September 11, 2020

6 Knockout Holiday Marketing Ideas to Charm Your Customers & Increase Sales

Reading time about 10 min

With the holiday season around the corner, your cry of ‘I’m a total mess’ is understandable. But fret not, by implementing our curated list of holiday marketing ideas you can close yet another year with a big bang. 🔥 

Now before we get to that it’s important to note that despite the pandemic situation the online shopping trend is here to stay. Shopify noticed a 71% increase in stores created on their platform in Q2 2020 compared to Q1 2020. In fact, with the uncertainty around the COVID-19 vaccine and the looming fear of the second wave, Cyber Weekend 2020 is set to be the biggest ever in the ecommerce history. 

For you then, the real challenge is to charm a mix of traditional and online shoppers. On top of it, there’s an additional hurdle of differentiating your brand in a pool of old and new players who are ready to claim their share. 

But like we said, we’ve got your back. Use these holiday marketing strategies to boost your sales and profitability.

Holiday Marketing Ideas to Get Better at the Ecommerce Game

…and spread the festive cheer. 🎉

Go green for eco-minded customers

Holidays are synonymous with wasteful consumerism. Stanford University stated that Americans throw out 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. 

But people have begun to take note of how to reduce the impact on the environment and become conscious shoppers. In fact, this shift in their shopping behavior is often reported in news and media, forcing several brands to change their ways. 

That being said, you don’t have to flip the switch overnight. Look at your audience psychographics, competitors, and also if it’s economically viable. If it all points to the urgent need to take some green initiatives, so be it. 

To get started, here’s what to do: 

  • Reduce packaging waste by opting for boxes that fit your products. Better still, use eco-friendly packaging that’s 100% recyclable or reusable to make for a memorable unboxing experience. 

    Slopes and Town, a Dutch brand, uses packaging boxes that are reusable and fully recyclable, making climate champions happy for having chosen them.
Example of eco-friendly packaging by the brand Slopes and Town

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  • Encourage customers to get items delivered to their neighbors’ homes, parcel shops, or depots, in case they know they won’t be home. This step eliminates repeat delivery attempts that also infamously adds to the carbon footprint. 
  • Let customers buy online and pick up in-store. It’s convenient and time-saving. Perhaps let them choose different stores to pick items in their order. 

Collaborate with influencers

The holiday season is the best time to partner with influencers that have an established and engaged community. Data shows that 8 out of 10 consumers made a purchase after it was recommended by an influencer. This explains why for every $1 you spend on influencer marketing, you can expect an average of $18 of ROI

The best part yet? You’ll continue to reap benefits beyond holidays. Ready to take the leap? Here’s what you’ll need to keep in mind while shortlisting and working with an influencer: 

  • They must have the knowledge and show real enthusiasm for the product, brand, or the industry. 
  • Their ethics and audience should overlap with your brand’s.
  • Engagement > Followers. But don’t look at likes alone. Notice if they engage with comments on their posts and other metrics such as post shares and saves.
  • Analyze the performance of their past sponsored posts.
  • Verify that they haven’t landed themselves in controversy or aren’t simultaneously partnering with your competitor.
  • They must stick to the holiday theme and show exactly why your products should top their followers’ holiday gift lists. Hint: emotional marketing

Arielle partnered with Children’s Place and whipped a conversation-starter post that evoked nostalgia—a feeling that reduces people’s resistance to spending money.

Instagram post by influencer Arielle in partnership with Children's Place for their holiday marketing

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Run contests on social media

One of the reasons people participate in contests is to satisfy their need to win. Surely, leveraging this marketing idea—when people are also looking to save money—can turn out to be a fantastic customer acquisition strategy. Guaranteed people will come in droves, building excitement around your brand.

But first, be clear on your goals. Want brand awareness and engagement? To increase your follower count? Or is this an email list-building exercise? 

Then make sure the contest prize is both relevant and valuable as this will get your target audience excited about participating and winning. Plus, you’ll receive quality entries from those who are likely to interact with your brand once the contest is over. 

For the bootstrapped brands, Starbucks’ #GiveGood campaign is an excellent example of how you can win hearts without any giveaways. Like them, ask for submissions tagged with your branded hashtag and feature best entries on your social media and ads. 

