Stacey Riska

Groupon Marketing As An “Experience” Not A Commodity

by Stacey Riska on July 5, 2017 No comments

Before you click off this post, PLEASE STOP, read and learn – because knowing how to run a daily deal on a site like Groupon the right way can bring in new customers, clients and patients you’d never be able to reach on your own, and can put more money in your pocket.

There’s a stigma out there – perhaps you’ve heard it, perhaps you’ve even said it: “Don’t do a Groupon. It doesn’t work. You’ll lose money.”

I “get” it because that’s what I heard, too, when I was looking for a strategy that could bring in customers now and give me cash fast. You see, just a few years ago, I was $500K in debt, and I didn’t know where my next customer was coming from. It’s a story I share here if you want to know more about how I took my struggling coffee and smoothie business that was $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business.

The reason there’s so much negativity out there about running daily deals is because small business owners are running deals that are “a piece of pizza.”

What do I mean by that?

A piece of pizza is just a piece of pizza right? Sure, Joe’s pizza may have more toppings, and Franco’s pizza may have a thicker crust, but it’s still just a piece of pizza. It’s a commodity — anyone can get it anywhere, and most people will just look for the cheapest price (with some minimum level of quality, of course!).

And that’s why so many businesses fail when running a daily deal on a site like Groupon. I’ve seen it before, dozens of times: “Get $20 of pizza for $10” deals. It’s a race to the bottom. All that is going to do is bring the bargain shoppers, who likely won’t return, because “a piece of pizza is just a piece of pizza.” They can get it anywhere, and they’re just going to be looking for the next deal.

But what if that same pizza shop were to create an experience with their pizza deal? Here’s how that pizza shop could create not one but two different experience packages for something as simple as “pizza”:


  • Valet parking
  • Bottle of wine with meal
  • Special menu with “romantic names”
  • Chef writes your name or makes a heart of toppings
  • Candles on the table
  • Live/romantic music
  • Take their picture


  • Play DC/pick the music
  • Toss your own dough
  • Put on your own toppings
  • Name your pizza
  • Have your picture taken and posted and shared
  • Unlimited (non-alcoholic) beverages

Since these packages offer more than “just a slice,” they also warrant a premium price – and people will pay it because it’s an experience that they’ll go and brag to their friends about and post all over social media. This is the kind of attention that can bring you more new customers.

This is what I did in my coffee and smoothie business. Instead of offering a “smoothie” say for “$20 for $10 deal,” I offered “The Ultimate Hawaiian Getaway Without A 12-Hour Flight” — catering packages starting at $575 where a professional “tikitender” will come out and setup an authentic tiki bar and serve gourmet all-natural fresh fruit smoothies topped off with a Hawaiian parasol. A real “vacation in a cup!”

Which would you rather have? The smoothie or the vacation in a cup? Yeah, same with the other people who bought my Groupon deal.

Transforming a commodity into an experience completely took the bargain shoppers out of the equation. Price didn’t matter – people wanted this package. Because I was not offering higher priced packages, I made money on every deal sold — and, because they had to contact me to reserve their event, I was able to (1) get their contact information right then and there to build my list, and (2) offer upgrades such as alcohol service, additional hours, decorations and more – extremely profitable that were outside of the Groupon deal and went straight to my bottom line.

Whether you run a daily deal or not, the lesson to be learned is: Don’t be a “slice of pizza.” Be a “pizza” experience

NOTE: Learning how to run a daily deal the right way can transform your business as it did mine. Check out the Daily Deals for Massive Profits Training Program and skyrocket your business growth. Click the image below to learn more. You’ll be glad you did.
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About Stacey Riska

Stacey Riska, aka “Small Business Stacey” is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about helping small and local business owners get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients, MORE sales, and MORE money. She transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business by using daily deal marketing. Now she teaches others how to skyrocket their business growth and get massive profits. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn’t!) and spending time with her amazing husband.


Stacey RiskaGroupon Marketing As An “Experience” Not A Commodity

How A Musician Increased Sales by 322% Using Scarcity Marketing

by Stacey Riska on March 7, 2017 No comments

Musicians love their music. Marketing not so much.

Reprinted here from CXL, Marcus Taylor shares how he used the pricing strategy of scarcity to dramatically increase his sales by 322%.

(Note: The deal discussed below was not run on Groupon, but the pricing strategies and the marketing of the deal are a great example of how you can run a “Groupon-like deal” yourself if you wanted to. I find most small business owners don’t have the time and/or expertise to implement all of the marketing strategies noted below. That’s why learning how to use Groupon marketing the right way is a much better approach and will bring faster results.)

