Don’t you just love it?
The holiday season is a blitz of promotional marketing and big budget campaigns.
As marketers, not only are we consumers of the non-stop deals targeted at us. We are also observers and strategic thinkers.
We just can’t help but look at the onslaught of promotions through the lens of a marketer.
We see the genius in the truly innovative campaigns.
I bet at some point recently you’ve excitedly explained to your family and friends (often to blank stares) the brilliance of a brilliant promotion that’s skyrocketing sales.
We also cringe when see a well-intentioned campaign received with customer backlash. Or groan at even the littlest mistake.
And we are always learning.
We can add these creative promotion trends to our list of do’s and don’ts as we plan our 2016 calendar. Saving examples for our swipe file of brilliant ideas.
We love all these campaigns. I know I do.
That’s why I’ve reached out to fellow marketers, ecommerce and retail stores, and agency friends to compile the best promotion trends.
Here are six promotions were successful this past year and will be the driving force in 2016.
These promotions are fine-tuned to acquire more new customer, bring back repeat customers, and increase average order size.
Use them to spice up your 2016 campaigns.
First let’s discuss one big problem that all these trends help to solve.
The Biggest Promotion Mistake
Here’s the biggest problem in this holiday’s promotional marketing.
“20% off storewide.”
“Get 40% off.”
“Save 50% all Black Friday week”
Hmmmm. Discounting is about as proven a promotional strategy as it gets.
There is a lot riding on holiday promotions. It’s make or break time for many businesses.
If you’re not discounting, you’re not making sales.
What’s the problem?
The biggest mistake is doing just plain discounting.
You can’t simply give up margin to get a sale. You won’t be successful if you’re just racing your competition to the bottom.
You need to be more creative to win the sale. You need to motivate bigger purchases. You need to get return shoppers.
That’s where these 6 promotion trends really help you out.
1. Days of Deals
What’s better than running the same old promotion for multiple days?
A new exceptional deal each day, every day, for a series of days.
Right now we are seeing a wave of the “12 Days of Deals” this holiday season.
The Days of Deals campaign highlights that you’re doing something special. This is a big deal for you and you want to share your excitement with your customers.
That’s what makes the Days of Deals campaign is perfect for holiday promotions, big milestones, and special celebrations throughout the entire year.
That said, I feel we are seeing a little too much mimickry right now. It’s obvious that the standard brilliant pitch this year for many agencies was the “12 Days of Deals.” Unfortunately too much of the exact same execution can make you “me too” pretty fast.
But the results have been incredible.
The Days of Deals offer creates a sense of urgency.
Get this deal today or it’s gone.
It’s the ultimate series of limited time offers. Stacked on top of each other.
But this promotional stacking approach also peaks your customer’s curiosity. They feel they can’t miss the surprise of tomorrow’s deal, even if today’s deal wasn’t just right for them. They think tomorrow might unveil exactly what they want at an irresistible price.
So customers check back every day. Every single day. And invariably they will buy something.
Just imagine how boring and mediocre running a simple 25% off discount for 12 days feels now.
Pro Tip: “12 Days of Deals” has been overdone with its 12 days of Christmas tie-in. Get creative when you deploy this offer style. Something like…
- “5 Days of Deals” to celebrate your company’s anniversary
- “4 Days of Deals” for customer appreciation when you hit a big milestone
- “3 Days of Deals” personally timed to a customer’s purchase anniversary or final countdown before a subscription expires.
2. Mystery Deal
At Intuit, we hit the jackpot when we tested our mystery deal promotion.
The mystery sale campaign was by far our best open rates and clickthroughs on our email and social media channels.
But best of all, that increased traffic translated into the most total sales thanks to excellent conversion rates.
Those results crushed the standard 50% off creative… even though the actual discount revealed was exactly the same.
The mystery deal works so well purely because of curiosity.
You don’t know exactly what you’re going to get. But you imagine the offer will be something unique and extra special.
You can’t help but click. You have to find out.
Couple that curiosity with a truly great offer, and you’ll get more sales.
Even cooler, new creative technology is going to allow you to execute this winning promotion technique in more creative ways in 2016.
Simulate a scratch and win ticket. Animate the peel-back. Or unwrap a package right in your promotional email or social post.
