12 Sales Promotion Examples That Convert

March 18, 2021
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A brand’s sales promotion strategy is like a well-choreographed dance. All its moving parts should work in perfect synchronization with their market and niche to find the right promotion, for the right customer, at the right time.

The following top eCommerce brands have got this down to a fine art. Even the most straightforward promotions can wow in terms of conversions when they are backed by sound data and personalization.

Their secret?

That’s precisely what we’re going to highlight in this post!

We’re pulling back the curtain to offer an inside look into some of the top converting sales promotion examples, grouped by promotional type.

Additionally, we will gain key insights into how brands are using these promotions to target specific shoppers at various touchpoints to increase conversions, mitigate profit loss, and build customer retention.

1. Mystery Discounts and Surprise Offers 

The backbone of the success of customer experience is under-promising and over-delivering, and it very much applies to onsite eCommerce discounts and promotions. 

Strategically-placed mystery discounts or surprise onsite discounts can have a positive impact on conversion rates. 

Sales Promotion Example #1: Use Surprise Offers to Convert

Take a look at Dollar Shave Club’s mystery onsite promotion, offered to potential customers who have been taken through their home page sales funnel as first-time shoppers.

dollar shave club sales promotion example

After completing the survey, they present the best product boxes based on each potential customer’s specific needs (which are highly personalized) and back it up with a customized surprise discount.

intent-based promotions dollar shave club 2

By placing mystery discounts at specific touchpoints, especially to visitors that already expressed interest (and in this case created their own packages), you are giving them that extra push. This, in turn, increases your conversion chances with an audience that shows greater purchasing intent and ensures you are not giving discounts to just any visitor. Ultimately, preserving your brand equity!

intent-based promotions dollar shave club

2. Onsite Free Shipping Promotions 

The following sales promotion example highlights onsite shipping incentives. 

These promotions generally target new potential shoppers and existing customers at various locations on your retail store, including home page promotional banners, site-wide bars, cart customization, and checkout upselling. 

Top brands who uniquely frame these promotions can turn them into substantial conversion-generating tools, increasing AOVs. 

Sales Promotion Example #2: Combine Multiple Promotions for Extra Checkout Incentives 

A good example of a brand capitalizing on these creative consumer sales promotions is Uncommon Goods. Uncommon Goods combines free shipping incentives with loyalty programs as a way to reward existing buyers or turn new shoppers into repeat customers. 

uncommon goods free shipping promotion in checkout

Unlike many retailers, Uncommon Goods bundle their free shipping incentive with other perks, including exclusive access to new products, regular monthly credits, and give-back social initiatives.

uncommon goods promotion example membership

When it comes to sales promotion ideas, Uncommon Goods is packed full of expert strategies that not only improve revenue but reduce promotion costs and time-to-purchase. This includes personalized promotions across various touchpoints that have been tailored specially for their brand, niche, and shoppers. 

We are big fans of their email subscription incentive in particular, which not only includes credit for shoppers but combines it with a gift reminder feature, which is a considerable value point for their market. 

uncommon good email signup

3. Flash and Clearance Sales 

There is nothing new about flash or clearance sales – they’re as old as retail itself. However, they can still be highly effective for driving online sales when combined with innovation and creative out-of-the-box brand strategies. 

It’s also vital to run sales in a way that doesn’t cheapen your brand or eat away at your profits. A good example of this comes from Samsonite

Sales Promotion Example #3: Move More Inventory With Secret Flash Sales 

By encouraging potential customers to ‘unlock’ a sale, as opposed to just giving one, Samsonite is able to offer flash sales without cheapening their brand. They can also adjust their sales percentage based on which customer segment is seeing their onsite promotion. 

samsonite online flash sale example

In fact, all their onsite promotions have to be ‘unlocked’ by potential customers on their first visit. Not only does this tie in with their brand image (creating more exclusivity), but it enables them to grow their remarketing lists quicker.

Pro Tip: As we know, adapting your promotions based on shoppers’ behavior is key to ensuring you are not losing revenue on sales. However, in today’s competitive market, this is not enough.

To truly balance your profits with volume for any promotion, you need to drill down to each specific buyer. Personalizing your promotion to each specific visitor’s needs and buying consideration for each specific session can improve digital revenue by up to 15%.

4. Loyalty-Building Promotions and Referral Programs  

We know that well-structured referral programs and onsite loyalty-building promotions are vital for sustained growth and retention. 

However, they also play a crucial role in the omni-channel customer experience of your online brand. They can be a powerful motivator for turning site traffic into first-time shoppers by lessening journey abandonment and attracting shoppers who are more likely to become repeat customers.  

