sales promotions



sales promotions
2 - Introduction
3 - Case Study 1: Starbucks
7 - Case Study 2: NuFACE
10 - Case Study 3: American Apparel
12 - Case Study 4: JewelScent
15 - Case Study 5: John Lewis
18 - Case Study 6: Kellogg’s/ Star Wars
20 - Case Study 7: Verizon Wireless
23 - Case Study 8: Pretzel Crisps
26 - Case Study 9: John Lewis (again)
28 - Case Study 10: Pepsi
31 - Conclusion
Click on a page title to skip to that chapter
We’ve heard it all before...
“If you run the right sales promotion, you’re
gonna see the dollars roll in!”
You’ve probably read countless blogs and sources that list the slickest offers, the
best discounts and the most unique sales props.
But who needs a long list of tips that might or might not actually work?
Any average Joe can tell you to run a couple of ‘10% off’ specials and customers
will come running. Your inventory will be depleted in no time.
But we all know it’s not that simple.
Every retailer, product and buyer is different. Every store owner has their own pain
points so a one-size-fits-all list of sales promotions isn’t gonna cut it.
But what’s the one thing that we all do have in common? More sales.
“How can I get more sales? How can I improve my bottom line? Are there sales
promotions that I can implement that will help me do that?”
To get the answers to those questions, you need to know what is actually working
for other retailers.
It’s true that you need to get creative. You have to come up with a unique
campaign and strategically market it to your audience.
“So long as new ideas are created, sales will
continue to reach new highs.”
– Dorothea Brande
But how?
We’ve put together this eBook with case studies of the 10 most successful promos
of all time to give you plenty of inspiration for your next promotion.
Company Profile
Introducing customers to an impressive menu of gourmet coffee in a living room
style setting, Starbucks changed the scene of coffee forever when it burst onto the
scenes in 1971. They employ 182,000 people, have stores in 21,536 locations and
have a revenue of $14.89 billion.
Sales promotion: The loyalty program
Did you know that it costs you 7x more to acquire a new customer than it does to
keep the ones you’ve already got?1
A loyalty program is a great way to show your customers that you truly appreciate
their business.Typically, a loyalty program works by offering your customers a
freebie, once they have spent a certain amount of money in your online store.
So naturally, a loyalty program will provide an incentive for customers to keep
shopping at your store.
Starbucks has always gone against the grain, and their loyalty program is no
exception. It’s highly regarded as one of the best loyalty programs of all time, so
let’s take a look at what we can learn...
How does it work?
Every time a person makes a purchase, they collect a star (point) on their loyalty
card. Once they’ve collected a set amount of stars, they are then entitled to a
number of coffee related rewards.
Customers can collect stars using a physical card, or via the app, and stars can be
added from their coffee shops, or from products sold in local retailers. The loyalty
program also comes in two tiers, depending on how often you shop at Starbucks.
The Results
In the first quarter of the loyalty program launch, Starbucks2 saw a revenue
increase of 11% which took profits to $3.6 billion.
What can we learn?
What are three aspects of the Starbucks loyalty program that we can learn from?
Make it accessible
Typically a coffee shop loyalty ‘card’ is exactly that – a piece of cardboard that is
likely to get lost in your wallet and most definitely wouldn’t survive a rain-shower.
Sure you can opt for a card, but you can also sign up to their app to pay for
purchases and collect stars using your mobile device. In a multi-device world, this
is certainly something worth noting.
According to this report from BI Intelligence, the Starbucks app accounts for 15% of
the US franchise sales and receives over 6 million transactions a week!
Make it exclusive
Exclusivity is the secret sauce to a successful loyalty points program. People want
to feel like they are getting something extra, and they want to know that they
matter to you.
“Pretend that every single person you meet
has a sign around his or her neck that says,
make me feel important. Not only will you
succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”
- Mary Kay Ash.
