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Monday, Nov. 30, 2009 at 9:00 am

Holiday Promotions Your Visitors Can’t Resist

By Melissa Burdon
November 30th, 2009

I decided to participate in the Black Friday craziness by taking a ride up to the Park City outlets to see what the hype was all about. I must say that I got sucked right into the whole thing. Take an extra 20% off the lowest listed price–now that’s what I call a deal. Every store had their own Black Friday special, but there were a few stores that were obviously missing the point. On a couple of occasions, when I asked what their Black Friday specials were, they pointed to only a few items on display and said that their specials featured “Sale” tags on the marked down merchandise. Guess what? I didn’t buy anything from the stores with the lame sales.

If you’re going to beat your competition and get the business this holiday season,  you’ll need to be creative with your promotions and make sure that they appeal to your potential customers. It’s obvious if you try to cut corners, this turns your visitors off. Go out on a limb, take a look at the specials your competitors are offering, and then offer your visitors something even more appealing.

Shoes at DSW- Shop Thousands of Women's Shoes, Men's Shoes and Boots.DSW sends me emails and direct mail with coupon codes for exclusive, limited time offers. They have sent me “holiday versions” of these marketing communication pieces continuously over the last couple of weeks. Their site offers more limited time offers for free shipping and $20 off an online purchase of $99 or more. DSW successfully persuades first time visitors to take advantage of great offers and they also do a wonderful job at reaching out to existing customers with exclusive offers we simply can’t resist!

Apply some of these tactics to your own marketing communications mix. Feature free shipping and exclusive, limited time offer coupon codes on your site. Send emails and/or direct mail pieces to your existing customer base, and offer them a great deal. Where you don’t have room to offer your customers a lower price than your competitors, be creative with how you can differentiate yourself using “specials.” Free shipping on orders that meet a minimum dollar amount work great. You could also offer a $25 gift certificate for every $100 dollars spent. If you’re really strapped and can only offer deals where it’s going to have the biggest impact, you could offer the great deals to those who have demonstrated intent to buy but are unlikely to buy unless you offer them a deal.

What other types of promotions would appeal to potential customers when doing their holiday shopping? If you come across any sites that offer different promotions than the ones I’ve listed here, please share them.

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Comments (47)

  1. Being creative is definitely going to be the name of the game this holiday season. Websites and retailers are really cutting costs and pulling out many different promotions right now.

  2. How do small online businesses compete with brick and mortar Black Friday at all?

    It seems to me that these places have unbelievable good deals that are “limited” to only a few customers – that way the deal attracts far more customers than they actually give the deal to — does the same “limited supply” strategy work with online customers since they can more easily move on when they see you are “out” of the extreme deal item?

  3. another great post from Melissa, every body must prepare for holiday promotion indeed

  4. Yep, i agree, you have to be creative to sell good…

  5. Make promotion during Black Friday or something else is a good idea.
    But all store cannot do this at the same level.
    But I’ll remember this post in the future. Thanks

  6. Yes, I agree. Great Post.

  7. Me myself can’t resist that offer. It’s quite good and the quality of the product is really perfect.

  8. I agree that every holiday promotion must be created with an idea of bringing your customers to you and giving them something that they will be interested in. Black Friday could be good idea to increase sales. And also every promotion must suggest that those products are not a failure or off target. They should be presented as mainstream unique occasion.

  9. This is great advice to owners of businesses of all sizes. When I’m walking through the mall and there are lots of “We’re having a crazy special deal” signs, I’m not going to walk into the store that’s not offering any real specials. Sure, some businesses can’t afford to do a Black Friday special, but they still need something to differentiate themselves in order to draw the customers in.

  10. Good post, something I try to advise all small businesses – don’t be just another cake seller, sell different cakes or better cakes or unusual ones…

  11. We’re already on the slippery slope towards a consumer “deal or bust” mindset.

    Black Friday has raised the bar for bigger retailer’s discounts, but does it really help a store’s long-term profits to be associated with “transactional” as opposed to “relational” sales?

    I think that programs that reward loyalty should be on the radar for any retailer. Pricing should be part of the mix, but I believe that nurturing the relationship is critical for long-term success.

  12. Tony: “We’re already on the slippery slope towards a consumer “deal or bust” mindset.”
    I couldn’t agree more. SeeWhy produced some very interesting stats this week on the impact of anticipated promotions on the shopping cart abandonment rate. Customers were driven to researching online in the month leading up to Black Friday driving the average abandonment rate up to 85% on weekends, and 71% overall for the month of October. You can see the data (check out the second graph showing the daily abandonment rate) here .
    We need to worry about ‘training the customer’ to expect promotions. The data shows that the effect has been to delay customer purchases pending anticipated promotions. As we all know, customers who buy on promotion are less loyal, and have a much shorter tenure, and consequently a lower life time value.

    Melissa: Your comment about “offer the great deals to those who have demonstrated intent “ is right on the mark. There have been numerous studies that have demonstrated the effectiveness of shopping cart recovery programs, so remarketing should be part and parcel of every ecommerce site. An optimized sequence of remarketing emails can recover up to 50% of abandoned carts, and many of these programs do not include promotional offers.

