The Limited Time Offer — A Guide For Ecommerce

June 14, 2022

Limited time offers are a popular marketing tactic among eCommerce businesses. Why? Because they work! Limited time offers play into our psychology of never wanting to miss a good opportunity to save money.

I’m sure you can picture it — you’re browsing through your email and a subject line catches your eye: “Last chance to receive 75% off all spring styles!” Even if you weren’t looking to shop for clothes when you opened your email…the potential savings have now drawn your interest. 

And you’re not alone in this scenario.

As much as 55% of consumers that sign-up for email marketing are hoping to receive discounts and money-off deals. So if you’re not already using limited time offers as part of your marketing strategy, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

In this article, we’ll explore: 

  • Why limited time offers work 
  • How and where you can promote them 
  • Creative examples of limited time offers 
  • Best practices for your limited time offers

So hurry up and get ready to learn, because your customers won’t wait around for your next sale forever! 

What Are Limited-Time Offers?

Limited Time Offers

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Limited time offers are sales or discounts that are only valid for a short period of time. Brands use limited time offers to boost sales, clear out inventory, or attract new customers, and I bet you’ve cashed in on the benefits of a limited time offer at least once! That’s the brilliance of limited time offers — they provide value to both your business and your customers.

So exactly why do limited time offers work? 

There are two main reasons why limited time offers are so effective: 

  • They create a sense of urgency that encourages customers to take action 
  • They offer a perceived value that customers find hard to resist

Limited time deals and coupons tap into our natural desire for savings. We’re hardwired to want to get the best deal possible, and when we see an opportunity to save money, we’re more likely to take it. 

This is especially true when there’s a sense of urgency involved. When we’re told an offer is only available for a limited time, we’re more likely to act fast and take advantage of it. 

8 Creative Examples For Profitable Limited-Time Offers

It’s important to get creative with your limited time offers, and there are a few things to keep in mind when creating a limited time offer:

  • Make sure the offer is truly limited-time. Customers will catch on if you’re constantly running “limited time” offers.
  • The offer must be relevant to your target audience. There’s no point in running a limited time offer for a product or service that your target audience isn’t interested in.
  • Be sure the offer is generous enough to be worth the customer’s time. A limited time offer of 10% off is not going to be as effective as a limited time offer of 50% off.

Let’s take a look at a few examples to inspire your next sales campaign.

1. Popups Before Cart Abandonment

Cart Abandonment

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Losing a customer right before checkout sucks, and the sad reality is that 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned.

However, offering a limited time deal at checkout can help you both lower your cart abandonment rate and increase sales. Special offers are the perfect way to recapture the interest of a customer on the verge of abandonment. For the best results, we suggest an exit-intent popup for your time-sensitive deals.

2. Highlighting The Time Limit

countdown timer limited time offer

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All limited time offers revolve around one thing — time. So how do you best display the urgency needed to snatch up your own limited time deal? A countdown timer! 

Showcasing the time left to redeem a limited time sale, even right down to the second, will get customers act…and act fast. FOMO, or the fear of missing out, plays a big role in this example. Just be sure to highlight time remaining or the expiration date, because you don’t want your customers to actually miss out.

3. Removing Shipping Fees

Shipping Fees

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Ah, shipping fees. Nothing sends customers running faster than high shipping costs, and it is one of the top reasons for cart abandonment. But there’s an easy way to overcome this — offering free shipping! 

Centering a sales campaign around free shipping is a great way to bring in new customers, and re-engage existing customers. Why not include a limited time offer for free shipping in your next cart abandonment email? It is a powerful tool that can be used to bring customers back to their abandoned purchases.

4. Using Seasonal Events

Seasonal Events

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I’m sure you’ve seen this style of marketing campaign many times. In fact, most seasonal events and holidays have dedicated days just for shopping. Think of days like Black Friday, Boxing Day or even Cyber Monday. 