Starbucks offer customers an exciting chance for customers to collect more stars
and achieve ‘gold level’ status. That person will then receive a gold card and can
enjoy further perks including free drinks, syrups, custom offers via email, and
Make it available across other stores
As Starbucks sell a number of their products in various retail stores, their
customers are not limited to just collecting stars within the coffee shops. This goes
to show that Starbucks understands the importance of multichannel marketing,
in that every channel should be aligned with the same message, and it helps to
motivate more purchases across their entire brand.
Company Profile
The family-owned business, NuFACE, launched back in 2005. It’s an anti-aging
skin care company that offers a selection of cost effective treatments for women
looking to treat their skin.
Sales Promotion: The Free Shipping Deal
Free shipping really can help you attract more people to your store. For the
customer it’s a hassle-free buy and they don’t have to pay any more than the
product price.
But NuFace had no problem in attracting visitors to their site. Quite the opposite in
When they hired marketing agency, Red Door, to help improve conversions, the
agency found that visitors were interested in the NuFACE products, but visitors
would come to a standstill at the checkout.
With an average cart abandonment rate of 68.07%, you’ll probably agree that it’s
one of the most frustrating statistics to see.
So why does it happen? The visitors on NuFACE had a clear interest in purchasing
their products, so then why leave right at last minute?
Forrester Research found that shipping costs are the number one reason why
people abandon their carts.
And in this case it would seem that shipping costs held the key to NuFace’s
What did they do?
Red Door implemented A/B testing on the site to see if changing the terms of the
free shipping, would push people to buy.
A/B testing is one of the best tools that you can use to improve your conversion
rates. It’ll give you the power to test two options to see which one gets the better
results. In fact, President Obama raised an additional $60 million for his campaign,
using A/B testing, so it can definitely have a huge impact on the success of your
Check out this study from NuFace to see how they used A/B testing. They sent
50% of their visitors to a homepage that looked like this:
And the other 50% to their homepage with a ‘free shipping over $75’ incentive.
The Results
The results of the A/B testing were rather impressive. Those customers that were
offered free shipping increased the site’s orders by 90%! Not only that, but their
average order value rose to 7.32%.3
What can we learn?
Include free shipping if they spend over a certain amount
The takeaway here is that free shipping is a huge incentive for people to buy your
products, so if you want to see more sales then you need to be offering it.
We understand that not every Ecommerce owner offers free shipping because
they think that it will negatively impact their ROI...
But if you are setting terms such as the NuFACE ‘spend over $75’, then you’ll find
that people will feel inclined to buy more products to make it up to that amount.
So your average order value will rise and you can absorb the costs, without cutting
into your profit margins.
A/B testing can help you identify problems
If you keep getting frustrated from your bounce rate then you need to implement
A/B testing in order to help you identify what is going wrong. Testing two different
options can really help make the world of difference.
Company Profile
Founded: 1989, Product: Clothing, Employees: 11,300, Stores: 273, Revenue: 633.94
million Founded in 1989, American Apparel is clothing manufacturer, wholesaler,
and retailer that employees over 11,000 people and has stores in 273 locations.
Sales Promotion: The Flash Sale
A flash sale typically lasts 24-36 hours and is a great way for Ecommerce owners
to quickly shift unwanted stock, and boost their sales.
In American Apparel’s case, they managed to shift their stock in just one hour.
You’ll have to keep reading to find out the results, but we can promise you this, it’s
totally worth it.
This is a brand that is renowned for marketing and interacting with their audience
on Twitter, ahead of any other platform.
“The best thing about Twitter is that it’s a short,
immediate way to communicate with and reward
our fans. With an email, you’ve got to spend time
getting it coded, designed and tested. But on
Twitter, we can get a message out, do a short
flash sale or share a promo code instantly. That
immediacy and ability to call people to action for
brief moments in time is totally unique.” - American
Apparel’s Director of Marketing, Ryan Holiday
What did they do?
In 2013, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah overlapped
for the first time since 1918 and American Apparel
didn’t want to miss out on this unique marketing
They took to Twitter to celebrate and offered followers 15% off if they used the
code ‘Thanksgivukkkah’ at the checkout.
The Results
The marketing director, Ryan Holiday revealed that American Apparel made an
incredible $50,000 from a one hour flash sale on Twitter.4
What can we learn?
