Limited-Time Offers: 6 Eye-Catching Examples (& How to Create Your Own)
Driving urgency in your marketing is all about setting a specific deadline to take action. Limited-time offers are a great way to make this happen.
Think about it: The majority (88%) of people look for discount codes throughout the product research process.
But if they’re just open ended with no cut off date, there’s no sense of urgency for shoppers to take action there and then.
Here’s what happens then:
They exit the site with a mental reminder to redeem the coupon later, only to forget. Life gets in the way.
Solve that problem with a limited-time offer: a marketing strategy that gives someone a short period of time to redeem a special offer—be that free shipping, coupon codes, or limited edition products.
Shoppers need to act now or miss out.
In this guide, we’ll share how to create limited-time offers for your online store. We look at best practices, data driven advice, and six real-life examples to inspire your offer 💸
<what>What is a limited-time offer?<what>
A limited-time offer is a special deal that brands offer to customers. The catch is they need to redeem the offer before it expires.
The most obvious example of a limited-time offer is Black Friday-related deals. Brands offer potential customers significant savings on the year's busiest shopping day. Once the weekend ends, products go back up to the regular price. Anyone who missed the sale misses out.
This type of limited-time offer works because they encourage people to impulse buy. Shoppers experience the fear of missing out (FOMO) when they know a discount code is about to expire. They want to get in on the action before the offer ends.
<best>Best practices for using limited-time offers<best>
If you’re thinking about using limited-time offers to convince shoppers to buy from your ecommerce store, there are seven simple techniques to do it the right way.
<examples>Limited-time offer examples<examples>
There’s no doubt that a limited-time offer is enticing for customers. Give them a countdown timer to clearly state when the offer expires and test which messaging customers prefer in advance.
So, where do you go from here? Before giving the first discount you can think of, draw inspiration from these six limited-time offer campaign examples.
Online beauty retailer LOOKFANTASTIC is one of millions of brands using Black Friday/Cyber Monday limited-time discounts. Shoppers can get up to 50% off during the peak shopping weekend.
In a bid to push people toward its website, LOOKFANTASTIC sent this email to all subscribers:
The most notable element of this email marketing campaign is the subject line.
The fact the discount code is for a limited time only is communicated with “6 HOURS LEFT.” It stands out like a sore thumb even in the busiest of inboxes. (Remember: you can only drive traffic from email campaigns if people open them.)
The same graphics continue throughout the brand’s website. People visiting the landing page—either through the email campaign or otherwise—see the same consistency:
2. Peak Freelance
Earlier, we mentioned how limited-time offers don’t have to be restricted to peak shopping days. Competition for attention is fierce around the holiday season, especially Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Workaround this by offering limited-time discounts on important dates for your business—such as your company’s birthday or a special anniversary.
This example from Peak Freelance does precisely that. It entices new customers to celebrate the brand’s birthday—even if they haven’t purchased something from them before—with an email marketing campaign to its entire list:
Again, the subject line is essential here. Research shows that email subject lines focused on a discount—including percentages, dollar signs, or “free shipping”—have a higher open rate than average.
Short and to the point, “a birthday discount” encourages people to open—even out of curiosity. “It’s not my birthday. Better open it and check what it is” is what runs through a subscriber’s mind when they see it.
The email also had a (now expired) countdown timer to communicate how fast they needed to act to secure the deal.
Alongside the email campaign, Peak Freelance uses social media to drive traffic and promote the limited-time offer. This Twitter advertising campaign, for example, told people it was the best deal they’d ever get on the course—but they needed to buy now to secure it:
The results were impressive: Peak Freelance’s Twitter limited-time coupon ad achieved a return on ad spend (ROAS) of 792%:
Not bad for a campaign that took just a few hours to implement 🔥
3. SEO For The Rest of Us
A flash sale is the simplest type of limited-time offer. The catch? Potential buyers must act fast to get the deal before the sale ends.
This limited-time offer from SEO For The Rest of Us shows exactly how to do it.
The flash sale is apparent right from the subject line. Plus, labeling the digital product as its “most popular course” is a subtle nod of social proof. People are more likely to trust the product on sale if other people enjoy it, too:
The content of the email is also a masterclass in conversion copywriting. The secret to writing words that sell is to reflect the tone, language, and personality of your target customer.
Potential customers also see social proof within the email:
Almost 400 people have taken the course—none have requested refunds. Plus, it has a 100% positive review rating (with one listed just beneath).
Also, notice how there’s a call-to-action (CTA) immediately after this social proof.
