schedules their sales typically in intervals of max two to three days. If there is little time to leave something sitting in a shopping cart to contemplate a purchase, customers will pull out their credit cards much faster. You can visually represent this by adding a countdown timer on top of your website that can be seen from all pages as users shop. Add countdowns to you email subject lines and social posts as well. Another trick you can try is one copied from Amazon: add a “units left” notification on product pages to give a sense of scarcity. If there are “10 units left”, users are more likely to push their purchase through.
Announce where it matters most:
If you’re going to announce something time-sensitive like a sale, you need to reach as many of your potential customers as possible in an effective way. Email is the typical way to do this but it’s losing its magic. Email open rates are at best around 20%, usually less. Of that, maybe 5-8% actually click through. That’s considerably low for the effort. You need to take advantage of other ways to get the news of your sale in front of potential customers. One way to bring back customers whose personal info you don’t have is through ad retargeting across other sites and social pages through tools like As mentioned before, AdRoll will target customers with items specific to their interests and past interactions with your brand to boost engagement.
You can also make your sale announcements in an interactive news feed on your site. One tool that does this is Beamer which sits right within your e-store interface and can be opened with a “What’s New” tab on your navigation from any page. You can create updates for new products and sales. You can also enable push notifications to automatically generate from your updates and be sent to those who opted in to bring customers back to your site when you announce your sale.
Build free shipping and returns into your pricing:
One of the reasons for buyers leaving items in shopping carts even with sales is that they are unsure of purchasing online and don’t want to get stuck out of a return. Another is that shipping costs scare them away. To eliminate this hurdle entirely, work free shipping and returns into your pricing. With this safety net, buyers are much more likely to make a purchase quickly. It’s actually a perk that is expected. 88% of customers are more likely to shop online if they were offered free shipping!
The way you announce and organize your sale can make all the difference in how effective it is and how many loyal customers you win in the process. Maximize your advertising dollars and impress customers with some of the tips above.
Author bio: Spencer Coon is the cofounder of three tech startups and has 10 years of experience in SaaS. Currently living in Barcelona, Spain.