Market in real-time for better results
When it comes to sales promotions, real-time marketing can be your best friend.
We’re not saying you should shy away from email marketing, but social platforms
such as Twitter can help you run a flash sale quickly and effectively.
Personalization is key
The reason it works so well is because it’s so personal. Quite like American
Apparel, you can assign a unique hashtag in order to attract more people to your
social platforms and your online store.
Company Profile
JewelScent is an online retailer that sells candles, beads, and luxury soaps. It’s
a relatively young company on that it was only founded in 2013, but they have
quickly become an established brand.
Sales Promotion: The Contest
If you’re in the early days of your online store then a contest is one of the best
ways to attract your customers. At first you may find it difficult to build up buyer
trust, so you’ll need to work a little harder to encourage people to buy from you...
But a contest helps push people into signing up to your email list, because let’s be
honest, who doesn’t like a freebie?!
So that’s exactly what JewelScent achieved with their highly successful contest...
What did they do?
The online retailer decided to take advantage of the upcoming holiday, St.
Patrick’s Day, by running an Irish themed giveaway in the days leading up to the
They set their goals clear from the outset. They wanted to increase their email
subscribers, Facebook Likes and produce more revenue so they could achieve a
$2 million goal before the end of Q1.
The giveaway was simple.
They asked people to enter their email address to enter, and they would gift four
lucky winners with a St. Patricks themed candle worth $25.
They sent out an email blast, promoted the campaign on their website and
continued to promote it across all of their social feeds. They also credit
sweepstake directories in helping attract new people to enter.
They also used other tactics to help raise more awareness of the giveaway, and
encourage people to buy their products.
As you can see below, JewelScent offered an additional entry for every friend that
was referred, and they offered 10% off if the person bought one of their products.
The Results
JewelScent generated $15,000 in revenue from this very giveaway. They also
managed to add 7,200 new people to their email database, helping to secure an
incredible amount of qualified leads.5
What can we learn?
Team up your giveaway with a national holiday
The planning and execution of a giveaway is the secret to success. By combing
your giveaway with an upcoming holiday like JewelScent did, you can really bring
more exposure to your brand as people get really excited for the holidays.
Leverage across all channels
Once you’ve got your theme and product ready to giveaway, you can then focus
on execution. The reason JewelScent saw so much success was because they
were leveraging every channel they had, and they were offering multiple entries.
Include a discount code on every marketing message to encourage further sales
In this instance we can really learn from their strategic email marketing tactics.
On their sign up form they made it as simple as possible for people to enter, by
only requesting an email address.
They then sent those entrants an email with an incentive to enter the contest
again, if they refer more people to it – and included a discount code to shop at
their store.
And, once the contest was over, they sent out a consolation email to the losers
with a discount code off their products – further increasing the chance of more
Company Profile
John Lewis is a UK based chain of department stores. The first store opened on
Oxford Street, London, all the way back in 1864. Currently, the company has 43
stores across the UK, employs 91,000 people and has a revenue of £9.5 billion.
Sales Promotion: The Price Match Promise
If you have a ton of competitors then it can be hard to stand apart. So that’s why a
price match promise policy is a smart move. It’s a true confidence builder than can
help people shop with you ahead of anyone else.
A price match promise promotion is great for two reasons:
1. It offers a no-lose situation for the customer
2. It offers convenience so customers don’t have to waste time shopping around
Leading retailer, John Lewis, is known for its ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ slogan,
which has been in use for almost 100 years.
The Never Knowingly Undersold philosophy means that John Lewis promise to
‘price match’ their products with other high street competitors. If a John Lewis
customer finds the same individual product sold for a lower price elsewhere, John
Lewis refunds them the difference.
In September 2010, John Lewis made a vital decision to extend the Never
Knowingly Undersold philosophy to their online sales. It was a big statement for
the company, with a potential associated risk of £50M.
How does it work?
John Lewis now matches competitor’s prices in the online retail space, including
during sales, as long as that competitor has a high street presence.
If consumers think they can get the same quality product for a lower price
elsewhere then they can submit price-match claims via the John Lewis website.
