7 Ways to Spice Up Your Promos and Boost Online Sales

Open your inbox on any given day and you’re likely to see multiple emails shouting boring stuff like “20% off our newest collection!” or “Enjoy our biggest sale of the season!” But how often do you actually open those emails? And even on the rare occasion that you do, how often do you actually buy something?

Probably not too often. That’s because all these lame-o discounts look the same, so we’ve become totally desensitized to them. They don’t inspire us to act.

So how do you, as an online store owner, get customers to pay attention to discounts again? By shaking up the status quo and doing something interesting! We’ve got a few ideas you can use.

creative discount sale ideas

1. Mystery Boxes and Bonus Items

Who doesn’t love getting bonus stuff? It’s like unwrapping a gift on Christmas morning, except your in laws aren’t staring at you in disappointment.

So throw in a cheap bonus item with every order. Or even better, add it to all orders over a certain dollar amount to encourage customers to spend more.

But what’s even more exciting than bonus items? Surprises. Enter mystery boxes! Take some of your slow moving inventory, throw it together in a bundle and sell it as a “mystery box” at a discount.

If you’ve got long-term storage fees coming up at Amazon, this is a great way to avoid them. It’s also a great way to offer a discount without applying it to your whole store or high-value items.

2. Leaked Discount Strategies

This strategy was used by Polysleep for their Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale. They created a mock internal email with the details of their upcoming sale, then “leaked” it to all of their email subscribers.

The email had a whole conversation between the customer service and marketing departments outlining the deal – an aggressive discount on the first 500 mattresses sold, a smaller discount on the next 500 sold, then 20% off for the rest of the holiday.

In the email, customer service asks when the discount code goes live and the marketing department replies that it’s already been created, it just hasn’t been pushed out to customers yet. Customer service confirms that they’ll keep the code a secret until midnight, when the offer goes live. Then the email gets blasted to their whole subscriber list.

Guess how many people jumped on that offer? Yep, a buttload. Some thought they were lucky to get in on the deal early, while others caught onto the joke but bought because they liked the creativity of the offer. Either way, people took notice.

leaked discount strategy

3. Interactive Postcards

Postal mail is for old fogeys, right? Phone books, “pre-approved” credit card offers and coupons from the local dentist’s office – that’s pretty much all anyone gets in the mail now. And it all goes straight into the recycle bin (or the trash can if you’re some kind of monster).

So why would you bother to actually mail anything to your customers? Think about the last time you got something actually interesting in the mail. It’s a total “wait, what?” moment that makes you stop in your tracks and pay attention.

So send something interesting! Try a scratch off postcard that reveals a hidden discount. Or a postcard with instructions on how to fold it into a paper airplane.

Try to tie the design in with your offer or products. For example, an origami bunny for an Easter discount or an origami dog if you sell pet products. You can even offer the discount to anyone who uploads a picture of their paper art to your social media.

4. Charitable Contributions

This works great if your target buyers are high-income hippies. You know, like Patagonia customers. The gist is that instead of offering a discount for this xyz holiday, you’re donating a percentage of sales made that day to a charity they really dig.

It’s the same idea behind Tom’s giving a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair they sell. It makes people feel all warm and fuzzy – like they actually did a good deed without leaving the comfort of their dimly lit, Cheeto-dusted basement.

To make it even more exciting, set a goal for how much money you want to raise for charity or how many trees you want to plant or whatever. Then have a live meter on your website that shows how far along you are throughout the day – kind of like the Domino’s pizza tracker. People get excited about watching a little bar move slightly to the right.

5. Offbeat Holiday Discounts

While everyone and their mom is doing Memorial Day discounts and Labor Day sales, you should be focused on the holidays that actually matter to your customers.

For example, Bob’s Pickle Pops could run a big discount on National Pickle Day (November 14th). Or if you sell a product that makes a great gift for your significant other, run a promotion on National Spouses Day (January 26th).

offbeat holiday discount

6. Loyalty Programs

Loyalty program members buy more often and spend more money, so you gotta set one up for your customers. But people won’t sign up unless it’s interesting. Here’s a few ideas.

Literally give your loyalty members cash to spend in your store each month. Think about it. If a company offered you a free $10 bill to spend in their store, you’d be much more likely to buy that $50 item you’ve been eyeballing. Consider how much your customer acquisition cost is and how much your average product price is to figure out how much to offer your members.

Alternatively, you can hold a raffle each month that all members are automatically entered into. Give away a product or bundle in exchange for all of those sweet, sweet email addresses that you can market to later.

7. Milestone Discounts

As part of your customer loyalty program, set up milestone discounts. For example, offer members a discount on their birthday or the anniversary of their first purchase.

You can also create a tiered discount offer so that the more a customer spends, the bigger the discount they receive. Or once they reach a certain number of purchases, they get bigger and better discounts.


If your discount offers are seeing dismal conversion rates, you’ve got to spice things up. Make your offers stand out from the crowd and you’ll see more conversions and, most importantly, more money in your pocket.

About the Author

Gennifer is the Marketing Manager at ByteStand, where she lives and breathes customer service education while sipping coffee in her pajamas.

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