An excellent example of this in action is the free shipping incentive from Uncommon Goods we highlighted above, where their free shipping is tied to their Perks loyalty program. 

Another sales promotion example based on loyalty-building comes from Chubbies.

Sales Promotion Example #4: Use Reward Gamification to Convert First-Time Shoppers and Loyal Customers 

Chubbies is a prime example of a loyalty program that can be used for retention and converting first-time customers when combined with other promotions. By cleverly populating rewards into first-time browsers’ and shoppers’ carts, they can use future promotions as a powerful conversion incentive. 

Chubbies home page 2
Chubbies rewards sales promotion

On the first click of their cart, potential customers are shown free gifts they can unlock and see a reminder of their free shipping promotions. They are then also presented with a rewards tab which offers a further incentive of $5 off if they join.

Chubbies rewards

What really makes this promotion stand out from other loyalty and referral programs is how they use their point rewards to not only push product sales, but also build brand awareness and loyalty through word-of-mouth promotions. They do this by giving points for anything from social shares to opening an account. 

Ultimately, they make sure shoppers feel ‘rewarded’ at every buying stage by gamifying point collection to keep them engaged and turn them into loyal customers.

chubbies online rewards for new customers 4

Sales Promotion Example #5: Partner With Leading Brands to Push Loyalty 

Another sales promotion tactic example that centers around referrals comes from GlassesUSA. Although much more straightforward than a points system, this creative partnership with a brand that’s popular with their target market is a huge drive for new potential customers.

glasses USA rewards program

Co-marketing or partner marketing can be a highly effective branding and trust-building tool that both expands your reach to broader audiences and boosts loyalty fast. 

Incorporating co-marketing into your onsite promotions strategy and combining it with personalized messaging and promotional diversification can be a game-changer. 

5. Lifestyle Segment Promotions 

eCommerce discounts and promotions which are segmented by demographics, are a given for any top retailer. However, lifestyle and interest segmentation can be just as powerful. 

Not only does it afford you the capabilities to fine-tune messaging to smaller segments, but it enables you to offer diverse sets of promotions that are more likely to convert those groups. 

This is something that Ann Summers are experts at. 

Sales Promotion Example #6: Target Specific Shoppers with Specific Promotions 

Every promotion Ann Summers runs is highly segmented, based on interests and lifestyle segmentation. 

student discounts onstore ann summers

This includes student discount schemes (as shown below), bachelor/bachelorette bundle product promotions, and holiday campaigns. 

studen discount scheme examples ann summers

Ultimately this allows them to drill down on the specific market segments they want to boost with targeted sales promotion discounts, increasing their chances of converting first-time shoppers and staying relevant to existing customers (AKA establishing brand loyalty). 

Pro Tip: To really personalize your shopping experience, you want to show each segment only the promotions that relate to them specifically. This means you are not exposing them to all discounts, which would lower your brand’s perceived value.

6. Seasonal Campaigns  

Another must-have promotion type is seasonal campaigns. 

Like flash or clearance sales, seasonal promotions should be adapted to specific segments to ensure they convert within your profit goals while clearing older stock out of your warehouses before new seasons. 

Sales Promotion Example #7: Combine Sales 

One of our veteran customers Asics, incorporate various promotions into their product displays to encourage higher AOVs while dynamically ensuring the minimum promotion needed to convert is maintained across all promotions. 

asics seasonal sale example
asics seasonal sale product category example

7. Branded Virtual Coupons

Coupon campaigns are not new, but their rise in digital popularity and how they are creatively integrated into online stores is. Strategically placed at various touch-points on various channels, promo codes and automatic discounts offer eCommerce retailers the most multi-level customization.

The secret is two-fold:

  1. Being able to fine-tune each virtual coupon campaign to match the specific actions of potential shoppers in real-time.
  2. Personalizing campaigns as much as possible to not only match where shoppers are in their buying journey but where they are actively looking on your store.

An excellent sales promotion example of this in action is Levi’s. Take a look at their current “TWOBLUES” virtual coupon campaign.

Sales Promotion Example #8: Boost Conversions With Strategically Placed Promo Codes

Leveraging various browsing points, Levi’s can use this onsite promotion to attract new kidswear customers from their homepage and re-engage store browsers on their product pages, as you can see below.

levis roling promo code campaign example 3
levis roling promo code campaign example 2
levis roling promo code campaign in product display

Additionally, the campaign is carried over into checkout pages as a way to upsell and help mitigate journey abandonment. When incorporated with a free shipping checkout incentive, this is a powerful converter.

levis roling promo code campaign in checkout

What about the codes themselves? We love Levi’s “TWOBLUES” promo code.

