'Tis the Season to Give Holiday Discounts

It's official, the holiday shopping season is upon us. According to the National Retail Federation, November is the month when the largest percentage of shoppers begin researching and purchasing holiday gifts. So if you haven't figured out your holiday marketing strategy yet, the time to act is now.

One tried and true technique to boost holiday sales is to offer special discounts. Here are three recommended apps from the App Center to help you get started.

1. Capture Information and Improve Conversions with Pop-Up Coupons

Some customers who visit your website are ready to buy, while others are merely browsing. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way you could improve conversion for both of them? Fortunately, there's Better Coupon Box.

Better Coupon Box is an elegant and deceptively simple tool that lets you place pop-up forms on your website to get email subscriptions, social followers and more in exchange for a special coupon.

For browsing customers, Better Coupon Box can help you collect contact information so you can continue to market more targeted offers over the course of the holiday season. For customers that are ready to make their purchase, Better Coupon Box lets you time your coupon to pop-up when the customer is set to abandon their cart, giving them another incentive to complete their transaction immediately. Even better, there's no coding required and it comes with pre-made holiday templates. Another great app is Easy Popup, which is free to try and offers similar functionality.

2. Bundle Products for Deep Discounts

The only thing better than getting one sale, is getting lots of sales. With the Boost Sales app, you can do just that and make your customers feel great about it.

A simple and highly flexible application, Boost Sales automatically makes product recommendations based on the customer's shopping cart. You can even bundle several items together and offer a special discount if the customer buys multiple products.

Not only will your customer save money, but they'll feel like they're getting a more personalized experience. Plus it will help you boost your average order value. If cross-selling and upselling is not part of your existing sales strategy, there's no better time to give it a try.

3. Create a Sense of Urgency with a Timer

Using coupons and discounts to keep the customer from abandoning their cart is one way to create a sense of urgency, but another creative approach is to use a countdown timer.

The Checkout Boost application offers a countdown timer, among several other features, which allows you to give customers a discount if they make their purchase within a specified time. While this can be a great way to spur action, you must also be conscientious of your user experience. Too many pop-ups, even if they include good offers, can turn off customers.

You also don't want to create a false sense of urgency. If a countdown timer pops up every time they go to their shopping cart, they'll know it's an offer they can get no matter what and they'll be annoyed that you were trying to "trick" them into buying before they were ready. Closing a sale should never come before delivering a great experience and top-notch customer service.

Take Advantage of Shopping Holidays

Black Friday used to be the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, however it has become less important in recent years. As PwC analyst Steven J. Barr explained to the Washington Post, "Retailers have conditioned the consumer to believe everything's on sale every day, which means the deals on Black Friday are not significantly different from any other time."

That being said, the idea of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as special days to save can still be valuable from a marketing perspective. Consider how you can take advantage of these unofficial shopping holidays in your marketing, even if it means subverting them. Maybe instead of a single Black Friday, you offer a whole month of Black Friday savings.

Whichever approach you choose, understanding how to apply discounts and other pricing incentives to your sales and marketing strategy is essential for success during the holiday season.