7 clever ways creators can use discounts to boost sales this season
Jump ahead   Everyone loves a bargain. Buying something you’ve had your eye on for a while—and saving a bunch of money in the process—gives you an instant feeling of gratification. It turns out those “smart-shopper feelings” are well-understood—and they don’t just apply to that T.V. you bought last Black Friday. Offering discounts and coupons […]

Jump ahead

 

Everyone loves a bargain.

Buying something you’ve had your eye on for a while—and saving a bunch of money in the process—gives you an instant feeling of gratification.

It turns out those “smart-shopper feelings” are well-understood—and they don’t just apply to that T.V. you bought last Black Friday.

Offering discounts and coupons on your digital products can be a great way to increase revenue and reward loyal customers. A creatively crafted discount offer can push customers who might still be on the fence to buy or encourage existing customers to buy again or share your products with their audience.

The only problem? Most discounting advice you’ll find is aimed at brands selling physical products—it’s confusing at best and misleading at worst. Use discounts the wrong way, and you can hurt your brand and ruin your sales.

So let’s set the record straight: Discounting works for digital products as well. A creative discount offer can help you grow your audience, reward loyal customers, and create a sustainable income—as long as you’re strategic about it.

To help you get started, we’re sharing seven creative ways you can use discounts to sell your digital products—but before we dive in, let’s learn a little more about why discounting works so well.

Black Friday discounts: 7 clever ways creators can use discounts to boost sales this season
The psychology of discounting: Why everyone loves a deal

Offering an additional incentive to buy can help convince potential customers to purchase your course, ebook, or other product. But discounting isn’t only about price—in fact, two other factors—urgency and status—are far more likely to drive customers to open their wallets.

Urgency helps drive new customers

Most discounts aimed at new customers rely on urgency or loss aversion.

Humans have a strong inherent desire to seek pleasure and avoid pain and potential loss. When a discount is only available for a short period—a closed-cart product launch, for example, or a Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal—prospects know that if they don’t buy before the discount expires, they’ll miss out on saving some money.

That desire to avoid a potential loss is what makes discounts so desirable. For example, a limited-time offer can push potential buyers who might otherwise stay on the fence to buy now instead of later. A survey from RetailMeNot found that 80% of potential customers were encouraged to make a first-time purchase with a new brand if they found an offer or discount.

And those small wins have a genuine impact on our happiness. A 2012 study led by Dr. Paul J. Zak, a Professor of Neuroeconomics at Claremont Graduate University, discovered that sharing a $10 voucher with participants increased their oxytocin levels by 38% and made them happier, more relaxed, and less stressed. Even small discounts can have significant effects.

Pro tip: Consider how your wording of the discount you’re offering drives urgency or loss aversion. For instance, “Get $ off” emphasizes achieving a gain, while “Save $” emphasizes avoiding a loss. You should test which kind of wording works best for your specific audience.

Status helps retain existing customers

Short-term promotions help drive new customers—but can you use discounts to share value with your best customers?

Yes—but building loyalty requires a slightly different approach. Discounts aimed at existing customers rely more on the human desire for status and rewards. It turns out that the more people engage with your content, emails, and products, the more they feel they’re deserving of something in return—even if those rewards are entirely random. Known as the Lucky Loyalty Effect, it means that offering a discount or reward to your most loyal customers can drive them to engage even further, promote your products to their audience, and spend more.

Let’s say you’re launching your first online course. You might decide to offer one hour of free coaching to three people who purchase within the first week after launch—or you could give past customers early access to your course at a discounted price.

The Lucky Loyalty Effect is why loyalty programs and affiliate programs can work wonders for online creators. Offering discounts to your most loyal customers and promoters shows how much you appreciate them, making them even more loyal and profitable for your brand.

Pro tip: Check out three more ways to create urgency around your product launch in this blog post from ConvertKit creator Sean McCabe.

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Seven types of discounting for creators to increase revenue

There are many creative ways you can use discounts to help you gain sustainable income. You could offer a limited-time deal to new customers, grow your audience by using your discount as a marketing tool, bundle your products at a discounted rate, pre-sell a product, reward your most loyal subscribers, or piggyback your discounts on well-known holidays.

