Phrasing Discount Offers for Maximum Results

Whether you’re facing another holiday sales season or just ramping up a weekend promotion, discounts come into play with copywriting on a regular basis.  But have you ever considered the words you use to communicate that discount?  Just like every other part of your copy, your offers need to be tested.

“What’s to test?” you might ask.  Fifty percent off is fifty percent off, right?  Not necessarily.  I can think of 13 different ways to state that discount just off the top of my head.  So… which one works best?

  • 50% off
  • Half off
  • $xx.xx off (whatever dollar amount would equal 50% off)
  • 50% discount
  • Half off discount
  • $xx.xx discount
  • 50% savings
  • Half off savings
  • $xx.xx savings
  • Save 50%
  • Save half
  • Save $xx.xx
  • Buy one, get one free

Which works better?  If you’ve never tested anything but “50% off,” you’ll never know.

One report in Time Moneyland reveals some interesting consumer behavior that suggests shoppers are more likely to bite on the “buy one, get one” offer over something that’s presented as “50% off.”

But what about offers that don’t involve a buy [however many], get [however many] free?  You’re left with choices about percentages vs. dollars vs. fractions.

It’s really all about perception.

People don’t think most of the time when they shop.  They see “free shipping” or other enticements and don’t stop to consider that the product price may be higher than at another site.  Or they see a lower product price and don’t think about the additional cost of shipping.

The same holds true with the perception about pricing.  Is a “50% discount” perceived as more of a discount than “half off?”  And then what about bonus packs or buy-one offers?

The American Marketing Association’s Journal of Marketing reported on an experiment about just such things.  It’s written in exceptionally boring corporate/researcher speak so allow me to translate 🙂

Basically, they found that bonus packs (a 6-pack of socks with a free pair added in) or additional enticements (faster speeds, extra goodies, more bonuses) oftentimes makes for a better enticement than a discount of some sort.

I have not found, however, any conclusive and across-the-board evidence about the phrasing of the discount itself. Your own, personal testing with your own, personal followers/customers would still be necessary.

When you’re planning your promotions for the upcoming year, make a point to test the wording of your discounts.  I’d love to hear your findings!

Want more help with writing exceptional copy that brings maximum results? Get Karon’s Step-by-Step Copywriting Course and boost rankings as you increase conversions.

By Karon Thackston. © All Rights Reserved

Send to Kindle

Please share this post with your friends.

  • Email

About Karon Thackston

For over 25 years, web & SEO copywriter Karon Thackston has created optimized copy and content that has increased conversions & search rankings. Find out more about Karon on Google+.


  1. Finding just the right way to phrase the discounts and special offers that you make available is probably going to vary between different demographics enough to make it worthwhile creating unique content for each group. This has always been the case and plenty of companies structure different advertising language for different age groups or genders. The thing that has really changed is how easy it has become because of the internet to tinker with that language to achieve the best results.

  2. Yes, you’re right. It is extremely easy to test these days and to get better results than you thought possible.

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge

This blog allows you to put keywords after your name if you have had 5 approved comments. Use your real name and then @ "your keywords" (maximum of 3).