Codes should be easy to remember and apply, but they can also be used to drive home your incentive. It’s a minor tweak, but using creative promo code text to reinforce your campaigns can be an amazing way to show some brand character.

8. New Subscriber Discounts

One of the most popular and well-used eCommerce discounts is new subscriber promotions. Aimed at new potential shoppers, it’s a great way to incentivize your list building when used sparingly.

The trick is finding a balance between profit margins and your brand’s perceived value to ensure that you’re not diminishing product value (and eating away at your profits) right off the bat.

This leads us to a great example of a new subscriber discount from Build with Ferguson.

Sales Promotion Example #9: Win Over Subscribers With Strategic Discounts

Their promotion tells new potential customers precisely what they will be getting, and it’s not just about the discount itself. The pop-up includes trust-building links to privacy policies to put new site visitors at ease.

build store onsite promotions

Pro Tip: Personalize Your Subscriber Discounts to Customer Intent

To create successful new subscriber campaigns, you should be optimizing promotional discounts to match your shoppers’ intent as leading online retailers do.

By tapping into customers’ intent, you can personalize your promotions to offer the lowest discount possible to get the signup. This way, you boost conversions while putting an end to redundant incentives and profit loss for these awareness campaigns.

You can do this by segmenting traffic and pushing different pop-ups to different buyers (new traffic, revisiting customers, or existing shoppers), or you can use an automated intent-based promotion tool that autonomously adjusts promotional amounts according to each shopper purchase intent in real-time.

9. Cross-Sell Promotions and Bundle Deals 

There is no doubt that bundle deals and cross-selling promotions can boost AOVs. However, to be genuinely successful, top brands need to customize these promotions to stand out from the competitors while ensuring they are not eroding margins and harming brand equity. 

A prime example of this in action is the Dollar Shave Model we highlighted earlier in the post. 

Another brand that has turned strategic bundling and cross-selling promotions into a primary sales driver is Native.

Sales Promotion Example #12: Use Well-Placed Bundle Promotions to Increase AOVs

In conjunction with other onsite promotions such as subscriber discounts in their carts, Native offers bundle upsells for their products. 

native online store upsell campaign example

However, what stands out is the level of customization they offer for these sales promotions. Shoppers can either click for a bundle in the variant they have already chosen or click to create a specific bundle in line with their personal needs. 

native product bundle promotion customization

This proves once again that personalization plays a vital role in ensuring your frequent customer promotions are optimized for peak conversions and LTV. Ultimately mitigating brand damage and ensuring you are not leaving conversions – and profit – on the table. 

In 2021, ultra-personalized experiences should be a critical goal for all your onsite promotions, including your daily eCommerce discounts, restocking or refill promotions, limited-time offers, and cart abandonment deals.  

By tapping into each of your segments’ intent, you can limit time-to-purchase, increase revenue, decrease profit loss, and decrease journey abandonment.

If you can do this on a customer-by-customer level, you will be able to outperform your most significant competitors.

Push Every Visit to Its Full Potential  

The sales promotion examples above all have one major variant in common: they are tested, tweaked, and customized to their unique niche, market, and target shoppers – perfectly synchronized and choreographed.

And to survive the mammoth growth of eCommerce competition expected over the next four years, personalization is vital. But it’s not enough.

Intent-based promotions allow you to reach a potential customer at any journey touchpoint to offer just the right type of promotion, for just the right discount, at just the right moment. 

This ensures you are not unnecessarily eating away at profit margins or diminishing brand perception and are still generating increased revenue.  

Intent-Based Promotions optimizes the customer journey by synchronizing each customer’s needs in real-time with your business goals to boost revenue while decreasing promotion spend.

It does this by tapping into potential customers’ intent in real time. This enables you to allocate promotion budgets to those shoppers who will not convert without it while withholding it from customers who are likely to purchase from you anyway and don’t need a discount incentive – saving profit loss. 

Top merchants who have invested in Intent-Based Promotions have seen immediate results, including:


It’s time to rethink how to build your eCommerce sales promotional strategy.  

To duplicate these top sales promotion examples’ conversion success while maintaining your brand integrity you need to ensure your promotional strategy is not one-size-fits-all. 

This means building a well-structured sales promotion strategy from the ground up to ensure you are set up to drive more conversions without diminishing your optimum margins.  

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The 3-Stage Sales Promotion Strategy Blueprint for Top Retailers