Flash Sale Strategy: A Multichannel Approach

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The best flash sales may seem like a spur-of-the-moment decision, but they’re a carefully orchestrated, multichannel effort planned well in advance. These short, aggressive promotions are an excellent way to achieve several goals, including moving inventory and adding customers to your email list.

Here, we’ve compiled a few flash sale tips to help you put all the pieces together – and not just for a limited time.

What Is a Flash Sale?

A flash sale is a short-term discount or promotion usually announced with little advanced notice. It’s not a seasonal sale (like Black Friday), and its short duration creates a sense of urgency. In short, it’s a surprise! The best flash sales have a few key characteristics, but every industry has its own unique take.

For most online retailers, these flash promotions check the following boxes:

  • Steep discounts – 10% isn’t a flash sale; 40% is a flash sale! Significant price reductions increase the appeal of flash sales, as do product bundles – such as buy one, get one free.
  • Short duration – Flash sales can last a few hours to a few days – though the sense of immediacy is softened the longer the promotion is live. The sale should be short enough that consumers can’t quite trust themselves to “do it later.”
  • New customers – Steep promotions tend to entice new customers, allowing ecommerce brands to add valuable contact information to their CRM. These lists can be used to optimize email marketing automations, build stronger paid media audiences and identify changing consumer demographics.

Why Run a Flash Sale?

Brands should think of flash sales as an occasional strategic lever to pull to achieve one or more specific goals. Some of the most common reasons to run a flash sale are below, but remember, sales should always have a purpose that’s shaped by long-term strategy. Need extra eyes on your operation? We’d love to help!

1. Move Excess Inventory

Flash sales are an effective way to quickly liquidate old inventory or reduce the inventory of current model year goods ahead of a new product launch. Ecommerce brands tend to have substantial warehousing needs – and costs. Using high-conversion promotions can help regulate inventory as needed.

2. A Quick Injection of Liquidity

Or, to paraphrase my old retail boss, “Cash flow, baby.” Flash sales offer a quick splash of cash that can be used to meet credit obligations, invest in growth or pump up the bottom line. Keep track of when flash sales tend to happen in your industry – there’s a good chance they come in the final week or two of a business quarter!

3. New Customer Acquisition

Customer acquisition is most important ahead of the peak sales season, which is why some brands use flash sales to build their customer list ahead of most established sales or the holidays.

4. Bring ‘Em Back

Retailers often use slash sales to target past customers and coax them into a new purchase. This is more effective in industries with short sales cycles, like cat food (Whiskers needs more every month) rather than durable goods that last a number of years.

Why Do Flash Sales Work?

Call it impulse, urgency or opportunity, but flash sales work by creating a sense of immediacy. In most cases, that sense of urgency is artificial – there’s no real reason to “Act Now” aside from the promotion. But the psychology of a flash sale adds a now-or-never element to the customer journey that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

We’ve covered the what and the why – let’s get to the how!

How to Run a Flash Sale Effectively

If you’re going to run a flash sale, pull every marketing lever you’ve got! Below we break down a multichannel approach to putting your promotion in front of the right people at the right time.

Start With a Strategy …

Set a specific goal or two for the campaign. We’ve outlined a few reasons to run a flash sale above, but make sure you adjust those goals for your unique needs. Based on those goals, set one or two key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you measure success.

Need help? Strategy is kind of our thing.

Some examples could be:

  • Capture X number of new customers
  • Increase customer accounts by X%
  • Lower on-hand inventory levels by $X
  • Reduce inventory of X product by X units

…Then Get Creative

Shape your flash sale around a central concept or motivation for the sale. Brands have used flash sale campaigns based around concepts as ironic as “It’s Wednesday,” as honest as “Oops, We Made Too Much,” or as focused as choosing a specific product or collection.

Now, it’s time to start making some internet!

Flash Sale Design

You’ll need product photography and designed assets tailored to specific channels, including your social media channels, paid ads, email and website. Get that ball rolling first!

Paid Ads for Flash Sales

Your paid team or paid media agency will use those designed assets to create a short campaign with a punch. Depending on the goals you’ve established, these ads will be served to different audiences with messaging designed to convert – and convert right now.

Flash Sale Emails

Yep, there’s an s on emails because one doesn’t cut it. Even short-lived promotions deserve at least an announcement email and a reminder email. Think of it as establishing a starting line and a finish line for your customers to make sure they know they’re in a race.

Don’t discount smart email segmentation to deliver a personalized message or offer to improve email opens, clicks and conversions!

Keep It Social

Leverage your social media accounts to announce discounts and promotions, but stay logged in. Customers would rather get help on social channels than call a helpline.

Brands should always stay available for customers on social, but it’s even more essential to provide real-time assistance while the flash sale clock is ticking.

Make Sense of the Numbers

When the proverbial dust has settled, dive into the numbers to see if your flash sale met its goals. If not, work with your team to identify what could have been done differently. Take the time to look at any statistical patterns based on geography, device or other factors that may have influenced consumer behavior.

  • Did sales explode in California and sink in Texas? Check the weather – it could have been raining in Katy, which made it less likely for customers to buy those fancy new sunglasses you’re selling.
  • Did desktop users convert at a higher rate than mobile? Analyze your site’s mobile speed and user interface to determine what’s tripping up shoppers on the go.

Nothing positions your brand for future success more than a thorough after-action report. Take the time to evaluate your efforts; we promise it’s worth it!

Get World-class Digital Marketing Help Today and SAVE BIG!

Act now, and we’ll put our fully integrated digital marketing team of designers, writers, photographers and strategists to work for you. Get over two decades of expertise and the freshest ideas on your side – but our offer lasts more than a day or two. Reach out or call 231-922-9977 today (tomorrow is totally cool, too).

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