When it comes to selling your product, “discount” can be a tricky word. On one hand, discounts can be great for luring new customers or bringing back old ones, and they can also help move old inventory. But on the other hand, discounts often attract customers who are more price sensitive and less brand loyal. Discount purchasers are less likely to come back for more.
The reason is simple. Although you are giving buyers a reason to purchase (my wife would gladly trade my left arm for 40% off a yoga mat), you’re not giving them any reason to be charmed. There’s no interaction, no engagement, no reason for someone to think, “Wow, this company really is something.”
But all is not lost! There’s still room for the discount in our highly connected, prove-that-you-deserve-my-loyalty-or-I’ll-go-online-and-find-someone-who-is world. Enter the social discount.
Part traditional discount, part social networking, the social discount allows you to attract price sensitive customers and strengthen your company’s brand. The next time you feel the urge to blanket the town with 10% off coupons, consider using one of these social discounting methods instead.
Secret tweets are the social media version of a preferred customers club. Create a second, secret Twitter account for your company. If your handle is @Acme, snag @SecretAcme or @AcmeRewards. Set up the account to be private, so only people you approve can follow it and see your secret tweets. Which customers you allow into your secret tweets is up to you. People who completed 25 transactions in one year? Customers who spent more than $1,000 in one purchase? It’s your call. You control the barrier to entry. Once you start filling up with followers, use the secret Twitter account to tweet special discounts for your prized customers. They feel privileged, and you can rest assured that you’re offering discounts only to customers who have proven their allegiance to your brand.
I don’t care how old you are, scavenger hunts are fun. So why not have a little fun with your customers by sending them out on a scavenger hunt to track down your next big discount? There are several social media tools designed to help you create them, like SCVNGR, or you can create your own by posting clues on your Facebook page. Send deal-savvy customers on a jaunt around your city in an effort to find clues, solve riddles, post photos, and have fun, all in the name of a good discount. For extra social media-ness, plant your discount details in a QR code at the final clue. Any customer who takes advantage of your discount spent a good few hours interacting and having fun with your brand, and they proved that they’re willing to give their time to your company.
One of Twitter’s greatest strengths is its immediacy. Take advantage of it by holding flash sales. A quick “For the next two hours only, our Twitter followers get 25% off anything in our store!” tweet is a great way to grab the attention of the Twitterverse. This social discount utilizes the principle of scarcity; people have to react now, or else risk losing out on a great deal. Tweeting the flash sale makes it easy for your followers to help spread the word, and they feel specially cared for since the sale is broadcast only to them.
Popular Vote Discount
Social networking is all about choice. I choose what to share, when to share it, and with whom I want to share it. Why should discounts be any different? Offering a static discount is a thing of the past. Use Facebook Polls and give your customers the chance to vote on a few discount options. What will it be, ice cream lovers? 15% off a sundae, 20% off a concrete, or 10% off an ice cream cake? Let the public tell you which discount would most motivate them to buy. Set a deadline for voting, and offer the discount that gets the most votes. They’ll appreciate the consideration you’ve shown them by taking their opinions into account. As an added bonus, keep in mind that every person who votes automatically posts your poll to his own Facebook page—the potential reach of this discount promotion is mind-blowing.
If the myriad daily deal discount websites have taught us anything, it’s that there really is power in group purchases. Tap into that power without giving Groupon a percentage of your gross revenue by using your own Facebook or Twitter accounts. Create a Facebook photo album of your new Spring clothing line and declare that if the album gets 1,000 “likes,” you’ll discount each item 15% for one day. Send a quick “Check out our new dresses for Spring! We’ll tweet a code for 20% off when we get 50 retweets!” via Twitter. The better the incentive, the more willing your potential customers will be to help you spread the word by liking and retweeting.
The Bottom Line
Social discounting is about engaging with your customers in order to turn them into brand ambassadors. In return, they get discounted access to some of your best products. They’re happy, you’re happy, your company is happy, and you may never go back to traditional discounting again.
Has your company experimented with social discounts? Tell us about it in the comments!