Instagram post by Starbucks for their  holiday marketing campaign idea using a social media contest

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Most of all, be thorough with competition guidelines of various social platforms and advertise about the contest on your website, through email, and on social media. Maybe even run paid ads. Finally, don’t forget to measure the outcome against the chosen metrics

Further reading: How to make sure your giveaways are GDPR-compliant

Take it a notch up with gamification

Gamification instantly boosts customer engagement for it applies game elements, such as points/levels, challenges, incentives, leaderboards, and badges. 

Then there’s a social element attached to it. With every level unlocked or badge acquired, players can’t help but boast about it on social media for peer appreciation and affirmation

Data backs this up: Gamification can grow online customer activity by an average of 68%, and social sharing by 22%.

So play on the ‘achievement’ aspect as it’ll motivate your audience to come back and keep playing. At the same time, don’t make it too difficult that it makes them anxious or too easy that they lose interest.

Graph showing how game difficulty can impact anxiety

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To make holiday gifting less stressful for family members and wishlisting for kids more fun, retail giant Target developed an immersive 3D gaming app. 

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The launch generated 75,000 app downloads. And within six weeks, over 100,000 wish lists were created with nearly 1.7 million items added to them, hinting at a total sales potential of $92.3 million. Wow, right?

Looking for inspiration? Run a holiday-themed interactive quiz, all the time making sure you highlight the coveted prize they’re competing for. Or, hand out loyalty points like Italian luxury brand, LuisaViaRoma did during Christmas. 

Screenshot of LuisaViaRoma's gamified holiday marketing campaign

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Run targeted email remarketing campaigns

Whether it’s their indecisiveness or other factors that prevent them from buying, on average 69.57% of shoppers abandon carts. Expect the same during holidays when shoppers become serial cart abandoners because they’re on the lookout for perfect, but heavily discounted gifts. Yeah, that’s how it is. 

And, like you would during the rest of the year, leverage email retargeting campaigns this holiday season. These abandoned cart recovery best practices will give you a great start: 

  • Show up in their inbox within an hour of them abandoning the cart as then your brand’s recall value is high. 
  • Don’t lure or deceive shoppers with false urgency.
  • Add the direct link to the cart. 
  • Show items left in cart in the email and add inventory information to persuade them to buy while stock lasts. 
  • Slide in customer reviews to make decision-making easy and quick. 

For more, head to our guide to setting up abandoned cart emails to learn how you can recover lost sales.

Moving on, apart from retargeting cart abandoners, think of those who’ve shown active interest and keep coming back to you, including the existing customers. 

Superdry’s retargeting email is a good example of using urgency to re-engage hesitant shoppers without triggering any discomfort. Yes, they did have a free 3-day shipping offer on their website earlier, but the finality in the tone of their limited-time free shipping extension is what made me pay attention. 

Example holiday marketing retargeting campaign from Superdrug

Again, like some brands, curate a personalized gift list based on browsing history to increase the average order value. Here’s another of Superdry’s campaigns that had relevant product recommendations, but it’s their gift guide at special prices for last-minute shoppers—like me—that stole the show.

Example holiday marketing using discounted gift guide from Superdrug

Now since we’re talking email remarketing, why not create a Sendinblue account and start planning your email remarketing campaigns straightaway.

Further reading: 5 Holiday Email Marketing Strategies to Increase Engagement

Have a mobile-optimized website

Despite mobile ecommerce conversions being lower than desktop, mobile traffic now accounts for 52.6% of global web traffic

For perspective, last holiday season witnessed a 14% YOY jump in smartphone share of visits. And would you believe 64.29 billion came from mobile shoppers.

Slide showing statistics about smartphone use during the 2019 holiday season

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For a kickstart, go through Google’s guide on mobile app design and learn how to tackle the psychological and physical discomforts of shopping on mobile. The insights are organized into six categories: navigation and exploration, search, commerce and conversions, registration, form entry, and usability and comprehension.

TL;DR? Here goes the gist:

Checklist for the principles of mobile app design, by Google

Now run with these holiday marketing ideas

…but don’t forget to think long-term and charm your customers at every stage of their journey, for it is then that they’ll become fond of you and buy from you even in the off-season. 

Ready to get started? Check out our holiday marketing guide for advice on planning and executing this year’s campaign.

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