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Seasonal deal stores stack up huge revenue gains for deal programs

The newest evolution in deals is generating higher, steadier revenues

Alisa Cromer
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Short term deal stores based on seasons or themes are showing great results - nearly doubling monthly revenues for deals in a few cases. The math is simple: several local media companies have figured out that when deals run longer,   30% to 60% of sales take place after the first day. Multiple deals also appeal to more shoppers, allowing a variety of interests and price points. And timing is everything.

There are three kinds of deal stores: Seasonal, themed and ongoing. This report looks at seasonal and themed stores which last one to two weeks.  Keep in mind that these stores pair well with a bigger, daily or weekly deal, but are bringing in extra revenue and unique advantages, according to Matt Chaney, Director of Affiliate Deals Success at SecondStreetMedia:

*Focused sales effort (rather than selling all categories all the time) 
*Curated deals focused on a theme elevates individual deals 
*Store seasonality ensures timely deals, which typically do better
*Expands flexibility and options for merchants, who can choose to sell deals over a longer period of time, or trade for advertsing
* Added promotional push, with longer, more compelling campaigns. 

These short term stores can "take over" the main deal and side deals for a week or two, run along the side of the main deal, or have their own deal page. Below are case studies of top revenue producers:

Seasonal stores
Seasonal stores are collections of deals that run usually for seven to ten days, taking advantage of the same temporary spikes in demand that make say, bags of dirt a top deal in early spring, when gardeners are out planting. 

The top four seasonal stores by revenues are all associated with gift-buying holidays.  

The highest revenues were earned by Christmas holiday stores. For the most revenues, produce two or three highly themed stores, before the season - in November; during the season, in December; and following the season on CyberMonday. 

Popular themes include 12 Days of Christmas (see image below) which highlights a new deal every day, a "stocking stuffer" promotion, and a CyberMonday store. Use all three to maximize revenues. 

Here's an example of a 12 Days of Christmas promotion, as you can see, a clever concept allows for extra, visual promotions and helps differentiate the deals:



To give you an idea of revenues, a mid-sized SecondStreet partner generated $21,957 from running its 12 days of Christmas in November:  47% of its deal revenue for the month of November and  a 40% increase in deal volume. To give an idea of what increased demand means;  email promotion had  33% open rates.  These stores are a no brainer to add to the schedule. 

Keep in mind that the technology and timing are pretty straight forward, but creative promotions make the store:  Here's a clever "No Peeking until Monday" campaign for CyberMonday store created by  Gatehouse in 2011:

For seasonal stores, the second top revenue producer is Valentines Day. Chaney says they've seen 40% revenue increases for deals in the month of February with these stores, especially if the offerings are expanded to include massages, spas, and day trips as well as flowers and chocolate (an ideal deal mix for V-Day is below). A Valentine's Day store allows multiple merchants to "give an idea" for a gift that partners may not have thought about, and pick up the extra sales. Here are a few examples:




Keep in mind that "deal mix" is everything. Here is the category mix for a $21,000 V-Day store, that ran 2/7 to 2/14 in 2011 with 21 deals:

The next highest revenue producers are also big gift occasions: Mother's Day and Father's Day stores, with Father's Day making the most.  Sorry, Mom. 

Here's a seasonal store calendar from SecondStreet, The only difference is the number of deals, letting them run longer, and creating the theme and promotions:

2. Category, or themed stores 

Like holiday stores, category stores include groups of deals around a theme that run for a longer period of time, typically around two weeks. Among SecondStreet media partners the highest revenues earning themed store is golf.  

An example is the golf store at STLtoday.com that ran 4/4/11 to 4/16/11 with 11 deals in the $10 to $800 range (fits all budgets) and brought in more than $40,000.  The top deal was a round of golf for two, plus the cart and a 25% discount the pro shop, which alone brought in $14,600. 

Here are print promotions for the store: 

(A note here for print sites:  Print has big advantages for promoting deals stores, in that is is an information rich medium that can list individual deals. Broadcast on the other hand has advantages of a built-in marketing arm - its broadcast anchors 0 to promote sports and weather apps. So if you own print, take advantage of your strengths!) 

Another take on a short term category store is the Best Of store. The Record-Journal created a store for a week using only deals from winners of its Reader's choice awards.

Other ideas include Getaways and Dining. As you can see, category stores begin to blur the distinction between timed deals and ongoing stores with multiple channels.  Here's a sampling of variations from around the country: 

Conclusion 

For local media considering how to increase deal revenues, seasonal and theme stores are a proven. Take advantage of a known factor, but remember that we have only scratched the surface of possible business models.

One way of looking at  evolution of deals is a timeline from  The Daily Deal, to Side Deals (ie some extra, generic deals at the side of the deal page); to Side Deals in Themed Categories;  to Seasonal Stores with a theme that take over all the deals for a period of time;  to Ongoing Deal stores with multliple channels. However, some local media companies have skipped the evolution and simply started ongoing deal stores underway (see case studies on PlanIt.com, AltPerks and Kostizi) that pair well with daily or weekly "Big" deals.

In all cases, deal stores account  for a significant chunk - 40% to 50% on a good month - of what is one of the top new revenue streams for local media. Match the resources, market size and management interest to an appropriate choice. 

Many thanks to Matt Chaney, VP of SecondStreetMedia, for sharing his expertise with our members. 

Alisa Cromer

The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and  MediaExecsTech,  developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine,  to showcases perspectives from around the  world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.

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