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In two separate benchmark reports published at the end of March 2015, the top 20 online retailers from both countries were scored on their online promotion strategies and ranked accordingly.
Based on the findings of the report, competitions seem to be a good way to create social media engagement, and a general buzz around the brand, but they fall short of converting into actual sales. Interestingly, an earlier report found that 26% of UK consumers said that they prefer instant reward promotions to competitions.
This would suggest that online retailers in the Netherlands have a more varied approach to social media engagement when it comes to promotions. Interactive promotions and games were by no means top of the list for online retailers in social media. Coolblue was particularly creative on its Facebook page with an interactive promotion that asked its customers to make something out of its delivery boxes. To support the promotion, Coolblue shares this interactive promotion on all its other channels except email.
The actual game part of the promotion was positioned on Currys’ Pinterest channel, where customers had to create a board and pin various pieces of a puzzle.
These interactive promotions are clearly all about engagement and nurturing, and as such they are first class. In a previous study, 74% of UK consumers said that they want to receive promotions in the form of vouchers and coupons.
Out of the top 20 companies in both the UK and the Netherlands, only one company offered vouchers and coupons in its social media channels. The voucher was worth ?200, and the response to the promotion was impressive with over 100 shares on Facebook and nearly 2000 people claiming the voucher.

Well, it’s important to note that the reports focus on the promotions strategies of the online retailers.
Facebook is still the major social channel for virtually all the companies in the reports, and for the most part, they are using it extremely well for engagement. It is clear, that a large part of their success comes from their activities in social media.
Instant reward promotions can drive sales by rewarding participants with gift vouchers that are only redeemable in their respective online store. All of the top 20 online retailers were active in social media, but only half of them ran competitions during the study. However, two of the top five Dutch online retailers (Blokker and Coolblue) were running ongoing interactive promotions on their Facebook pages. Currys PC World was ranked number one in the top 20 online retailers, and judging by its activity in social media, it is clear why. The promotion demanded quite a bit of effort from the customer, but it cleverly directed them from one Currys social media channel to another, as well as a visit to their website.
The Currys promotion also entices new customers by rewarding participants with a bundle of tech goods from their product range. A third of UK consumers said that they wanted to receive offers in social media, but the major online retailers are evidently not taking this into consideration in their promotions strategies. Naturally, online retailers are doing lots of other things in social media other than offering promotions, and that’s the way it should be.
A good mixture of entertainment, information, and promotions is key for success in social media, and most of the top online retailers in both the UK and the Netherlands appear to be following that formula.

How much companies want to push promotions on their social channels is ultimately for them to decide themselves.
The full reports contain much more insight into the broader promotions strategies of the top 20 UK online retailers and the top 20 Dutch online retailers. Despite this discrepancy, the Dutch scored higher on average for their promotions strategy in social media. In the best case scenario, Coolblue’s hands-on interactive promotions strategy can even create brand ambassadors.
Facebook pages would rapidly lose their appeal if they were simply filled with promotion after promotion. That said, it is clear from the reports that some companies could benefit from increasing promotions and offers in their social channels. There is undoubtedly space for these kinds of activities, and Facebook lends itself well to various types of promotions. Online retailers in the Netherlands would also be well advised to revisit their promotions strategies in social media. Customer engagement in social media is one thing, but in the retail sector in particular, it’s sales that count.

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