Over the last few weeks, we’ve published a multi-part blog series with eCommerce holiday marketing tips and strategies. This is the final entry in that series — but, if you want more guidance, you can always request a free proposal from our digital marketing strategists anytime.
For most, the holiday season is the time to unwind and celebrate. For online retailers, it presents an opportunity to conquer the market, skyrocket sales, and cultivate brand loyalty through streamlined marketing.
With key days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday only a few months away, now’s the time to gear up and get a head start.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 insider tips to help you create a solid marketing strategy that will boost your eCommerce sales this holiday season.
Check out the complete guide or feel free to jump to a specific holiday marketing idea below:
Need help building an end-to-end marketing plan for the holidays? Get in touch with our team for a free personalized proposal today.
10 Holiday eCommerce Marketing Strategies for Your Best Year Yet
Holiday shoppers tend to let themselves loose during this time of year, due to everything from the fear of missing out on deals to last-minute gift-giving for loved ones.
So, when you’re a retailer, it can be tempting to forgo a game plan and just jump in head-first with discounts and special offers. This is a huge mistake.
Instead, you need to take a calculated, data-driven approach to reap the benefits and stay ahead of the competition during the busiest time of the year.
Over the years, we’ve helped countless businesses scale their revenue during the holidays with our eCommerce digital marketing services. We’ve packed everything we’ve learned along the way into the following eCommerce holiday marketing tips:
1. Create a team-wide holiday marketing plan.
Before implementing an eCommerce marketing strategy for the holiday season, get your ducks in a row. You’ll have trouble executing without a thorough plan that lays out all of your marketing efforts and tracks your progress.
Your plan should include:
- An eCommerce holiday marketing calendar, with realistic timelines for executing your initiatives
- The budget you plan to allocate across your teams, based on their goals
- A list of metrics to track the progress of your marketing efforts
- The frequency of evaluating performance data during this season
When you create this plan ahead of time, it will be much easier to set attainable goals, make the most out of your budget, and stay on top of everything.
2. Look at several years of holiday data, not just 2020.
Last year’s holiday shopping season was (to put it mildly) abnormal.
And, while 2021 is expected to be similar in many ways, you can’t rely on mere assumptions and go in blind. Instead, you need to take an informed, data-driven approach when marketing for the holidays.
To gather the necessary historical data, we recommend going back several years — not just to 2020.
Your previous marketing performance data will help inform your strategies and decisions for this year by revealing:
- How your customers could behave in the months to come
- Which popular seasonal keywords to target in your holiday PPC ads strategy
- Which products to prioritize at different times of the year
- Which marketing channels (search, social, email, etc.) to go all-in on
- What selling tactics (urgency, fear, social proof, etc.) to use
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
You should also re-familiarize yourself with a few core metrics from the past that will reveal insights about customer behavior, winning strategies, and products:
- On-Site Search Terms: These are the terms customers search in your website’s native search feature. (You can get this data from your web analytics platform.) Identify how these searches change throughout the year to better plan your holiday promotions.
- Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate: The percentage of checkouts that aren’t completed can help determine the reasons user sessions result in cart abandonment.
- Customer Acquisition Cost: Divide the total marketing and sales cost with the total number of conversions you got in a given time period. Is this year’s budget using the same CAC? If not, revisit your holiday financial strategy.
Use all of these data points to your advantage for a fully informed approach this season.
3. Make sure your marketing teams are aligned and supporting each other’s efforts.
Whether you have a small or large marketing team, and whether they’re outsourced, in-house, or both, you need to make sure they’re all on the same page. Between SEO, social, PPC, email, and content marketing experts, there’s a lot that goes on.
Because every team has its own goals, plans, and KPIs, it’s easy to work in disconnected silos. Before you know it, your customers will start feeling that poor synergy in your marketing collateral.
For that reason, it’s crucial to align all of your marketing teams on your plans and the bigger picture. Make sure that their efforts support each other and the overarching marketing strategy. They shouldn’t compete with or contradict one another.
It’s best to keep all of your marketers in the loop when it comes to:
- Timelines for marketing initiatives
- Discounts to be offered throughout the year
- The creative angles and messaging for your holiday marketing campaigns
That way, all of your marketing collateral will match, resulting in a consistent experience across all touchpoints.