In 2012, I launched a kind of ‘Groupon deal for musicians’, where I gave away $1,250 worth of products, including recording time, iTunes distribution, and a guitar string endorsement deal for just $69 for 100 hours only. There were only 5,000 packages available.

I had invested a lot into this campaign. Not only had I spent four months putting the campaign together, but I had also put a significant amount of my personal savings into ensuring that this campaign was everywhere during those 100 hours.

The Musician's Guide Homepage

All this to say, there was a lot on the line. It had to work.

Because there was so much on the line, and I knew this would be exposed to millions, I obsessed over conversion rate. A mere 1% increase in conversion rate could have been the difference between a huge loss and a decent profit.

In the end, my obsession over the conversion rate paid off – I managed to increase my conversion rate from 2.5% to 10.8%.

While there were a range of factors that influenced this increase, the single largest factor was increasing the amount of scarcity and urgency.

How I Increased Sales By 332% Using Scarcity & Urgency

Early in my digital marketing career I came across this model, which has provided the basis for virtually every conversion rate optimisation change i’ve made ever since.

The Lift Model By Wider Funnel

image source

In essence, it suggests that if you want to increase the likelihood of any desired action, be it an increase in conversions, click throughs, or email engagement, you have six choices:

  • Increase the clarity of your offer
  • Increase the relevancy of your offer to your audience (or vise versa)
  • Improve your value proposition
  • Reduce anxiety (phrased differently, increase trust)
  • Reduce distractions
  • Add urgency to your offer

Let me go through each of these in the context of this specific deal, as they’re all important precursors for urgency to be an effective tactic.

1. Clarity

For this deal, I improved the clarity of the offer by posting a mock version of the deal in music forums ahead of the 100 hour campaign to collect feedback.

I also used ConceptFeedback and communities like Dribbble to improve the visual design.

Concept Feedback

I managed to iron out lots of communication issues that were limiting conversions, such as offering a ‘pack of music contracts’ in the deal.

Some musicians thought this meant they were buying pre-signed contracts with record labels. In actual fact, they were just getting a compilation of music contract templates.

2. Relevancy

When it comes to improving relevancy, you can:

A.) tailor your offer to your audience or…

B.) tailor your audience to your offer.

I opted for the latter approach.

Prior to launch, I “tested” hundreds of traffic sources, from Reddit Ads, to specific music forums. I wanted to know was which traffic sources I need to prioritise during the real campaign.

I ended up with a custom Google Analytics dashboard like this, which made it clear which traffic sources delivered the most relevant traffic.

Highest Converting Traffic Sources

Not only did I know where my customers would come from ahead of time, but I knew more about my audience, such as how guitarists were almost three times more likely to buy than drummers, and that my conversion rate was highest in the UK and Australia.

3. Value Proposition

Common sense suggests that the best way to improve your value proposition is to add more. I already had over $1,250 worth of products and services, which I was offering for $69. Why not add more to the package?

Adding more to the package actually reduced my conversion rate.

Anyone who’s done their fair share of A/B testing knows that paradoxes pop up everywhere, and as G. K. Chesterton said,

“a paradox is just a truth standing on its head to gain our attention”.

So what happened? While I had increased the value of the offer, I’d also increased the amount of associated effort each customer would have to put in to extract that value.

Giving away 1,000 books isn’t much better than giving away 50. While there is technically 20x as much value on the table, the amount of effort involved in reading and storing 1,000 books is ludicrous and not very helpful.

Lesson learned – value isn’t always created by adding more. Quite often, less is more.

4. Reduce Anxiety

Have you ever gone to buy something, only to feel that something isn’t right? That’s buyer’s anxiety.

Anxiety is the uneasiness we feel when there’s a disconnect between what our logical and emotional brain are telling us. More often than not, it has something to do with trust.

In the context of online sales, it could be when you buy an item on a website that isn’t secure, doesn’t offer modern payment processing, or has a dated design.


image source

For this deal, I eliminated as much risk as possible by offering a 30-day money back guarantee, and adding every question asked through our live chat onto the FAQ section.


If there is one person willing to ask the question, there are probably 100 others wondering it but not asking.

5. Reduce Distraction

Removing distractions is a controversial aspect of conversion rate optimisation. Some experts advise removing every internal and external link except your CTA to make it as difficult as possible for viewers not to convert.

I fall into a different category that believes it’s better to find a balance between a nice user experience, and a high-converting design with as few distractions as possible.

streamlined navigation

In this specific deal, there was no navigation, no ads, and no internal links. There were only options for viewers to contact us, read an FAQ page, or get further product details. The user experience didn’t feel like a squeeze page, yet it didn’t have any distractions at all.

