DTC eCommerce brands have no shortage of marketing strategies at their disposal, but no marketing tactic is as tried, tested and trusted as a retail sale. Sales events have been a staple of the retail sector for over a century. That’s not to say they are old fashioned, though. They hold just as much weight for online brands as they do for brick and mortar stores. Here are four reasons to start hosting flash and event sales if you’re not doing so already.
More Customers and Revenue
The first and most obvious benefit of running a sale is increasing your number of customers and, subsequently, generating more revenue. That’s because price is an important driver for most consumers. Everyone loves getting a deal, says content marketer Jordie Black. Brands looking to sell more of a certain product or to acquire more customers can achieve both goals by hosting a sale.
One of the ways sales drive customers and revenue is by creating a sense of urgency. A flash sale or any other time-limited sale is a great way to create a sense of urgency among consumers and encourage more of them to convert into customers, Nicole Martins Ferreira writes at Oberlo. Flash sales that last one day tend to be the most effective as they force consumers to take action immediately.
“Prime Day is an example of a limited time offer,” she explains. “Amazon hosts a one day sale each year for its Prime members offering the best deals. Notably, the sale starts at 9 PM. Many top online retailers often have promotions start at 9 or 10 pm at night as it’s a popular time to make an impulse purchase for online shoppers.”
Another example of sales causing a level of urgency that results in more customers is limited edition product drops. As Convertica CEO and Founder Kurt Philip explains, it took just 16 seconds for an $1800 piece of luggage by Supreme and Rimowa to sell out online. This was without any pre-launch promotion—just one post on Instagram that announced the luggage sale was all it took. When customers know they may miss out forever if they don’t act immediately, the urge to make a purchase can overcome any hesitation about the user’s needs or the price.
Generating more revenue is obviously an important result of acquiring new customers, but so is taking customers away from competitors. This can be particularly powerful for new brands entering the market, says business writer Neil Kokemuller. Startups may even wish to use event sales to focus on user acquisition at the expense of profits.
A sales event is an effective technique for generating awareness of new product ranges, writes HubSpot’s Jay Fuchs. “A limited-time, promotional discount for a brand new offering can turn some heads and make consumers take a closer look at the product or service you’re trying to promote.”
One of the reasons discounts work so well with new products is the “ripple effect” they create, says business writer Marijana Kay. A sale encourages users to try your new product who subsequently tell their friends and share it on social media. Such an effect can be very profitable in the long run, even if you’re discounting to begin with, she adds. “It can have a long-term benefit to the sales of that product, even when the discount expires.”
Flash sales are particularly effective in building brand awareness, writes Nathan Thompson at OptinMonster. They can be especially viral when promoted on social media. “Even though someone in your network may not be interested in your product, chances are that they’ll share your deal with friends and family,” he writes. “As your brand makes its way through social media posts, you’ll be getting more free exposure that can have a long term impact on your business.”
Luxury and Exclusivity
While frequent discounting can harm your brand image, one kind of sale can make your brand feel even more luxurious and exclusive: limited-edition product drops.
Part of what makes limited-edition drops so popular is the illusion of brand power, write Roland Eisenbrand and Scott Peterson at online marketing platform OMR. Brands typically use celebrities or exclusive brand partnerships to boost the luxury appeal of their products. “Oftentimes there is an added push from pro athletes, teen and pop icons working as brand ambassadors to further boost the brand’s popularity and, by extension, the street cred of the owner.”
Another reason why limited edition runs promote the idea of exclusivity is that consumers must work to acquire the products, writes Katie Baron, Director of Brand Engagement at Stylus. This is an approach being taken by Kitri, a U.K.-based womenswear brand; they do not restock items when they sell out even though the brand has an extensive waiting list.
Reward Loyalty and Drive Engagement
Sales events can be used to drive brand loyalty by rewarding valued customers with savings. “A substantial flash sale discount is a way to pay it forward to your best customers,” writes Finch Grace at marketing automation platform ActiveCampaign. Sales events not only improve conversion rates, they also increase the likelihood of turning your customers into repeat shoppers.
There are several ways of rewarding loyal customers with sales, writes Hosting Facts CEO John Stevens. One option is to reward customers with a sale on the anniversary of their first purchase. Another is to reward customers with a sale event when they order a certain number of items or reach a certain spending threshold. Rewarding customer loyalty this way means that brands don’t risk diluting their image with too many sales.The rewards strengthen your appeal with the people that matter most.
Brands do not have to employ event sales to make a loyalty play with their marketing strategy. Giving customers a discount on their next purchase can be equally effective, says journalist Benjamin Kabin. These kinds of discounts are particularly useful for brands who sell consumable or refillable products, like ink cartridges or coffee makers.
If you see the benefit of incorporating event sales into your marketing strategy, it’s time to decide which type of sale to run. Read our overview of common types of online sales to get started.