Three Creative Ways to Sell without Incentives

Anthony Villegasconversion optimizationLeave a Comment

In previous posts, we’ve discussed how to create compelling incentives. However, spending money to increase sales can sometimes feel like a catch-22. After all, promotions are intended to entice customers to shop, which ultimately helps with bottom lines. In spite of this, promotions can sometimes harm companies with smaller profit margins. Giving customers a discount can be a great way to attract their attention, but if you operate on low profit margins, you suddenly find yourself losing money rather than making it. So, how can a business actively engage customers and get them to shop without using a coupon or discount strategy?

Fortunately, there are several incentivized strategy alternatives that online retailers can implement without impacting profit per product.



One of the more engaging alternatives is gamification. What is gamification? Gamification means making the shopping experience fun and engaging to customers. For instance, eBay gamified its shopping platform by leveraging a live auction format to get users actively involved. What’s more, the concept of winning an auction combined with the sense of urgency that comes along with being ‘quick-to-click’ means more engaged customers.

To be clear, we’re not suggesting you transition your site to an auction-style bidding experience. Not only is it expensive, but it is not suitable for most retailers.

Instead, we suggest implementing gamification in more subtle forms.  For instance, if your site offers free shipping on orders over $100, use a combination of progress bars and creative language to get them closer to that cart value threshold. The progress bar makes it a ‘game’ for customers to reach a specific goal that you create for them. A visual representation of how close they are builds that ‘need’ to make it to the finish. An example of well-executed messaging goes something like,“Only $10 more to qualify for free shipping!” Include product recommendations based off their shopping behavior to make the shopping experience more personalized in the process.


Product Recommendations

Another great way to get customers to shop, spend, and interact more with your products is to integrate a series of carefully picked product recommendations. You don’t even have to offer a discount. All you need is a recommendation area where customers can visibly see the products you have picked for them based on browsing and shopping behaviors. With advanced solutions, such as UpSellit’s machine learning technology, product recommendations become smarter as more customers shop, making real-time recommendations seamless and the experience highly personalized. The personalization behind the recommended products helps guide your customers to the products that are a good match, allowing you to prevent analysis paralysis and reduce friction to conversion. You could also try creating groupings of products with messaging like ‘popular in your area’ or ‘other customers purchased’ based on geolocation and buyer behavior.


Urgency Tactics

Another method for boosting sales without promotional offers is the use of urgency. An age-old sales strategy, urgency is still relevant as ever. A popular strategy in commercial television, such as As-Seen-On-TV, purchases are contingent upon making customers want or need a product so much they purchase on-the-spot. Ron Popeil, famed pitchman and hawker of gadgets like “The Inside-The-Shell Egg Scrambler” pioneered phrases like “Supplies are limited,” and “Limited-time offer” to create a sense of urgency. He successfully used these urgency tactics to sell tens of millions of products, which ranged from food processors to collapsable fishing poles.

The same principle of urgency applies to online retail, although it is important to note that urgency should not be invading, dramatic, or distracting to the customer’s experience. For instance, displaying the stock quantity remaining on popular items is a great way to create urgency in the have-to-have-it customers. Amazon excels in this area with messages like “Only X of this item left in stock… Order soon”. Additionally, if you already offer deals/clearance on your site, consider rotating the stock so that each deal is time sensitive. Including a countdown or a timer, in the vain time-sensitive deals, can create urgency without becoming a nuisance.

If you are still unsure of exactly how to implement urgency on your site, consider running a few tests. Rather than committing permanently to idea or form of copy, it can be helpful to try out several ideas on a temporary basis. To accomplish this, simply choose a few tactics or copy variations you would like to try. Then, implement each for a preset amount of time. Ideally, we suggest about a month of implementation to test against pre-urgency methods. If you find that the new tactic worked, you can continue to implement it. If not, you can simply revert to the original version with minimal long-term impact.


Final Thoughts

Boosting your conversion rate without giving customers incentives in the process can seem like an unattainable feat. However, with the right strategy and technology to match, all it takes to generate sales is creativity and well-executed strategy. It is important to note that none of these solutions are magic bullets. Every online retailer is different, and certain tactics will be more effective than others. Determining where to implement these tactics on-site and along your funnel will require some working knowledge of how your customers interact with your site. Need help finding the best place to start? Contact UpSellit and speak with our team of conversion experts today.


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