Let’s look at seven different types of discounting you can use to sell more digital products:

#1: Attract new customers

A carefully chosen promotional price can help push prospective customers to open their wallets—even if they’ve never bought from you before. There’s value in keeping things simple—after all, the less you have to explain to potential customers, the more likely they will be to buy. Discount codes are easy to distribute, and both methods help drive urgency and push customers to buy.

Try offering a straightforward discount code—either as money off (for example, $20 off the purchase price) or as a percentage off your product’s cost (for example, 10% off a purchase). By only offering the discount for a limited time, you’ll motivate them to act now instead of waiting until the offer expires.

How do you know whether to offer money off or a percentage discount? Follow the Rule of 100:

  • If your product costs less than $100, offer a percentage discount.
  • If your product costs more than $100, offer a dollar discount.

When Matt Ragland launched his online course Start A Journaling Habit, he offered early buyers a coupon for $20 off the launch price:

Offering a one-time discount can help attract new customers. Image via Matt Ragland on Twitter
Offering a one-time discount can help attract new customers. Image via Matt Ragland on Twitter

How to set up discounting in ConvertKit Commerce

If you use ConvertKit Commerce to sell your courses, workshops, ebooks, or other digital products, it’s easy to set up a one-time discount.

Start by clicking Products in the top menu, then click New Product. Give your product a name, choose a pricing method and give it a starting price.

If you’re discounting, you can enter a lower price than the original price and position your wording in your product description around the discount offer.

Setting up discounting in ConvertKit Commerce takes only a few clicks.
Setting up discounting in ConvertKit Commerce takes only a few clicks.

Next, upload the actual digital product files you’ll be selling. You can upload as many files as you want.

Upload files to sell using ConvertKit Commerce.
Upload files to sell using ConvertKit Commerce.

Finally, choose a domain name and page URL you’ll use when sharing your product with others.

Choose a domain name and page URL for your digital product.
Choose a domain name and page URL for your digital product.

From there, you’ll be redirected to a page where you can edit and customize your product page, checkout page, confirmation page, and email receipt your buyers will receive. Again, if you’re offering this as a discounted product, be sure to position your wording around the discount offer in your product page’s headline and subtitle.

discounts-convertkit-commerce-4

When you’re finished with customizing, you’ll click Save, Publish, and then choose whether you want to share it via a link with other people or embed a product button right on your website.

Pro tip: Make sure your discount is valuable for customers to take advantage of it. Don’t offer $2 off a $100 product—make sure your offer is desirable to get customers excited.

#2: Grow your audience and increase awareness

Discounting also makes for a great promotional tool. Whether you’re a new brand looking to grow your audience or an established creator ready to grow your customer base, you can use strategic discounts to help get the word out about your products or services.

For example, NoCode Notion, a website selling resource kits and community memberships for makers using Notion to launch new products offered a 20% discount only to members of a specific Facebook group. In exchange, the group organizers helped promote their new product to group members, who ended up becoming the #1 source of customers in the week following their launch.

NoCode Notion used strategic discounting to get the word out about its launch. Image via NoCode Notion
NoCode Notion used strategic discounting to get the word out about its launch. Image via NoCode Notion

Another excellent example of using discounts as a promotional pricing tool comes from online bedding retailer Brooklinen. Right before Black Friday in 2017, the brand “leaked” a time-limited discount to their subscribers, posing the deal as an accidental email from an unsuspecting digital marketing intern. The email ended up going viral and leading the brand to one of their best sales days of the year.

Brooklinen used a “leaked” discount to build interest for a sale. Image via Demand Curve on Twitter
Brooklinen used a “leaked” discount to build interest for a sale. Image via Demand Curve on Twitter

Just remember: Always use discounts sparingly. Leaning too heavily on deals to grow your audience can hurt your brand— customers start to expect a discount before they buy, preventing them from buying at the regular price and encourages them to look for potential deals from your competitors.