If there’s one thing you can count on for the holiday season, it’s that shoppers will be shopping. You can join the fun (and increase sales) by offering a seasonal deal, or even an annual sale that happens right before the holidays. Your customers will be searching for last minute gift ideas, and a time sensitive sale is a great way to stand out against your competition. 

5. Flash Sales For Customers

Flash sales are a popular marketing technique used by ecommerce businesses to drive traffic and sales. They are limited-time offers that are usually only valid for a 24-hour period.

Flash sales are a great way to clear out inventory, boost sales during slow periods, and create a sense of urgency and excitement around your products. To launch a successful flash sale, you’ll need to include these key features: 

  • Offer a significant discount on your products or services (50% or more)
  • Make the offer available for a limited time only (24 hours or less)
  • Promote the sale heavily in advance 
  • Use social media and email marketing to reach as many people as possible

6. First Time Purchases

First-Time Purchases

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So, we’ve mentioned that limited-time deals and sales work well to retain and re-engage customers…but what about new customers? Limited time offers are great for acquiring first-time shoppers as well.

This style of limited time offer, or LTO, is used in many ways, such as sign-up bonuses or discounts on the customers’ first purchase. When you offer a discount on a customer’s first purchase, you’re providing them with value before they’ve even purchased anything. This sets the stage for a happy customer and will increase your customer loyalty and retention rates. And it doesn’t hurt to use a sale like this to encourage newsletter sign-ups either!

Don’t forget to read up on the 10 Customer Retention Metrics You Need To Improve In 2022. This post covers everything you need to be monitoring to increase customer loyalty and satisfaction, and build long-lasting customer relationships!

7. Clearing Out Inventory

Inventory Clear-out offer

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Seasons and styles change quickly, but your inventory can’t always keep up with these rapid changes. So how do you get rid of last season’s styles? With limited edition sales, coupons and deals of course!

If you’re looking to unload your inventory, a sales campaign focused on the limited quantity remaining will stir up a sense of urgency from your customers. If they know there is only a limited amount of products available, and for only a short time, they will be racing to make a purchase. Remember to use headline copy that drives home this point, like “hurry up” or “only 5 pieces left!”

8. Customer Birthday Promotions

Customer Birthday Promotions

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Who doesn’t love getting presents on their birthday? As a business, you can give your customers the gift of savings with a limited time offer for their birthday. This type of sale is valuable because it: 

  • Encourages customers to come back to your store or website during their birthday month
  • Gives them a reason to buy more than they normally would
  • Allows you to show your appreciation for their loyalty

So make sure to celebrate your customer’s birthdays in style and offer them a limited time offer they won’t be able to resist!

3 Proven Channels To Use Limited-Time Offers

Alright — by now you have a good idea of the benefits of limited time offers, but where should you promote your limited deals, sales and coupons? 

To run successful marketing campaigns for your limited time offers you’ll need to use a proven platform for promotion. So let’s take a look at some of our favorite methods to deliver limited time promotions.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing by Oberlo

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Email marketing is a great way to promote limited time offers. It’s quick, efficient, and allows you to reach a large audience with minimal effort. Plus, there are some great advantages to using email marketing for limited-time offers.

Here are just a few of the benefits of using email marketing for limited-time offers:

  • You can reach a large audience quickly and easily.
  • Email marketing is highly targetable, so you can ensure that your offer reaches the right people.
  • You can track results and gauge interest levels easily.
  • Email marketing is relatively inexpensive, so it’s a great way to promote limited time offers on a budget.

Plus, there are some great statistics that show just how effective email marketing can be. For example, did you know that email marketing has an average ROI of 4,200%? That’s an incredible return on investment, and it just goes to show how powerful email marketing can be.

Just remember to segment your email lists so you can be sure your LTOs are reaching the right inboxes. And if you aren’t sure where to start with audience segmentation, no worries, we’ve got you covered with our Simple Guide to Audience Segmentation.