6. Increase Urgency

There’s a reason why urgency is last in this list. That’s because all of the points above are important precursors to urgency being effective.

Adding urgency doesn’t work if your offer is full of distractions, or if your value proposition is crap. It won’t work if your offer’s irrelevant to your audience, or if your audience doesn’t trust you.

Urgency is a strong catalyst, but it doesn’t stand up very well on its own. After doing everything mentioned above, here’s how urgency skyrocketed the deal’s conversion rate.

Below are two variations that I A/B tested on the offer’s landing page. As you’ll notice, the only difference is that one communicates urgency and how many packages have been bought, where the other does not.

Variation A:

Test Without Urgency

Variation B:

Test With Urgency

This is one of the most impactful A/B test i’ve ever run. The conversion rate of variation B was almost 3x that of variation A.

Here’s what happened to our conversion rate as we gradually rolled out variation B to all users. Our conversion rate went from ~3.5% to ~10%.

Conversion Jump

Since running this campaign two years ago, i’ve become fascinated by the power of urgency, and have found ways to utilise its power in many aspects of my strategy.

Below are some of the most practical ways that you can use urgency to boost your blog traffic, online sales, and engagement.

Blending Real & Implied Urgency Into Your Strategy

Broadly speaking there are two types of urgency; real and implied. An example of real urgency is when an offer expires in 24 hours, after which point it will never exist again.

Real Urgency

Implied urgency is when you use words like ‘now’ and ‘today’ to nudge readers to take action. There is no real urgency, but we’re suggesting that there’s a need to act now.

implied urgency

Real urgency is generally more effective than implied urgency, but it’s hard to authentically implement real urgency into everything you do. Where real urgency doesn’t make sense, you can make use of implied urgency.

#1 Implying Urgency In Your Headlines

About five years ago, the head of PPC at an agency I used to work with challenged me to write an AdWords ad headline with a high click-through rate than his. Despite being a total amateur, I beat him.

How? I copied his headline and changed the word ‘today’ to ‘now’.

Since that fluke victory, I’ve repeated this implied urgency experiment dozens of times, thanks to a handy WordPress title A/B testing plugin. The results show a predictable pattern.

Headline Testing

As you can see, the ‘control’ headline with no urgency has a click-through rate of 0.77%.

Adding the word ‘today’ at the end of the headline increases the CTR to 3.94. Unsurprisingly, reducing the urgency of this word to ‘this week’ or ‘this month’ reduces the CTR. But strangely, increasing urgency in this case also reduces the CTR. What gives?

It turns out, that the right amount of urgency depends on the context. Very few people want to reduce their bounce rate right now – but they would rather do it today than next week.

However, when it comes to something a bit more emotionally provocative, such as this post onhow to start a blog that attracts 100,000’s of readers, suddenly people would rather know how to do it now, rather than later.

How To Start A Blog That Gets 100,000 readers

I’d love to give you a rule for using ‘now’ vs ‘today’, but the reality is that it’s extremely dependent on the context. In hindsight, common sense usually prevails, but they key word in that sentence is usually i.e. not always.

If you use WordPress, I’d recommend installing this title split testing plugin, which will let science determine the best option for you. The flip side of using this plugin is that it’s also great for teaching you how to write clickable headlines, as you get hard feedback on which headlines are performing the best.

#2 Implying Urgency In Your Call To Actions

One of the most obvious places to add implied urgency is in our call-to-actions (CTAs). While headlines can of course be CTAs, i’m really referring to transaction based CTAs, such as ‘buy it now’ buttons.

I recently ran an experiment on, a music contract site that I run as a side project. I wanted to see the difference in conversion rate between CTAs that implied urgency vs. those without.

In the control variation the call to action said ‘download this contract’, in the variation it said ‘download this contract now’ and had a limited offer sign with a countdown timer next to it. The result? A 147% increase in conversions, all thanks to a bit of extra urgency.

Urgency Testing

#3 Adding Stock Urgency

One of the most powerful ways to add real urgency to your landing pages is to advise visitors that if they don’t act soon, they might miss out. There are two ways to do this: through stock urgency, and through time-based urgency.

Hotel comparison websites do a great job of adding real stock urgency. The screenshot below shows three instances of stock urgency suggesting that this hotel room won’t be available for long due to the popularity and limited stock.

Stock Urgency


#4 Adding time-countdown urgency

If you’ve ever played a time sensitive game, you’ll be familiar with the effects of a ticking clock. Having a limited amount of time to do something forces us to take action.

Groupon, Expedia, and TicketMaster all use this technique to drive up their conversions. Below is a screenshot from Expedia showing how they use time-sensitivity and countdown timers to increase urgency.

