How to convert without discounting

Tips and tactics


I hope you’re having a good week so far.

As the end of March approaches – seemingly out of nowhere – and we hurtle towards our internal hot cross bun competition (stay tuned) it seems the only thing more prevalent than Easter campaigns this year is the end-of-financial-year sales.

It’s a sad reminder of the tough circumstances many businesses are experiencing right now. So when cash flow is more important than ever, I wanted to share some alternative ideas to help with conversions – a few things to try before surrendering to the discount.

Here’s what I’ve got for you today:

📖 For context – the death spiral of discounting

Conversion tactics:
💫 Make the most of returning visitors
🖋️ Convert with copy
📍 Guided selling
🛠️ Adding value without sacrificing your margin

🤝 A new community for lifestyle brands


The death spiral of discounting

There’s a time and a place for a discount. It’s true that discounts and sales can give your business a short-term cash injection, but if this strategy is overused – or used incorrectly – it can hurt your business in the long run. This article by sums it up well.

To understand how discounting can be detrimental to your sales long-term, you have to look at the psychology of it.

The Death Spiral of Discounting by

When you give a discount for short-term gains, you condition your customers to expect more of the same in future. People decide to wait for another discount, rather than pay full price.

You’re then forced into more sales, offering discount after discount until your margins are completely eroded.

We can all think of brands who have fallen into this trap – I don’t want to name names, but one that comes to mind rhymes with Friscoes.

Some of the most successful brands in the world don’t discount ever – I’m looking at Apple – this shows confidence in their products, which builds confidence in their customers.

Not all brands can, or need to be as rigid as Apple. When used sparingly and in the right circumstances, discounts can drive conversions without creating long-term expectations.

The key is to offer them when a customer gives you something in return, such as:

  • Their data – a welcome discount for creating an account or signing up to a newsletter is an exchange. You could also offer a birthday discount to encourage them to stay subscribed.

  • A referral – reward them for bringing you potential customers.

  • Bundles – encourage them to increase their order value to get a better deal.

So that’s the psychology of discounts – explained via a dramatically named diagram. Read on for some alternative conversion tips and tactics.


Make the most of returning visitors

Often people will visit a store multiple times before committing to a purchase. Once you recognise this behaviour, you can guide returning visitors towards the checkout. Here’s how:

  • When a user returns to your website within a certain timeframe, welcome them back with a modal, allowing them to pick up from where they left off.

  • Greet them with a friendly welcome back message, personalising it with their first name if they’re logged in.

  • Include 2–3 visual cards on the modal with the following options:

    1. Return to the last viewed product

    2. Return to homepage

    3. View cart

This pop-up doesn’t have to be ugly, salesy, or spammy. It should feel helpful and subtle, gently motivating people to make the purchase they were already considering.


Convert with copy

Never underestimate the power of your words – especially when selling your product.

Often product descriptions are presented as a list of features, rather than a mini sales pitch, which is exactly what they should be. So here are some tips to turn window shoppers into customers.

  • Know who you’re talking to
    Think about your target audience, then imagine a person within that group. What are they motivated by? What are their pain points? What music do they listen to? What fills their cup?

    Get to know your target audience on a personal level (figuratively), then write your product descriptions for them.

  • Focus on the benefits  
    A list of features tells your customers what a product is, but not why they need it. Think about what motivates your customer, communicating what problem this product will solve or how it will enhance their life.

  • Paint a picture
    When customers can’t experience a product in person, it’s important to use words that close the sensory gap. Soft, warm, aromatic, iridescent – tell your customers what they can expect from the product once they’ve got their hands on it.

  • Make it scannable
    When people are browsing, you only have a few seconds to convey your message. Keep the word count down, using short succinct sentences.

    That doesn’t mean you need to omit important product information such as dimensions, ingredients, care instructions or features. Make this information digestible with sub-headings and bullet points. Better still, make the sections collapsable, so they know where to find the information without being overwhelmed by it.

Need some fresh eyes on your copy? We’ve got a copywriter who can help with that. Get in touch for an audit.


