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November 2022
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How Do I Run a Website Exclusive Special?

Running a special is a great way to show that your site is up-to-date, but the inverse is true as well. Seeing a New Year special in July is off-putting and can leave visitors with the feeling your website is inaccurate and out of date.

Coming up with a special is a lot of work. Fortunately for you, you’ve found this post which should get your inspiration flowing and help you avoid some of the common pitfalls along the way!

Come up with the offer

First step is to develop the offer; what is it that you want to offer customers? Do you want to provide a free item or a discount? Do you want to offer that product as a bundle with other items? Define what it is that you intend to give away. You also have to ensure that the offer is Sustainable, Profitable, and Enticing to customers.

  • Sustainable – If you provide a free item in a package with another, do you have the ability to fulfill those orders? Your employees can only do so much, if the offer becomes “viral”, can you ramp up production to meet the increased demand?
  • Profitable – If you are giving away product at a discount, can your business still remain profitable? This may seem like a basic thought, but despite the lost revenue per item, you must ensure you still will have enough total revenue to balance rent and other common business expenses as well.
  • Enticing – Finally, balancing the above, is the offer enough to get people excited? Is it actually something that will cause people to say, “Wow that’s a great deal!”? People are savvier than you may think, and they know when you are offering a “cheap” discount or marking something up just to discount it later. There are entire websites devote to tracking product prices and trends and browser extensions will often alert users when better deals are found elsewhere.

Define the parameters

Now, what are the parameters of the offer? This is where you can make a great deal on the surface a bit more sustainable and realistic. You can give the product away for free, but, require purchase of another item as well. Limit the availability of the offer by requiring users to fill out a form, or subscribe to an email newsletter which will allow you to monetize them potentially in the future. The whole goal here is to balance the books, so to speak, ensuring that you are offering a great deal that customers will love, but also isn’t going to drive you to bankruptcy, or allow anyone to take advantage. You need to clearly define the following parameters of the deal:

  • Quantity – How many of this item can they buy for the discount? Setting a maximum quantity is always a great idea.
  • Term – How long is this deal good for? Setting a deadline for the deal not only protects you from offers that would become impossible to maintain indefinitely, but also entices customers with the feeling they will “miss out” if they don’t capitalize on it right away.
  • Exposure – Limit the deal for existing customers, or new customers only. Or only for valid newsletter subscribers or recurring members. This can help build exclusivity that also protects you in case the offer goes “viral”.

A note on “viral” deals

In past years, we have unfortunately seen an alarming increase of people looking to take advantage of deals maliciously which has caused an end to many businesses offering good deals. People will buy up hundreds of a discounted item so that they can take all the sale items for themself and resell them for original price later. This sort of manipulation of supply and demand is unfortunately more and more common these days and can leave your good-intentioned sale extorted, and also tarnishing your reputation from people who are angry and disappointed that they couldn’t participate in the deal.

Some examples of malicious activity seen:

  • Buying out entire stock or pallets of items to resell with no intention of using them
  • Purchasing discounted items only to return them for full price
  • Intentionally crashing website pages so other visitors can’t get to the deal
  • Using fake names, accounts, and information to bypass restrictions

There are a few parameters you can define which will regulate this behavior and limit abuse of the system so everyone can enjoy the same experience. For example, you can utilize a lottery-style system which will give everyone a fair shot at the deal. You can limit quantities of the deal on a validated customer basis, or require manual approval of online orders taking part in the deal.

Advertise the deal

Now it’s time to get the deal in front of as many people as possible. There are a number of ways to go about this from free to adding additional expenses in hopes of more exposure. Be sure to balance the best options for your business and your particular deal using the parameters mentioned above.

  • Website banners and coupon pages
  • In-store displays
  • Follow-up emails or handouts provided to normal shoppers
  • Marketing campaigns and email newsletters
  • Online banner ads on other websites
  • Social Media advertising

When selecting your methods of advertising the deal, be sure to incorporate ways to track how the eventual sale came to you. This will help you to be able to offer deals in the future without wasting money on methods of advertising that didn’t work or provide tangible results.

Fulfill the deal

Arguably, the most important part of your deal, is actually providing the item to the customer. Be sure that as many people who want to participate are able to, and that the deal is actually provided to them on time, and at the same quality level as any normal order. Punishing users for taking advantage of a deal (non-maliciously of course) is a sure-fire way to ensure they will never come back. Be sure that product is in-stock, undamaged, and able to be fulfilled in a timely manner.

The slightest hiccup can have damaging results as customers may think they got “scammed” or form a bad impression of your business.

Quantify results

One of the lasts steps after a successful campaign is to quantify the results. How many people participated, how many units were sold at a discount, and did the results of the cost of the campaign make it worth it to have run in the first place?

Many times, taking a loss in order to operate a campaign is done with the expectation that word of mouth and goodwill will be repaid with customer loyalty and repeat visits. It can take up to 6 months to completely analyze an offer and determine its effects.

Be sure to capitalize on those who participated by asking for feedback along the way, and targeting them with marketing after the campaign to entice them to come back.


In conclusion, hopefully this article has empowered you to take on the art of offering a sale, avoiding common pitfalls, and enacting methods to ensure the sale is profitable for your business.