Time Countdown Urgency

#5 Implying urgency using colour

In most Western countries, we’re conditioned from a young age to believe that the colour red implies urgency. When shops have flash sales, they often paint the word sale in red. The most urgent and important driving signs are often the colour red.

In the case study mentioned above, I experimented with showing the current stock and time remaining in three colours – green, orange, and red. Unsurprisingly, the colour red had the highest conversion rate.

Colour is just another tool in our arsenal to imply the need to pay attention and act quickly.


There are very few instances where a small dose of real or implied urgency won’t increase your likelihood to get what you want. That said, like all things that provide us with great power, it’s important not to abuse it.

The next time you go to write an email subject line, a landing page, or a PPC advert, consider what you might be able to do to add a bit of scarcity or urgency to what you’re offering.

NOTE: It is a lot of work to implement all of the strategies noted above. Most small business owners don’t have the time and/or expertise to do it. Learning how to run a daily deal the right way can transform your business as it did mine. Scarcity is a topic I cover in-depth in the Daily Deals for Massive Profits Training Program. Click the image below to learn more. You’ll be glad you did.
DD Ad1




About Stacey Riska

Stacey Riska, aka “Small Business Stacey” is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about helping small and local business owners get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients, MORE sales, and MORE money. She transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business by using daily deal marketing. Now she teaches others how to skyrocket their business growth and get massive profits. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn’t!) and spending time with her amazing husband.


Stacey RiskaHow A Musician Increased Sales by 322% Using Scarcity Marketing

Loyalty Marketing Ideas for Fitness Centers & Gyms

by Stacey Riska on February 28, 2017 No comments

You’ve worked hard to get that new member to your fitness center or gym. That’s just the beginning of your marketing workout. The real payoff is in keeping that new member active and engaged.

If you neglect your loyalty marketing and gym member retention efforts, you’re probably losing valuable business from those potential repeat customers. For example, the customer who has a gym membership but never uses it won’t be buying drinks at your juice bar or training sessions with your personal trainers.

Many fitness businesses make the mistake of focusing all of their marketing efforts on bringing in new customers without thinking about loyalty marketing and gym member retention strategies. Repeat customers can be an important part of a business’s revenue and shouldn’t be left out of your marketing plan. Fitness loyalty marketing is a great way to keep customers coming back and it is easy to find a loyalty program that fits in with your business.

Here are some loyalty marketing ideas and gym member retention strategies that you can implement to keep your customers coming back:

Points for Frequent Customers

A points-based loyalty program is probably what most people think of when they think of loyalty marketing. This is a buy-two-get-one-free incentive. Customize the program for your business and what you most want your customers to purchase. If you’re a personal trainer, you could offer a free hour of training after a certain number of paid hours. If you own a fitness studio, offering a free class or free private session after a certain number of paid classes will keep members coming back for more.

Tiered Loyalty Rewards

Keep your customers engaged with your loyalty program by offering different rewards for different levels of participation. The first tier might be one free group class for every five personal training sessions purchased within a month. The second tier might be one free personal training session after five sessions were purchased in two consecutive months. A third tier could be a month of free personal training if five sessions are purchased each month for a full year. By ramping up the rewards for repeat purchases, you’ll get your customers into the habit of using your business on a regular basis.

Groupon For Small Business

Incentives for New Business

Make your loyalty marketing do double-duty. Offer your current customers an incentive for referring new customers. The incentive could be points based — bring in five new customers, get one month free. Alternatively, the incentive could be tiered. For example, if a customer refers five new customers, they get one free class. If they refer ten new customers, they get one free personal training session. Ultimately, if they refer twenty-five new customers, they get one month free.

Make it a Game

Channel your customers’ competitive spirits with a friendly game that pits them against one another. Keep it simple and offer a reward for the member who uses your facility the most in one month. Make the challenge more involved by assigning points to different services that you offer and providing a reward to the customer who gains the most points.

Focusing only on new memberships puts your business at a disadvantage by leaving a portion of the customers’ lifetime value on the table. Try these loyalty marketing ideas and gym member retention strategies to get more value on top of every membership you sell. And don’t forget to let me know how they work for you in the comments below!

NOTE: If you want to know all of the secrets to doing a daily deal the right way – the secrets that took my business from $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business then check out the Daily Deals for Massive Profits Training Program:

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About Stacey Riska

Stacey Riska, aka “Small Business Stacey” is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about helping small and local business owners get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients, MORE sales, and MORE money. She transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business by using daily deal marketing. Now she teaches others how to skyrocket their business growth and get massive profits. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn’t!) and spending time with her amazing husband.


Stacey RiskaLoyalty Marketing Ideas for Fitness Centers & Gyms