Brenda Peterson
Brenda Peterson
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How often did you catch yourself thinking: “I would probably not have bought this if not for that special deal”? I bet pretty often. I know I did! Let’s face it, it feels like they take it from you unless you grab the chance to snag that t-shirt half-price, even if deep inside you realize that the offer is nothing but a marketing trick. And you really can’t be blamed for that. No one wants to miss out on an opportunity to have something for a reduced price or that comes with a cool bonus. In marketing psychology, this is called “fear of missing out,” abbreviated as “FOMO.”

FOMO and loss aversion are the foundation of all special deals that we, consumers, love so much. But in this article, we are going to look at them from the opposite perspective, as marketers. What makes a limited time offer an effective tool for boosting sales and how can you make sure your promotion campaign goes smoothly and successfully? We will try to find the answers. But first, let’s start with the basics.

How do limited time offers work?

As mentioned above, the idea behind special deals, limited offers, and other sales promotion techniques that are based on offering a discount or added value are so popular because they appeal to our inherent desire to avoid losses. Marketers noticed that long ago and started to use the psychological phenomenon to promote brands and drive sales.

We all love to gain, but psychologists confirm that the pleasure of gaining is not nearly as strong as the disappointment of losing. That is why limited time offers work so well. You find a tempting deal, realize that the price is lower than it used to be, and the next moment you feel urged to make the purchase. But this is not just because you really need the product or service; rather, you simply don’t want to miss the chance to get it cheaper.

From a marketer’s perspective, this is a perfect win since products sold with a discount are bought even by those who weren’t actually going to purchase them before running into the deal. At the same time, to speed up the decision-making process, marketers resort to scarcity as the tool for making potential buyers feel pressed for time or supply. That is why statements like “Tonight only!” and “While the stock lasts” work wonders for a sales promotion.

Considering all this, you have a simple formula for a perfect limited time offer:

Product or service + discount or/and added value + sense of scarcity (time or/and supply limit) = increased sales.

However, special deals can only help you boost sales temporarily. If you offer discounts all the time, your deals won’t be so “special” after all. That is why it is critical to view limited time offers merely as a promotion method and to use them only occasionally, for example, when you need to raise awareness about your product, dispose of excessive stock, or maximize sales for a limited period.

Common types of limited time offers

When we think about limited time offers, the first thing that comes to mind is discounts. And while the vast majority of special deals are indeed based on cutting down prices, it is not the only way to make an offer more attractive to a customer. Depending on your business, you may consider the following types of promotional offers:

Flash sale

Offering unexpected limited time discounts is a great way to build hype around your brand and ensure a short-term sales boost. Flash sales usually come as a surprise, instill the sense of urgency, and push buyers’ FOMO to the limit. However, to be effective, a flash sale must offer a quite substantial price drop.

Seasonal sale

As opposed to flash sales, which occur randomly, recurring seasonal sales are usually expected by consumers well before their launch. That is why buyers get more time to prepare, allocate enough money, and thus, spend more than they normally would during a flash sale. Seasonal sales are often advertised in advance, and hence, get more public attention.

Buy one and get…

That is arguably the best way to arrange a special deal if you want to offer more than just a discount. You are free to decide what buyers will get if they purchase your product. It can be anything that adds value to your initial offer: another identical product (buy one, get two), a complementary product (e.g., buy a laptop and get a wireless mouse as a gift), service (e.g., buy a product and get free shipping), etc.

Holiday sale

Holidays are the perfect time for limited time offers for two main reasons. First, people are more likely to spend money during that time as they buy gifts and afford themselves a bit more than usual. Second, a holiday is an excellent occasion to justify your deals (as some people tend to be wary about random discounts).

Pre-order discounts and bonuses

If your new product is not yet released, offering a pre-order discount or bonus can not only create hype around it but also ensure revenues from pre-release sales. It’s a nice way to get the ball rolling.

Coupon codes

A coupon code that guarantees an instant discount can be a powerful incentive for a consumer to buy a product. Thanks to their uniqueness, coupon codes make people feel like they are getting an exclusive deal, which further strengthens their FOMO. No wonder why coupon users reportedly spend 46% more at checkout than regular shoppers. It is a good idea to apply coupons to the stock that you have in excess or to products that require complementary goods that you can later sell at full price.

