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How to Use Limited-Time Offers to Drive More Sales



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Do you want to use limited-time offers on your WordPress site to drive more sales?

eCommerce businesses can use promotional limited-time offers to create a sense of urgency that motivates buyers to make a purchase quickly.

In this article, we’ll go over what limited-time offers are and how to use them effectively to drive more sales.

Table of Contents

What Are Limited-Time Offers?

“One day only!” “Offer ends at Midnight.” “Labor Day only.”

Undoubtedly, we’ve all seen limited-time promotions like this before. These are powerful psychological hacks that businesses use to convince their customers, subscribers, and fans to buy from them.

As an online seller, you can use this simple tactic to drive more sales.

Limited-time offers can be a simple discount code, a gift, a special upgrade, free shipping, or any other incentive, as long as it ends at some point.

Here’s a basic example. “This Deal Disappears in 3 days” is the deadline.

Limited time offers

Online consumers see limited-time offers the same way they see any other promotion: sales campaigns, email newsletters, website banners, popups, Facebook posts, etc.

The purpose of this type of offer is to convince the potential buyer to make their decision now. You want them to think, “I better use this offer before I lose it.” If they wait too long, they’ll lose the benefits of the offer, which generally means they’ll pay more or get less. Essentially, you’re adding a constraint to a deal that creates scarcity.

Limited-time offers are powerful tools used to sell everything from software to cars. Even salesmen who peddle real estate and million-dollar industrial equipment like to give deals to customers if they’ll take the plunge quickly.

Like all types of promotions, limited-time offers are subject to discount fatigue if you push them too often. This is when a brand uses sales so often that buyers become conditioned to expect them. Rather than purchase at full price, they wait for your next discount. Over time, this forces you to offer deeper and deeper discounts, ultimately shrinking your margins.

How to Use Limited-Time Offers

Now that you understand limited-time offers, let’s go over a few steps to create effective offers of your own.

1. Pair Your Offer with a New Experience

Offering a discount on something your customers already have isn’t very exciting. It’s far more effective to combine your offer with something new. This could be a new product or service, a new type of promotion you’ve never offered before, or something unique.

For instance, if you offer business consulting packages, you might offer a limited-time discount for people who purchase your newly launched mini-coaching sessions. Not only is that an enticing new product, but the discount makes it easier for them to try something new.

Whenever you create an offer, it’s always important to ask yourself, “What makes this offer different?” If it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, most people will just ignore it.

2. Make the Time Limit as Organic as Possible

In many cases, time limits often feel artificial. Why does a sale end on Monday? Couldn’t you extend it one more day? Questions like these come up a lot with digital products that aren’t subject to inventory challenges. If you sell a digital product, you’ve probably dealt with customer requests asking you to honor last week’s sale.

You can avoid this problem by making your limited-time offers as organic as possible. Try to create a natural reason for the constraint.

Merchants of physical products have an easy way out here. They can offer a gift “for the first 100 customers.” They can offer a sale “until the inventory is gone.”

If you sell a digital product or a service, however, you have to be a little more crafty.

Shutterfly is a great example of this. They regularly offer free images, photo prints, and generous shipping deals, so they had to do something unique for the holidays. So, for the holidays, they offered a free calendar with a purchase. You can see the offer is available via a coupon code.

Limited time offers

What’s great about this gift is that the limited-time offer is naturally built into the promotion. It’s a holiday calendar. It wouldn’t make sense to give out a free holiday gift in March.

3. Define a Clear End Date

When creating limited-time offers, you need to make the dates as clear as possible so that buyers know when the deal ends. If you’re too vague, you could end up with a mob of angry customers who blame you for their loss. They may even accuse you of being intentionally vague to trick them, resulting in a loss of trust in your brand.

Plus, an offer with a vague deadline gives people the impression they have time, which defeats the entire purpose of a limited-time offer. The whole point is to get them to act quickly.

Here are some examples of bad phrasing:

  • “Act now before this sale ends!”
  • “Only available while supplies last.”
  • “Sale ends after the holidays.”

Notice how those phrases express scarcity, but they don’t offer much information. Here are some examples of better phrasing:

  • “Sale ends December 15th at Midnight.”
  • “The special course is only available for the first 50 people.”
  • “Only available Friday before 6 pm.”
  • “BIG One Day Sale”
  • Free Shipping – This Month Only
  • “Today only.”

4. Promote Your Limited-Time Offers Well

If you want to maximize the effectiveness of your offer, it’s important to promote it ahead of time. This lets customers know a great opportunity is coming. It also nudges their fear of missing out so they keep their eyes open for your deal.

You can send emails to your subscriber lists and create posts for your social media pages to help spread the word about your limited-time offer.

Next, make sure to promote your limited-time sale on your site as thoroughly as possible. You want to make sure visitors see the sale. You can do this a few different ways, such as with a targeted popup.

You can easily integrate your site with OptinMonster, the most powerful conversion optimization toolkit, to create targeted popups that direct your customers to your payment page.

OptinMonster lets you add floating bars, popups, banners, countdown timers, and more to your site to increase conversions.

You can also use an exit-intent popup (a popup that detects when a user is about to leave) to remind them that the deal expires soon.

Below is an example of a limited-time offer popup you can create directly from the WordPress admin dashboard.

Another great way to promote your limited-time offer is to create and send push notifications from your site announcing the sale.

Push notifications are short messages or alerts you can send directly to your subscribers’ browser or device. One of the best parts about push notifications is that they are almost impossible to go unnoticed.

With PushEngage, the best web push notification software available, you can easily create a limited-time offer notification that can be scheduled to be sent whenever you want.

Simply sign up for a PushEngage account, connect it to your site, and begin creating push notifications directly from the dashboard.

Below is an example of a push notification announcing a limited-time Halloween offer that was created using PushEngage.

Be sure to promote your limited-time offer everywhere, such as your social media pages, your email newsletter, homepage, and checkout page. You want people to see your deal as often as possible to push their FOMO button.

5. Keep Your Offer Brief and Simple

It’s always best to make your limited-time offers simple. You don’t want to confuse your buyers or make them misunderstand your promotion. Your offer should be something they can read and remember easily.

To do this well, create an offer that can be reduced to as few words as possible. Avoid complicated terms and conditions. Use a single deadline.

Here’s a bad example. Notice how complex this ad seems? With so many numbers, it’s impossible to tell at a glance what you get. Imagine trying to calculate your savings as you shop on the store’s website. Do they all apply? Or just one?

Limited time offers

Now, here’s a good example. There are no confusing details. No terms to remember. Just 35% off three different products and a clear deadline.

Limited time offers

Going Forward

Limited-time offers are great marketing tools that leverage people’s fear of missing out on good things. As you can see, however, they require a bit of thought if you want them to be effective. Use the tips we explained above to craft limited-time offers that convince customers to buy quickly without affecting their trust and loyalty.

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