Pro Tip: Does the deal have to be randomized or vary by customer? No. Everybody can get the same deal (which helps your production efforts).It’s just recommend you make a meaningful deal to get the best results. Not just the same one you normally offer. Your most valuable, repeat customers are smart. They’ll know if your just putting lipstick on the same standard deal. Make it special for them and the enticing mystery sale can maximize your clicks AND your sales.
3. Share with a Friend
Reciprocity is a powerful emotion. People feel good about sharing. And they feel their good deed will be rewarded. So they do more sharing.
That’s the magic that makes the “Share with a Friend” offer so special for your customers.
But it also a genius tactic for you.
- You’re reinforcing the loyalty of your best customers.
- Your customers are doing your prospecting work for you. They’ll only share your offer with their friends who they think would see value in buying your product or service.
- Those new shoppers are more likely to buy because of their friend’s recommendation.
The “Share with a Friend” promotion works extremely well for subscription businesses too.
How can you further monetize your premium paying customers even more? Or those that are happy with their service and not buying your upsells?
Simple, let them share what they already love about their subscription. That’s what Spotify did to spice up their standard free trial offer.
Pro Tip: Do you sell gift certificates for your products or services? Try the “Give a Gift, Get a Gift” version of the “Share with a Friend” promotion. This approach is a great way to double dip on more paying customer traffic into your store or on your website. One gift card helps you get a new customer purchase, while ensuring a return purchase from the existing buyer.That’s what California Pizza Kitchen did. They turned a simple 20% off discount into 2 purchases that will most likely generate way more in sales than the $60 value of the gift cards sold. That’s three sales transactions, two customers, one powerful promotion.
4. Lucky Buyer
“I could be the winner.” That’s the thinking behind every sweepstakes or lottery.
The “Lucky Buyer” promotion is even better than a classic random draw sweepstakes.
Yes. The core emotion is the same. There’s a chance to win big.
Use the “Lucky Buyer” to highlight a special event.
- Celebrate your 1 millionth customer, or your 1,000th.
- Every 100th purchase is FREE! (See the Pro Tip below)
- Choose 20 winners on your 20th anniversary.
The “Lucky Buyer” also highlights the customer satisfaction with your business. It reinforces the social proof.
There are other buyers. People must really like this. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a 1 millionth customer.
5. Extend your offer
Okay. This promotional tactic isn’t new… but it works and will keep on working in 2016.
Promote a 1 day extension to your sale or offer.
Tack it on the day after your original promo period or limited time offer expires.
Now you’ve simply added one more final opportunity for those customers who procrastinated. You’ll make more customers happy. And capture the extra sales.
Simply send a special email first thing in the morning and another “this is really the last chance” in the afternoon. Create a one-day only ad campaign. Give one more big social media shout out.
You can even make the message about the customer and add social proof. “By popular demand, we’ve extended the deadline one more day” or “Sales are so hot. Thanks to you we don’t want this deal to end.”
Extending your deal one special extra day is a proven winner.
6. Better discounts
At the beginning of this post, I said that plain discounting offers are ho-hum, especially when everyone else is doing them.
The previous 5 promotion trends can help you make the most out of any discount, even a straight 20% off deal.
But there are more creative ways to discount. There are some classics like:
- Multi-tier discounts – The more you buy, the bigger your discount
- Diminishing discounts – The ultimate sense of urgency. Buy now, because the discount drops tomorrow.
- Threshold discounts – Get the discount only when purchasing over a certain amount
- Mix % off and $ off discounts – Optimize your margins by product category
But my new favorite is a growing discount. That’s what the Oakland Running Festival just did for their upcoming Oakland marathon and other running events.
They offered a discount that was tied to the neighboring Golden State Warriors historic winning streak in the National Basketball Association. With each win, the discount grew 1%. And that discount would be applied on a special 1-day sale once the Warriors lost their first game.
Everybody wins. The local community loved it. Runners were rooting even harder to keep the win streak alive. And the Oakland Running Festival got unprecedented local coverage and spectacular social media engagement.
Alas, the Golden State Warriors did finally lose just this last weekend. Their streak hit 24.
And a stampede of runners sprinted for the 24% discount on their race entries.
Promotion Trends Driving More Sales
Now is the time of year that you should be planning your 2016 promotions calendar.
You’re figuring out how you’re going to crush your growing sales goals. You’re pinpointing the big sale opportunities.
And you absolutely need to deliver new and effective promotions.
Tap into these six promotional marketing trends. Do so and you’ll surely see a sales breakthrough in the new year.