Feb 17 2017

3 Ways to Boost Sales Without Sales

Attracting customers with sale after sale might have some negative effects. If you run sale after sale, have you noticed any signs of this happening?

  • Lowering your perceived value
  • Conditioning the user to only buy when there is a sale
  • Smaller margins

Once you condition your customers to expect sales, it may be tough to reverse. Instead of focusing on sales, focus on more evergreen ecommerce strategies.

Three Approaches

#1 Use Sales Authentically

Don’t be the little boy that cries wolf. Marketers often focus on promotion as a way to increase conversion rate and top-line revenue. This “snowball” of promotions usually originates in analytics. Someone finds that “when we run a sale, we see a positive uptick in conversion rate and revenue.” This often snowballs and before you know it, you have more days with sales than without.

To prevent getting caught in the promo snowball, use sales authentically. Here are some key tips to remember:

  • Instead of running sitewide sales, update your sale category frequently. That will encourage return visits and to keep sale products fresh.
  • Resist using the sales category as a way to attract attention to desired product groupings. Limit the sale category as a way to liquidating older products and generate interest on slow moving merchandise.
  • Instead of adding more sales to the promo calendar, offer fewer, more strategically placed promotions.
  • Instead of blanket promotions, use segmentation and personalization to offer appropriate discounts to appropriate user segments.
  • Instead of the standard 15% off promo, test to discover what percent offers maximum conversions while preserving maximum profit. Too often we see companies that aren’t even aware they are selling their product at a loss!

#2 Leverage Your Unique Value Props (Or Create Some)

Like in the dating world, companies need to offer more than a single quality like low prices to foster a long-term relationship. Identifying what your customers think you are doing well will point you in the right direction. You can use that knowledge to create and leverage your brand’s unique value props.

Whether you are the exclusive seller of a certain product, have 24-hour customer service, offer free samples with every purchase, have no-questions-asked free returns, won an award recently, or have the most 5-star reviewed products in the industry, find what you are good at and use it to differentiate yourself from the competitors.

  • Instead of relying on lower prices to drive revenue, provide value through non-price-related propositions.
  • Instead of choosing to highlight the same value prop as your competitor, offer value props not available anywhere else. Make sure to still include the value props you share with your competitors. Otherwise, customers may believe that they are unique to your competitors.
  • Instead of getting a group of your highest paid people in a room to talk about your value props, perform user tests, scour the internet, perform focus groups, talk to your customer service department, and dig into qualitative data to identify HOW your customers see your brand.

Be unique, and leverage your differences to show the value of buying on your site rather than a competitor’s.

#3 A Satisfactory Online Experience is Fine but a Delightful One is Better

Everyone’s heard the saying it’s the little things that count, and that’s true as it applies to the online shopping experience. For example, let’s look at Amazon and Modcloth.

Amazon is a logistics company with an ecommerce problem. They have become as large and sought after as they are because they offer so much more than a low price. Here’s just a few:

  • Want it fast? How about 2 days?
  • You want reliability? You can track your package every step of the way.
  • Have a problem? Let us fix it no questions asked.
  • 3 a.m. and need a question answered? We got you, fam.
  • On the run and short on time? Don’t worry, we have “One click Buy,” put that card away.

Modcloth understands window shopping. Sometimes customers are not ready to buy, but that doesn’t mean Modcloth treats them as second rate. Too often, marketers focus on pushing same-session conversions that degrade long-term customer value.

Modcloth’s solution is a favorites button with filterable favorites page. When a favorited product goes on sale or comes back in stock, customers get an automated email. Their account section is one example of making your site a place that someone WANTS to be, instead of somewhere they NEED to be due to low prices.

Instead of focusing solely on driving same-session sales, add more emphasis and focus on driving retention and loyalty.

  • Instead of attracting users to a CTA by changing button colors, fix deeper UX issues that solve customers’ problems, encouraging them to interact with the CTA.
    • Do you have a large amount of mobile traffic? Look into one-click payment gateways.
    • Do you have a large amount of users returning to buy the same product (B2B)? Look into making re-ordering more accessible and prominent.
    • Do you know that your product has a long purchase cycle? Personalization may be the answer.
  • Instead of being the same, find a way to be different, and stand out with site features that solve user problems and add value.

Wrapping up

Long-term success comes from resisting the urge to give in to instant gratification which is the promo snowball. Remember:

  1. Use Sales Authentically
  2. Leverage Your Unique Value Props (or Create Some)
  3. Cultivate a Delightful User Experience that Solves User Problems

Differentiate yourself and prove value in ways that are different, unexpected and solve a real business issue. Commit to your customers by showing them that you have something to offer that the others can’t.

Erin McElwee

Before Erin's career at Blue Acorn, she worked as a data analyst and digital marketing analyst, specializing in eCommerce. Since joining Blue Acorn, Erin has taken on the role of a Conversion Consultant, concentrating on eCommerce optimization through the use site testing. As a Conversion Consultant, her professional interests and goals revolve around data-driven decisions and measurable results, which she passes on to her clients in the form of customized, efficient tests.

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