5 tips to planning profitable eCommerce sales promotions

Guest Post
Guest Post
September 12, 2017

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Ngan Ton, Content Marketing Manager at GearLaunch.

The holiday season is a competitive time for retailers, and the eCommerce sector is no exception. In order to benefit from the busiest shopping season of the year, online business owners must participate in the competitive realm of discounts and sales – it’s mandatory.

Statistics from VoucherCloud reveal that 80% of shoppers self-identified as “promotion sensitive” with 62% investing two or more hours per week online to search for special offers. Missing the mark with such a large audience means missing out on huge sales opportunities (especially during the holidays). In fact, 91% of buyers who redeemed coupons stated that they would visit the store again.
Use the tips below to take a strategic approach in planning promotions that generate higher returns and happier customers.

Pick a type of promotion

There are countless types of promotions you can offer to customers – flash sales, mystery discounts, purchase-based donations, bundle sales, etc. – but it boils down to creating incentives that your audience actually wants. Start by browsing data you have the most immediate access to: your customers. Historical purchasing habits can help uncover what promotions performed well. If you don’t have access to customer data, browse social media comments for first-hand details on whether customers are more interested in one type of promotion over the next.

Then, pair these findings with your holiday sales initiative.


As we mentioned earlier, there are countless promotions you can run. However, one often underestimated by ecommerce businesses is the cross-sell/upsell approach. While technically different, they’re often used interchangeably to reference incentivized product recommendations.

The savings for this promotion does not happen upfront but they remain immensely valuable to customers because they provide convenience. By recommending a product, you’ve saved them from the hassle of sifting through multiple searches and sites.

You’ll need to understand your customers’ motivations in order to make this promotion work.
For example, if your store sells t-shirts, it makes sense to offer a promotion on hoodies or long-sleeves that carry a related design and color.

Research indicates that “cross-selling was shown to be much more effective when presented on the checkout pages versus the product pages.” So, add hyperlinked images of promotional products on your checkout page (or if you’re a GearLaunch Partner, let it happen automatically).

Customize your offering

Customization helps you speak directly to consumers – it shows that you care. Use your data to strike the perfect balance across audience segmentation, timing, and setting the perfect offer.

If your store runs on a platform like GearLaunch, which provides you with complete access to historical customer information, life gets a little bit easier here. Comb your customer data for patterns. Here are some things you can expect to uncover that will shape the custom message for your audience:

  • The most popular item in your store is often purchased by X demographic.
  • Products often added to a cart but then abandoned
  • Products often purchased by returning customers.

Next, use these findings to customize your offer. Using the examples above, we’ve crafted a few sample offers often created by GearLaunch Partners:

  • Target an audience similar to your X demographic with “10% off [most popular item] Limited Time Offer”*
  • “Free Shipping Until Midnight on [Item]”**
  • Email Offer: 10% Discount on these [specific] crowd favorites, today only.**

*Limiting the timeframe on most offers creates urgency for the customer to act now.

**Consumers are four to five times more likely to purchase if you offer free shipping.

Use patterns in historical customer data to customize your promotions.

Encourage customer loyalty

Returning customers spend 67% more on average than first-time customers. Instead of using promotions strictly to acquire first-time purchasers, consider them as a means to retain existing customers.

Customer loyalty happens when you’ve established a relationship with your customer and proven that relationship to be worthwhile. Add existing customers to a newsletter or provide them with exclusive deals that non-customers have to wait for – or both!

Additionally, establish brand loyalty – not promotion loyalty – by focusing on specific categories that have unique meaning and value to your brand. For example, if your store’s niche is cat-lovers, create a limited t-shirt specifically for your loyalty group and gift them with free shipping if they purchase.

Develop plans to engage your customers beyond the first sale. Earn their trust and loyalty.

Share the excitement

If you follow through with exclusive offers for repeat/loyal customers, it doesn’t mean you have to isolate acquiring first-time purchasers. Place a limit on exclusive promotions so that your loyalty group gets first dibs. Following the expiration on the exclusivity factor, open it up to the public.

Draw attention to your promotion with email campaigns and social media channels such as Facebook – Facebook users spend an average of 50 minutes per day on its multiple platforms.

Additionally, since you’ve already opened this promotion much earlier to your exclusive group, request user-generated content (photos, testimonials, etc.) from them in return for a feature on your social channels. User-generated content (UGC) validates your brand to hesitant first-time buyers by providing visible confirmation that regular people, just like them, are purchasing your products.

Shout your sales promotions loud and proud. Get shoppers excited to join in!


Planning promotions for the holiday season will undoubtedly consume a lot of your time – you want to boost revenue in the 4th quarter but you also need satisfied customers.

Strike a balance by choosing specific incentives that will attract purchasers, cross-selling/upselling products that complement one another, creating customized offers, encouraging loyalty, and spreading the cheer.

Make it even easier when you use GearLaunch to power your eCommerce business. Promotions are an easy-to-use feature built into our platform – ready to go whenever you are.

To launch your holiday promotions on Gearlaunch, click here


 Ngan Ton is a Content Marketing Manager at GearLaunch. She describes herself as a tech enthusiast, cat lover and bookworm. Connect with Ngan on LinkednIn or Twitter.