Digital promotions are a must for any retailer that wants to connect with modern shoppers.

When implemented correctly, they can increase brand awareness, engage customers, and drive sales.

Going digital with your promotions is more important than ever, mainly because consumers today are increasingly spending time and money on digital platforms, thanks in part to the pandemic. Data from Mastercard shows that in April and May, ecommerce made up 22% of all retail sales, an increase from 11% in 2019, essentially doubling online spending in one year.

Another way to put it: consumers spent more money during April and May of this year than the previous 12 Cyber Mondays combined.

This trend won’t slow down anytime soon. Consumers will continue to spend money online, and one of the best ways to ensure that your brand capitalizes on this growth is to have strong digital promotions. To that end, we’ve put together a quick guide on how to craft and implement a digital promotion strategy for your business. Have a look at the steps below and see how you can apply them to your sales and marketing strategy.

What are digital promotions?

Digital promotions are sales and marketing initiatives implemented by brands using electronic means. Digital promotions can come in various forms, including e-coupons, online giveaways, and social media campaigns, among other things. Unlike traditional promotions, which primarily take place offline (i.e., in-store), digital promos happen on ecommerce sites, social networks and mobile platforms.

How to successfully launch a digital promotion

An excellent digital promotion initiative isn’t just about shiny email campaigns and social media posts. Plenty of work happens behind the scenes, particularly when you’re ideating, planning, and implementing your promos. Here are the steps you should take to ensure that your digital marketing efforts are successful.

Get clear on your objectives

The first step is to iron out the goals and objectives of your digital promotion. Why are you running the initiative? What does success look like? The answers to these questions will help you figure out the right type of promotion to implement. For example, if the goal is to acquire new customers or promote a new product, then a first-time buyer discount could be a great way to go. On the other hand, if you’re looking to re-engage customers who haven’t bought from you in a while, then your digital promotion campaign would go in a different direction. Getting clear on your objectives will also shed light on the metrics and KPIs you need to track. A promotional campaign that’s meant to drive referrals, for example, would have very different KPIs than a customer retention initiative. For this reason, it’s important to figure out the “why” behind your promotional efforts, as this will guide the overall direction of your campaign. For this reason, it’s important to figure out the “why” behind your promotional efforts, as this will guide the overall direction of your campaign.

Know the landscape

Already know what you want your digital promotions to achieve? The next step is to get to know the market.

Get to know your target audience

Zero in on the specific audience you want to target for this particular promotion. If you haven’t done so yet, craft customer profiles or personas that detail things like:

  • Demographics (age, gender, location, etc)
  • Aspirations
  • Pain points
  • Key personality characteristics
  • Price sensitivity
  • Preferred channels

Gaining clarity on your target audience will inform your decisions around what type of promotion to run, what messaging to craft, and which channels or platforms to use in your initiatives.

Research your competition

It also helps to look at what your competitors are doing. Pay attention to the campaigns, offers, and promos they have in the market. Evaluate their efforts, and come up with ways to differentiate yourself and ensure that your digital promotions are more compelling. In addition to looking at your competitors’ website and social media posts, use tools such as SEMRush, SpyFu, and iSpionage to gain intel on their SEO and paid ads strategy.

Spend time on the platforms or channels you’ll be using

At this point, you should have a pretty clear idea of the channels or platforms on which you’ll run your promotions. Take some time to evaluate them and get ideas to apply to your own campaigns.

For instance, if you’re planning to do a big social media push, look at the content types and posts that generate the most engagement. Planning to run an email campaign? Scroll through your own inbox and keep an eye out for messages that stand out.

Decide on the type of digital promotion to run

As mentioned earlier, digital promotions can take many forms, and the best format for your campaign depends on your goals and your audience.

Here’s a quick overview of the most common types of promotions to consider.

Discounts or sales

Running sales and offering discounts allow customers to purchase your products below their usual price point. These promos are great if you want to sell slow-moving products, are looking to engage price-sensitive customers, or simply want to stay relevant.

It’s not uncommon for retailers to launch sales and discount offers during holidays and seasonal events. For example, the protein snack brand think! kicked off the holiday period by offering a 15% discount on seasonal products like its Gingerbread and Chocolate Peppermint protein bars.

Sweepstakes or giveaways

Competitions can be an excellent way to get in front of a wider audience. Giveaways — particularly those that incentivize sharing or “tagging” friends — can put your brand on the radar of potential customers.

Giveaways can be used to build your email list, grow your social media presence, or to encourage customers to take a particular call to action. Just make sure that you choose your prizes wisely.

