5 Clever Ways Ecommerce Companies Can Use Pre-Transactional Offers

Alex Whitney
Alex Whitney




If you’re an ecommerce business owner and the only conversion opportunities on your site are to purchase, “contact us,” or subscribe to an email list or blog, you’re leaving money on the table – plain and simple. It’s a good start to have a pop-up blog subscription or “5% off your first purchase” offer, but is this type of disruptive offer really compelling? The short answer is no.

One way to maximize the revenue potential of your site is to create a framework of offers that appeal to visitors who are not ready to buy, but would like learn more. By placing these offers on highly trafficked pages on your site, you can cultivate a database of contacts to engage with via email marketing or enroll into automated email nurturing to continually drive revenue. But, what do offers like these look like? Getting started with a pre-transactional lead generation strategy can be challenging, so here are five examples of pre-transactional offers broken out by business type, followed by some best practices when creating your offer.

1) Fashion/Home Furnishing

A great way to grab the attention of website visitors for any fashion or design related business is a seasonal style or design guide. This type of offer can be highly visual and offer your unique slant on the season’s hottest trends. I suggest including the year to the title of the guide, for example “Fall 2014 Style Guide.” Then, when you create the following year’s guide your visitors will know it’s new and fresh. 

A wonderful example of this is Postcard from Paris’s Fall Design Guide. They included a CTA to download their Fall Design Guide on a blog post about how to prepare your home for fall. The guide itself is well laid out and reflects their interpretation of how to prepare you home for the fall season, including tips and advice. 


2) Appliances/Electronics

People who are considering buying larger ticket items such as electronics or appliances almost always do research online. Help them in their research process by offering a product specific buying guide, such as “How to Find an Oven That is Perfect for You.” This positions you and your business as a trusted advisor, instead of a being overly sales-y. A product buying guide can consist of:

  • What buyers should consider when buying a certain product
  • A comparison of brands (including reviews)
  • Feature breakdown of different models and brands
  • Frequently asked questions 

For example, Yale Appliance has a great resource center that is geared towards educating its prospects and customers through guides. They have a variety of guides for their products, including multiple guides for different kinds of refridgerators. They even have a recipe center with the recipes from their live chef demos.


3) Curated Subscription Box Business

There has been an explosion of curated subscription box businesses in recent years. For everything from snacks to clothes to pet treats - if you want it, you can get it delivered to you in a curated box.

Since signing up for a monthly box service can be more of an impulse purchase than a research driven process, pre-transactional offer examples are hard to find. A prime opportunity to capture lead information is allowing visitors to preview a box based on their preferences.

While this can require a bit of coding, the result is a quick and easy way to give “tire kickers” a taste of what they would be signing up for, while gathering their email address and some preference data. This preference data is valuable because you can use it to personalize your email marketing by sending nurturing emails and content based on preferences. You can deliver the customized box preview via email or redirect them to a page with a preview, but the end result is the same. You grow a lead database that you can nurture into purchasing. 

A fantastic example of a box preview offer is Citrus Lane’s “How it Works” page. This CTA encourages you to put in the month and date of your child's birth to see what's inside the box.


Then, based on your child's age you're given examples of the kinds of products that the box includes. You also have the option to explore example products for other age groups. 


4) Health and Wellness/Vitamin and Supplements

There are a couple directions you can go for health and wellness ecommerce sites, so I’ve included two examples – one for a recipe book and one for an educational guide. Recipe books are a good way to engage your website visitors with fun (and tasty!) content. Think of 5-10 delicious recipes that incorporate your products, then add attractive images and easy to follow instructions.

Radiant Life Company has created a series of recipe books called “A Radiant Life Guide to Real Food.” The series includes a "Guide to Making Coconut Flour Breads," which is a fantastic example of a recipe book as a pre-transactional offer. As you can tell from the example below, it combines tantilizing photographs of coconut flour breads with simple, clear recipes instructions and tips.


The second example is an educational guide. With this type of guide you can provide detailed information about your most popular products including their origin, why they benefit the consumer, scientific facts and data, and best practices on how and when to consume them. Greens Plus offers “The Beginner’s Guide to Superfoods” that does all that.


Much like appliances, people will often do online research before starting a new diet, vitamin, or supplement. Providing helpful and informative content will make them more likely to purchase from you - especially if you follow up with email nurturing!

5) B2B Ecommerce 

A B2B ecommerce sale is complex because you are looking to attract prospects that will repeatedly buy from you. However, they are still buying on your website with little to no human interaction. The way you can pique the interest of a B2B prospect is through analytical and research driven content. If you can provide your visitors with content that allows them to look like a genius in front on their boss, not only will they buy from you, they'll be your best friend! You could create a cost analysis guide, an industry research report, or a strategy guide. MarketResearch.com has a thoughtful, comprehensive, and informative example – they provide an ebook on “How to Succeed Using Market Research.” It covers important topics to help you determine your market research needs and budget, as well as how to define success.

Constructing Your Offer

Now you’ve seen examples of pre-transactional offers for different types of ecommerce businesses, you need to strategically construct your pre-transactional offer. Pre-transactional offers have to capture the attention of the website visitor to the extent that they will take the next step by filling out a form, and trade their information for your content. Here are some general best practices when creating your offer.

The call-to-action:

Make sure the CTA button that leads to your offer is highly visible – you want the color to pop off the page. It should also clearly state what happens when a visitor clicks on it – for example, “Download Your Free Guide.” Place the CTA on highly trafficked pages and at the end of blog posts.

The landing page:

Use the same landing page best practices that you would on any other landing page! You need a clear and compelling title with a clarifying subtitle, a descriptive image, and a few bullet points on what is contained in the content offer.

The form:

This is the most important part. Since a pre-transactional offer is a “top of the funnel” offer, this needs to be as short as possible. But, you want to gather enough information to help understand your contacts. A form could be as simple as three fields – First Name, Email Address, and an option to “Tell Us More About Yourself.” It is crucial that you make the “Tell us More About Yourself” field a dropdown where you give three or four options with an “other” option as a catch-all. The options in the dropdown should represent your ideal buyer personas so that you can automatically segment these contacts once they submit the form.

Now that you have an offer, you can go beyond placing your offer on highly trafficked pages of your website and at the end of blog posts. You can also promote your offer over social media, or even to your existing email database to encourage them to return to your site. 

And ideally, when your offer goes live, you'll already have email automation in place to enroll new contacts into relevant drip nurturing campaigns. If you don’t have email automation in place, you can gather contacts via your offer and then intermittently send segmented emails. With pre-transactional offers, you’ll be able to get more visitors back to your site, into your store, and spending!

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