The Most Effective Promotions of 2017

Retailers and e-commerce sites are always looking for ways to boost sales and rack up new traffic. And with so many effective mediums for consumer engagement driving the market in recent years, the next big trend in marketing and promotions is always just around the corner.

There are so many excellent options available to the modern business, whether it’s a small start-up or the biggest conglomerate in the country. And in many ways, it feels as though multiple facets of the digital world have come together to create a marketplace in which any company can find incredible marketing resources. With so many options available, though, how does a business know which direction to turn? This is a great question, and we are here to help shed a little light on the subject and arm you with the information you need to choose the best promotions for your business.

For starters, you’ll need to figure out how people tend to hear about your business—is it more often through word-of-mouth, TV ads, or social media? Are you in an area that receives a high rate of foot traffic, or are you strictly an online retailer? Once you’ve established the general pathway towards success based on typical consumer engagement, you’ll be able to hit the ground running by choosing one or two methods from each of the proven categories below.

1.    Special Pricing

Easily the most employed and well-known method for promoting a product or business, promotional pricing (i.e.: sales, discounts, etc.) is still the best way to bring people into the store and get them spending buku bucks. Happily, though, there are some fun options available beyond the boring (yet effective) 10%-20% off incentives:

Flash sales – By limiting the amount of time people have to take advantage of the deals you’re offering, you create a sense of urgency, enticing customers to either show up or risk missing out. The key to success with flash sales is to limit the time frame as much as possible—studies show that a majority of flash sale purchases happen within the first hour anyway—and promote aggressively ahead of time through both social media and email.

Free shipping & returns – According to an infographic used by Entrepreneur, 80% of respondents say they’d be more likely to purchase online if they were offered free shipping, while 64% said the same regarding free returns. This is becoming such a norm these days, that businesses will miss out on sales if they can’t make this promotion work for their customers. For businesses who may be struggling with justifying the change to their bottom line, try offsetting the cost of shipping and returns within the actual product price.

Bundle pricing – Otherwise known as BOGO, BOGO half-off, and X number for $X.00, bundle pricing is a great way to move merchandise that needs to clear the shelves quickly, increase traffic to your site or store, or increase the life of a big-ticket product launch. This is a great option for high-end retailers who would like to widen their demographic to include middle- or lower-income consumers.

Contests – There may be no better way on the planet to boost your social media presence and customer engagement at such a low cost. Contests often involve a limited number of prizes, but the potential for public involvement is endless. Try involving additional marketing methods (think photo/video entries, storytelling, or social media shares) to diversify your reach and organically increase your SEO.

Cause marketing – While this doesn’t involve discounts of any kind, it does fall under the realm of promotional pricing for a different reason. Charitable business contributions often involve donating portions of the profits for any one product or brand to a good cause. This is a marketing triple whammy in that it falls under the umbrella of co-branding, builds a philanthropic image around your company, and allows your customers to feel as though they are doing a good deed by purchasing your products. With all those benefits, it’s hard to go wrong.

2.    Loyalty Rewards

Customer appreciation events – The name says it all: these events give you the chance to show your customers how much you care while bringing them into your physical or virtual store . . . hopefully to buy more goods. While there’s no bad time to say “thank you,” consider hosting one when you have overstock to unload or when you want to test a product before launch—they’ll appreciate the idea that you want their feedback!

Loyalty points – If ever there was an organic way to tip the scales in your favor, this is it. Knowing that you’ve got a free tenth item, cash back, or store credit coming your way is too enticing to pass up. Often, this will keep someone coming back for more, helping you edge out a competitor when an otherwise equal choice presents itself to the consumer.

Useful branded materials – It’s the marketing device that keeps on giving. Drinkware, desk materials, writing implements, clothing, magnets, sports paraphernalia—there’s no limit to what you can use, but consider what sort of item will reach the customer you’re most likely to attract. Desk materials are a great choice for B2B marketing, while clothing might complement B2C. Writing utensils are considered the most useful promotional product, while bags generate the highest impression rate of any promotional item—these two also share the title of lowest cost per impression (

Referral incentives – Why not use your customers as off-the-books salespeople? The benefit here is that word of mouth also involves a trust factor—people are usually more likely to buy when they know their friends have been pleased with a product, after all. Try a pop-up at check out that offers a discount or store credit in exchange for a certain number of referrals, and always offer the chance to share a purchase on social media . . . which brings us to:

Social media promotions – Also known as the most popular form of earned or free media, social is the new magazine ad. There are about a dozen reasons why social has quickly become the best place to engage in B2C marketing, but the wealth of options available (at least one ideal campaign type for every industry) is what really makes it the king of promotions. Check out our article on Facebook Promotions for more info!

3.    Point of Purchase

Point of sale, end-cap – Anyone who’s been to Marshall’s or Old Navy knows how effective this promotion can be. Again, this is a great chance to unload overstocked merchandise, push smaller high-return items and introduce new or lesser-known products.

Product giveaways – This is a great opportunity to offer samples of new products, especially to preferred customers who will be able to give valuable feedback (a nice addition to, say, a customer appreciation event). For those who sell a product that can’t fit into a sample tube, consider giving out first-time customer discount certificates/coupon codes that satisfied customers can give to their friends and family.

Post-sale surveys – This is just another chance for you to get feedback from your valued customers and help them feel connected to your brand though increased engagement. Of course, you’ll see a higher rate of participation if you offer an incentive for your customers’ time, such as a discount or free gift, so make these bonuses easy to access (automated email with a coupon code, for example).

Contact 10twelve for a short consultation on the most effective promotions of 2017!