Let’s face it, 2021 was tough. Despite online becoming the lifeline for customers and businesses alike in a lockdown world, needs and motivations to spend fluctuated wildly, and finding ways to connect and engage became more challenging, especially with how to retain customers in eCommerce. To thrive, eCommerce businesses had to go above and beyond in order to hit their targets and drive conversion.
Success today is dominated by delivering a great customer experience, but how can you marry this with the need to drive the trading machine and keep smashing targets? Do coupons and UX have a role together? We would say ‘absolutely, yes’.
At Uniqodo, we’re passionate about how to promote eCommerce products more profitability. We work with eCommerce brands to bridge the gap between promotions and customer experience – we call this concept Promotion Experience – or Promotion EX. A Promotion Management Platform can help you deliver a seamless Promotion EX to answer key customer objectives across acquisition, conversion, engagement, retention and loyalty.
This article will show you the four key components of Promotion EX and how a tool like Uniqodo’s Promotion Management Platform helps brands deliver promotions that go above and beyond the humble discount code.
But first, if you want a deeper dive into Promotion EX, what it is, and how it can drive eCommerce conversion, check out our free eBook: The Next Generation of Promotions, which is free to download here.
1. Hit objectives and retain control
All marketing efforts should ultimately lead to the realisation of your business goals. The same goes for your eCommerce customer acquisition promotion strategy – it must align with business targets such as:
Increasing brand awareness
Increasing conversion rates
Increasing order frequency
Improving customer satisfaction and loyalty
So for every promotional campaign you plan to launch, ask yourself: what outcomes do I want to achieve?
Whatever targets you have, you need to ensure the advanced promotional techniques you use and the codes you provide to customers are controlled.
This is particularly important because without control, achieving your goals becomes much harder. One issue that eCommerce businesses face is when their discount codes are leaked to sites or customers they didn’t intend, which leads to widespread code misuse. Promotional campaigns end up diluting instead of driving more eCommerce profit margins.
How N Brown Group, Travelodge and Beauty Bay prevented code misuse
Fashion retailer, N Brown Group, ran an extensive affiliate partner programme, but discount codes were widely leaked and over-used. To solve this, we introduced single-use, unique codes. This allowed N Brown to stop code leakage, better track which sales come from which promotion and affiliate, and reward loyal customers with bigger discounts.
Travelodge faced a similar challenge. The company had difficulties differentiating discount offers and preventing code leakage. But with Uniqodo, Travelodge became able to vary discounts for different hotels and stay dates. They also gained better visibility and control over who would see each code. As a result, the 2017 Autumn Sale was a huge success with the highest ever volume of bookings in a single week.
We also worked with Beauty Bay to reach goals like rewarding staff with exclusive discounts, acquiring new customers, and building brand loyalty. Beauty Bay achieved that by:
Offering short-term promotions without code leakage
Rewarding dedicated fans with faster service and a pre-order system for new products
Saving the time spent on processing staff discounts
2. Make it easy for customers to click and redeem
Consumers value convenience a lot, so eCommerce businesses must integrate controlled promotions in a seamless and frictionless way — making it as easy as ‘click, redeem’. If the process is too hard, they may give up or not respond to future promotions. This needs to happen on any channel whether on a voucher site, employee reward platform, referral, website, or simply via email.
There are two main types of channels an eCommerce company can leverage to make the most of promotions: owned and affiliate.
Your website. You can use pop-ups, overlays and bespoke landing pages to inform website visitors of eligible promotions or an exclusive discount for first-time shoppers.
Your CRM. Email marketing is a tremendous channel for promotions. In addition to regular promotional campaigns, you can also send targeted offers to different segments of your list, supporting engagement strategies alongside meeting trading goals.
Your social media. Consumers spend a lot of time on social media platforms so it makes sense to grab their attention there. Whether you’re broadcasting key offers or running targeted acquisition campaigns, social is another key platform for promotions.
Working with affiliates who can help you tap into the right audiences, and support key brand objectives is an effective way to build awareness and drive more sales. Affiliates can be:
Employee benefits and reward platforms
Product review sites
Once a customer has discovered your promotion, curating that journey from partner or channel to site is the difference between incremental and exponential conversion. Curate the landing page, message the promotion throughout their journey, reflect the discounts available inline with products and provide dynamic error messaging in the basket to help the customer qualify.
The right Promotion Management Platform — like Uniqodo — will have all the necessary API integratio
ns to make it easy to generate and distribute promotions to these various channels.
