Flash Sale Guide: How to run more effective summer sale campaigns

Planning your summer sale campaigns? Take a look at our 5 step guide to planning a successful flash sale.

17 May 2023

With summer sales just around the corner, many retailers will be planning how to make the most of this sales period and ultimately, deliver meaningful revenue.

According to the office of National Statistics retail sales volumes fell by 0.1% in June 2022 following a fall of 0.8% in May 2022. Sales volumes were 2.2% above their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) February 2020 levels, but down over the past year. It’s time to ramp up marketing efforts to attract online shoppers.

It’s no secret that many UK consumers are currently in financial straits. Cutbacks on non-essential items are being made. So, it is more important than ever to focus attention on the best possible methods of communication.

What is a flash sale?

Simply put, a flash sale is a discount or promotion offered for a short period or on a limited number of products. They can be a great tool for businesses to yield a spike in sales, as they create a sense of urgency among shoppers and encourage impulse buying.

As is the case with any sale, there are two potential downfalls – flash sales can erode margins and attract bargain hunters who have no intention of becoming loyal customers. But, if successful, they can promote loyalty, increase revenue and brand awareness, and acquire new customers. So, to help businesses make the most of their flash sales, please see below our 5 best practice steps for planning an effective flash sale.

Grow your subscriber list

A flash sale can only be as successful as your database. If you don’t have a healthy subscriber list, there will be no one to see your event. To reach more people you need to grow your list in advance.

What is the quality of your current database? Is it up to date and are your subscribers interested in your brand? To get your summer sales marketing campaign initiated, you will need to put your efforts into customer data collection. By connecting with the right subscribers you can attract relevant traffic to your online store.

Consumers initially opt-in to receive your SMS marketing messages, but they can also opt out if they are not happy with your interaction. Check out some of our free articles, How To Grow your Database and The Crawl, Walk, Run Approach to becoming Successful in SMS marketing. Not only do we want to show you how to reach new subscribers, but also to be able to enhance your level of engagement with them. Some of our tips will help you to drive more traffic to your website.

Encourage SMS take-up

You can drive your target audience to opt-in to receive your SMS messages with competitions, website data capture, special events, social media marketing, or in-store.

One of the biggest attractions for potential customers is the lure of receiving exclusive access or early notification of flash sales. Many brands offer their customers VIP flash sale slots so that they can browse ahead of the crowd and without the panic.

As well as these simple methods you can also increase your SMS database by using an effective cross-channel marketing strategy. If you usually send flash sale emails, you can encourage those subscribers to sign up to receive flash sale notifications on their mobile phones for up-to-the-minute information or to book sale appointments.

When encouraging sign-ups, you could create a landing page to bring initial traffic to your website and have subscribers sign up there. Once there, they may stay and have a look around.

5 steps to a successful flash sale campaign

1. Define your objectives

By identifying objectives in the first instance, brands can ensure sales remain focused and select appropriate metrics before the sale launch.

New customers

If the main objective is to acquire new customers, you could focus efforts on consumers who have previously expressed an interest but have not converted. You could also target your competitor’s customers.

By tracking new customers’ flash sale purchases, brands can then determine whether they can up-sell or cross-sell, driving value beyond the initial sale purchase. 

Existing customers

Your loyal customers are your bread-and-butter clients and should not be overlooked when running a flash sale. It is these subscribers who will expect the VIP sale slots and exclusive previews ahead of the general sales. Nurturing your existing customers can be harder than attracting new ones.

Think about ways you can retain customer loyalty and include them in your plan.

Dormant customers

These guys are often the customers who were attracted to your shiny new sign-up incentive or last flash sale and have become dormant. Most likely cruising around your competitors taking advantage of other deals. Or, they may have simply lost interest in your product or brand but haven’t unsubscribed. Work out what motivates these customers by trying out some new incentives or asking for feedback. You can include them in your marketing strategy and try to reignite their interest.