#3: Reward your most loyal customers and subscribers

As we saw earlier, discounting doesn’t have to be limited to new buyers. When you offer exclusive discounts to your existing customers and subscribers, they feel loyal and connected to your brand—and they’ll spend more on your products and services.

Tell me if any of these sound familiar:

  • “Refer five friends, and we’ll give you 25% off your next months’ subscription.”
  • “Buy two, get one free!”
  • “Here’s another product we think you’ll like—add it to your cart at 50% off.”
  • “You left products in your cart—here’s a 10% coupon if you check out today.”

Your discount doesn’t have to be complicated. Try creating a promo code for your products or services, and place it within your receipt or welcome emails. Or share a special discount with subscribers or patrons, like muralist and ConvertKit creator Eric Friedensohn did when he launched his ecommerce store:

Offering discounts to existing subscribers and customers helps build loyalty. Image via Efdot on Twitter
Offering discounts to existing subscribers and customers helps build loyalty. Image via Efdot on Twitter

If you’re lucky, those subscribers and customers will also promote your offer to their network of friends and followers. Customers get rewarded with exclusive savings—and you get more subscribers, sales, and revenue. Everyone wins!

#4: Bundle products at a discount

This tactic only applies to those selling more than one product, but it’s a great way to boost your revenue quickly.

Product bundling is when you offer customers a discount for buying two or more of your products simultaneously. Bundling works because customers feel like they’re getting more value for their money while increasing the number of products you sell.

Let’s say you have templates you’ve built to simplify your client work, like how fellow ConvertKit writer Kaleigh Moore sells templates for freelance writers. You could sell these templates individually for $49 each—or you could bundle them up and sell them all together at a discount as Kaleigh does.

Bundling your products together for a discounted price is a great way to boost your revenue. Image via Kaleigh Moore
Bundling your products together for a discounted price is a great way to boost your revenue. Image via Kaleigh Moore

The best part of bundling? You can increase your revenue without increasing your workload. Nice!

#5: Launch or pre-sell new products

Discounts can also help build initial interest around new products. Sometimes called penetration pricing, you can offer buyers a discount if they buy your ebook, course, or other digital product before you launch. In exchange, you get valuable feedback and testimonials you can use when you launch.

Business coach and podcaster Jay Clouse, for example, recently offered his Twitter followers the chance to purchase a new course on podcasting before he even made the course. If ten people pre-ordered, he would make the course (and his early buyers would get it for a hefty discount)—if not enough people bought, he would return the money to those who did.

Jay Clouse used discounting to validate a new course he was launching. Image via Jay Clouse on Twitter
Jay Clouse used discounting to validate a new course he was launching. Image via Jay Clouse on Twitter

The key to a successful pre-launch discount? Make sure you set a closing date on the offer—that way, customers have an incentive to buy now instead of waiting until you launch.

Pro tip: Make sure you’re still turning a profit, especially when offering a discount. Know the value of your course before you start, consider production costs, ongoing operational costs, and your own time spent managing the sale when determining how low you can go.

#6: Celebrate milestones

Important milestones—both for your customers and your business—are great opportunities to celebrate with a revenue-generating discount.

You can say thanks to loyal subscribers by offering discounts on milestones related to your brand, such as your business anniversary or reaching a certain number of subscribers. For example, marketer Ross Simmonds celebrated reaching 22,000 Twitter followers by offering 22 people the chance to buy his Growth & Traction Kit for only $22:

Offer discounts to celebrate business and growth milestones with your audience. Image via Ross Simmonds on Twitter
Offer discounts to celebrate business and growth milestones with your audience. Image via Ross Simmonds on Twitter

Online educator Jack Butcher used a similar tactic, celebrating reaching 50,000 Twitter followers by offering a $50 discount on his ebook Build Once, Sell Twice until he reached 51,000 followers:

Discounts can also be used to both celebrate milestones and grow your audience. Image via Jack Butcher on Twitter
Discounts can also be used to both celebrate milestones and grow your audience. Image via Jack Butcher on Twitter

ConvertKit makes it easy to set up an automation to automatically send subscribers a discount code celebrating a year since they joined your list.