How BT offered secure voucher codes through affiliate channels
We have developed a bespoke content gate for BT to help them lock down exclusive offers with secure voucher codes. BT doesn’t provide a promotional code field in the checkout process, to deter code seeking behaviour and protect their brand, but still wanted to be able to leverage the results of running exclusive campaigns to new and existing customers. By using unique codes as an access key, BT are now able to curate specific products and deals on separate landing pages, protected with unique code access. This solution resulted in 2,500 sales within two and a half weeks of launch and increased the number of affiliate partners BT could work with, in turn increasing their audience.
3. Provide creative and advanced promotional techniques
eCommerce has evolved a lot in recent years. Nowadays, there are many types of promotions you can use to enhance your eCommerce online promotion strategy — let’s take a look at three main types that are commonly used:
Customer-driven incentives. You can set up incentives that react to real-time, onsite behaviour. If a search result tells you this is a single traveller, you might incentivise a booking to create fairer pricing, or you might have a multi-tiered offer that applies when certain products are added to the basket.
Product-level incentives. Use availability and category/SKU data to dynamically serve promotions on-site. Distressed stock, changing customer demands and slow moving items can feed into your promotion set-up so that you’re only ever incentivising purchases in the right place, at the right time to protect margins.
Advanced codes. You can use a mix of promotion formats to maximise revenue:
Mystery discounts: offer percentage discounts that could be anywhere from 10% to 50% off. Customers will want to try their luck and save more, whilst algorithms protect the overall margin targets.
Time-based discounts: Use urgency to your advantage with discounts that expire within a given period.
Tiered validation: set up discount tiers to reward customers who buy more with bigger discounts.
Loyalty codes: reward loyal customers with exclusive discounts that increase with each use of the code.
Figuring out the right promotions is vital. From there, you can monitor, analyse and adjust the results you get so you can make quick changes to campaigns as needed.
How Travelodge and Avis Budget Group increased conversion through compelling offers
The hospitality market is very competitive and a big part of attracting potential customers hinges on offering discounts. With Uniqodo, Travelodge was not only able to stop unwanted code leakage, but also created offers with different benefits like:
Geo-location discounts for travellers using airports
Special discounts for business guests
Unique discounts for email subscribers
Loyalty discounts for regular customers
Similarly, Avis Budget Group used our system to grow its email subscriber base as data had naturally started to stagnate. Through a social media-led campaign that offered unique discount codes to new subscribers, the Group succeeded at growing its email database, whilst preventing code overuse.
4. Curate the promotion journey
Curating the online promotion journey from discovery to redemption is essential to ensuring the smoothness of the customer experience. This means communicating the right message about a promotion at every step of the journey, from where the promotion is discovered to where they land, and all throughout the buying funnel into the checkout.
It’s also helpful to provide error messages to customers that pick the wrong code or make a mistake so they know what went wrong and can rectify their baskets to qualify. Dud codes and frustrated customers are a thing of the past with controlled, curated promotions.
Overall, customers need to know where they need to click, what makes them qualify for a code, how much they will save, and whether a partner of yours is involved, or else you get the dreaded abandoned cart.
Suggested reading: Want to learn how to improve customer experience in eCommerce? Read our blog '5 Ways to Improve Customer Experience in eCommerce'.
How Travelodge and EE streamlined their customer experience
When Travelodge customers are not eligible to use a code, a custom error message explains why they can’t use it, and they may get a prompt to change dates to qualify for a specific offer. We also designed landing pages to make customer reservations quick and easy.
EE go all in with curated promotion experiences. With their latest Student affiliate campaign, eager customers that have found their offers on student sites are nurtured throughout their entire journey when they land on EE. Bespoke, co-branded messaging reminds customers of the promotion AND their code throughout their browsing session. The offers are calculated directly on eligible products. And once a customer makes it through to checkout, the code is auto-applied. Plus of course, dynamic error messaging in case something doesn’t qualify.
Deliver Promotion EX to your customers
The key to driving conversions isn’t to over-discount, but to create a great promotional experience with the components we explained in this article. To improve customer experience in eCommerce you need to make their promotional journey seamless and easy.
It’s all about delivering Promotion EX – the combination of the incentives of promotions and a great customer experience. The right Promotion Management Platform can help deliver this frictionless experience throughout the whole customer lifecycle and will ensure you hit your business goals.
Suggested reading: to learn more about promotion EX and how a Promotion Management Platform can help deliver it to customers, check out our free eBook — ‘The Next Generation of Promotions: Using unique codes and customer experience to create Promotion EX’.
Being agile and adapting to customer demands is essential right now to understand and connect your customers, and encourage them to convert with you in 2023.