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I almost walked away from the majority of sales from a promotion I ran a few weeks ago, and nearly disappointed many of my customers in the process. I wanted to share this story with you, to help save you from making the same mistake with your online course promotions.

The Customer’s Perspective

This weekend I was shopping at a store I visit every few months, and the clerk handed me a great coupon (50% off!) for my next visit, with a short expiry date. I tossed the coupon in the bottom of my bag, telling her that there was no way I was going to remember (I can’t tell you how often I find coupons I fully intended to use, only AFTER the expiry date). She smiled knowingly, and I walked away.

And of course it hit me – this was a TERRIBLE experience for both of us!

The store isn’t going to get any additional business as a result of that coupon, and while I actually frequent the store and very much would like the discount, the reality is that even if I plan to stick the coupon to my fridge and set a calendar reminder as soon as I am not carrying an armload of bags – I’m not. I’ll have forgotten about it by the time I get back to my car, and I won’t remember until the next time I’m shopping (a week after expiry, of course). As the customer in this scenario, my overall experience wasn’t great.

Of course, many of you are more organized than I am, but you’ll still need to add the extra step to remind yourself to use the deal, and ultimately, there’s a lost opportunity here.

And I fell into this EXACT scenario as the merchant in this equation recently.

The Merchant’s Perspective

In February, on a whim I decided to put one of my regular products on sale, and I sent out an unplanned email to my list letting folks know. Even better, I got a few orders that day, and I considered my promotion a success! Then, other than a couple minor mentions, I didn’t give it another thought.

For the next 10 days, sales were slow but steady, and I was up to a few hundred dollars that I hadn’t expected.

Pretty good for an unplanned sale, right? Wrong.


I remembered that it was the last day of the sale the morning of, and only by chance. I thought about sending out a final email, and I ALMOST didn’t do it because I didn’t want to bother people (I’m so Canadian!). I figured that those who wanted to get in on the offer would have already signed up, and I didn’t think people needed to hear from me AGAIN.

But – despite being the most casual sale of all time, I knew better. I wrote up a quick last-chance email and sent it out.

What happened next was a shocking – and important – reminder.

For the rest of the day, I got sale. After sale. After sale. Ultimately, a full 73% of my total sales came in only AFTER that final reminder email, on the last day! And I almost didn’t bother to send it.

I almost didn't bother to send the email that got me 73% of my sales. Share on X

I really knew better, but I was careless and too worried about not bothering people. Only, the thing to remember is that in addition to losing out on 73% of my total sales, I almost caused 73% of my customers to miss an opportunity to purchase that they clearly didn’t want to miss. We BOTH would have been dissatisfied if I didn’t reach out that final time.

Not contacting your customers enough can do you BOTH a disservice. Share on X

So – what are the take-aways here?

  • Things that can be put off to later, will. Time limits give a reason for your customer to take action.
  • Reminders are a courtesy – don’t rely on your customer to remind themselves. If you’re running a promotion, make sure you reach out and let your subscribers know when crucial deadlines are coming up.
  • The people on your list actually WANT to hear from you, and you can probably email them more than you think! They signed up for your list for a reason, and if you’re delivering high quality relevant content they want to hear from you. And, as we just learned, being *too* polite can actually be bad for both of you.

* Of course, too much of a good thing can be a negative one! There’s a balance between appreciated reminders and relentless spam. Pay close attention to things like unsubscribes when you start sending out more email – you’ll know if there’s a disconnect between the folks on your list and the content you’re sending out by monitoring that number.

I’d love to hear your experience with time-bound promotions. Have you used them? What worked and what didn’t? If you haven’t used them, why not?