The Results
Within the first year of taking their price match promise online, John Lewis saw a
27% increased in the number of Multi-Channel customers.6
What can we learn?
It can dramatically boost your online presence
In a short time, John Lewis went from having little presence online to become a
leading retailer in the world of ecommerce. If you do want to offer the price match
promise then it’s worth coming up with a catchy slogan, quite like John Lewis, and
streamlining your entire marketing messaging to reflect this.
It provides complete convenience
The main message to keep in your mind here is that, for customers, convenience
is right up there with saving money, and the John Lewis price match promise is
dedicated to both.
It will set you apart
You may worry that you’ll have to start offering products at a significantly low price,
but the more people become aware of this guarantee, the more sales you’ll see at
your online store.
Company Profile
Kellogg’s is an American food manufacturer that produces a variety of cereals
and convenience foods worldwide. They were founded back in 1906, have 30,200
employees and have an impressive revenue of $14.792 billion.
Sales Promotion: The Giveaway
Similar to a contest, a giveaway is a great way to bring more exposure to your
brand – and it’s the perfect way to let people try out your product before they buy
Although Kellogg’s didn’t ‘give away’
their own product, they did take the
initiative of capitalizing in on the
highly popular Star Wars franchise.
In the run up to the movie, Revenge
of the Sith Kellogg’s decided to
give away branded products in their
What did they do?
They released 30 million promotional
packs of cereal with free Lightsabers
inside, and the chance to win a
Lightsaber that was signed by the
actor Christopher Lee.
They cleverly linked their own
characters with the Star Wars
characters and promoted it across all
of their channels, including TV advertisements.
The promotion cost them an eye-watering $385,000, but was it all worth it?
The Results
The demand in cereal rose from 40% to 53% and an extra 859,000 households
purchased the Star Wars branded cereal during the promotion. So yeah, we’d say
that’s a pretty successful sales promo!
What can we learn?
Take advantage of upcoming events
Similar to running competitions during the holidays, a highly anticipated event
such as the release of the final Star Wars film, can help you attract more eye-balls
on your brand. Think about what your audience likes and come up with a fun
theme to coincide with it.
Brand up your freebies
If you are thinking of offering something that’s not directly related to your product
then make sure you stamp your brand onto it so that people will be reminded of
who you are, when they see it.
Company Profile
Founded in 2000, this telecommunications company provides wireless services
to 131.9 million subscribers. It is currently the largest wireless telecommunications
provider in the United States and have stores in 2,330 locations.
Sales promotion: The QR Code
A QR code is a piece of technology that may at first seem gimmicky, but it can
work well for your promotion if you’re smart.
QR – short for Quick Response – is a code that you can
feature on your marketing materials, advertisements,
products, or even on your website, so people can scan
the code and be taken to content that you assign to that
In Verizon’s case, it was used to direct people to their
What did they do?
The goal was simple: to increase sales.
So Verizon teamed up with a leading QR code generator, HipScan to give them the
help they needed.
The promotion was exclusively for brick-and-mortar customers in San Francisco.
The idea was that customers would need to scan a QR code which would take
them to a competition to win a smartphone.
The customers would then need to share the competition on Facebook, and if
their Facebook friends purchased a Verizon mobile, the original customer would
get a free smartphone.
So did it work?
The Results
The promotion which only costed the company £1,000, generated a 200%
increase in sales which saw the company secure $35,000 in the bank. And it
was shared across 25,000 Facebook profiles which dramatically helped increase
brand awareness.7
The company has continued to use QR codes as a way to promote other products,
including this successful promotion below, that encouraged people to download
their Android Apps.
The above campaign was set with QR code generator, ScanLife, and in just three
months it achieved over 175,000 scans, making it the most successful ScanLife
campaign in the U.S.A.
What can we learn?
Multi-Channel marketing is key
Again the success of this campaign comes down to multi-channel marketing. The
brand managed to combine a brick-and-mortar competition with a social sharing
promotion to help them generate sales and increase brand reach.
Mobile is no longer optional
With 60% of users now browsing the web on their mobile devices, it’s pretty
evident that your promotional campaigns should be responsive across mobile. If
you can include mobile QR code promotions into your marketing strategy then
even better.
