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Planning Sales Promotions on Digital Transformation Journey
Mike Sedzielewski
Mike Sedzielewski
April 23, 2020
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Planning Sales Promotions on Digital Transformation Journey

New customer acquisition and retention strategies are often the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about digital transformation. Marketers believe that using software to run digital sales promotions like coupons, referral programs, in-cart discounts, or reward schemes will bring prompt results and budget control they’ve always missed. And it’s true, digital technology can play a huge part in making promotions work, but before going full-digital, you need to wrap your head around the hidden complexities of what digital transformation entails. 

At Voucherify, we’ve helped over 300 companies modernize their digital promotions and we want to share the most common challenges we’ve encountered along the way. 

Online trends that open a new field for digital incentives

Let’s start with looking at some trends happening now in customer space. They will help you understand why digital sales promotions can work for your business and why you should consider implementing them today.

There are 5 customer habits which you can take advantage of using digital promotions (as digital-ready brands already do). Today’s shoppers:

  • Look online for purchases and discounts – why don’t you use your online space (blog, website, ads) to shower them with coupons and deals?
  • Purchase with smartphones – mobile apps or mobile-ready websites require extra implementation efforts, but give you more customer engagement capabilities. Have you considered using geolocation- or push notification-based deals to drive repeat sales? No? Well, now it’s the time. Grab some reading on how to get started with mobile-ready promotions.
  • Seek instant-purchase gratification – while this is mainly about getting purchased products the next day (I’m looking at you, Amazon), you can still use targeted discounts and loyalty program invitations to earn some points here. 
  •  Look for a sense of brand – in branding, nothing beats your genuine voice and showing that you walk your talk, but a well-crafted loyalty program gives you a solid foundation to build an audience faster. Go here to learn more about evoking brand advocacy.
  • Work online  and demand smooth usability on every device – This is why online tools and e-commerce stores have beaten the UX drum for a while now. If you want your digital sales promotions to be seen and work as expected, they need to fit into your customer journey. 
New online spending habits
Source: Common Thread

Just to reiterate, these habits aren’t just a fad. While it’s true that COVID-19 has put online shopping in the spotlight nowadays, the wave of new customer behaviour started to form when Facebook was still in kindergarten — in 2020, modern digital teams treat them as first-class citizens.

Now, the examples of digital promo campaigns sound all quick and easy to implement, but you wouldn’t google "where to place promotions on your digital transformation map" if this was true, would you?

Essential elements of digital promotions or why to invest in API 

Digital managers often pursue modern tools hoping to speed up digital sales promotions. Few ever succeed. Our experience shows that the lucky ones are those who have taken care of the overall alignment, transformation plan and included the right people in the project before integrating software. In other words, they invited the marketing team early on and got support from C-level

We also found out that there’s a single component that makes cooperation among stakeholders way easier — and this holy grail is called an API.

Note: if you haven’t met API-based tools yet, we recommend this read.

So before you begin rethinking and reimagining how to run digital sales promotions, let’s analyse how the API enables 3 essential elements of going full digital with your promotional campaigns.

Making digital promotions thrive in the culture of experimentation

A digital team should have a culture of experiment in their veins. It’s a no-brainer that experimenting needs regular communication between IT and marketing, but there’s something equally crucial – giving your teams a software platform that empowers both marketers and developers to deploy experiments rapidly.

While the experimental approach comes to the software development team naturally, marketers are left behind. Marketing team is often at the mercy of the tech team. This is because developers are notorious for avoiding repeatable tasks, lagging in delivery and ultimately not providing the marketing team with flexibility they need — ultimately the digital sales promotions don’t yield expected results and everyone starts to point fingers at each other. 

To get the most out of your developers’ time, consider equipping them with a promotion management platform that offers a flexible and developer-friendly API. This way, they can automate the boring stuff, reduce time to market for campaigns that require heavy automation and customization – and today’s marketing technology does require a lot of custom implementation. Settling for rigid, bloated e-commerce platforms isn’t an option anymore. 

Note: Marketers can help themselves by understanding the underlying technology and software developers’ work ethos. We’ve noticed that marketers who’ve looked under the hood and learned the basics of data analytics, programming, and marketing technology toolset, can roll out their digital promotion strategy much faster. Their advantage manifests itself in clear and concise requirements – just like developers like them.

Omnichannel experience

The flexible API is also a must for another reason. As you could notice in the online trends list, shoppers spend time online, using many devices. They demand good UX for every app, no matter if it’s single use or everyday use. Likewise, they don’t want ads that aren’t perfectly personalized.

Omnichannel isn’t a buzzword. Customers are experiencing the omnichannel at this moment. They know what it’s like to have a great, coherent experience across all devices. 

Now, if you want your digital promotions to be effective, you need to live up to their expectations.

Getting omnichannel experience right entails countless iterations and experiments on the UX’s side of each and every customer touchpoint. Striving for perfection can bloat your development costs. This is why a flexible API with facility artefacts like SDKs or UI widgets is of great value here.

Integrated digital technology

Finally, there’s a third and the most important reason to set your eyes on the API. Your digital promotions need external data to be effective. 

By including shopper preferences, product information, affiliates, partners, location, inventory and other relevant parameters into your sales promotion campaigns, you can truly target the right people at the right time. We even wrote a whole guide about that.

The more real-time data you have at your fingertips, the more accurate and thus effective your deals become.

For this purpose, your promotion management software should be integrated with CRM and e-commerce systems, and a robust API allows for that. API features like webhooks, native integrations or batch processing are a must in this case.

How to locate the right tools for digital promotions management

So we know API is a must-have, but what else? We put together a detailed guide on how to implement digital promotions and loyalty campaigns for your business.

You’ll learn:

  • What do marketers need to offer personalized promotions?
  • How can PMs interweave campaigns into customer journey with flexibility ?
  • What features allow execs to keep an eye on the budget and results?
  • How can CTO and engineers connect the promotion engine into e-commerce systems in a secure and maintainable way?

A case study and your first step towards digital promotions

Projects we run at Voucherify show that marketing is now a business of APIs not RFPs. Here is a case study from the top multinational consumer goods company that launched  promotions & a loyalty program using an API-based promotion management platform. 

Any digital marketing team that wants to take full advantage of modern technology and prepare for the future will need a promotion management software

In order to move forward with such digital transformation imperatives, you’ll need to align different departments on the exact needs and expectations. Tech team, marketing, and C-level will have to chat about: 

  • How its functionality drives results and what’s the bottom-line.
  • What features marketer cannot live without.
  • How developer-friendly is the API and how its costs scale with your growth.


If you want more insights on digital promotions, schedule a call with our experts.

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