This is a guest post from Felix Langlet at Triggerbee.
One of the most effective ways of increasing ecommerce sales is by using discount codes.
Discounts help you increase your newsletter subscribers and win more first-time buyers.
However, discounts mean less profit, making it a strategic dilemma for most store owners.
In this post, we’ll show you 12 strategies you can use to generate newsletter subscribers and increase ecommerce sales, without using any discount codes.
The importance of email marketing for no-discount stores
If you want to get rid of your discount codes, you need to step up your email marketing game.
Capturing emails should be one of your top priorities as an online store owner.
- You own the right to communicate with everyone on your list. You can send out whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want.
- Email is one of the highest-converting marketing channels right after direct traffic and high-intent organic search.
- Email is the most preferred channel when it comes to brand-to-consumer communication.
Source: 2019 Holiday Season
Shopping Report, McKinsey
Building an email list and a contact database means you’re building your own sales channel.
And as you’ll soon discover, you don’t have to give out discount codes to build your email list.
1. Create a launch calendar.
If you regularly launch new collections, products, or sell seasonally based items, a launch calendar strategy can help you both create demand and engage your customers.
The best part about this strategy is that it’s almost exclusively limited to the sneakers industry—so far.
In other words, it’s a huge opportunity for you!
Here’s a really good example from the Swedish store SneakersNStuff:
They link to their launch calendar from the top navigation menu, and they include pre-launch products in their regular product lists, but with a countdown on top of the product image.
You don’t have to sell sneakers for this to work. You can modify this strategy to work for almost any industry, as long as you regularly release new products.
The biggest benefit of using a launch calendar strategy is that you’re creating demand for a product before it’s released.
Every item in your calendar should have its own product page, along with a form that says “Sign up to be notified when this product is released.”
This will help you collect new email addresses without even mentioning a discount. To make the offer even more compelling, you could even offer a 1-day early bird access to anyone who signs up.
Bonus: you could also use your launch calendar to test new products before you invest in new inventory. All you have to do is add a product (that you don’t have in your store yet) to your launch calendar and see how many people sign up to receive a notification when it’s released.
2. Utilize out-of-stock status.
Running out of stock is one of those problems that you’ll never get rid of as an etailer.
Depending on the size of your ecommerce business, it can even cause huge profit losses.
You visit an ecommerce store, find a product you like, but, when you visit the product page, it says: “Out of stock.”
What do you do? You’ll click on the next tab in your browser and find a competing store that has your desired product in stock.
The worst part?
Most stores leave it that way.
Here’s the truth:
As soon as a product’s stock volume goes to zero, you have a massive opportunity to collect new email addresses from people who potentially want to spend money in your store.
When a product is out of stock, you’re left with two options:
- Let your visitors stare at a text that says “Out of stock” and let them leave you for a competitor.
- Let your visitors see that your product is out of stock, and display a form where they can sign up to receive a notification when the product is back in stock.
Not sure about you, but we’d definitely choose option 2.
Here’s an example:
This is, by far, one of the most low-hanging fruits for any ecommerce store and can help you win back a lot of business almost immediately.
By using every opportunity you have to engage your customers—like when a product is out of stock—you’ll not only have happier customers, but more email subscribers as well.
3. Use an identification layer.
Most ecommerce stores use a login to make the shopping experience better for their customers.
However, according to a 2019 study with 4,263 participants, the second biggest reason for abandoning a shopping cart was having to create an account.
Source: Baymard Institute
This is why an identification layer can come in handy.
An identification layer gives you a light version of a login.
It doesn’t have the same functionality as you might expect from a real account solution, but it provides some great benefits for smaller ecommerce stores.
Here are a few things you get with an identification layer:
- Password-free “logins”
- Customer profiles
- Behavioral data
- Accurate onsite targeting
An identification layer enables your visitors to “log in” to your site only by entering their email, without having to go through the traditional account creation process.
You, as the store owner, gain access to their behavioral information, which allows you to personalize onsite and email communication.
According to Harvard Business Review, personalization can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50%, lift revenues by 5-15%, and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by 10-30%.
An identification layer can provide you with a shortcut to those results without having to create and modify built-in CMS solutions.
4. Go physical.
According to a 2018 study, ecommerce influences up to 56% of in-store purchases.
If you’re a store owner that also sells online, there are a few super-easy ways to make people visit your physical store location.
1. Add a delivery option that says “in-store pickup.”
Swedish retailer Kappahl has figured out how to drive people to their physical store locations.
When you add a product in the cart, you can choose to pick up your goods in the nearest store. And, when you come to pick up your items, they always have an upsell offer ready.
You’ll collect an email address during checkout and, when that person also visits your store to pick up their order, you can also collect some more profit by having an up-sell offer ready.
2. Use your website to promote in-store open houses or viewings.
You can use callout or popup forms on your website to promote private in-store viewings. Similar to using a launch calendar to promote new product releases, you can host in-store viewings to show off new collections or products.
You’ll grow your email list and you get a chance to connect with your customers in real life as well.
5. Exclusive access
Your “brand” is the sum of every interaction you have with your customers.
That’s why it’s important not just to communicate with your customers when YOU want to sell something, but also try to engage them in other ways.
Your customers buy something when they need it. They don’t walk around all day thinking about which product to buy next.
You have to create a “need” for what you’re selling, and one way to create that “need” is to give potential customers exclusive access to something before they’ve even purchased.
Here are a few ways to give away exclusive access:
- Create sneak-peek PDFs.
If you’re adding new products to your inventory every now and then, select a few products and create a sneak-peek PDF that you can offer new visitors.
- Invite people to exclusive events (online summits).