Make sure every channel you have is responsive and consider investing in
creating an app for your online store.
Don’t be afraid to use QR technology
As you can see with the Verizon campaign, they didn’t just direct people to content
that had no real action for customers to do anything with. They were smart in that
they required people to purchase a smartphone before they gave their products
This kind of sales encouragement can really help you push your brand forward.
Company Profile
A family-owned business, Pretzel Crisps was launched back in 2004 and is
described as “a modern twist on an old favorite”. You can buy their famous
pretzel’s in a number of retailers across the United States.
Sales Promotion: The Coupon
Ah the coupon, it’s an old tactic – dating back to 1887 - but it’s still going strong
today, with so many brands still using it as a formidable way to bring in more sales.
The coupon has since advanced to the digital age, and many brands are using it
as a way to increase their social profile.
In fact, the number one reason that people like a brand on Facebook is because
they want to receive discounts.
And, what’s the top type of sales promotion to boost your social engagement? You
guessed it, the grandfather of all promotions - the coupon.
So it comes as no real surprise that Pretzel Crisps managed to run a highly
successful promo on social media...
What did they do?
Back in 2010 Pretzel Crisps only had 800 likes, so their goal for this campaign was
to attract more Facebook fans.
“Our social media strategy is to unite fans of our brand.” - Jason Harty director of
So they took to Facebook to launch $1.00 coupons with a simple marketing
message, and an even simpler way to access the coupon – people had to Like
their Facebook page!
In just 36 hours, their fan base grew to 12,000 so they decided to push the coupon
tactic further and launched ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ coupons.
But this time is that they didn’t tell their fans about it to see if they could spend
virtually nothing on a campaign.
So did it hinder their promotion?
Nope, quite the opposite. People found out about it without seeing any additional
PR or email marketing communications and the campaign turned viral, helping to
increase the brand’s following to a staggering 29,000.
The Results
Their social following overall grew to 29,000. They recieved 87% redemption rate
for the $1 off coupon and 95% redemption rate for the BOGOF coupon. But did it
increase sales? You betcha! The company sales grew by an impressive 93% for
that year.8
What can we learn?
Understand what your audience wants
The success of your campaign can really depend on what you are offering. Pretzel
Crisps knew that their fanbase would truly value money off and buy one get one
free coupons, which is why their campaign worked so well for them.
“Offering something with tangible value, like a coupon, helped us double our
Facebook fan base.” - Jason Harty.
Continue to engage with your audience
The brand offers a bunch of interesting content on their facebook page which
includes fun recipes, relevant content and more exclusive promotions. Once you
start to nurture the fans you already have, they’ll stay loyal to your brand.
You don’t need a huge budget
If anything, the takeaway from this campaign is that you don’t need to invest huge
amounts on publicity if you’re strategic. So long as you offer something that your
audience wants, people will sit up and listen.
JOHN LEWIS (again)
Company Profile
John Lewis is dedicated to standing out from the crowd with their promotions, and
it’s because of this that they’ve well and truly earned a second place in this eBook.
Sales Promotion: The Holiday promotion
As we mentioned earlier, a holiday promotion is perfect for driving conversions.
The truth is, people are willing to spend more around the holidays, so it’s the
perfect chance to take make the most of this liberal spending.
According to this study, the retail industry sales for Christmas 2014 were a heartstoppable $3.19 trillion! And that’s just in the USA.
In support of their 2011 Christmas commercial, which had the theme ‘gifts you can’t
wait to give’, John Lewis launched a competition called ‘Guess the Gift’.
Twelve videos were released with various
children giving clues to a different gift in
each video.
John Lewis customers were given the
opportunity to guess the gift, and if they
guessed correctly, they had a chance to
win the gift. Simple as that.
How did it work?
The ‘guess the gift’ videos were launched
and promoted across all of the John
Lewis social channels.
