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12 Hacks of Christmas - No. 1 The eCommerce promotion hack

Getting new customers is vital for any small or medium-sized business selling online. Retention of existing customers is important too - perhaps even more so. But you've got to get customers in the first place to turn them into repeat buyers. So we've got an eCommerce promotion hack for you to try, to convert more new buyers from your known base of people who are yet to buy. In other words this is about targeting people on your email list who've not bought or people in your Facebook / Instagram community, who've not bought.

Step 1 - isolate people who have bought

How easy this is to do, depends on what tools you use to manage your customer database. Let's assume you have a single customer database with no duplication of customers.

We think the easiest way to manage this eCommerce promotion hack is to work with an exclusion approach. In other words, isolate people who have bought and use them as an exclusion list. If you want to, you can add to this list anyone who has subscribed to your email newsletter in the latest week. Why? Because you're probably pushing them through an automated series of welcome emails so they're already getting messages from your brand.

Once you've got your list upload it to your Email Service Provider (e.g. MailChimp) and/or as a Facebook Custom Audience.

Step 2 - create and send campaign 1 - special first order promo

The trick here is to create an offer that's compelling and exciting enough to get them interested. These people will have seen emails and Facebook posts from you in the past, so think of ways to get them to sit up and take notice. They say that 'new', 'free' and 'sex' all sell! Not sure whether you want to be advertising free sex, so you might go with something new in the subject line or banner header instead: A new collection, an exclusive offer for new customers, new way to sample our range for less etc. etc.

Whatever you pick it needs to be as good as the general offer you may provide to first time customers (the standard these days seems to be 10% off). It could be you give them an option of two (no more than two though - too much choice is bad), one which gets them to spend a bit more with more reward and another which perhaps matches the first time customer offer but with some added value content or a competition entry perhaps. Also, it's important to make the offer time-bound - a week to 10 days would work.

Once you're ready, send the campaign out to your target segment, excluding your existing customer segment.

Step 3 - create and send campaign 2 - general promo

Then three days later you need to create an offer that's slightly less compelling and make it look like it's going out to all customers. So make this clear in the copy of the campaign. But make sure it only goes to the same customers you sent campaign 1 to. You might choose to only send it to people who opened the campaign 1 for example. The idea here is to make people think that campaign 2 isn't as good as campaign 1, so they'd better jump on campaign 1 while it's still active.

Remember you need to get them to open the campaign in order for them to understand the offer contained within it isn't as good as campaign 1.

The other key thing to do in between step 2 and step 3 is to refresh your exclusion list from step 1. You don't want campaign 2 to go to people who have bought after receiving campaign 1. So they need to be excluded too.

Step 4 - create and send campaign 3 - reminder of first order promo

Now you need to send a reminder email out for campaign 1, a few days after campaign 2 has been sent. It's a case of jogging their memory that they had a great offer that's too good to miss out on and they've only got a few days left to buy.

Again you should update your exclusion list before sending this campaign out.


That's it. With this eCommerce promotion hack, you're creating a fear of missing out and you're controlling who the message goes to - as long as you manage your data and targeting carefully. If you have any questions about this approach get in touch.