Can Your Incentive Offers Bring You More Conversions? Find Out With These Testing Ideas

by    |    Jan 11, 2017    |       5 min read

When I went to Whole Foods last week, the whole store was full of samples: things to taste or test out, product discounts and special offers. I noticed at least six booths offering different products, not to mention the little bowls of cheeses and olives that make your grocery shopping feel like strolling through a fancy party. This trend of providing alluring samples, or incentives, is such an effective marketing tool that it’s helped brands like Whole Foods and Wal-Mart dominate the digital marking world for decades. Even though digital marketers don’t have the advantage of making our clients smell or taste our products, we do have a large array of incentives to offer to our clients, such as discount codes, gift cards, free ebooks, coupons, downloads, etc. Here a few testing ideas to make sure your offers are optimized:


The first rule about incentive offers…

The basic principle of incentive offers is very straightforward: Offer something that costs you as little as possible, but has a high perceived value to your clients. That little cheddar cheese on a stick in Whole Foods was an almost irresistible incentive that made me go to the booth and hear more about what they offer. And it cost almost nothing to the manufacturer. Start by thinking what is really cheap for you to offer, but is irresistible to your potential clients. With that in mind, here are a few more suggestions to help you optimize your offers.

What is better: 10% off or $10 off?

This is a great thing to test, since some people prefer a tangible, concrete saving in dollars, while others prefer the % sign. Giving percentages off might be an incentive to buy more since the discount is accumulative to the spending. However, more often than not, our human psychology prefers to visualize money spent, rather than a sum that’s abstract until the client chooses a specific product.


Give fewer things that are worth more, or more things that are worthless?

We all see those ads that offer cool gadgets if you join a mobile phone plan, or Coca Cola ads offering all kinds of small stuff. This kind of approach usually works better with children or teenagers who tend to get excited by trends and flashy stuff, more than by cold value calculations.

On the other hand, lottery cards that offer higher rewards with less chance of winning tend to be more effective with an older audience. Whether you should offer a few prizes of high value or more prizes of low value depends on your ideal or targeted client profile. It’s something for you to find out, and it is usually easy to discover with a few well-designed tests.


A word of caution…

Even though incentives might be a great idea, testing which one is most effective might be a misleading question that covers up the insufficient value of your primary product. It can also be a cover-up for failed marketing approaches. Many times, a well-designed campaign that is correctly targeted to the right clients doesn’t need any added incentive.

I would test first whether my value proposition is clear and effective enough if my product is perceived as trustworthy and if my landing page creates the right emotional atmosphere for purchasing. Only then will I check the effectiveness of incentives.

Conclusion – Incentive Offers Bring You More Conversions? 

Optimized incentive offers can be a valuable aspect of your campaign and they can dramatically improve your conversion. However, they can also act as a Band-Aid for flaws in your campaign. In those cases, optimizing your incentives will not be enough to dramatically uplift your sales. Use incentives wisely and according to your client persona, and they will pave your road for success.