  13. When you’re competing in a retail environment like this year has provided us, the key for small players is diferentiation. If you can’t afford to offer lost leaders or heavily discount shipping then the obvious place to turn is product mix. In this case Bundling is the key and not the kind where you get sewn into your jammies but creating product offerings that cannot easily be compared. If you bundle the seasons hottest item with an obvious add on item you have value add, differentiation and an offering that won’t or can’t be found anywhere else. There may even be an opportunity within this bundle to find that slight discount that really leaves that sweet flavor of perceived value. So bundle up this holiday season… it’ll help you stay warm and profitable!

  14. Yes, I agree of the Free Shipping method, because sometime the cost to purchase the things is much cheaper than shipping cost for International buyer.

  15. Every year companies step up there game. This year is a pivotal year for retailers and if you don’t have your A game…your more than likely not going to last long. Great post!

  16. Here in Australia, we don’t really celebrate Black Friday, nor do we celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s really sad, since I’d love to go down the streets at this time of the year, and find tonnes of awesome sales. Around Christmas, however, alot of amazing sales open up. Especially my favorite – GAMES SALES!

  17. There are some companies that just refuse to give coupons. Zappos is one example where they feel their excellent customer service is sufficient.

  18. Limited time offers with free shipping promotional offers works best!

  19. I received an email from Starbucks promoting their 12 Days of Wishing offer, “12 incredible gifts at great prices”, one gift per day. To take advantage of this offer, I needed to become a fan on their Facebook page. I thought this was a clever promotion because it combines anticipation (“what’s today’s gift?”) with social media.

    With respect to free shipping, one frustration I have with free shipping is when the offer is attached to a specific item. I prefer free shipping with a minimum order value. Whenever I’m shopping, I always Google coupon codes which work most of the time.

    Free gifts to incent a first purchase are also compelling. Bliss Spa ( offers a valuable gift with a first minimum purchase.

  20. I am fully satisfied.
    great post.
    They should be presented as mainstream unique occasion.

  21. i like this article, thank you for the info

  22. don’t be just another cake seller, sell different cakes or better cakes or unusual ones
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  23. when you are trying to launch a new product in the market, you have to set a good marketing strategy..

  24. the offer is amazing and the product quality is pretty good…

  25. I completely understand you!
    I also find myself annoyed and frustrated when I come to a “special sell” and find out that it’s all about nothing.
    With a little creativity you can easily attract costumers. All it takes is this extra special attention and a reasonable price.

  26. Black Friday? Isn’t it like that every day this time of year?

    Big outlets take advantage and they know what attacts customers, small business need to be good in how they sell.

  27. it is nice product and site..we have been waiting for your success.congratulations

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  30. Sells needs creativity……..

  31. Low price is my tactic and it is always work in every season.

  32. [...] Source:Holiday Promotions Your Visitors Can’t Resist Share and Enjoy: [...]

  33. I miss my holidays

  34. It’s quite essential to adopt innovative ideas to promote your business & to defeat your competitors.

  35. Having a promotional marketing plan in place is essential not only during the holidays but throughout the year. Being creative with your sales and marketing campaigns require innovation and follow through. I like the ideas you presented, there are so many out there…it really depends on what is best for your overall company and what your marketing team thinks will provide the best results.

  36. Yes! The individual organizations marketing and sales strategy is the single important aspect to the business being successful and sustaining the fickle changes associated with consumer purchasing. It appears that some businesses, based on these comments, are reacting and responding to the immediate short term demands of the online clients. Whilst this is important and customer service and response a necessary ingredient. It should form part of a strategy not just a response. Assess, Reflect and Review. I am interested in the segment of our community that have not evolved to the online buying. How are retailers monitoring and responding to the whole of community. What might the strategy look like?

    Great site. Thank you

  37. I really like the incentives for future purchases. Like giving a gift card for every $100 or so in purchases people make. Research shows that for every $1 in gift money you give out, people spend another dollar of their own.

  38. I had fun reading this post. It’s very helpful for me as an online entrepreneur. I’ve already used some of the techniques and they worked for me. Thanks.

  39. sure,if you want to sell good, it must be creative!

  40. i like this article, thank you for the info

  41. I’m not going to walk into the store that’s not offering any real specials. Sure, some businesses can’t afford to do a Black Friday special, but they still need something to differentiate themselves in order to draw the customers in.

  42. You must of course know your product real value and general idea of the market cost as I have often viewed specific sales only to find that it was not a true discount just pen and paper at work.

  43. Thanks for great post.. i dont like black friday :)

  44. Black Friday in itself does not hold any real horror to the modern society, however, the image is not one of positive advertising; BLACK promotes darkness. If that’s the theme of the sale then broaden the promotion to reflect what we mean by “black”. In this case why not call it “White Friday”?
    To make an impact for your proposed sale retailers must become more creative as we now see sales with regular monotony. As a critic one may question the original pricing structure across all market segments in the retail trade, as “sales” are too common for any to be effective.

  45. Holidays people have less resistance, so you need to take advantage of that for sure.

  46. We all flock to that sale particularly when it appears to be on mass. I often have a dreaded feeling that the sale is not really at a reduce price. Rather it is a con. I know this is not kind and does not mean that all retailers would take this action, but tell me does it happen? I am a promoter and would like to hear if in fact people do lie to their customers during a sales promotion? If so how can this be restricted and if this is not a regular occurrence, how do we alter the perception

  47. I think that in that with the shear number of shopper on Cyber Monday, ecommerce sites should be focusing on return customers as much as new customers. Possibly offering special promotions to those that have opted in to an email list.

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Melissa is a Senior Persuasion Analyst at FutureNow.

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