This post is part of a series of guest posts authored by popular bloggers and internet business consultants.
Today's guest post is written by Dean Shanson, a professional writer and a regular contributor to some of the Web’s leading marketing blogs.

This post is part of a series of guest posts authored by popular bloggers and internet business consultants.
Today's guest post is written by Dean Shanson, a professional writer and a regular contributor to some of the Web’s leading marketing blogs.

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Guest Post – How to Add Discounts Without Adding a Hard Sell

Email marketing copy has to do two things at the same time. Those two things conflict. A newsletter or an email has to entertain and inform its readers; it has to provide value. Messages that don’t provide value just take up space in the recycle folder.

But the same message also has to generate income. It has to create conversions that pay for the time it took to create and send the newsletter, and generate a profit for the sender.

Readers though don’t care about your sales and they don’t care about your products. Telling them that you’re launching a new product or that you’ve upgraded your widget isn’t valuable to them. Alone, an announcement like that, however breathlessly you make it and however feature-rich your new item, won’t be enough to make meaningful sales.

One way to tell readers about your products while still making the announcement valuable is to provide discounts. Readers are informed, they’re given a reason to buy, and the message has a measurable value.

It should be the perfect solution.

But it isn’t. Readers understand that discount offers are just sales messages. They glance at the message but they don’t engage with it. Worse, when they feel that they’re being given a hard sale, they unsubscribe. Those aren’t the kinds of messages that subscribers want to receive regularly in their inboxes.

There are at least a couple of things though that you can do to make those discounts more subtle and more effective, maintaining the value of the message while still pushing the sale.

Reward Your Readers
The quickest way to reduce the value of an item is to slash its price. And the quickest way to make a product look worthless is to give it away for free.

The same is true of a discount. When bargains happen all the time, shoppers expect them and take them for granted.

Instead of simply telling your readers that you’re giving them a 20 percent discount then, explain why you’re giving them a discount and make them feel that they’ve worked for it – even if it’s work that takes no effort at all.

Discount codes do that to some extent by making the bargain exclusive. They’re a reward for subscribing. But this is an opportunity to pick up some valuable information. Ask a question about your product or request feedback, and promise the discount to anyone who replies.

If the request isn’t too demanding, readers will be inclined to interact, deepening your relationship with them. And because they’ll have worked for their discount they’ll be more likely to value it — and use it.

Treat Your Readers
Work is one way to justify a discount and make it valuable. Another is to give away a treat on a special occasion. Your birthday or the anniversary of your business can all be a good enough excuses to put on a special offer.

By their nature, these are time limited so they create urgency, and readers feel that they’re being invited to take up the offer rather than having it forced on them.

The more personal and special you can make these treats, the better. Lots of businesses have St. Patrick’s Day and Thanksgiving sales. But only you have a sale that celebrates the launch of your first product, so when subscribers receive the offer they feel that they’re part of a special club. That’s valuable.

It is possible to include discount offers in your newsletters and emails without giving a hard sale. Maintain the value of your offer and you’ll protect your message — and win the conversions.

About the Author
Dean Shanson
is a professional marketing writer and a New York Times bestselling business book ghostwriter. He is also owner of ConstantConversions.com, an email marketing content company, and co-founder of Scribat.com, a content syndication service and writing agency. He can be contacted at [email protected]