Do Limited Offers Work?

20th Century Limited in Hudson River (LOC)
Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

When you’re doing a product launch, it’s common to have the offer for a limited time.  It’s a way to increase urgency, and fuel more signups.

It also may have a practical reason (limited number of connections allowed in a mastermind group, attention required for individual students/forum members, etc).

Limited offers are great for something that’s exclusive, such as a limited edition handbag or lithograph.  However, there is a right time, and a wrong time to use this tactic.

Someone on LinkedIn was following this formula and found that while it worked well with his newsletter list, it didn’t work so well with a PPC (pay per click Adwords) campaign.

Why did the limited offer fail?

A limited enrollment or signups for a short time works if there’s a good reason to limit it, such as giving forum members individual instruction.  Saying you’re making a “special exception” isn’t believable – and it looks a little desperate.

Trust issues

Your newsletter list already knows and trusts you – so they will sign up in higher numbers than people who don’t know you at all.  They’ve seen your expertise, read your blog, signed up for your emails, maybe even already bought something from you.  They are more likely to trust that whatever you offer will solve their problem.

Since the PPC people don’t know you it makes perfect sense that they are less likely to pay you – instead of going straight for the sale, offer them a free report of some kind and add them to your subscribers – warm them up first.  It’s like dating, get to know the girl (or guy) first, don’t just walk up to a stranger and ask them to marry you.

Done correctly, a limited edition or limited offer can work really well.  Done poorly, your marketing train will end up in the river.