How to boost your revenue through sales promotions

Picture of Leo, Boostn blog author
Leo Nov. 4, 2021
Image representing a sales promotion

We crafted this guide to help you get the most out of your sales promotions.

Keep reading if you’re willing to:

  • Learn more about the psychological components of a sales promotion
  • Get inspired with ideas and examples to work on your next sales promotion
  • Explore the different factors to take into account when designing a sales promotion

Familiarizing with these concepts can be beneficial as you work on your next promotion to actually boost your sales.

So, let's get to it!


It goes without saying that sales promotions are core to any business.

However, managing them is tricky because of their likely effects on the relationship with your customers.

And there’s more.

Besides content, how the sales promotion is carried out is also of paramount importance: from the psychology behind it to its timing, from the medium used to spread the message to the underlying strategy.

In the lines to follow, we'll touch base on all of these concepts so you can get an overall picture of what to ponder when designing a sales promotion.

Recap section image


Here’s a sneak peek of the key topics we’re going to see today.

  • The psychological components of a sales promotion.
  • How to create excitement around your sales promotion.
  • Optimizing your sales promotion through targeting and personalization.
  • Distributing your sales promotions across multiple channels.
  • What to focus on to build a limited time promotion.
  • The other levers of a sales promotion.
  • The main elements of every sales promotion.

Psychology and sales promotions: how to make it right

Sense of urgency, scarcity, and the resulting FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) effect, are among the main psychological components that can be leveraged in a promotion.

But please don't fake it! ☝️

In the last few years, we've been literally bombarded with messages of supposed urgency and scarcity, and therefore we tend to ignore them if they're clearly phony.

In other words, leveraging these psychological components only makes sense if urgency and scarcity are genuine (and the reason is made clear to our counterpart).

So, psychology alone is not enough.

Everything you do should work towards building your credibility and defining the image and integrity of your brand.

About FOMO, in the unlikely event you've never heard about it:

“FOMO is associated with a fear of regret, which may lead to concerns that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, a memorable event, or a profitable investment. It is characterized by a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing and can be described as the fear that deciding not to participate is the wrong choice” (source: Wikipedia).

The fear of feeling like an outsider, being judged or excluded, is something ordinary for almost every human being. Sales promotions typically leverage these feelings to prompt action.

Limited time offers and discounts on the last items left in stock are a classic way to benefit from the FOMO effect and shorten the sales cycle.

There’s more.

Typically, the messages meant to highlight these promotions pop up all of a sudden. And this creates excitement – further contributing to the goal of generating a flash sale.

Here’s what I mean.

Beyond generating FOMO by leveraging urgency and scarcity, another psychological component to harness in a sales promotion is the excitement you can produce through the medium you use to actually spread the offer.

I’ll explain…

The pros of using on-site messages to spread your sales promotions

Speaking of how to present the offer, sales promotions can be highlighted on your site by using popups and other on-site messages.

Sales promotions indeed fit well with all types of popups – especially timing popups, scroll popups, and exit popups. We talked about it in greater detail in this article dedicated to the different types of popups you can use on your site.

And speaking of exit popups, the possibility of deterring the user from leaving your site without taking any action makes it potentially very beneficial for your business.

Think about it: 🤔

If you're going to lose the visitor, you might as well try to recover the lead with a promotion!

In the case of timing and scroll popups instead, use page-level targeting to make the offer relevant according to what your user is doing. Otherwise, your sales promotion could produce a side effect: disturbing and boring the user who’s looking for something else.

As a side note, with Boostn you can create all these types of on-site messages quickly and easily. Check it out.

To wrap this up.

Advertising a sales promotion on your site through popups, banners, and other on-site messages that step into the spotlight as the user browses your pages helps create that sense of excitement we were talking about earlier.

And as already mentioned, this excitement – combined with urgency and scarcity – can push towards that extra step to conversion.

Pretty cool.

