Planning Ecommerce Promotions

Written by  June 29, 2008

ecommerce promotionsIn the past I’ve touched on this subject, however not until recently did I realize that it seems every store owner I speak with has at least one thing in common. None of them have taken the time to sit down and actually plan out a promotional calendar for their business.

I personally recommend sitting down and developing a 12 month plan consisting of at least 2 different promos per month with room for a “spontaneous” third if needed. If only running two promotions, I recommend running one during week one, and the other during week three. More on why I do that in my next post.

Planning out a promotional calendar is a critical element toward increasing your sales. When properly implemented, a promotional campaign can win new customers and keep your current base coming back for more. If you have continued to put off this part of your business, you are hurting your chances to capitalize on big opportunities. There should be no excuses … you’re only hurting your business by not doing it.

What good promotions do

On a general level, good promotions have several things in common:

  1. They have an intended audience in mind.
  2. They generate interest.
  3. They create urgency.
  4. They create excitement.
  5. They generate sales.
  6. Provide great value to those who redeem them.
  7. They are planned with a clear objective that the business owner desires to achieve.

Intended audience: A well thought out promotion has an audience it wants the attention of. Whether that audience is targeted or open to the masses it makes no difference, all good promotions have some audience they want to reach.

Generate interest: Good promotions have the ability to generate the interest of their intended audience. This interest is generated through the look of the ad used for the promotion, the copy used in the ad, the offer, and even the placement of the ad itself.

As a simple example for illustrative purposes, if you decided to increase your “new business” base then it would be considered a “targeted campaign” toward “new customers”. Your offer might be a “15% off your first purchase with us” and placed in a prominent location throughout your site. Likewise, if your promotion was a “mass targeted” campaign to “move inventory” then you may want to develop a promo that is “Get $25 off the purchase of $75 or more” (which does not show favoritism to any one demographic.)

Create urgency: Good promotions have a time limit to them. Once it’s over it’s over and the offer is gone.

If you’ve ever participated in a promotion that “expires on xxx date” then you’ve been exposed to the “urgency factor”. Putting a time limit on promotions creates buyer urgency. Urgency generates sales.

When developing promos with expiration dates, don’t extend the promotional period unless you have a good reason for it. Once your buyers understand that when you say “it’s gone” … “it’s gone”, they’ll respond in droves providing your product meets their needs.

Create excitement: A well planned promotion will generate some excitement. That excitement can oftentimes lead to “referral” business where one person tells others about it and you get the domino effect. I’ve seen instances where a very well planned promotion gets listed on a board by an “excited” customer, and the sales that promotion generates goes through the roof. It can and does happen.

Generate sales: Good promotions generate sales. Whether the objective is to attract new customers, win back past customers, or get current customers to repeat buy, the direct result of a well planned and implemented promotion should be sales in the end.

Provide value: A promotion is only effective if it’s worth the buyer’s time. It must provide enough value the intended audience that they perceive it as the best choice. Although not the sole options, internet only discounts, free shipping offers that save on gas and travel time, and buy one get one offers can be big.

Planned with an objective: You should plan a promotion with an intended objective in mind. Whether the objective is to move inventory, get new customers (first time buyer discounts), introduce a new product or line of products, or meet monthly quotas, every promotion should have a plan. This plan usually “leads the charge” in the development of the promotion in the first place and oftentimes can assist in determining what the exact offer will be.

No matter your store’s size, no matter your market, if you haven’t yet planned a promotional campaign for the coming months, you really need to get started. You could be missing out on some enormous opportunities.

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