See to it that whatever you put up for grabs is relevant to your brand. Things like cash, Amazon gift cards, or electronics (tablets, laptops) tend to attract people who are only interested in the prize, so stay away from them.

Free products or gift cards that can be redeemed in your store or website are good prizes to consider.

An excellent example of a giveaway in action comes from The Dirty Cookie. The dessert shop holds a monthly cookie giveaway designed to increase user generated content (UGC) and encourage shoppers to talk up the brand on social media.


You could consider freebies — such as trial subscriptions, gifts, or free shipping. Depending on your objectives, this type of promotion can attract first-time shoppers. Many brands, for example, are offering free product trials to entice people to buy.

If your objective is to move slow-selling products, you could give those items away whenever someone purchases above a certain threshold. In the same vein, free shipping or gifts can also be leveraged to increase order values and basket sizes.

For instance, Tommy Hilfiger offers free shipping on orders over $100.

Loyalty program-centric

If your objective is to engage existing customers, consider launching a loyalty-centric promotion. Offer exclusive perks or launch a promotional event that allows members to earn extra points for their purchases.

Starbucks is a master at this tactic. The coffee company regularly holds “Double Star Days” which allow members of its loyalty program to earn twice the number of points on their purchases.

New products

Promotions that center around new arrivals can be very compelling, and can help drive sales for full-priced items. One of the keys to making this work is to promote exclusivity or urgency. You could, for example, send a “New Arrivals” promo to your top shopper segments, and let them know that they can get first dibs on certain items before everyone else.

This is exactly what Nike is doing in the promotion below, which allows customers who have a Nike Membership to access new and never-before-seen styles.

Get the word out

Once your promotion is live, be sure to get the word out. Come up with compelling messaging (taglines, content, etc.) design your assets (graphics, videos, landing pages) then promote them through the appropriate channels. Consider the following:


If you have an existing list and want to make sure your subscribers know about that latest discount you’re running, create messages that put your promotions on their radar. For best results, personalize your offers based on each subscribers’ demographic or purchase history. Bed Bath & Beyond does just that in the following email, which contains coupons alongside items relevant to the customer’s previous purchases.

Social media

Create great content for social media to promote your offers and initiatives.

It’s best to use a combination of organic and paid efforts. In addition to your usual posts on Instagram and Facebook, put some paid spend behind your content to get it in front of more people.

To get the word out about its flash sale, the jewelry retail Alex and Ani promoted the initiative on Instagram.


Optimize your promotional landing pages for search engines. Make sure you optimize your pages for branded keyword searches (e.g., “[YOUR BRAND] coupons”] as well as promotion keywords like “deals on shoes.”

It’s important to note that a brand’s coupon or offer-centric keywords are almost always the #1 most popular branded search category. These searches are conducted by high intent shoppers and not ranking well will likely result in increased affiliate commissions, so it’s critical that you win these searches.

We can see the power of promo SEO in action in Advance Auto Parts (AAP), which implemented Thrive’s Intelligent Promotions Solution to replace their legacy coupon page. With the help of Thrive, AAP implemented a series of SEO and conversion-optimized landing pages with personalized promotions. The effort resulted in AAP securing the #1 spot in search results for 123 new coupon keywords.

Text messaging

If text messages are part of your shopper marketing mix, be sure to utilize it as a channel to promote your offers. Consumers have long been glued to their smartphones, and they are becoming more receptive towards text messages. Industry data shows that 75% of consumers are comfortable receiving text messages from brands and 64% think that companies should contact them via text more often.

Check out this example from Function of Beauty, which texts its SMS subscribers about the brand’s latest offers.

Segment your promos

The effectiveness of your promotions depends on how targeted they are. For best results, leverage your website to show different offers to different types of shoppers based on factors like:

  • The customers’ purchase history
  • The marketing campaign drove them to your site
  • The marketing channel

Segmenting your promotions keeps them relevant, and ultimately increases conversions.

Track results

Be sure to keep an eye on your results throughout your digital promotions and campaigns. The right metrics to track will depend on the promotion. If your campaign’s objective is to drive sales, then that’s naturally the metric you should track.

On the other hand, if the goal is to get new subscribers or customers, then you’ll want to dig into your CRM data to track growth, opt-ins, and more.

The bottom line? You can’t improve what you don’t measure. So know your numbers, track your progress, and use that data to inform your digital promotions going forward.

Interested in supercharging your digital promotions? Thrive gives you the tools you need to publish, control, and personalize your promos. Schedule a free demo today.