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How Designers Can Use Time-Sensitive Customer Incentives To Gain Users


Few things capture attention more powerfully than a prominently-placed countdown. This is true regardless of what it signifies, because it leads the unfamiliar to wonder. What could it mean? Whatever it’s counting down to must be important, surely, or else it wouldn’t be worth tracking. When used for product stock (limited edition only available until tomorrow!), it plays into the broader area of FOMO (fear of missing out) to drive interest and conversions.


Another way to ramp up sales is to offer incentives, of course. Something minor to sweeten a deal can make it much harder to resist without significantly altering the fundamental exchange of value. So what if you combine these marketing tactics? By offering time-sensitive customer incentives, you can drive FOMO to a level that’s almost irresistible.

In this post, we’re going to set out some tips geared towards designers, explaining how they can lean on these ephemeral offers to boost their businesses. Let’s get started.

Align huge reductions with seasonal events

Knocking large sums off your services is a perilous action because it can set a terrible precedent. Getting people used to low prices will make it harder to raise them down the line, and you can’t keep operating with miniscule margins. Due to this, it makes sense to align your big reductions with seasonal events that spark sales everywhere: Christmas, Black Friday, etc.

Not only will the increased interest in online business lead more people to your site and make visitors more likely to convert, but it’ll also place your offers in context, ensuring that they don’t set misleading expectations regarding your pricing. Make it clear that your substantial deals will end when other sales do to make the most of the hype.

Offer semi-regular shots at free services

It isn’t generally a good idea to work for free, of course, but you can occasionally work for free if it’s in service of building interest in your business. People enjoy taking part in competitions, lotteries and prize draws because they like knowing that they could win big. It doesn’t matter that they probably won’t. In line with this, you can establish a prize draw of sorts that entitles the winner to some amount of free design work from you. One day of work, maybe.

You don’t even need to guarantee a winner. Just occasionally say that anyone who invests in one of your services before the end of that day (or even just expresses interest through signing up to your mailing list) will be entered into a draw to win some free work. Display a prominent entry timer (take a look at how cash4life does this) to add urgency. And remind people to return: the more times they enter, the better their chances will be, so it will behoove them to come back.

Keep deals in rotation so there’s always one

Supermarkets are exceptionally good at using offers well, and one of the smartest things they do is keep offers in regular rotation so there’s always something discounted. If you offer a range of design services, you could do the same. On one day you could knock 20% off logo design. On another you could knock 10% off UI design, and so on (consider tying them into a convenient coupon service along the lines of Honey).

Couldn’t people take advantage of this by waiting for the days with the right discounts? They could, but there are two reasons why you shouldn’t be worried about this. Firstly, you could switch up the pattern so they’d never know exactly when specific deals would arrive. Secondly, most people aren’t that determined to save money. Besides, a 10% discount to bring in a new customer isn’t such a big deal if you can turn them into a loyal customer.

Use your top projects for social media hype

Rolling out time-sensitive customer incentives is great, but it demands promotion, and social media is the right choice for marketing. When you do so, mentioning to the world that you’re offering a particular time-limited deal, you need to pull out all the stops to make people curious. If you can’t make your deals grab attention, consistently mentioning them will actually damage your brand by giving the impression that you’re desperate for business (and thus unworthy).

So when you’re offering your discounted services, you need to show why people should care, and that means breaking out your most impressive projects. What pieces of work best show what you’re capable of? What’s your biggest achievement? Even as you’re lowering the price of your services, make it abundantly clear that the value is there.