An example ConvertKit sequence set to trigger one year after subscribing.
An example ConvertKit sequence set to trigger one year after subscribing.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with when you offer discounts—be creative!

#7: Piggyback on seasonal discounts and holidays

Timing is everything when it comes to discounts. Big brands like Amazon create massive interest around holiday periods and sales events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday every year, offering steep discounts on many of their products for only a few days. In 2018, consumers spent more than $20 billion on the BFCM weekend alone—and that number will only continue to rise.

If you’re selling digital products, these events are perfect opportunities to boost your sales. Consumers are already on the lookout for great deals, making it the ideal time to offer discounts on your products and attract new customers. Your customers won’t need to wait in line—they can buy your ebooks, courses, and other products from the comfort of their couch.

Even if the holiday season isn’t the peak selling season for your business, consider discounting your products to coincide with the rush in demand. Use a landing page to start building your email list during the run-up to the holidays, and schedule your promotional emails in advance.

Your customers—and your bank account—will thank you.

Pro tip: If you’re behind on your holiday email planning, check out email expert Samar Owais’ five tips for maximizing your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales promotions with email.

Sell more products using discounting today

Discounting is an excellent way of increasing your revenue, growing your audience, and rewarding loyal customers. Just make sure the discount you’re offering is simple, profitable for you, and selective when it comes to how long the duration of that discount lasts, and you’ll be well on your way to happy customers—and a happy bank balance.

One last thing: ConvertKit Commerce might only take a few clicks to start discounting your digital products—but your audience won’t know about your discounts unless you tell them! Email marketing is the perfect way to promote your digital products and share your deals with your audience.

If you haven’t already, sign up for a free ConvertKit account, and start selling your first discounted product today!


The biggest problem founders and small owners have is that they’re experts in their field and novices in what it really takes to effectively run a . That’s what usually trips them up, sooner or later.

Don’t let that happen to you. Admit that you don’t know what you don’t know about business, starting with these 15 tips guaranteed to help keep you and your company out of hot water. Some are straightforward, others are counterintuitive, but they’re all true. And some day they’ll save your butt.

Always make sure there is and will be enough cash in the bank. Period. The most common business-failure mode, hands down, is running out of cash. If you know you’ve got a cash flow or liquidity problem coming up, fix it now. You can’t fire bad employees fast enough. You just can’t. Just make sure you know they’re the problem, not you ( see next tip ).

The problem is probably you. When I was a young manager, my company sent us all to a week of quality training where the most important concept we learned was that percent of all problems are management problems. When things aren’t going well, the first place to look for answers is in the mirror.

Take care of your stars. This goes for every company, big and small. The cost of losing a star employee is enormous, yet leaders rarely take the time to ensure their top performers are properly motivated, challenged, and compensated. Your people are not your kids, your personal assistants, or your shrink. If you use and abuse them that way, you will come to regret it. Capiche ?

Learn to say ' yes ' and ' no ' a lot. The two most important words owners and founders have at their disposal are “yes” and “no. ” Learn to say them a lot. And that means being decisive. The most important reason to focus – to be clear on what your company does – is to be clear on all the things it doesn’t do.

It boggles my mind how little most fondateurs value their customers when, not only are their feedback and input among the most critical information they will ever learn, but their repeat business is the easiest to get. Learn two words : meritocracy and nepotism. The first is how you run an organization – by recognizing, rewarding, and compensating based solely on ability and achievement. The deuxième is how you don’t run an organization – by playing favorites and being biased.

Know when and when not to be transparent. Transparency is as detrimental at some times as it is beneficial at others. There are times to share openly and times to zip it. You need to know when and with whom to do one versus the other. It comes with experience.

Trust your gut. This phrase is often repeated but rarely understood. It means that your own instincts are an extremely valuable decision-making tool. Too often we end up saying in retrospect and with regret, “Damn, I knew that was a bad idea. ” But the key is to know how to access your instincts. Just sit, be quiet, and listen to yourself.

