How to use incentives for sustainable brand growth


The modern brand can’t afford to stand still.

While 20-30 years ago a brand could thrive for years with one good ad campaign, the changing nature of digital industries and the short attention span of the social media generation means businesses have to constantly think of new ways to attract and, more importantly, retain their audience.

Achieving sustainable brand growth isn’t easy, but there are still ways to do it. Perhaps, one of the most popular and successful methods is through customer incentives.

In this article, we’ll outline some brilliant ways you can use customer incentives to your advantage to achieve more sustainable brand and audience growth — whether you’re used to giving stuff away or have never offered a discount in your life.

What are some popular incentives?

Before we start exploring how to use incentives to grow your brand, let’s take a look at some of the most popular types of incentives brands have used to grow their reach in recent years.

Popular incentives include:

  • Free gifts
  • Discounts and reward points
  • Access to unique deals and services
  • Free delivery
  • Upgrades

Of course, there are also some irresistible ways you can heighten interest in both your initial products/services and these incentives themselves, including:

  • Scarcity
  • Social proof (reviews, testimonials, awards)
  • Appeal to social conscience
  • Loyalty programs

These are relatively simple retail tricks, but they still work. It’s not just a case of slapping them on your website or promotional material and waiting for the consumers to come flocking in though. Incentives have to be used correctly and selected wisely for the right audience.

Now that we’re a bit more familiar, let’s take a look at some great ways you can use customer incentives.

Ensure your reach is strong

Whether you like it or not, your brand needs the media to survive.

It’s an unfortunate truth that unless you exist in a very secure B2B niche, you need some kind of media to stay afloat. That doesn’t always mean sprawling double page ad campaigns, but it does mean playing the game.

An incentive can bring people in on its own, but media promotion is key for brand growth.

It’s crucial you’re pushing incentives out to the media and the public across your social channels as key marketing elements of your business. There’s a fine line between a brand with a unique incentive and one that becomes associated with cut-price sales, so language is important. However, building interest in newspapers, magazines and across social media will help these incentives reach an entirely new audience.

As we all know, though, great media reach now means more than newspapers and magazines. You need to create landing pages that accurately match the search intent of your users, so your company features high in the results of the SERPs that are relevant to your products and services — so your business reaches the right people and then gives them what they want.

Using online lottery sites as an example, you can assume that a player would only want to bet on the best games. As the customers are often in buying mode at this stage, your landing pages need to be optimised for transactional search intent. PlayUSALotteries is a great example of a lottery site that’s well optimised for people searching with a transactional intent.

When people search for “buy lottery tickets online” they want to arrive at a page that makes it easy for them to do just that. This is what they get from PlayUSALotteries. When people search for lottery tickets, they arrive at a page loaded with lottery games that clearly show what the jackpot amount is and have a simple CTA (call to action) button to buy tickets. This is topped off by a banner that offers things like a “deposit bonus”, adding an incentive for them to buy their lottery tickets from the site.

By understanding what their customers want when searching for their products, sites like PlayUSALotteries can build a strong reach and then capitalise on this by making it as simple as possible for them to get what they desire.

Make them personal

The most memorable gifts are the personal ones, and the same can be said for customer incentives.

If you want your incentives to stick and help your brand’s appeal long term, you’ve got to add that personal touch.

This can mean a number of things. First and foremost, ensure you have a good understanding of your existing audience, plus the audience you want to attract. What do they enjoy about your brand and your industry at large? Is there a way you can craft your incentive to be more appealing to them?

Much of what makes a personalised incentive successful is less about the uniqueness of the deal, and more how it’s presented. While you can’t be expected to provide everyone with a personalised discount code, you can send them an email tailored to their browsing habits and interests. A clothing brand may want to offer a discount code to users who have viewed a particular kind of dress around the Christmas season, for example. Titling these emails with their name is a nice little touch that makes the consumer feel like they’re being uniquely rewarded.

Choice is another brilliant way to make your incentives personal. Offering a flat deal or discount to everyone on your mailing list will bring in some customers for sure, but giving them the option to spend a voucher on a variety of products or services appeals to a wider base, and ensures it’ll be spread to a wider potential customer base. Try not to be restrictive and give your brand natural room to grow.

Give your incentives long-term appeal

For many businesses, incentives are something of a one-and-done situation. Discounts are designed to move stock, free gifts are an exercise in short-term gain. If a brand wants to seriously use incentives to grow their reach and appeal they need to look at their incentives as a long-term project.

Incentives give audiences a reason to sign-up and shop, but do they give them a reason to stick around?

While some consumers will stay interested in your brand after one discount code, a long-term idea can get them to do more than shop. It can get them to become something of a brand advocate, offer essential feedback on content and provide reviews that are crucial to social proof.

Tease out your incentives. If a discount is provided as a regular thing each weekend it keeps people coming back to your website, social pages and emails to find out what’s on sale this week. It might lower your margin on particular products, but it raises overall awareness of your brand.

Yes, incentives can be used to stimulate short-term purchases and create a sense of urgency, but aligning your brand with the idea of unique deals that are constantly changing gives a sense of excitement to your brand that is constantly drawing new consumers in.

Customer incentives are brilliant. They cultivate a generous brand image, help highlight key products and grow your brand. So, put our recommendations into practice and you’ll have the foundations for sustainable brand growth.