7 clever ways creators can use discounts to unlock more growth

Commerce Business Models
11 min read
In this Article

In 2021, clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch went viral for their 90%-off discount.

People rushed to place an order after they caught wind of the massive savings. Orders totaling $1,000 were ringing up to ~$100, and customers were excitedly sharing their hauls on social media.

As it turns out, the discount was from a glitch in the backend of Abercrombie’s site and shouldn’t have happened. But we can all learn something from Abercrombie’s mistake: everyone loves a good bargain.

Luckily, you don’t need to discount your products as much as Abercrombie (accidently) did to give yourself a boost in sales and reach new customers.

The psychology of discounting: Why everyone loves a deal

Offering an additional incentive to buy can help convince potential customers to purchase your course, ebook, or other product. But discounting isn’t only about price—in fact, two other factors—urgency and exclusivity—are far more likely to drive customers to open their wallets.

Urgency helps drive new customers

Most discounts aimed at new customers rely on urgency or loss aversion.

Humans have a strong inherent desire to seek pleasure and avoid pain and potential loss. When a discount is only available for a short period—like a Cyber Monday deal—prospects know that if they don’t buy before the discount expires, they’ll miss out on saving some money. With Abercrombie & Fitch, customers didn’t know how long the sale would last. As a result, people didn’t hesitate to snatch up the savings.

To add urgency in your sales, discount a product for a limited amount of time. Doing so can push fence-sitters into taking action. Using ConvertKit, add countdown timers to your emails, landing pages, and forms so potential customers know when your deal ends.

Pro tip: Consider how your wording of the discount you’re offering drives urgency or loss aversion. For instance, “Get $ off” emphasizes achieving a gain, while “Save $” emphasizes avoiding a loss. You should test which kind of wording works best for your specific audience.

Exclusivity helps retain existing customers

51% of customers surveyed by Inmar Inc want exclusive offers from the brands they buy from. Keep current customers happy—and buying more of your products—by creating special discounts just for them.

You can build exclusivity into your offers by giving special discounts to specific segments of your audience. For example, instead of offering a 20% discount to everyone, host an exclusive sale for your top subscribers. You can easily locate your top subscribers in ConvertKit using Subscriber Scoring.

7 clever ways creators can use discounts

#1: Attract new customers

A carefully chosen promotional price can help push prospective customers to punch in their credit cards—even if they’ve never bought from you before.

Discount codes are easy to distribute and help drive urgency and push customers to buy.

The Konscious Vegan uses a limited time sale to promote her digital cookbook through a ConvertKit product page. Prospects can quickly see the savings as the original price is listed beside the sale price.

Image via The Konscious Vegan.

Try offering a straightforward discount code—either as money off (for example, $20 off the purchase price) or as a percentage off your product’s cost (for example, 10% off a purchase). By only offering the discount for a limited time, you’ll motivate them to act now instead of waiting until the offer expires.

How do you know whether to offer money off or a percentage discount? Follow the Rule of 100:

  • If your product costs less than $100, offer a percentage discount.
  • If your product costs more than $100, offer a dollar discount.

#2: Grow your brand awareness

Discounting also makes for a great promotional tool. Whether you’re a new brand looking to grow your audience or an established creator ready to grow your customer base, you can use strategic discounts to help get the word out about your products or services.

For example, NoCode Notion, a website selling resource kits and community memberships for makers using Notion to launch new products offered a 20% discount only to members of a specific Facebook group. In exchange, the group organizers helped promote their new product to group members, who ended up becoming the #1 source of customers in the week following their launch.

Image via NoCode Notion.

And workout coach Healthy Living Hippie uses a discount to attract new subscribers to grow her email list.

Image via Healthy Living Hippie.

Just remember: Always use discounts sparingly. Leaning too heavily on deals to grow your audience can hurt your brand— customers start to expect a discount before they buy, preventing them from buying at the regular price and encouraging them to look for potential deals from your competitors.

#3: Reward your most loyal customers and subscribers

As we saw earlier, discounting doesn’t have to be limited to new buyers. When you offer exclusive discounts to your existing customers and subscribers, they feel loyal and connected to your brand—and they’ll spend more on your products and services.

Tell me if any of these sound familiar:

  • “Refer five friends, and we’ll give you 25% off your next months’ subscription.”
  • “Buy two, get one free!”
  • “Here’s another product we think you’ll like—add it to your cart at 50% off.”
  • “You left products in your cart—here’s a 10% coupon if you check out today.”

Your discount doesn’t have to be complicated. Try creating a promo code for your products or services, and place it within your receipt or welcome emails. Or share a special discount with subscribers or patrons, like muralist and ConvertKit creator Eric Friedensohn did when he launched his ecommerce store:

Image via Efdot on Twitter.

If you’re lucky, those subscribers and customers will also promote your offer to their network of friends and followers. Customers get rewarded with exclusive savings—and you get more subscribers, sales, and revenue. Everyone wins!

#4: Bundle products at a discount

This tactic only applies to those selling more than one product, but it’s a great way to boost your revenue quickly.

Product bundling is when you offer customers a discount for buying two or more of your products simultaneously. Bundling works because customers feel like they’re getting more value for their money while increasing the number of products you sell.