SMS Marketing

SMS Marketing

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SMS marketing is a powerful tool that can help you boost sales and drive customer engagement. When used for limited-time offers, SMS can be an effective way to reach your target audience and create a sense of urgency. 

Here are some advantages of using SMS marketing for limited-time offers:

  • You can reach a large number of people quickly and easily.
  • SMS is a personal form of communication that can create a sense of urgency.
  • SMS messages have a high open and response rate

90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes of being received, which makes SMS marketing perfect for short-term flash sales, or sales with a limited supply. For the best results, read through our guide to SMS marketing, because you don’t want to miss out on this useful marketing channel.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing by Oberlo

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We can’t deny the power and reach of social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. And with 30% of eCommerce businesses already selling their products through social media…you can’t sleep on it either.

Think about it…when was the last time you saw an LTO on TV or in a print ad? It’s been awhile, right? And when was the last time you saw one on social media? Probably just yesterday.

The beauty of using social media to promote LTOs is that it’s immediate and visible. People are scrolling through their feeds all day long, so if you can catch them with a catchy offer, they’re more likely to take advantage of it.

Plus, social media is a great way to build relationships with your customers. By promoting LTOs, you’re showing them that you’re always looking out for their best interests. And when they see how much they save by taking advantage of your offers, they’ll be even more likely to do business with you in the future. 

3 Best Practices For Using Limited-Time Offers

For a limited time sales campaign to go off without a hitch, you’ll need to follow these best practices. When you check the box on all three of these best practices, you’re sure to see your conversion rates and sales increase. 

A. Use Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

 FOMO–or the “fear of missing out”–is a powerful emotion. And businesses have been using it to their advantage for years.

FOMO is that feeling you get when you see someone else doing something fun and you feel like you’re missing out. It’s the fear of not being included, of being left out. And for a lot of customers, the fear of missing out is the emotional push that will drive them to redeem your limited time offers. 

B. Conduct A/B Testing

You’ve probably heard of A/B testing before. In a nutshell, it’s a way of comparing two versions of a campaign to see which one performs better. And when it comes to limited-time offers, A/B testing can be a valuable tool for figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

For example, let’s say you’re considering running a limited-time offer for a new product. You might create two versions of the offer: one with a 10% discount and one with a 20% discount. Then, you could test each offer to see which one generates more sales.

A/B testing can also be used to test different design elements, like the headline or the call-to-action. By testing different elements, you can figure out what works best for your audience and your offer.

C. Keep Simple Designs But Highlight Valuable Elements

While we’re on the topic of design, remember to design your marketing communications with simple yet eye-catching designs. This is important in order to grab the attention of your target audience and get your message across.

You want your emails, SMS or social media messaging to stand out and draw attention while also clearly stating the conditions of the sale. Be sure to highlight the key points like the call-to-action, time frame and any other relevant details. Doing so will result in a higher conversion rate for your limited time offer!


If you’re looking to increase sales and conversion rates, a limited time offer can be a great way to do it. With limited time offers, you can create a sense of urgency for your sale and tap into the emotional response of FOMO. Plus, by conducting A/B testing and using clear designs and calls to action, you can further increase your chances of driving conversions.

As an added bonus, if you’re looking to re-engage existing customers or recover abandoned carts, a limited time offer with free shipping can be a great way to do it. By using an exit-intent popup with a free shipping deal, you can quickly recapture the interest of customers that otherwise would’ve been lost. 

By now, I’m sure you’re feeling about ready to launch a limited time sales campaign, but what if you could do it on autopilot? Luckily, you can! With CartStack you can automate your email marketing and use our premade templates to build your campaigns. Just schedule your emails and CartStack will do the rest. 

And if you’re not quite ready to commit to a new software, why not start with five free email templates? These are perfect for recovering abandoned carts and re-engaging your email list. Your customers are out there waiting for you…so hurry up and get on it!