Protect and defend your intellectual property. Most of you don’t know the difference between a copyright, trademark, trade secret, and patent. That’s not acceptable. If you don’t protect and defend your IP, you will lose your only competitive advantage.

Learn to read and write effective agreements. You know the expression “good fences make good neighbors ? ” It’s the same in business. The more effective your agreements are, the better your relationships will be.

Far too many fondateurs run their like an extension of their personal finances. Bad idea. Very bad idea. Construct the right entity and keep it separate from your personal life. Know your finances inside and out. If you don’t know your revenues, expenses, capital requirements, profits ( gross and net ), debt, cash flow, and effective tax rate – among other things – you’re asking for trouble. Big dysfonctionnement.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Humility is a powerful trait for leaders, and that goes for new owners, veteran CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and everyone in between. More times than not, you will come to regret thinking you knew all the answers. Behind every failed company are dysfunctional, delusional, or incompetent leaders. The irony is, none of them had the slightest idea that was true at the time. Even sadder, most of them still don’t. Don’t end up like one of them.

For every success you have in growing your market share, another or other businesses will inevitably lose ground. Here are 11 quick and easy business tips to gain a competitive advantage over your rivals and insulate yourself from the threat of new entrants in the market.

Of course, we all want to spark business growth and increase revenue. But the way you do this in a sustainable way is to focus instead on the building of a loyal database of avid fans. Content digital, paired with optimized website forms and éclairé courier automation follow-up is critical to business success. This approach builds trust by giving away free value before asking for someone’s hard-earned money. Not an expert in creating optimized lead generation pages on a website ? No worries, use a trusted tool like Leadpages to make it happen.

Like it or not, folks out there aren’t searching for your brand, they’re just looking to solve a problem or find a particular type of product ( unless you run Starbucks or Adidas ! ) Don’t list all the benefits your product brings. Focus on the solutions. Explain to the customer in simple, straightforward terms how or why your product can help them or assist in the attainment of their goals. Consider FedEx’s iconic slogan : When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. This was a clear example of addressing widely-spread anxiety about the reliability of delivery services. Run through some market research to profile your target customer. How does your product or service – and your delivery and and price point – solve other people’s problems and make their lives easier or more pleasurable ?

Dropping prices doesn’t necessarily raise sales, for instance ( though it will definitely squeeze margins ). If you position yourself as a de haute gamme brand, then your customers aren’t necessarily value-driven in the first place, and cutting prices could even tarnish your brand. Consider this case study from Robert Cialdini’s seminal book ‘Influence : The Psychology of Persuasion’ : a jeweller sold out of turquoise jewelry after accidentally doubling, instead of halving, the price. The inflated price tag lent the product an unwarranted cachet ! If you are a premium brand, there are ways to optimize your pricing without lowering prices. For example, offer the quality-conscious customer an ‘exclusive’ benefit that your rivals do not or cannot provide. If you are at the value-driven end of the market, on the other hand, don’t assume slashing prices means incurring a loss. Low pricing can help you rapidly onboard a heap of new customers who may also buy other items in your shop and return again. Context also counts for a lot with pricing. The best way to sell a $5, 000 watch, for instance, could be by putting it next to a $10, 000 watch. Think strategically when it comes to deciding any price point.

Yes, it sounds obvious, but it’s so very important ! Whether consciously or not, people are more likely to buy a product if they like the sales assistant who’s attending to them. While the employee’s personality obviously has no bearing on the price or your product’s ability to serve their needs is irrelevant. Friendly customer-facing staff will always attract more sales. Be rigorous in hiring people who are genuinely cheerful, friendly and outgoing. Make sure your training program teaches them to adopt a consistently friendly approach that puts customers at ease and feel like a priority.

Say you’re a bricks-and-mortar store and you’re getting a rush of customers as closing time approaches… why not close up an hour later ? While this may cause disgruntlement among staff, solve this provenant by getting creative with rosters. Monitor customer footfall throughout the day and week to identify your busiest periods, and staff people accordingly. You can also reduce headcount during quieter periods to offset the higher costs and longer sérieux hours created by your extended opening hours. It’s a win-win !