Customer lifetime value

Although metrics regarding overall revenue and uplift in comparison to a non-sale day are useful, it’s important brands also collate metrics that give some indication of longer-term sale success. For this, Shopify recommends that brands calculate Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV). 

CLTV = Customer value x Average customer lifespan

Which translates to:

Customer value = Average purchase value x Average number of purchases 

Source: Hubspot

Companies can then calculate the CLTV for customers acquired via a flash sale. 

Customer lifetime value = Single sale average x Average repeat transactions x Average retention period

Source: Shopify

By calculating the CLTV, brands can gauge the quality of their flash sale customers and use this knowledge to make improvements to sales and customer targeting in the future.

2. Select your target market

As is the case with any sales period, consumers can see a frenzy of messages. For a customer to make a purchase, you need to demonstrate the value of your service or product, while giving them a reason to select your brand over that of a competitor. 

As Greg Merell, Managing Partner of Simplistic states – “as a brand, your job is to know your customer, leverage that expertise to provide them with a great offer on something they want at a time that’s appropriate to them.”

Though a blanket discount may be tempting, by taking the time to consider the target market, businesses can create more targeted lists to ensure campaign messages are relevant and well-received. 


Use your customer knowledge to tailor your flash sale ads and make them more appealing to your audience. With SMS segmentation, you can ensure that no one receives texts they aren’t interested in. You will be less likely to lose customers if they feel that that favourite brand understands them and isn’t spamming them with irrelevant content.

You can also personalise your messages by adding the customer’s name at the start of the text. You can import data such as the customer’s date of birth and favourite products.

3. Choose the right time

When it comes to scheduling a flash sale, there’s no perfect time that reliably works for all retailers or indeed all subscribers. Instead, the schedule will be dependent on your business’s product and target customer. 

Before the flash sale launch, it’s worth trying to establish the days and times you receive the largest influx of sales and communication engagement. Use this data to guide your timing decisions. 

The same is also true when it comes to deciding how long your flash sale should run for. Data from Shopify shows that 77% of flash sales are one week or less and 26% are one day or less. So brands may find that shorter sales generate higher returns. 

For successful flash sales, getting the timing right to reach your subscribers is crucial. When are your customers most likely to have time to act on a marketing text? When might they need to be notified? For example, if you are aiming to sell to parents of small children, you might want to avoid the school run or bedtime. If you are hoping to appeal to an international market, you will need to schedule your messages to work around different time zones.

A good SMS marketing platform should be sophisticated enough to separate an audience into the appropriate time slots.

4. Be ready for the Flash Sale onslaught

If you are looking to boost sales temporarily and clear old stock, you can expect to see an increase in traffic to your online store. Some customers lay dormant and lurk in the shadows looking for a flash sale. Many other customers will pass the details of a flash sale on to friends and family when they get the heads up. The point is that your flash sale is likely to be one of your busiest times. It’s important to be ready for it.

Make sure that your website can cope with the increase in demand. Run tests in advance, and increase your tech support and customer services staff.

Before your flash sale, you could investigate using SMS for Customer support. Allow customers to get support needs met via text message.

5. Leverage multichannel communication

The most important part of any sale is communicating the various discounts or offers to consumers. A multichannel communication strategy is key for businesses wanting to make an impact and engage with their customers and leads. 

Whilst a flash sale email campaign has often been a popular choice for retailers. According to Statista, 9 out of 10 consumers prefer to communicate with businesses through text messages, and 75% of customers would like special offers sent to them through text messages. This proves that text messaging is currently the most valuable communication channel for brands. 

Email marketing has the benefit of being able to provide a lot of information on your sale, but it’s easy to ignore and gets lost in a sea of promotional activity. SMS is the perfect way to drive people to your store, or website, or even to check their email, to ensure you get their attention.

SMS marketing is an unsaturated resource, and the channel benefits from a 98% open rate, it helps businesses cut through the noise. If you’d like any help preparing your SMS campaigns ready for summer sales, or flash sales in the future, please contact one of our expert team at TextAnywhere.

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