Product bundles

Bundling products and offering them at discounted prices allows you to sell more of your goods at a faster pace. For instance, seeing that two books that come in a bundle cost $15 instead of $20 if sold separately, many shoppers will end up buying the bundle, even if they were initially interested only in one book.

The listed types of limited time offers do not pertain to selling physical goods only. Digital products can also be sold through various kinds of special deals featured on your website, given that your site builder supports E-commerce. For example, NING has its own monetization platform with the inbuilt Discounts feature, which allows content creators to do business more efficiently.

Tips for successful limited time offers

The effectiveness of a special deal depends on such factors as product quality, market demand, and the value of the offer. But to make sure your deal stands out, it is worth putting extra effort into making it as attractive as possible. Below are a few tips that will help you get an idea about how to use limited time offers with the most successful outcome.

Create a landing page

If you’re getting your audience ready for a big sale, the best way to announce it online is to create a dedicated landing page that would clarify why your offer is worth attention. It should also redirect users to specific pages of your online store where the products can be bought with a discount. A well-designed landing page that showcases your products in the best light and leverages buyers’ FOMO to the fullest extent may have a surprisingly good effect on sales.

Use eye-catching product photos

High-quality photos of your products are essential for promotional purposes as they capture viewers’ attention and convince them to make a purchase better than any text copy. Try to find creative ways to demonstrate your products. As long as your images are capable of captivating the audience, your limited time offer will have a higher chance to translate into an increased conversion rate.

Introduce a video to convey the deal

Much like product photos, videos let you amplify your message and make your offer more attractive to the audience. Furthermore, among all existing types of visual content, video boasts the highest engagement rate. As a matter of fact, a video embedded in a landing page increases conversions by over 80%! Imagine how much attention your offer will get if accompanied by an awesome video featuring your product.

Get inventive with your sales copy

Although visual content makes the first and the most important impression on your prospects when they get themselves familiar with your offer, the wording used to describe your deal is crucial at the decision-making phase. Therefore, do your best to convey your message effectively. Make your sales copy concise and compelling. Employ punchy words and phrases that emphasize the uniqueness and urgency of your offer (e.g., “Hurry – Ends Tonight,” “This fall only,” etc.) Look for creative ways to dispel the slightest doubts on the shopper’s end. And finally, introduce convincing calls-to-action to encourage the buyer to take further action. The more impact you make with your copy, the less hesitation customers will have in purchasing your product.

Give away gift cards or coupon codes

People love all kinds of gifts. And if you manage to delight your prospects with at least a small but pleasant bonus, you will give a strong impetus to your offer. It can either be a gift card that adds extra funds to the user’s online wallet or a coupon granting a discount on a subsequent purchase. By offering a worthy bonus, you may encourage shoppers to come back for more purchases in the future.

Show a timer on promotional web pages

That is a simple yet effective trick that is often used to convey the urgency of an offer. Watching the clock tick and seeing how the deal is nearing its expiration, shoppers often get more decisive. Their unwillingness to miss out on an opportunity to get something at a lower price pushes them to overcome hesitation and make the decision for the purchase.

Don’t underestimate the power of email

Email marketing is still going strong. It means you should integrate sales promotion activities with your email strategy. This won’t cost you anything but will raise the awareness about your promotion campaigns significantly. All you need to do is keep growing your mailing list and let your contacts know about your current (or coming) deals. Just make sure your subject line is compelling enough. Otherwise, your email may end up in a spam folder.

Personalize your offer

Offering special deals and discounts to your customers is great. But if you can personalize your offer, you will have a better chance to convert your prospects. It is reported that 79% of buyers are more likely to purchase promoted items if the offer is based on previous interactions.

Conclusion

Limited time offers are perfect for both promoting your brand and temporarily increasing sales. For most people, it is hard to resist special deals because they can’t tolerate losing an opportunity to get more for less. There are many proven ways to offer discounts and bonuses to your audience and to make your offer more attractive. As long as you follow the tips provided in this article, your promotion campaigns will deliver impressive results!


Brenda Peterson

Brenda is Technical Specialist at Ning