Even in the digital age, some customers will always prefer to contact you by phone rather than fax or Facebook. While many online companies with tight margins eschew manned phone lines altogether, it’s worth giving customers the option of having a voice-to-voice conversation with your brand. By all means, slash the time and cost spent responding to queries by funnelling customers to standardized, pre-existing responses on your webpage ( i. e., FAQs ). But if their query isn’t listed in the drop-down menu of FAQs, then don’t make them click more than once more to find your phone number. Put it front and center on your web page, particularly if you’re a retail offering. ‘Live chat’ bots are an inexpensive way of offering real-time communication, too.

Why not give your happy customers a voucher with their purchase to redeem on your products and services ? If they love what you do already, they’re only going to love you more for this. It’s good for you because : It guarantees they will return to your store again. People hate to waste freebies ! When they return to your store to redeem their voucher, they may buy other items, too. If your operates online, then the freebie could be strategically timed to coincide with a special sale. Oh, and guess what ? Chances are customers who have received vouchers or freebies won’t stay quiet about it either, so you could enjoy some positive buzz on social media.

Local businesses can arguably connect with their unique communities with much greater authority than any global chain. A local retailer, hair salon or gardening company can sponsor a kid’s sports team and offer deep discounts for OAPs at the same time. Some cinemas feature special ‘sensory’ screenings where parents can bring kids with autism ( who would normally be overwhelmed by busy, noisy environments ) to enjoy a movie in a relaxed, stress-free atmosphere. This reflects well on them and also guarantees them a loyal customer niche. Whatever you choose to do to support your community, make sure it authentically fits with your brand offering and journey to date.

Social media is a great medium through which to build a solid relationship with customers – just don’t forget what ‘social’ actually means ! Soul-less corporate shop-talk won’t work on Twitter. Try to give your brand some ‘personality’ when you write updates or posts. This can bring its own risks, of course. But if you get it right, the benefits can be très grande. Develop a tone of voice that aligns well with your brand identity. Seek to inform, help, entertain or amuse. And most importantly – given the dire PR consequences – don’t patronize, try too hard to be funny, or tweet after a few alcoholic drinks !

Sometimes it’s better to be a master of one discipline than a jack of all trades. Admittedly, multiple revenue streams do spread your risk : if one falters, others can take up the slack. Nevertheless, consumers often associate ‘specialists’ with higher quality products or services than generalists. And with good reason, too : specialists typically invest all their resources into perfecting a solo product or service. So what should you specialize in ? tera state the obvious, it should be something in which you excel. You could also pick something with rising or recession-proof demand which is resilient to technological change in which you possess a competitive advantage over your rivals or where there’s an obvious gap in your local market. Own it, whatever you do.

Don’t ever get too satisfied with your . You can always improve – and improve you must ! Don’t get me wrong : without the odd moment of smug satisfaction, what’s the point ? Do relish in the successful launch of a game-changing product or take pleasure in positive customer feedback. But don’t let your customers hear you banging on about it time after time ! Be alert to the common element that has led to the downfall of countless hitherto thriving brands : complacency. Imaginative, nimble and innovative start-ups often do better than big market précurseurs that just got lazy. You may be the disruptive innovator today, but tomorrow you could be the complacent market leader with a tired business model. So try to be humble and always strive to improve. Seek inspiration from other créateurs d'entreprise, from books and from seminars. The moment you think ‘mission accomplished’ is the same moment you become vulnerable to being usurped.

There are lots of ways in which you can improve your , and not all of them are complicated ! Try out the above business tips or integrate them with your existing strategies, and let me know how you go in the comments below. Guest Author : Faye Ferris is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Dynamis APAC Pty Ltd offices in Sydney. She develops the DYNAMIS stable of brands and their expansion into the Asia Pacific region as well as BusinessesForSale. com, FranchiseSales. com and PropertySales. com. If you have an interest in partnering up with Faye or advertising on any of these websites in the APAC territories, please do not hesitate to contact her on faye@businessesforsale. com.

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