Targeting and personalization: one size doesn’t fit all

According to FinancesOnline, 69% of millennials experience FOMO daily. And 60% of people make purchases because of FOMO.

And this is just an example to mean that different clusters may react differently to the psychology behind your promotion.


Here’s where targeting and personalization become crucial: for instance, you can use a bolder tone of voice if the visitor falls within a category while using an alternative copy for a different target.

So, back to popups.

You can't just create one and throw it at everyone indistinctly. Instead, you need to do your homework: figure out who the potential recipients of your sales promotion are. Then, break them down into homogeneous segments.

Now, prepare a different, customized content for each of these clusters. Next, set up a system to ensure that each segment sees its dedicated message.

The best part?

All of this can also be accomplished with Boostn if you're considering an on-site campaign.

Don't forget about the distribution

So, you put together the copy of your promotion, leveraging urgency or scarcity. Next, you wrapped it up in different variations, one for each targeted segment. Based on this, you've prepped your on-site messages ready to be triggered to the right users. Good to go, right?


Popups & Co. are great, but you can’t limit yourself to promoting the offer only on your site.

Simply put:

Focus on the overall relationship with your audience. Your sales campaigns shouldn’t be all about popups, banners, or other on-site messages. You need to be consistent across all of your marketing channels. Advertise your promotions in your email marketing campaigns, on social media, ads, etc.

So, if you have a mailing list, you should definitely leverage it to promote your sales promotion.

And remember: as far as email marketing is concerned, crafting the right subject comes first. The subject line of your email should make clear right away what's in it for the user, at the same time trying to stir up their curiosity.

So, get creative with your email subject and with the content of the email in general. All of our mailboxes are full of promotional emails, and most of them use similar wording.

Repetitiveness triggers indifference.

That’s why you should keep an eye on what the others are saying and try to do something original.

In terms of call-to-action, link to a page that describes the offer in question and its benefits. Draft a copy that creates a sense of trust and credibility towards your company, thus conveying accuracy and professionalism. Don't sound like a desperate seller, but present your offer as a reliable opportunity.

And when the offer ends?

Be friendly! Send another email to the user to tell her that she missed the opportunity, but also take a chance to mention that other deals will come up soon, and she’ll be able to benefit from them!

The right offer, at the right time

We anticipated that one of the core ingredients of a sales promotion is timing. You need to seize the moment!

Ok. But how?

At its most basic, think about the calendar. 🗓

During general holiday periods – such as Christmas or during sales holidays like Black Friday, the percentage of sales naturally goes up. Holidays, in fact, trigger an inherent sense of urgency and scarcity: everyone is naturally inclined to indulge in some extra purchases – more than at any other time of the year.

One way to exploit these situations is by using an “advent calendar”. Here, you basically propose a different offer every day for the entire holiday period.

However, your strategy can't be limited only to the calendar.

Of course, in these situations, you have to push. However, the real skill lies in building effective sales strategies even in those times of the year that aren't recognized as particularly fruitful for boosting purchases.


Create your own events, your own calendar!

End date as the key ingredient

As we speak of the right offers at the right time, we're mainly talking about limited-time promotions.

So, you have your calendar. Your sales promotion is ready to be launched. Yet to be effective, the deal can't always be on: you need to set its end date as well.

Limited-time promotions are based on one of the things that gratify us the most: buying something we want and doing it conveniently (if we don’t miss the deadline, of course. Hurry up!).

This type of promotion is universal: it can be offered to visitors, leads, or existing customers.

In the case of visitors, you can also exploit such a promotion to capture their contact information.

For an existing customer instead, the ability to customize the offer according to her buying habits will give you an advantage: she knows you, she already trusts you. It's just a matter of directing her towards a new purchase in the most customized way possible.

We said it before: personalization and targeting are essential. 🎯

About the deadline, you can simply state the expiration date while presenting the offer, or you can make it dynamic by using a timer.

Ok, now we’re getting somewhere...