This encouraged customer engagement
across the internet and gained them lots
of valuable, not to mention free, word-ofmouth promotion from their fans on social
JOHN LEWIS (again)
The Results
The campaign saw an impressive return with 4,085,250 views on YouTube,
347,979 total social media shares and 29,173 mentions of John Lewis on Twitter for
the week since launch on 11/11/11.9
What can we learn?
Social media is an extremely powerful tool to utilize in sales promotions.
If you want to run a cost effective campaign then your social platforms are the
perfect place to do that.
By using videos, John Lewis tapped into the power of visual communication to
create a highly engaging way to get people entering their competition.
Word-of-mouth marketing still comes out on top
84% of consumers say they completely or somewhat trust recommendations from
family and friends about products.
Word of mouth marketing is something that money can’t buy, so the best thing you
can do for your store is to provide a way for people to easily share and talk about
you, quite like John Lewis did.
Company Profile
Producing and manufacturing a carbonated soft drink since 1893, this brand needs
no introductions. They are renowned for their stand out promotions that receive a
lot of publicity worldwide.
Sales Promotion: The billion dollar giveaway
So this case study is a little different from all the rest, but we couldn’t have a list
of best promotions of all time, without including one of the boldest campaigns to
Never before had a company given away so much money as a cash prize, until
Pepsi decided to make one lucky fan, the world’s next billionaire in a summer long
Now, we don’t expect you to be the next company to offer such an extravagant
prize, but let’s see how it played out to see what we can learn...
The campaign goals
Pepsi had three clear goals in mind when they embarked on their huge campaign.
1. To increase product sales.
2. To increase brand awareness by offering the largest cash prize in history.
3. To gain sponsorship support by partnering with United Airlines, Marriott Hotels
and WB Network.
What did they do?
They printed unique codes on bottle caps to coincide with a live game show
on the WB channel. Customers would then need to enter their code and 1,000
contestants were then selected to play live on the WB gameshow for a chance to
win a billion dollars.
Each of the contestants would choose a six-digit number on the day of the
gameshow and the 10 contestsants who closely matched the numbers selected by
the hosts, would then go through to an elmination round.
The contestants then had to battle it out to win the money, until graphic designer,
Richard Bay, took home the grand prize!
Other prizes were also given away during the show, which included around-the-
The Results
The promotion saw four million consumers enter more than 20 million game
entries, helping secure leads for future marketing promotions.10
world trips from United Airlines, Mitsubishi cars and a life-long membership to
Marriot Hotels.
What can we learn?
Bold campaigns will bring high exposure
Sure, you may not be able to give away a billion dollars, but there are companies
out there that can help you execute a large prize fund without the risk. Pepsi
partnered with SCA, a leading provider of promotional risk coverage, to cover the
cost of the redemption rate.
Create strategic partnerships
Partnering with other store owners can really help your prize fund become a
lot more attractive. You can then all market the campaign together to help build
further brand awareness for everyone involved.
Choose a period of time to run your promotion
As you’d expect with such a large giveaway, Pepsi decided to run this contest
throughout Summer. This further increased exposure of the contest and their
brand, as fans were talking about it across social all Summer long.
From loyalty programs, giveaways and contests, to coupons, QR codes and pricematch-promises, there are plenty of promotions that you can take inspiration from.
But the key here is to take note of the strategies used by these awesome brands.
On the outside they may just look a typical sales promo, but when you dig a little
deeper into each study, it’s clear that a lot of thought and planning has gone in to
execute each one.
If you want to run a successful promotion then you gotta take an every day
promotion such as 10% off, and make it your own. Make it personal to your brand.
Make it relevant to your products. And most importantly, make it resonate with
your customers.
Sure, a promo like these may take a little longer to execute, but the results are
most definitely worth the time it takes to put it into action. Planning, testing and
exection can be the difference between 10 sales, and 10,000 sales, so make sure
you create an effective strategy.
Just like the case studies in this eBook, by making your sales promo unique and
leveraging every channel you have, you’ll stand apart from everyone else, become
the go-to person in your niche – and improve on your bottom line.
If you’ve enjoyed this eBook, we would appreciate it if you would share it with
everybody on your team. Hopefully these great promotional case studies will spark
some unique ideas to help grow your business!
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