Let’s say you’re a craft blogger who sells patterns, like Creatively Crafting does. Instead of selling single patterns, bundle up several. This way, you can increase your average order value (AOV) while also giving out a discount.

Image via Creatively Crafting.

#5: Launch or pre-sell new products

Discounts can also help build initial interest around new products. Sometimes called penetration pricing, you can offer buyers a discount if they buy your ebook, course, or other digital product before you launch. In exchange, you get valuable feedback and testimonials you can use when you launch.

Elixir Radar offers their book at discounted price for their beta program. Customers who buy the book receive chapters one through four, and then receive the other chapters after they are written. This way, Elixir Radar has funds to finish the book and their audience can enjoy a helpful resource at a steep discount.

Image via Elixir Radar.

The key to a successful pre-launch discount? Make sure you set a closing date on the offer—that way, customers have an incentive to buy now instead of waiting until you launch.

Pro tip: Make sure you’re still turning a profit, especially when offering a discount. Know the value of your offer before you start, consider production costs, ongoing operational costs, and your own time spent managing the sale when determining how low you can go.

#6: Celebrate milestones

Important milestones—both for your customers and your business—are great opportunities to celebrate with a revenue-generating discount.

You can say thanks to loyal subscribers by offering discounts on milestones related to your brand, such as your business anniversary or reaching a certain number of subscribers. For example, marketer Ross Simmonds celebrated reaching 22,000 Twitter followers by offering 22 people the chance to buy his Growth & Traction Kit for only $22:

Image via Ross Simmonds on Twitter.

Online educator Jack Butcher used a similar tactic, celebrating reaching 50,000 Twitter followers by offering a $50 discount on his ebook Build Once, Sell Twice until he reached 51,000 followers:

Image via Jack Butcher on Twitter.

ConvertKit makes it easy to set up an automation to automatically send subscribers a discount code celebrating a year since they joined your list.

Grab the discount automation here

Don’t be afraid to experiment when you offer discounts—be creative!

#7: Piggyback on seasonal discounts and holidays

Timing is everything when it comes to discounts. Big brands like Amazon create massive interest around holiday periods and sales events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday every year, offering steep discounts on many of their products for only a few days.

If you’re selling digital products, these events are perfect opportunities to boost your sales. Consumers are already on the lookout for great deals, making it the ideal time to offer discounts on your products and attract new customers. Your customers won’t need to wait in line—they can buy your ebooks, courses, and other products from the comfort of their couch.

ConvertKit creator Addie’s Baby Studio offered a unique Pay What You Want sale during Cyber Monday.

Image via Addie’s Baby Studio.

Even if the holiday season isn’t the peak selling season for your business, consider discounting your products to coincide with the rush in demand. Use a landing page to start building your email list during the run-up to the holidays, and schedule your promotional emails in advance.

Your customers—and your bank account—will thank you.

Pro tip: If you’re behind on your holiday email planning, check out email expert Samar Owais’ five tips for maximizing your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales promotions with email.

How to set up discounting in ConvertKit Commerce

If you use ConvertKit Commerce to sell your courses, workshops, ebooks, or other digital products, it’s easy to set up a one-time discount.

Start by clicking Earn > Products in the top menu, then click New Product. Choose between a digital product or a subscription and give your product a name.

Next enter pricing details, such as the pricing method—standard, pay what you want, and payment plans—and the price of your product.

Choose your fulfillment and upload your product’s files (the files people will receive after purchasing your product).

Lastly, customize your product’s domain.

From there, you’ll be redirected to a page where you can edit and customize your product page, checkout page, confirmation page, and email receipt. If you’re offering this as a discounted product, be sure to position your wording around the discount offer in your product page’s headline or body copy.

Here’s where you can create your discount. Click Settings > Discount Codes > Add a discount code and fill out the code name, discount, and usage limit.

Save your discount code, click Publish, and make sure to toggle on Include a discount code.

Toggling this on will bring up a list of the different discount codes you’ve created. Select the appropriate discount, and that’s it!

Copy the link with the discount to share with anyone you want to receive a discount!

Pro tip: Make sure your discount is valuable for customers to take advantage of it. Don’t offer $2 off a $100 product—make sure your offer is desirable to get customers excited.

Sell more products using discounting today

Discounting is an excellent way of increasing your revenue, growing your audience, and rewarding loyal customers. Just make sure the discount you’re offering is simple, profitable for you, and selective when it comes to how long the duration of that discount lasts, and you’ll be well on your way to happy customers—and a happy bank balance.

One last thing: ConvertKit Commerce might only take a few clicks to start discounting your digital products—but your audience won’t know about your discounts unless you tell them! Email marketing is the perfect way to promote your digital products and share your deals with your audience.

If you haven’t already, sign up for a free ConvertKit account, and start selling your first discounted product today!

Start selling within minutes

As a creator, you deserve to get paid for your work. ConvertKit Commerce is ready-made to help you sell digital products.

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Dana Nicole

Dana is a freelance writer who works closely with B2B SaaS brands to create content people enjoy reading. When she’s not working, you’ll find her sipping on a warm cup of tea and reading a good book (the scarier, the better). See what she’s up to at www.dananicoledesigns.com

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