Not just a matter of time: the levers of curiosity and exclusivity

We’ve seen how limited-time promotions represent the most effective and immediate strategies to increase your conversions. But you can do more...

Here’s how:

We briefly mentioned the advent calendar. Used in periods such as Christmas, the idea here is to present a different offer every day. What we’re doing here is leveraging another strong feeling: curiosity. For instance, if we’re talking about an email campaign, your audience will be prompted to open your emails to discover the new offer of the day.


Don't just tease your leads or customers only at some periods: do it as much as possible, potentially throughout the year!

For instance, ask the visitor to become a subscriber to unlock a benefit, but hide the incentive – perhaps with a blurry image. Discovering the offer should feel like unwrapping a gift.

Here’s an example of an exclusive sales offer from SaaStr, a large community of SaaS executives:

Image representing a sales promotion by SaaStr

This sort of wheel of fortune arouses curiosity by making the benefit random and adding an extra gaming component.

And here, a famous Black Friday campaign from Walmart:

Image representing a sales promotion by Walmart

The curiosity effect comes from the fact that every day a different offer will be presented.

Now… what’s next?

Customizing your offers based on what you know about your users is another way to go. Offering the same discount to everyone won’t create an exclusive relationship between you and the customer. Whenever possible, you should do the opposite instead.

A few examples:

Creating exclusive offers for those subscribed to your newsletter. Even better: design the offer considering how the user interacted with you in the past.

Make it clear that the offer here is truly custom to build a sense of exclusivity.

I know I risk being redundant, but really: personalization should always be part of your sales promotions.

The object of a sales promotion

Now, what about the object of your sales promotion?

As usual, you need to get creative. Many companies narrow their sales promotions to offering discounts. But that’s a limiting idea and, honestly, not very innovative – although it remains one of the most traditional ways to frame a sales promotion.

Thus, you can certainly consider a discount campaign from time to time, but don't limit your strategy to just that. There are many other types of sales promotions you can think of.

A few examples:

Redeemable vouchers, offering whole packages, daily/weekly/monthly offers. And then: free gifts, free samples, free delivery, or the buy one get one promotion (a.k.a. BOGO promotion).

Remember: the word free generally triggers reactions that are often much stronger than just the usual percentage discount.

As soon as you come up with something original in terms of offering and choose the emotional leverage to exploit, this is what you need to do next:

  • Clearly state what you’re offering.
  • Describe what’s the benefit for the user.
  • Add a prominent call-to-action that drives your user to the page from which she can unlock the offer.
  • Draft a final short sentence that incites the user to act and click by leveraging the psychological component that you decided to exploit (e.g., if it’s a time-limited promotion, a reference to the expiration date, and to the fact that the opportunity will be permanently missed after this deadline).

Nice, right?

Ready for your next sales promotion?

Let’s wrap it up!

Today we looked at the different types of sales promotions you can work on:

  • The most common ones where the presence of an expiration date introduces a sense of urgency.
  • Other promotions in which a cap on the items subject to the offer builds scarcity.
  • The curiosity triggered by a benefit that is revealed only after a first action by the user is another typical lever of sales promotions.
  • Personalization, on the other hand, is used to design exclusivity-based promotions. For example, offer something tailored to the behaviors of your users.

In terms of distribution, we then looked at how much an on-site campaign – based on popups or banners, for instance, can add an extra sense of excitement around the promotion. However, beyond the on-site campaign, we've also said that sales promotions should always be cross-channel.

We briefly went through the basic contents of any sales promotion, emphasizing that the offer doesn't have to consist of a discount. Better with a bit of customization: content and copy should be tailored to the different targets of the promotion.

I really hope this roundup has served as inspiration for you. Now, all you have to do is get your hands on it and try to put what we've seen into practice! And if it doesn't go as expected on the first shot, no worries. Try and try again. Measure the results and optimize until you find the right balance.

Looking forward to hearing from you. Share your next sales promotion experience with us here below in the comments!

See you next time.