How Social Discounts Increase Engagement and E-Commerce Sales at Once


Before the times of Email, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, it was difficult for companies to communicate with their customers freely and the corporate voice was dominant.

Their investments mostly focused on TV, newspaper and radio advertising, which is not exactly the favorite thing of most people nowadays. According to research, 4 out of 5 Americans simply ignore it.

Today however, there is a fundamental shift in how companies communicate with customers.

Social media platforms enable a more personal and open level of communication. Our feed shows that many businesses prefer to interact with customers by liking, tweeting, commenting and sharing content. This type of communication expands their reach and opens up new marketing possibilities.

What Social Media Engagement Adds to Your Business


Consumers are much wiser now, making more intelligent and data-driven purchasing decisions. How they do it: they compare prices with competitor websites, ask their friends, check for ratings and reviews on Yelp or Google Maps, or ask for a second opinion on Reddit. Users can look up your business on social networks and some may even get in touch with you directly to see how fast your response is. After customers are done with all that, they click “Add to Cart.”

And sometimes even that isn’t enough.

Statistics show that the overall conversion rate of E-Commerce is rarely above 3 to 4 percent. Compared to offline retailers, some researchers suggest that up to 92% of sales still happen in brick-and-mortar stores.

What does this mean?

For one, it means that E-Commerce has a long way to go before becoming a primary shopping method.

If we try to break down these statistics to specific industries, you will instantly see the reasons.

In clothing for instance, it’s very hard to make a purchasing decision because you can never be absolutely sure that the item is going to fit. And even if it fits, will it look good on you anyway?

In cosmetics, you can’t smell the perfume over the web and you cannot tell if the foundation make up will be right for your skin.

Yes, a good returns policy is a life-saver in cases like that, but it’s not quite enough for all customers. It’s disappointing to realize that you have to return a product you have waited for a few days, paid to ship it, and will possibly have to pay again to return it. After that, you have to wait another few days to finally get the right product.

So product returns cannot solve the problem with doubtful online shoppers entirely. But enough with the negative thoughts about why digital stores convert only a small part of their visitors. After all, we shouldn’t dismiss that E-Commerce is a 3.5 trillion industry.

How to turn things around in our favor?

Let’s get back on the topic of social media engagement with a very critical question. Why do customers follow businesses on social media in the first place?

Nielsen conducted a research on the relations between social media users and businesses across all continents. Some metrics varied, but overall - the results are pretty much identical.

The top three reasons why people follow brands on social platforms were:

  • Get discounts on products and services - 34%

  • Show support for the brand - 25%

  • News and updates on the company’s activities - 18%

The global trend for online users of all ages is the same - users always prefer to do a small trick for a treat. Usually this is to Like or Share for a discount on the products provided by the business.

Research by NM Incite also supports this data. They found that nearly 60% of social media users are going on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to receive coupons or promotions.

Here is an example of how to promote discounts on social media. Just notice the engagement from customers below the image:

Why Discounts Work so Well in Increasing Sales

The psychology of discounts sheds light on why discounted pricing and limited special offers are so effective. A big part of their sales power comes from the urgency principle that is commonly associated with discounts and stimulates people to take advantage while they can.

1. The stimulating part in the example from Kate Spade New York above, is the “Through Tuesday” message. This means that the discount will be valid for only one day after, which it will expire.

2. Another factor is the pleasure principle, which reduces the pain of paying full price and satisfies the need for possessing the product.

3. The type of discount offered by Kate Spade New York is the usual 50%+20+ off. It sounds like 70% off but it’s actually 60%. Because 20% multiplied by 50 is 10% and usually the customer is deceived that they are getting a better deal.

Disclaimer: We do not recommend this type of discount tricks.

Social Media Discounts Shown In-Store

Let’s take a look at another example, but this time within an OpenCart-based E-Commerce website. This is the “View Cart” page of On the top, you have a banner notifying about a discount you can get in exchange for Sharing or Tweeting. Below, you have suggested products you can get for a one-time only discount.

Once a customer shares your store with their friends, that customer gets a discount which will give them a better reason to purchase products from you, while showing the great bargain they got to their friends on social media.

The Advantage of Social Discounts

Let’s take a look at another example for discounts granted in exchange for social media engagement.

In this store, we see a large banner in the product page, which states that customers who share the page on Facebook will save 10% from their purchase instantly.

How to start experimenting with social discounts for higher conversion rates

OpenCart stores can start implementing the social discount strategy with a single extension. It’s called SocialDiscounts and allows store owners to define the discount percentage for every interaction. Currently, you can use Twitter and Facebook as sharing platforms.

SocialDiscounts by iSenseLabs

There are four possible options for your users to take. For Facebook - Like and Share. For Twitter - Tweet and Follow.

This means that you can get your customers to do the promotion for you, while purchasing an item at a discounted price. For store owners, this is a win-win situation.

A good starting point for experimenting with the discount level is to start with low discounts. For instance, set each option to give a 3% discount. Each option grants a discount which stacks up when multiple options are used.

Finding the perfect balance may take some experimenting, but nothing beats social media exposure and engagement generated by your users themselves.

14.4% of American shoppers prefer buying in-store to save on shipping costs. This is not a small number of people. A strategy using social discounts can make you a favorable choice for customers looking to minimize additional shopping expenses with a discounted product price. This means people will get a better deal from you rather than other competitors, whether they are offline or digital stores.

Giving discounts to users in exchange for social media engagement can win you more than a few sales at a discounted price. It can win you new followers who will see your activity on social media on a more regular basis.

​Key Takeaways

Integrating social discounts helps E-Commerce stores attract new traffic coming from social media, increase conversion rates using discounted prices, and increase the average order value by stimulating the purchase of multiple items at a lower price.

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