Results of 2 Holiday Sale Strategies

5 December 2019 | 19 Comments

One of the perks of running your own company is that you can try little experiments on a whim to see how they work out. I’ve done this twice in the last few weeks, and I thought I’d share the results with you and get your thoughts.

Thanksgiving Week Promo Codes

A few weeks ago in our 2019 demographic survey (results and commentary here), I asked the following question: Which of our games do you not own (but really wish you did)? This question included the a note indicating, “If you answer this question and note your e-mail address below, we may contact you about this game in the future.”

I wasn’t exactly sure what I would do with that information, but last week I decided to extend a Thanksgiving offer to the people who shared their desired game with me. I sent a message to each segment (people who want Viticulture, people who want Scythe, etc) with a specific promo code for their desired game.

Out of the 400 people who indicated in-stock games and received promo codes, 21 of them used the promo codes to make a purchase. So, a 5% conversion rate–pretty low, but better than 0.

Is it worth doing in the future? I think so. I really like how targeted it is–I’m reaching out to people regarding something they’re specifically interested in. It isn’t something I’ll do every year, though, and I definitely wouldn’t do it at the same time and in the same way every year.

One small change I’ll make in the future is how the question is phrased. I prefer this: Which of our games do you most want to buy from Stonemaier Games (a game you don’t already own)?

What do you think of this method? Have you seen it implemented in other ways elsewhere?

Holiday Surprise

Yesterday I was preparing our December e-newsletter, I added a short Stonemaier gift guide to the top. I wasn’t quite satisfied with it, though, so I decided to tweak it just for fun:

“In the spirit of giving, on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoon this week, I’m going to select a few webstore orders at random and add a special surprise to each of them. I’ll customize the surprise based on each of the orders. You’ll know if your order was selected when you (or the recipient of your order) receives the package next week!”

I sent the e-newsletter at 10:00 am, and I checked back at 4:30 to make my first few random selections and additions. At that point we had received 82 orders on the day, which is a lot higher than average.

The most fun part for me was looking at each of the selected customers’ ordering histories to see what special addition they might value. It took me back to what I loved about Kickstarter (and what I enjoy about direct sales and Facebook groups)–I can connect in a special way with each individual customer and see them as a person instead of a number.

I’ll definitely do this again in the future. When I do, I’ll emphasize that all orders placed in that timeframe are eligible for all random selections, meaning that orders placed on the first day will be eligible 3 times–it’s a nice nudge for customers to ask now instead of waiting until the last day.

How do you feel about this strategy?

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19 Comments on “Results of 2 Holiday Sale Strategies

  1. I was so close to buying the Euphoria Bundle (it’s in my cart) on Friday, just because I wanted a chance at a surprise. But, I knew that I would be getting games for my birthday today and I wasn’t sure if my husband got it for me or not. (Turns out he didn’t, so now I wish I would have just placed the order!) ;)
    Sounds like both were good ideas. I hope I can catch them next time.

  2. Whether or not people used the code, I’m sure they noticed the gesture and it increased their positive perception of Stonemaier Games as a company that cares about its customers. Even just reading about it after the fact makes me think “See? This is yet another reason SM is one of my favorite publishers.”

  3. Just curious if those of us who said Tapestry got a discount code? It’s such a new game I wouldn’t fault you at all if that one didn’t.

  4. Offering a little surprise to a few random orders and the coupon code are awesome ideas. Small gestures like that really help illustrate how a small company appreciates and can be involved with their customers in an innovative way.

  5. I think before xmas most people are buying for others so even though they might have wanted to use the promo codes they could not. I think such a thing is good as a like birthday club thing you know offer a code to use on or around their bdays or maybe a after xmas when we can spend some of that xmas cash we may have gotten ;) all great though things to do!!

  6. I find that Amazon works in a way that gets me to impulsively spend more total (even if the items are less individually) on things I want less. It’s turning into online Wal-Mart. If I’m choosing to have a few creators I like to follow and support, getting discounts from them is further appreciated! But even at full MSRP from the creator, I think I’d spend less in the long run than by buying through a mass retailer.

  7. I would have purchased Scythe from you but the only reason I did not was one of my gaming friends brought it over and he had a brand new copy and decided he really didn’t want it so he gave it to me. Otherwise I would have snatched it up in a second. I prefer buying straight from you as opposed to my FLGS.

  8. I was surprised and very appreciative of the discount offered for the game I would like the most, but I didn’t use it this time due to Christmas being right around the corner and the possibility of getting it as a gift (it’s one of the highest games on my wish list).
    As for the surprise gift, I think that is a very generous idea and I will hopefully be able to place an order within the timeframe given.

  9. I think these were both excellent. I almost used my Thanksgiving code, but then we spent too much in general on black Friday. But it is a great, personalized idea.

    I really enjoy how you are trying to connect with customers this week. Obviously you can’t have conversations with everyone, so it is really great to see mutual appreciation between you and those who love your products and company in a way that is manageable for you.

    Thank you!! I’m looking forward to playing Viticulture with my new wine glasses soon. :)

  10. I really appreciated the discount code, though I didn’t use it because I’m currently on new game purchase lock-down. But if I were buying games right now I would probably have taken advantage of the offer.

    From my view, I actually prefer the original version of the question, though maybe only because of my specific proclivities… I almost never buy directly from a publisher because one of my best friends owns an FLGS, so I try to support his business as much as possible. So anything I’m not getting off Kickstarter I buy from him.

    So if you asked me “which game would you most like to buy from SM?” I’d probably not have a good answer (since we didn’t know about the potential for a discount). I think asking the question from an aspirational angle might get you higher quality answers than from a more transactional one.

    Of course if your goal is getting a higher conversion rate your new wording might have better results. I guess you’ll have to test it and find out…

    I love the interactivity and fan appreciation though!

  11. Jamie, with very little relative effort, and a small financial impact, you were able to communicate something unique and personal to your thousands of customers and fans who are on your mailing list.

    I always coach my clients that the main benefit isn’t necessarily those who directly benefited, but instead, all of those who saw the message and would have liked to benefit.

    Which means the true benefit here was the communication of Stonemaier Games’ core values…that as a company you take the time to focus on your customers, even when it is the busiest time of the year.

    Excellent example of how to reinforce your connection with customers, even when they aren’t buying and you aren’t selling.

    1. “the main benefit isn’t necessarily those who directly benefited, but instead, all of those who saw the message and would have liked to benefit.” I hadn’t thought about it that way, Richard, but I really like that!

  12. I would be curious to know what was the Thanksgiving Week Promotion… 5%? 10% off?
    Maybe the offer itself explain its success (or not).

  13. I really appreciated the promo code for Scythe and almost bought it right then and there. But, then I clicked on over to Amazon, and their price was basically the same as the discounted price, so there wasn’t really any incentive to buy it. I like the concept though.

    1. To me, the incentive to purchase directly even at the same price or even a couple dollars higher is knowing that I am directly supporting the people that are making games that I enjoy. Stonemaier makes a lot more profit on direct sales vs heavily discounted sales to wholesalers. I always try to direct purchase when it is possible. It helps keep those companies that I like making more games for me.

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