For years, Costco has made an art out of the Treasure Hunt with up to 20% of its total stock being items of strictly limited quantity which may only be present in the store for a week. Some of the merchandise may be seasonal, but others may be trendy or outright surprising, such as products that are traditionally sold by much more up-market retailers.
This strategy has shown time and again that customers love the chase and will hunt out special items, even if they’re not certain they need them. Taking advantage of these unexpected offers can nudge consumers into making an impulse buy, and it is a shrewd tactic which can readily be leveraged by email marketers.
Your customers will never know what they’ll find next
When customers stroll through Costco they can wander into a section beside the stacked pallets of ketchup and toilet paper where they never really know what they’ll find, and this model can readily be implemented into the offerings of any online marketer. Setting up a Treasure Hunt section where you sell products that would not be ordinarily associated with your company can spark additional engagement by your email newsletter subscribers which can translate into sales.
If you sell shoes, consider stocking your Treasure Hunt section with consumer electronics, toys, or even craft supplies. Similarly, the Treasure Hunt section of an electronics etailer could feature fashion accessories, baseball cards, or jewelry! The most effective Treasure Hunt sections are those that have a bit of this and a bit of that, so don’t make your automotive parts website’s special offerings be nothing but surfboards and throw in some DVDs, teddy bears, and Stetsons!
Turn access into a game
The online Treasure Hunt can be turned into a game in order to engage your customers even further. Set up a trivia question in your email newsletter relevant to your brand which the subscriber has to answer correctly in order to gain access to the Treasure Hunt section, and your customer will be motivated by both the expectation and adventure of the offer!
Take this down several levels to unlock even more goodies by passing a skill test or even a short game such as shooting for a target. Make sure that these unlocking activities are very simple, since you don’t want to start pitching questions straight out of Final Jeopardy to your subscribers so that they need a Ph.D. to unlock your Treasures!
Endless merchandise sources
There is no end to how and where you can source these products. First of all keep in mind that the best Treasure Hunt is one that gets updated at least once a week so you likely won’t be bringing in entire 40 foot FCLs full of any one particular product. Depending on what you’re offering and the size of your business, you might be able to get away with a couple of dozen of each item.
There are many sites such as liquidation.com which allow you to buy a bit of this and a bit of that at deeply discounted prices to stock your Treasure Hunt. If you want to save yourself the hassle of stocking and shipping lawnmowers through your warehouse set up only to handle smartphones, seek out suppliers that will drop-ship under your company name.
Change up the pricing range
Just like you’re surprising your customers with different types of merchandise, keep on surprising them with changing up your price ranges. If you’re selling Rolexes, offer $10 toasters; and if your company is based on basic kitchen equipment, include a $4,000 genuine Chanel Black Leather Handbag in your Treasure Hunt!
Just in case your customers opt not to shell out the money for that item, make sure that you have a good return policy from your supplier, flog it on eBay, or use it as an email opt-in subscription sweepstakes grand prize!
A Treasure Hunt can not only trigger renewed interest in your email newsletters as subscribers await what wild and crazy offers you’ll pull out of your hat next, but can also have a considerable bottom line impact through increased sales. Like everything else in email marketing, it works best when it’s a win-win!
Denise Keller is COO and founding partner of Benchmark Email, one of the world's leading email marketing services for small businesses. Read more about Denise here.