Online summits and events are on the rise and, if you invite someone semi-famous or very famous to be interviewed in an online summit, you can use your website to promote your online summit. Give away tips and advice related to the products you’re selling.
- Exclusive content in collaboration with influencers or partners.
Everybody likes exclusive content, especially when it comes from someone they trust. If you regularly have influencer partnerships, you can partner up with them and create an exclusive guide or video series that your potential customers can sign up to receive.
Everybody wants to be part of an exclusive group and it gives you an edge when it comes to collecting new email addresses as well.
6. Future coupons
Future coupons are an alternative to regular discount codes. Instead of giving a new customer 10% off on their first purchase, future coupons allow you to set a spending limit before they reach a discount.
That way, you can minimize the loss in profits from up-front discounting.
Here’s an example from Patagonia. If you spend more than $75, you’ll get free shipping:
If you want to collect emails with this strategy, just show a popup that says:
“10% off for members who spend more than $75.”
7. Raffles and contests
A raffle is the PERFECT way to collect new emails with $0 loss in profits.
Norwegian retailer Ymeuniverse ran a raffle where they gave away one pair of Original YEEZY sneakers.
They collected over 3,000 emails in under 6 hours. And they didn’t give away one single discount.
Raffles work GREAT when you can give away a popular product, and people are always eager to participate, just for the sake of it.
If you want to qualify the participants, simply add the signup form on your checkout page, like this:
The raffle strategy is also perfect if you’d like to gain some followers on social media, because you can have it as a requirement for joining the raffle.
And, even though you’ll have to give away a product, you can at least limit your loss by just giving away 1 product, instead of giving away a discount to every new subscriber.
8. “Email me my cart.”
According to the latest industry research, around 78.65% of your visitors abandon their cart for various reasons.
One good way to prevent this is with abandoned cart emails. However, for you to be able to send out an abandoned cart email, the visitor abandoning their cart has to be identified.
This means you have to have their email address. You can use any of the strategies above (or below) to capture your visitors’ email addresses.
A really smart way to collect an email address in the cart is by adding a button that says “Email me my cart.”
Not only is it a great way to merge together desktop and mobile browsing, but it also makes it easier for your customers to save their cart and come back.
You’ll collect an email address and, most likely, make your future customers a little happier.
9. Product bundles
Why only sell one product when you can sell two, three, or even four?
The best way to increase revenue in your online store is by increasing the average order value.
One way to increase your average order value is through product bundling. And the easiest way to bundle is by offering additional accessories.
Take DSLR cameras, for example.
They have a lot of required accessories that usually come with the product when you purchase it. But they also have other essential accessories, like a camera stand, which is required if you want your pictures to look sharp.
Amazon has mastered the art of bundling. If you’re viewing a DSLR camera, they suggest you should buy a bundle containing a memory card and a protective lens filter.
They also offer software accessories like Photoshop Lightroom and the full cloud suite from Adobe.
It’s a great way to increase your average order value and increase the experience for your customers.
If you want to collect emails with bundling, you can create downloadable guides that explain how to use a certain product or offer free video training.
10. On-site shopping cart reminders
Shopping cart abandonment is a big issue for ecommerce brands worldwide.
You’re probably familiar with the classic abandoned cart email. It’s a great way to win back hesitant customers, and a must-have strategy for all serious ecommerce brands.
However, you’re probably less familiar with onsite shopping cart reminders.
It’s a great way to nudge your customers toward a specific action.
For example, if you’re a large retailer you might want your customers to pick up their order in-store. Use a tooltip to highlight the available options and tell them why they should select in-store pickup.
If you’re a small business owner, you might want to highlight an incentive. “Get a free T-shirt when you spend more than $50.”
Shopping cart reminders can be used in combination with almost any other tip in this post.
11. Create buyer guides.
Buyer guides are especially effective around the holiday season, but can work very well throughout the whole year.
Think about it: What’s the worst thing about buying presents?
Finding the RIGHT product to buy.
A quick way to provide value for your customers and, at the same time, capture a few emails is by creating a buyer’s guide.
What does a buyer guide look like? Here are a few examples:
Coolstuff is a small Swedish retailer, and they’ve built a gift generator that they update each year.
Cosmo writes articles about gift ideas. They’re pretty popular too!
12. Influencer hacks
Influencer partnership is starting to become a best-practice in ecommerce. But most companies who work with influencers do it to distribute discount codes, position their brand in a specific market, or create brand awareness.
However, only a few companies understand that a successful influencer partnership doesn’t stop at posting pictures on instagram.
Fashion giants Zalando and NA-KD are using influencers for social selling campaigns and content creation on their own websites (and inside Zalando’s app).
When you open Zalando’s app, one of the first things you’re asked to do is follow a couple of influencers that dress the way you like. Based on that information, Zalando recommends outfits and specific products that might fit your style.
NA-KD is a fashion retailer from Sweden that uses influencers as models for their products. This allows them to sell their clothing directly on Instagram, while showcasing how a piece of clothing looks on influencers you like and follow.
NA-KD also collaborates with a few influencers to design limited clothing collections.
By taking your influencer partnership to the next level, you can tap into the already-existing interests of your audience and, as a result, increase sales with engagement.
There are many ways you can generate leads and increase sales without having to use coupon codes.
This post highlights over 12 strategies you can use. Some of them are instant and can be applied today, while others require a bit more preparation and work.
With that said, coupon codes are an extremely effective incentive to use for new customers, as long as you don’t give them out more than necessary.
The last question is: which strategy will you try?
Felix Langlet is the Head of Marketing at Triggerbee and is a self-taught marketer. When he is not sending out emails or talking to customers he writes blog posts about personalization, conversion optimization, and onsite engagement.