Marketing and Sales

How to Craft an Effective Limited Time Offer

7 minutes

How to Craft an Effective Limited Time Offer

Limited time offers are everywhere. You have likely seen several already today. They are so common that sometimes it can feel strange when an offer doesn’t have a time component. Despite being a common marketing method, they are still done poorly by many brands.

Today, we’ll look at what it takes to make a persuasive and effective limited time offer, to drive sales and boost profits. We will detail some of the most effective types, and help you avoid common traps.

What is a limited time offer?

This type of promotion is exactly what it sounds like. You create a juicy offer, for example, 15% off orders, and then make this available for a limited time.

Below is an example of a limited time offer in part of an email from Freshbooks. The company is offering users a whopping 50% off on a sixth-month plan if they buy it in the next three days.

limited time offer example
A limited time offer from FreshBooks; source: Really Good Emails

Why are limited time offers effective?

Limited time offers play on the well known fact that people crave things that are scarce. When you combine a good deal with a time crunch, you have a surefire formula for FOMO and an urgency to make a purchase. You can make your offer even more appealing by paying attention to your audience and getting the timing right.

There are lots of ways that you can manipulate the offer to make it more appealing to your specific audience. Consider increasing the value of the offer i.e. larger discounts, shipping promos, or buy one get one options. Likewise, you can extend or reduce the timeframe of your offer. Short timeframes create FOMO, while longer timeframes may allow you to make more sales over a greater period of time.

A critical component of your limited time offer is not only the mechanics of the offer itself, but the copy that you use to promote your offer. Adding compelling text to a juicy offer will make it all the more effective. Likewise, pay attention to when you are sending your offer. If you have an excellent copy for a summer sale, it’s best to send this at the end of spring. Lastly, you need to consider the channels and ad formats you plan to use to send out your promotion. Getting as many eyes on your offer as possible is the goal.

The DOs and DON’Ts of limited time offers

Now that you are up to speed on what a limited time offer is, let’s dig into what you should and should not do in your limited time offer. As you have surely noticed, there are plenty of these kinds of offers available every day. Let’s make sure that yours stands out.

Keep it short and sweet

Your goal for the messaging in your offer is twofold, you want to show that you have a killer deal up for grabs, and make it clear that this deal won’t be around forever. Anything else in your messaging is unnecessary. Remember, this is not the same as normal marketing materials or advertisements. You want to create a time-sensitive appeal and do it quickly because it is… only available for a limited time.

Below is an email with a highly effective limited time offer from RussianPod101. This language learning service is offering users 35% off a paid plan if they make a purchase before a certain date. This email came just a day before the promotion expired. Notice how the advertisement includes exclusive information about the offer. This is what you want, the ad gets straight to the point.

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Example of a limited time offer from RussianPod101

Make the urgency obvious

Realistically, anyone who is seeing your limited time offer has seen hundreds of ads in the last few hours. They may be used to the business as usual ads from your brand as well. So your job is to make it clear that this offer is going away soon. Hiding the expiration date at the bottom is not a good idea. If you want to be sure that they know the offer is only going to be around for a little while, try using a countdown timer.

Dive deeper: Check out our countdown timer tool comparison for your email marketing campaigns.

The email below from the clothing retailer, PrettyLittleThing, is the epitome of making the urgency clear to recipients. This email’s bright pink background is sure to catch everyone’s attention. Additionally, the offer is clear and short. Most importantly, the countdown timer pulls it all together and is sure to give readers a healthy dose of FOMO.

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Limited time offer email with a countdown timer from PrettyLittleThing; source: Really Good Emails

Share your offer everywhere

Your offer is ending sooner than later, so the clock is ticking! It is your job to get as many eyes on your tantalizing offer as possible before it expires. Make use of as many marketing channels as possible to get the best results. Namely, be sure to use email, targeted ads, site banners, chatbots, SMS, and more. Your goal isn’t to spam your audience, but if your offer speaks for itself, your leads will be glad that they saw it.

Here is an example of a similar limited time promotion from PrettyLittleThing that they shared on their Facebook page. You can see a lot of similarities and between formats. The brand also uses a different link and promo code, although the offer is the same. This helps them see the source of traffic to their site.

facebook limited time offer example
A limited time offer Facebook post from PrettyLittleThing

Remind your leads about your offer

We are procrastinators, so it is totally possible that you have reached the right audience and they intend to make a purchase, but for one reason or another put it off. Normally, you could slowly encourage them with traditional content marketing or abandoned cart reminders, but because this is time-sensitive, you need to act fast.

Let’s imagine that you are offering a 4-day limited time offer. You can contact a subscriber on as many channels as possible on days one and two, but be sure to send them a reminder as your sale is getting close to ending.

Don’t underestimate the power of a persuasive email in the eleventh hour. Now it is your job to lay on the FOMO. If your previous messages emphasized that this deal will only be around for a short time, this one should focus on the fact that the deal is going away in a few hours.

Here is an excellent last-minute limited time offer email from Grammarly. The email is not pushy, but lets recipients know that they are close to missing the deal.

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Last-minute limited time offer reminder email from Grammarly

Don’t overdo it

It’s a good idea to keep your limited time offers centered around holidays, seasonal events, or times of the year that are relevant for your product. That being said, if you are having a slow quarter, a limited time offer might give you the sales boost you need.

Dive deeper: Check out our blog post about holiday email marketing to get up to speed on how to launch holiday email campaigns that are sure to bring in sales.

It is obvious when a brand’s products are always “on sale.” A lot of the power of a limited time offer comes from its rarity. Brands don’t always offer killer deals, so combining a killer deal with a time component is a potent combination. However, this effect will be non-existent if your offer is available often.

NordVPN has a “limited time offer” on their homepage, but I can let you in on a little secret, this limited time offer has been available for years. Users will spot this from a mile away, greatly reducing the effect of your offer.

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A continuous “limited time offer” from NordVPN

Don’t be stingy with your offer

Make your offer worth your potential customer’s time. It may not be exciting to offer your product at a discount if your profit margin is already thin, but market research from Zion & Zion has some promising news. Their study found that a 10% discount resulted in a 47.7% increase in engagement and brought in more ROI when A/B tested against a 5% discount. While this seems counterintuitive, the larger discount is a more appealing deal and resulted in a greater number of sales.

Of course, your mileage may vary and this effect will only scale to a point, but make sure that your offer is compelling enough to motivate users to convert. Here is a handy margin with discount calculator that will help you get an idea of your profit margin for various discount options. Below is an example of using the calculator.

discount calculator
Omnicalculator’s Margin With Discount Calculator

Wrapping up limited time offers

So we have gone over what it takes to create a powerful limited time offer. To recap, remember to:

  1. Keep your offer’s copy short and sweet.
  2. Make it clear that your offer is not here to stay.
  3. Share your offer on every channel you can.
  4. Remind your leads about your offer before it expires.
  5. Don’t overuse limited time offers.
  6. Offer a juicy discount.

These six tips will give you a limited time offer that is sure to boost sales and please your customers. A good limited time offer is a win-win.

Don’t forget that you need to share it everywhere. Give SendPulse a try to make use of email campaigns, web push notifications, SMS, and chatbots to reach out to your subscribers. You can get started by sending up to 15,000 emails to 500 subscribers for free every month!

Date of publication:

September 3, 2020

Caleb Smith

Greetings, I am Caleb, an email marketer at SendPulse. I enjoy reading, IT, and hockey. Let's learn about internet marketing...

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