The internet age has led to unforeseen opportunities for business of all shapes and sizes. However, it has also forced them to reckon with increased competition on a completely different level.
This has made the art of motivation even more important.
Along with influencers and social media, customer incentives have become an increasingly important factor in digital marketing and brand building. Whether it’s offering something extra for their money or giving customers the chance to take part in a cultural movement, incentives and special offers are about more than just moving old stock at the end of the year.
Incentives and offers are powerful, but they still need to be used correctly. In this article, we’ll look at how you and your business can make use of offers and incentives to motivate customers, increase sales and help your brand prosper.
Understand what customers want
The first step towards effective usage of offers and incentives is to make sure you’re actually giving the customer something they want.
If you were to think for a moment, you could probably come up with a clear list of things customers want.
- Great service
- Quality products
- An easy to use website
- Safety and security
- Options and variety
But incentives go beyond that. Every business worth their salt is offering this, so how do you set yourself apart? Customers want discounts, free gifts, and the opportunity to win big prizes. But, again, these are very general ideas that lead to lapsed thinking. Businesses need to drill down to the specifics to maximise their campaigns and incentivise customers.
Likewise, it’s not enough to just give away a free gift, it has to be relevant. Say you were running a fishing gear store and wanted to move more of your rods. Tacking on a free gift might seem like a great idea, but only if it’s relevant. In this case, camping gear such as a torch or additional equipment for their rod can help push them over the line and make the purchase, while a totally irrelevant (if expensive) gift may not catch their eye.
This kind of consumer knowledge is achieved through effective research. Analyse what your customer base is talking about on forums and social media. Keen hobbyists and retail experts alike will often discuss where to get the best deals, which can guide you to the stores that have struck the right chord when it comes to offers and incentives. Try surveying your audience too, analysing what originally drew them to the store and what would convince them to shop again.
Create a sense of urgency
The very best offers and incentives inherently have a sense of urgency about them. If you feel like your deals aren’t driving people to your website, consider pumping them full of urgency.
Limited time offers, end dates and countdowns — these are all brilliant ways of introducing some good nervous energy into both your loyal customers and anyone who stumbles upon your emails or social posts.
Creating a sense of urgency works because it encourages consumers who are on the fence to make a snap decision. It leverages the fear of missing out against their insecurity about the decision. ‘Better to give it a try and make a mistake than to miss out entirely’ they’ll think.
The lottery and gambling industry is particularly good at this, where offers are limited time only and the fleeting nature of big jackpots and sporting events create a natural incentive. This is built upon by brands such as Lotto247, which promote its online lottery tickets alongside timers, creating a greater sense of urgency for players looking to play.
Similarly, look at the fashion industry, where scarcity and the recreation of the classic retail hunt have helped make household names out of previously underground skate brands. Urgency simply works.
There are lots of ways to create urgency and particular times where it’s beneficial. Competitions and limited time offers can make down seasons more successful while highlighting the limited supply of particular products can get your holiday shopping season off to a great start.
An incentive is only any good if a customer can see it. To ensure your campaigns motivate customers to shop you need to have a solid advertising plan to back them up.
Fortunately, offers and incentives advertise themselves, and it’s usually a process of choosing the right platforms rather than focusing on how you’re going to use great content and design to make your offers stand out.
That is still important to consider, however. You need to ensure all your ads for offers and incentives, whether they’re display ads on a media site or populating someone’s Facebook feed, match your company branding. This means accurate logos, fonts and colour schemes. This way customers you’re remarketing to will have an instant familiarity with your brand and website.
Social media is a must, as not only do you gain access to customers you’re remarketing to, but there is the possibility they will share this content between their family, friends and followers, improving your brand’s reach and exposure. Though you’re offering money off you still want as many people as possible to shop, play or sign up with you as it helps build familiarity with your brand and increase traffic.
This is equally important when it comes to email marketing. By advertising through newsletters you’re reaching out to customers who you’ve convinced to convert before or have taken a keen enough interest in your brand to learn more. These are the easiest people to bring back into the fold with the right offer or incentive.
Companies such as Harry’s Razors have found significant success in referral marketing. This type of campaign uses incentives to drive customers to do your advertising for you. The charming, relatable advertising of the ‘Refer-a-pal’ campaign didn’t just promise a discount for existing users if they spread awareness of their brand, but added hundreds of thousands of contacts to their email database, allowing them to build familiarity to a significantly larger extent.
Follow through and build
So you pulled off a successful offer and incentive campaign. Congratulations! But the work doesn’t stop there.
Advertising never ends online, and incentives to keep shopping, playing or engaging with your content should always stay on rotation through both your paid and free advertising efforts.
Whatever offers you’re running, you’re bound to draw in a few more customers who are either looking for the best deal or have a lingering interest in your brand and the products you sell.
It’s obvious to point out you need to follow through with your offers and incentives, but many brands don’t think of building on them. Bringing back successful campaigns has worked for brands across a number of sectors. McDonald’s’ yearly monopoly campaign is a brilliant example of how repeated offers and incentives can help even the largest brands. Adding something new to a familiar IP is a great way to create an immediate sense of comfort and interest.
Customer offers and incentives seem simple, but there’s actually a lot to consider about the process — and significant opportunities to get creative.
These campaigns need to be relevant, but you equally need to do something that sets yourself apart. For many brands that means keeping things simple, while some businesses may benefit from some outside the box thinking.