Again, the flash sale concept is repeated: it’s made super clear inside the button text that people need to take action before midnight to redeem the limited-time offer.
4. Self-Care is for Everyone
Not interested in cutting your profit margin each time you run a limited-time offer?
It’s a good idea to vary the special offers you give shoppers. Discount codes that are too readily available often make people doubt that the full-price version of your product is worth the money.
This offer from Self-Care is for Everyone shows how to do it. The ecommerce website uses a sticky bar to push two time-sensitive deals:
- Order now to guarantee pre-Christmas delivery
- Buy now because there’s a limited supply
The beauty of a sticky bar is that your limited-time offer is immediately obvious to anyone visiting your website, regardless of the page they land on.
Self Care is for Everyone uses the same announcement across its home page, category, and product pages. It’s a superb way to show your time-sensitive deals to existing website visitors—without necessarily investing heavily into offsite marketing.
5. Nectar Sleep
Speaking of on-site marketing, Nectar Sleep’s website is a masterclass in diverting visitors’ attention towards limited-time offers.
Anyone landing on its ecommerce website is served the following time-delay popup within a few seconds:
This is effective for several reasons:
- Social proof is in the main headline. The fact you’re joining more than a million “happy sleepers” induces FOMO. You know that if you buy one of its mattresses, you’ll be in good company.
- Trust badges are used in the graphic. First-time customers feel more comfortable buying from Nectar Sleep if they can return a product for free, should they not like it.
- The call-to-action is an email subscription. Visitors need to hand over their email address in exchange for the limited-time deal. That way, Nectar Sleep can retarget people even if they don’t buy.
- The popup exit text makes people acknowledge that they’re missing out. Remember: FOMO is a powerful way to increase sales. It reinforces that anyone closing the popup will be paying full price (when they don’t need to).
Should someone exit the popup, the same limited-time offer messaging continues throughout Nectar Sleep’s home page:
It drives home the fact that the offer won’t be available forever with two countdown timers—one in the sticky bar (visible to shoppers landing on every page) and a bigger one above the fold on its home page.
In short: you can’t land on Nectar Sleep’s website without being tempted by its limited-time sale.
6. Dick’s Drive-Ins
Dick’s Drive-Ins is another example of how ecommerce brands can drive sales with limited-time offers.
This time, the brand uses social media—including Instagram and Twitter—to raise awareness about its Orange Weekend campaign:
During the sale period, online shoppers can:
- Take 15% off existing products
- Shop for new apparel
- Claim free shipping on orders over $100
The latter of which increases average order value.
Anyone visiting the brand’s website off the back of the Instagram post sees the same messaging.
A sticky bar with a countdown timer reinforces the idea of acting fast before the sale expires:
What’s important to note, though, is that the limited-time sale has a clear endpoint, regardless of how a potential customer discovers it. This concise messaging makes it crystal clear that after a specific time, the sale expires. They should act fast before they miss out.
<how>How to create limited-time offers & schedule them for the future<how>
Ready to create your own limited-time offer? Whether it’s a price reduction, new product, or free shipping deal, communicate them with website visitors using the following elements:
- Sticky bars
- Site messages
- popups (including exit-intent popups)
Find templates for each of these in the ConvertFlow template library: Each is professionally designed and totally customizable.
Here's one example of many you can choose from:
Simply choose a template and customize it to match your branding. You can even set when you want the campaign to start and finish—no complex coding knowledge required.
Just add all your time-sensitive campaigns into a Broadcast and schedule the times:
Any campaigns (sticky bars, popups, etc.) in the broadcast will take priority over standalone ones, before reverting back at the end of the scheduled period. Meaning you can set your limited-time offer campaigns to switch on and off ahead of time 🙌
Regardless of which tactic you’re using to showcase your limited-time offer, we recommend capturing an email address as part of your campaign.
This way, you can retarget people who didn’t buy throughout the sale. It also allows you to run cart abandonment campaigns, showing the products they’ve viewed but not bought.
The best part? You don’t need a huge toolkit (nor budget!) to power automations that send these campaigns.
ConvertFlow integrates with popular email marketing platforms like Klaviyo, MailChimp, Drip, HubSpot, and ConvertKit. Connect your account, send lead information to your platform, and put people into personalized email sequences—all on autopilot.
<start>Start driving sales with limited-time offers<start>
Whether it’s a discount code or promise of Christmas delivery, time-sensitive offers do a great job of driving sales.
The most important thing is making sure they’re obvious. People can’t take you up on the offer if they don’t know it exists.
So, run A/B tests to see which sticky bars, popups, and retargeting campaigns raise the most awareness for your limited-time offer.