Guided selling

Guided selling experiences, such as quizzes are a great way of helping customers navigate your product offering, leading them along the path to purchase. They can be fun and interactive, ultimately contributing to a great user experience.

If you’re considering a guided selling experience, there are some things to consider.

Where to host it
For a start, I recommend building these natively on Shopify, as part of your primary theme – rather than a separate experience on a different domain. Here’s why:

  • Having the quiz on the same domain as the website ensures that users’ interactions with both the quiz and the site can be tracked across a single session.

  • Updating the content of the quiz can be done via the same CMS as the rest of the website.

  • The cost, time and resources needed to manage a separate domain, database, and system will be significantly reduced.

The user experience
Guided selling experiences should be set up as a modal, rather than a fixed page. By doing this, the user can launch the quiz from anywhere on the site, without taking them away from the page they’re currently on. You don’t want customers leaving a product page when you’re trying to make a sale.

Admin and cost
To change the content - questions, answers, images etc. - you will need a quiz template.

This template allows you to create and manage your data in a structured way.

If you don’t have a template, and instead have lots of unique layouts for your pages, the cost and time to build it will increase. Managing the content will also be complex and potentially confusing for your website admin.

The logic
What comes first – the data capture or the quiz?

A good guided experience will capture data from those who use it. But asking for their personal information upfront can deter customers.

My advice? Let them take the quiz first. Incentivise them to submit their information by offering a discount (there’s that exchange we spoke about earlier), but don’t hold back their quiz results if they don’t. In the end, you’re still delivering product recommendations, which might be all that’s needed for them to make a purchase.


Adding value without sacrificing your margin

When people are concerned about the economy, value becomes more important than ever. There are all sorts of ways you can deliver value to your customers without heavily discounting your products.

Here are some you can try:

  • Reward loyalty
    Make repeat customers feel valued by rewarding them for their continued business. There are different types of loyalty programmes, from point-based systems to VIP programmes (tiered levels). Whichever system you choose, communicate the rewards upfront and show your customers their progress, incentivising them to reach the next perk.

Mecca loyalty programme

  • Reward referrals
    Referrals are a great way to grow your audience while rewarding those who recommend you. Encourage your customers to share the love, and show some love right back.

  • Prioritise speed
    Fast delivery is one of the most compelling things you can offer a customer. Explore whether there are financially viable ways to speed up this process.

    Can you offer next-day or even same-day delivery? If not, consider click-and-collect if you don’t already. With the bonus of being free, it will appeal to locals who want their orders fast.

  • Offer convenience

    Saving a person time and/or effort is incredibly valuable – and persuasive. Consider how your brand can make your products or services more convenient for customers.

    Set-and-forget subscriptions are a great example of how to make life easier for customers while locking in repeat orders.

  • Create a bundle
    Offer a deal in the form of a bundle. Group relevant products or create multi-buys to increase the order value in exchange (this is key) for a discount.

  • Double-down on customer service
    Fast, helpful service creates advocates out of customers.

    Platforms like Gorgias use AI to automate simple requests like providing tracking numbers and offering size guides, solving customer queries with speed while freeing up your team to focus on more complicated requests.

    Gorgias AI support

  • Offer expertise
    Last week, I spoke about offering face-to-face consultations for high-ticket items.

    For more affordable products, try offering tips or tutorials to expand customers’ understanding of how a product can be used.

    For food, offer recipes. For fashion or home decor, show how a single item can be styled in many ways. Versatility counts for a lot when customers are justifying a purchase.

  • Make their day
    Things like hand-written thank you notes, birthday discounts and free samples never fail to deliver surprise and delight, leaving a lasting, positive impression of your brand.


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Members will get access to courses and masterclasses – all designed to help you take your business to the next level.

With like-minded professionals across New Zealand, Australia and the United States, the community will provide opportunities to network, strike up partnerships, share ideas and ask questions. It will be a space to learn from each other, celebrate wins and brainstorm solutions.


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Until next time.

Alex Murton
Managing Director & Co-Founder
Studio Almond