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As soon as we launched this mid-year sale, we received a heap of requests from people who had picked up a bargain and wanted to know the logistical side of making the sale happen. So today we thought we’d share how we put it all together…
Setting up eJunkie
The idea of a buy-one-get-one-free sale seems pretty simple but the functionality behind it can get a little crazy.
Campaigns like ‘Buy this book and get a free bonus’ or ‘save X% on this product’ are much more straightforward and easier to set up. You have a product, you add the freebie or apply the discount and you’re done! With a buy-one-get-one-free sale, you introduce choice plus shopping conditions. You can select any book, and then pick a second book (of equal or lesser value) for free.
Our first step was to figure out if we could actually do this in eJunkie – the shopping cart solution we use on Problogger and dPS.
eJunkie has a neat function that allows you to combine two separate products into one. However, with over a dozen books on dPS we didn’t want to have to set up a different product bundle for every possible combination. Our only hope was to add two products to the checkout and then apply a discount code, dependent on what was selected.
The discount code
The Problogger products have three different price brackets: $19.99, $29.99 and $49.99 so we set up three discount codes for each value.
Then we had to ensure that some enterprising person wouldn’t use, say, the $50 voucher on two x $19.99 eBooks. Luckily, eJunkie has the ability to set a minimum cart value for each voucher code.
- To use the $20 discount, you must have at least $39 worth of products in your cart.
- To use the $30 discount, you must have at least $58 worth of products in your cart.
- To use the $50 discount, you must have a least $99 worth of products in your cart.
For example, If you wanted to grab 31 days to Build a Better Blog ($29.99) and Blog Wise ($19.99) your total cart value would be $49.98 and the only voucher you can use the $20 code – the lesser value book free.
Alternatively, you wanted to grab 31 days to Build a Better Blog ($29.99) and The Copywriting Scorecard ($29.99) your total cart value would be $59.98 and you can use the $30 voucher.
That was hard enough for me to explain in a blog post, let alone asking a user to pick the right voucher! So we used eJunkie’s auto discount apply feature by adding ‘&discount_code=voucher’ to the Buy Now button link.
With discounts sorte,d it was time to attack adding two products to a checkout with one button.
eJunkie has a multi add function. The problem is that it’s unsupported and doesn’t reliably work in some browsers (which is beyond my ability to explain!).
By solving this problem, we unearthed another.
There is no nice way to clear someone’s cart. So, if you click checkout then close the popup for some more window shopping and then click checkout again with different eBooks, everything broke. To solve this, again with some nifty work from our developers, we added some smarts on top of eJunkie to control this.
Again – I’m not sure how it works technically… but it does the job.
Once this was covered, I knew we could run the sale without having to resort to a new checkout system.
A note about eJunkie: I realise that there are checkout systems that can do all of the above beautifully. But for a one-week campaign, it didn’t make sense for us to change to a new and unproven provider. Our solution isn’t perfect, nor is it elegant, but gets the job done! Some of you will be able to use what we’ve set up here yourself, but others will be confronted with your own set of limits. As long as you’re campaigning the way you want to and seeing these challenges as hurdles not barriers then you should be happy…
Okay let’s move on!
The sales page
So once we proved we could actually get someone to the checkout with the correct items, it was time to put a layer of paint on the sales page. We didn’t have a lot of time as we wanted to run a mid-year sale, not a couple-of-weeks-after-mid-year sale, so I quickly put the copy together along with a wireframe and sent it off to our designer. With little time to spare and a review via my phone, I sent the first concept to be turned into a web page.
The site elements were very simple.
- A headline.
- A short description.
- A dropdown to pick your first eBook.
- Then a dynamic, second dropdown that appeared to select your free book.
- An Add to Cart button.
- And a countdown timer to signal the end of the campaign.
Darren and I were perhaps happier that it was done, that at the page itself, but with not much time to spare we made it live and start spreading the word.
With the sale going well, we couldn’t silence the little voice that kept saying, “This could be better”. So, a couple of days after launching the sale, Darren and I spent the day together throwing around ideas around how we could improve the page.
The problems we identified were…
- The page was selling the sale not the benefits of the eBooks.
- The page was visually a little boring.
- There was nothing more than a title to help you choose your eBook.
- The page wasn’t helping people make a decision about the book you needed.
Our web guys agreed and had some great ideas of their own!
We then had to make a call on whether or not we invested time correcting this, with a few days left on the sale, or we just kept this in mind the next sale.
Given the fact that we had another last minute push of the deal in mind, and knowing we could extend the offer if need be, and our web developers hating the idea of leaving a job half done we agreed. Three day’s later we released an updated version. A version we’re all much happier with.
Perfect no, but vastly improved yes, and now ready for our final hoorah for this campaign.
While the campaign isn’t over and I haven’t really reflected in full, there are already a few lessons I personally took from this experience.
Worrying about what’s possible will hinder your creativity. I decided which campaign I wanted to run long before I knew it was possible. By focusing on what needed to be done, not on what could (or couldn’t) be done, we were able to find a solution that many wouldn’t have bothered seeing to the end.
Let the little voice in your head guide but not paralyse. I’ve never hit publish on a sales page I was 100% happy with. If I waited until it was perfect I’d never publish a single page. You need to find the balance between ship at all costs and perfection.
Your customers don’t care about how hard something was to build; they care about how well it works for them. I was so impressed with the functionality we created that I forgot to stop and objectively think like a customer. Time may have got the better of me, but you should always take a breath and look at what you’ve done through someone else’s eyes.
So that’s a behind the scenes tour of how we put this campaign together, the challenges we faced and the lessons we learnt. I hope some of you can put them to good use! If there are any other apsects you’d like to know how we did that then please let me know in the comments.
As for me, I’m off to dream up the next impossible campaign!