5 Promotions You Should Be Offering On Your Ecommerce Site

Every business needs to attract customers to its ecommerce site, and paid search campaigns are their go-to tool. But they’re expensive. The average company spends $10,000 or more each month competing for customers who are actively shopping for products. But winning the bid is no guarantee those customers buy. Promotions may be the answer.

How do you maximize those investments? Promotions provide site visitors with an incentive to make a first time purchase, become a loyal customer and even refer their friends and family to your site.

Here are five promotion strategies to help you building your customer base and sales:

Coupon Codes Emailed to Subscriber List

Coupon codes are a great way to wake up your mailing list subscribers. Who can resist an exclusive promotion? And you can build your own mailing list by offering your coupon code to partners, affiliates and even brand-fan bloggers who send it their mailing list.

Coupons are a good strategy if you know you lose customers to competitors for a particular product. But choose your discount wisely. You may not want to offer it across your entire catalog, especially if you have a suite of products with low profit margins.

You’ll need to make some decisions about your coupon upfront, such as who can redeem it, whether or not it will expire, and how to apply it (e.g. by product, total order, or shipping cost).

Magento makes coupon code promos particularly easy. Just go to Promotions/Shopping Cart Price Rules and add a new rule for your promotion. You can control who can access the promotion — your mailing list subscribers, your partner’s subscribers, or the general public. Magento then prompts you for the details of your promotion and you’re ready to go live.

Free or Discounted Shipping

In its “Ultimate Guide to Increasing Conversions,” the ConversionXL blog calls shipping costs a “conversion killer.” Baymard Institute  research supports this assertion: over 60% of consumers cite high shipping costs as the top reason for abandoning a shopping cart.

Free or discounted shipping is quickly becoming table stakes for online sales, which is why nearly half of all retailers now offer it. Amazon Prime shoppers enjoy free shipping on all of their products, and if you don’t want your site to be a showroom for Amazon you’ll need to make your shipping competitive.

Although free shipping is expensive, it offers benefits that can offset those costs. For instance,

93% of shoppers say free shipping is a strong incentive to buy more products. And keep in mind that you don’t need to offer free overnight shipping: Data from ComScore shows that 83% of shoppers are willing to wait for delivery.

Customer Referrals

Customer referrals are a great way to reward your existing customers and gain new ones at the same time. According to Nielsen, 84% of consumers say they trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends, and that 67% of people are more likely to purchase a product that’s been recommended by someone they know.

The most basic type of referral system is a direct referral program, where you explicitly offer your customers something of value (exclusive first-look at new products, free shipping over a set period of time, discounts on particular items, $10 off their next purchase) in exchange for referrals.

Referral programs are effective, which is why PayPal, Dropbox, Airbnb and many other giants rely on them to grow their businesses. For instance, Dropbox offers 16 GB of free space to users who invited their friends to the service.

Spending Thresholds

Spending thresholds — e.g. “get free shipping on all orders over $100” — are another great way to offer an incentive to buy, without breaking the bank.

Threshold promotions are a proven way to increase average order value: A Harris Interactive study found that 39% of shoppers are willing to spend more in order to meet the threshold. It’s a useful strategy for sites with low-margin products.

You can create spending thresholds using Magento Shopping Cart Prices Rules.

Multi-Buy Discounts

Once you gain a first-time customer, your next goal is to get earn their loyalty. That’s where multi-buy discounts come in. These discounts reward customers for buying from you frequently, and are particularly attractive for products that consumers need to replenish regularly (diapers, bottled water, socks). They’re also a way to peel customers away from competitors like Amazon.

Multi-tiered pricing in Magento isn’t standard, but you can find a number of great extensions like Amasty that let you offer these kinds of discounts .


Overall, promotions are a great way to provide incentives to new customers visiting your site and your existing customer base. If you have questions or want to learn more about what promotions your site should be offering reach out to us.


Phillip Jackson

A multi-instrumentalist, Phillip is an avid collector of vintage guitars, keyboards and amplifiers and has a home studio located in West Palm Beach.