How to Strategically Use Promotions to Increase Conversions

How to Strategically Use Promotions to Increase Conversions

Consumers are increasingly turning to an online shopping experience. Currently, there are more than 227 million people who shop online in the United States, and that number is only growing. We are a nation of savvy shoppers.

At the same time, the reasons that people shop online vary. Some like the convenience, while others want to avoid lines at stores. Some are looking for deals and think that items will be cheaper in stores.

If you want to increase sales, one way to do this is by running promotions to increase conversions. There are different types of promotions you can try, and the key is to understand your customers’ buying behavior.

Why Run Promotions?

There are many ways to draw consumers to your site. You may be growing your audience through email campaigns, user-generated content on your social media, or other forms of engagement. But how can you get them to take the next step and make a purchase?

You should be analyzing your site traffic and which pages are receiving a lot of hits. If people are looking but not buying, something is holding them back. Cart abandonment rates are close to 70%, where consumers add something to their carts but then don’t complete the purchase.

It could be that your potential customers need a gentle push. By running promotions, you can watch for the percentage change in your sales (also known as conversion rate). The most effective promotions you can run on a more regular basis to keep your customers coming back.

Here are some ideas of different promotions to try and why they appeal to different consumers.


One of the most popular promotions is discounts. Americans love to feel like they are getting a deal. Assuming your discount has some kind of limit, this does two things. First, it creates a sense of urgency, and second triggers FOMO (fear of missing out).

Different discounts have different results, depending on how you are trying to sway your customers’ behavior.

Welcome Discount

If you want to encourage customers to make that initial purchase, a welcome discount is a great way to get there. Customers that may be hesitant over price or be unfamiliar with your brand can be persuaded with a discount. This is also a way to increase your campaign audience by offering a discount code in exchange for an email address.

Seasonal Discounts

Consumers are aware that holidays often bring deals. You can offer discounts at different times of the year, such as Black Friday or Valentine’s Day. Your potential customers will be aware that there is a time limit on these deals and that they will not want to wait.

Subscriber Specials

Want to reward your email campaign audience? Send discount codes that are only available to your subscribers. Even if the discount code is not used at that time, it will keep consumers from hitting that “unsubscribe” button and missing out on potential future discounts.

Cross-Selling Campaigns

Cross-selling will increase the volume of your sales. If you have a lot of buyers but want to increase the amount that they spend, cross-selling is an excellent way to do this. You can run promotions such as “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” or bundle products together and receive a percentage discount.

Less direct would be to offer suggestions when your consumer has something in the shopping cart or follow-up email campaigns based on past purchases. You can frame this as “understanding” your customer. Cross-selling, in this case, would sound something like, “Did you like this product? Try another product and receive 10% off.”

Free Shipping

Because many customers shop online thinking they can get a better deal, getting to the cart and having a large shipping cost can make them reluctant. Suddenly, the amount they thought they were going to pay just went up. By offering free shipping, you can get over this hurdle.

You can either run free shipping as a limited time deal or over a certain dollar amount of purchases. These approaches have different impacts on your customers. The first drives purchases in the short term, while the other increases your volume of purchases.

Reward Your Loyal Customers

Your ultimate goal is to have repeat business. Loyalty Points or a VIP Status will make your customers feel special and keep them coming back.

You can allow them to redeem points for a discount or run limited-time offers only for VIPs. By promoting these “insider” deals, it will encourage others to spend more so that they, too, can become an insider.

Loyalty can also be rewarded through reviews. By offering a future discount in exchange for a product review, you give them an incentive to return, and you build a reputation for your product. Consumers can be hesitant to try new things, and reading rave reviews can increase their confidence in what you are offering.

Daily Deals and Flash Sales

Nothing creates urgency like a sale that has an expiration date. While customers can predict seasonal deals, limited time offers force customers to make a decision.

Daily deals are a way to rotate your product offerings and get your customers more familiar with what you offer. Flash sales often have very specific windows, such as 12 or 24 hours, but offer a deal that is too good to pass up.


By offering freebies, your customers will feel like they are getting more value for their purchase. You can tie your freebies to certain products or certain dollar amounts spent. Freebies are also a way for your customers to try samples of different products risk-free.

Tracking Your Promotion Results

Of course, promotions are only effective if they increase your customer conversions. Promotions that have limited or no impact will not benefit your business overall. You’ll need to use some specific metrics and reporting to determine if the promotion was effective.

More than likely, you will need to run various promotions over a period of time to determine the impact. Unless your first promotion ends up being an overwhelming success, you should try different strategies over several months or a year. It could be that promotions in different combinations yield different results.

Customer Acquisition

If you know that more customers will mean more business over time, then promotions that draw new customers to make a purchase will be the best option. You should analyze the behavior of your existing customers to know how often repeat purchases are made.


Running constant promotions will not do much to create a sense of urgency. If you offer promotions once a week or on a regular basis, customers are likely to pass up a promotion and say “not now” and wait for a better one. Promotions should have enough of an element of surprise to drive customers to take advantage.


Promotions will come at a cost. You may have less profit from the sale of a particular item. If you are using social media to boost a promotion, you may also have increased advertising costs to run the promotion over a period of time.

At the end of the promotion, determine the overall cost of running that promotion. Look at your advertising costs and the cost associated with the discount, free shipping, or other deal. Compare that to any increase in sales that you had during the promotion time.

You will also want to look at the customer acquisition cost. This is the amount associated with bringing in new customers. Running a promotion may lower your customer acquisition cost because the amount you spent brought in a large volume of new customers, compared to times when you don’t run promotions.

On the other hand, your customer acquisition cost could increase if the cost to run the promotion did not result in a lot of new customers. This can be true even if the new customers ended up making a purchase on your site, but not at a high dollar amount or from a large number of new customers.


Your promotions should be enough so that customers believe they are getting a deal, but not so much that it cheapens your brand. Customers can become skeptical of constant promotions or discounts that are steep. They may come to view your product as overpriced or view your messaging as desperate.

Running Promotions to Increase Conversions

Smart marketing strategies can help you boost your business. By running different promotions to increase conversions, you’ll be able to measure how your customers respond.

You can make your customers aware of your promotions through a variety of mediums. Email campaigns and publishing social media content are effective ways to put your promotions in front of a large audience.

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