It’s the most wonderful SALE time of the year.
You might have planned a black friday / cyber monday / pre-holiday / post-holiday sale in hopes of giving your customers a treat – and let’s be real – also in hopes of ending the year with more money in the bank!
But sometimes sales don’t go as well as you’d hoped. You put the offer out into the world thinking people are DEFINITELY going to take advantage of it… and then crickets. Or maybe you get a couple more orders than normal, but it’s not the outcome you had hoped for.
Some people might tell you to not run sales / not discount whatever you are selling….
I am not one of those people.
I think sales or special promotions can be a great way to boost your revenue / get rid of excess inventory / incentivize your customers to take action… but there’s more to a sale than creating a discount code and sending an email or posting about it on social media.
In the past I’ve run Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales on physical products, digital products, and online courses and November / December are usually my highest earning income months of the year! This year was was a bit exceptional in that I had my biggest revenue driving sale ever… I earned what would be equal to about 2 months of my “normal” recurring income in just 1 weekend – without launching anything new!
Ok #RealTalk – the week before Thanksgiving I ended up getting super sick and having about 5 million tech issues. I didn’t do as much as I wanted to do to prep for my sales, and I definitely ended up working on Thanksgiving Day for a few hours… but overall I’m happy with the way things went. In 4 days, I ended up earning almost 3x more than my original sales goal, so I’ve done some reflecting on what I did right / what I could have done better because you best believe I’m going to set even higher goals for the next holiday sale season!
Tips to maximize your holiday sale revenue (and what not to do)!
1) Know your customers
For a sale to be effective, you have to know what your customers want – is it a % off discount, free shipping, a value-based offer like a bundle or bonus, etc? Don’t just assume that the offer you want to make is the one that people want… if you’ve run sales or promotions in the past, make sure you’re keeping track of which ones were more successful than others. If you’re not sure what your customers want, ask them. Run customer surveys or Instagram polls or straight up just ASK people would they would prefer. Just because a particular sale worked well for another business doesn’t mean it will work for you!
On that note, I’m also going to say that while doing what has worked before is generally a good idea… sometimes trying something new is even better. This year I wanted to do a promotion with a $199 price point, but I knew my audience is more likely to buy something when the price point is under $100 – so I tried 2 different sales. Ultimately the $199 sale resulted in more revenue (even though the total number of sales was lower) because the price point was significantly higher! BUT I also knew that a lot of my customers didn’t like paying recurring fees so offering a 1 time payment for a lifetime membership was something that appealed to them!
2) Build up excitement
Similar to how brands build excitement before a big launch, you can built anticipation around your sales. Letting your audience know ahead of time that there will be a sale can help them plan ahead from both a time and budget perspective, and it also gives them time to think about what they want to buy. You can share the specific details of your sale or keep them a mystery, but either way, letting your customers know that something is coming helps them to be better prepared!
For my cyber weekend sales, I started “teasing” my audience about 7-10 days ahead of time to let them know that I would be running special promotions for black friday / cyber monday. This can also help to reduce the number of people who make purchases right before a sale period and then ask for price adjustments (whether you allow price adjustments or not, those customer service hours are precious during a sale, so do what you can to reduce them)!
3) Arm your affiliates
If you have affiliates or brand ambassadors (or even just business besties who love to share the word), it’s also a good idea to let them know ahead of time if you are running a sale so that they have time to plan for any promotion they want to do. I emailed my affiliates about a week before my cyber weekend sales letting them know the sale details as well as providing graphics that they could use to make their lives easier. I also sent a reminder the day before Thanksgiving knowing that it was a busy week for a lot of people, and honestly, I would have sent another reminder after the sales had gone live… but I totally forgot!
4) Schedule social posts in advance
Assuming you’re sharing about your sale on social media, try to schedule as many of your posts in advance as you can. While a sale is happening you’re probably getting more orders / questions / etc. than usual, and if you’re also trying to enjoy some of holidays yourself, it can be very overwhelming! Instead of trying to remember to post on Instagram between servings of turkey and pie, take some time to create and schedule your social posts in advance so that you aren’t scrambling during the sale (or forgetting to share completely)!
Remember those graphics I created for my affiliates to use to promote the sale? Well I used them for myself too! This saved a ton of time and also just made it easier for all of my sales visuals to look cohesive no matter who was sharing them!
5) Optimize your website for conversions
Not everyone is going to come to your website because they saw a sale promo on social media or clicked through an email where you shared in the sale info. To maximize conversions during your sale, make sure your website is optimized so that new visitors know of any promotions going on. That might mean adding a “sticky” bar at the top of every page (I use Sumo for this), updating your website graphics, or adding promo code details near any “buy now” buttons.
6) Make it easy for customers to ask questions
If you find that a lot of people are coming to your sales pages but not buying, it might be because they have unanswered questions and aren’t ready to make a purchase. Make it easy for customers to get their questions answered by either directing them to a contact form or FAQ page or using a support chat tool like Drift or Pure Chat to easily answer customer questions when they’re on your sales page.
Halfway through my cyber weekend sale weekend, I added a chat option using Drift (for free!) and had a few potential customers who were on the fence get their questions answered in real time!
7) Send more emails than you’re comfortable with
If you’re using email marketing during a busy sale season like black friday / cyber monday / any major sales holiday, you have to remember that everyone’s inboxes are overflowing with emails. People see your emails and don’t open them because they are busy / they get distracted / they forget / etc. so if you’re just sending a single email to tell people about your sale… you’re missing out on potential sales from the majority of your audience! You may feel like it’s annoying to send multiple emails, but the truth is that most people are not seeing every single email – and the people that get annoyed and unsubscribe were probably never going to buy from you anyway!
During my 4 day sale period I sent 6 emails and 2 of those emails I actually re-sent to anyone who hadn’t opened them within 12 hours… so that’s basically 2 emails a day over a 4 day period. Yes, that seems like a lot. Yes, it sort of made me uncomfortable. Yes, I had a bunch of people unsubscribe (less than 1% of subscribers overall). But most importantly, every single time I sent an email, I got a new influx of sales.
8) Remember FOMO is real
Fact: people don’t like missing out on a deal. Every time I run a sale, I get emails after the promotion ends from people who missed out who BEG to get the discount. Using countdown timers like Motion Mail can help customers visualize how much (or how little) time they have left – there’s a reason a lot of brands use countdown timers – they work! FOMO is real and you are not “taking advantage of” your customers by reminding them that your offer expires.. so they need to act NOW!
So those are my 8 tips for maximizing holiday sale revenue – what other tips do you have for increasing conversions during a sale?!