4. Market to your early-bird shoppers.
Your customers are shopping earlier than ever, and the holiday marketing season continues to get longer. Some even consider Prime Day the start of the shopping season!
In fact, according to Statista, the majority of people in the US begin their holiday shopping before the end of October.
There’s no reason to wait until November or December to initiate your holiday marketing campaigns. Instead, create a plan to target and capture customers with early-bird campaigns that run throughout September and October.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Work out the financials and determine the discounts you want to offer.
- Start promoting early-bird discounts across all channels, including email, social media, search engine ads, and your eCommerce store website.
- Offer giveaways to loyal customers who help promote your early-bird discounts on social media.
- Evaluate the results, and optimize your offerings and creatives for the rest of the holiday season.
Keep in mind that the marketing creative and copy during this time should be different from standard eCommerce holiday marketing campaigns. We recommend brainstorming ideas and testing them out before launching anything official.
5. Make a plan for out-of-stock products.
COVID-19 has disrupted shipping lines and supply chains all over the world. As an online retailer, you need to be prepared for your best-selling products to go out of stock before the busiest part of the holiday shopping season.
How? By taking measures to provide a positive shopping experience to your customers and prevent them from turning to your competitors when they can’t find what they want.
Here are a few tips for handling stock-outs during the holiday shopping season:
- Look at past data to anticipate which products are likely to go out of stock (and when). Adjust your promotional efforts accordingly. For example, use urgency to promote products that usually sell out before peak holiday sales season.
- Make a detailed SEO plan for out-of-stock products. Provide the option to pre-order, internally link to alternatives, and use out-of-stock labels in your online store.
- Notify your customers through email marketing and in-app notifications when a specific product they previously tried to purchase is back in stock.
Don’t forget to enable your customer service teams by keeping them in the loop about your plans. After all, they’re the ones who will deal with the questions and concerns of frustrated holiday shoppers.
6. Incorporate unconventional holidays (when it makes sense).
When we talk about holidays, we usually think of days like Halloween, Black Friday, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.
To really skyrocket your sales, consider marketing for other unconventional holidays that fall outside of the traditional season (November–December), but still resonate with your brand image.
Some examples include:
- National Ice Cream Day (every third Sunday of July)
- Earth Day (April 22)
- Teacher’s Week (May 3–7)
- Chinese New Year (second new moon after Dec. 21)
- National Dress Day (March 6)
If you already haven’t, create an internal calendar and mark the holidays that your customer base might care about.
P.S. Bookmark and keep this holiday calendar handy.
7. Design visually compelling creative.
Discount codes and special offers, while important, won’t boost sales during the holiday season on their own. But, when paired with visually compelling marketing collateral, they can certainly drive people in droves to your online store.
Here are some practical tips to design visually appealing marketing collateral at scale and get results:
- If you already haven’t, solidify branding guidelines for your eCommerce business and share them with your design teams.
- Plan and design a variety of visually pleasing content — images, banners, and videos — for your social media holiday ads, email campaigns, app, and landing pages in advance. You can then use them throughout the holiday season.
- Prevent customer fatigue by consistently delivering fresh creative. The last thing you want is for your buyers to hide/report your ads or leave your email subscriber list.
- Experiment with other visual marketing options. For example, consider expanding into Instagram Reels Ads or TikTok videos.
Finally, create multiple versions of the same creative, A/B test them, and see what resonates best with your target audience.
8. Offer financing options for more expensive products.
Customers are price-conscious. If you’re selling high-ticket items, your messaging and promotional efforts should make a case for their big price tags.
More importantly, you should make it easier for your customers to purchase those higher-end products with financing options. That way, they won’t have to pay hefty prices upfront out of their own pockets.
The result? Higher conversion rates and positive customer feedback.
There are two main financing options to consider:
- Credit Line: Under this arrangement, you partner with a company that provides consumer financing through lines of credit. The financing company pays you for the transactions upfront (suitable for businesses that don’t purchase products on credit).
- Self-Managed Installments: Instead of partnering with third-party companies, businesses can also do self-managed installments. This option is suitable for eCommerce businesses who have the resources to run a self-managed program and purchase products from suppliers on credit.
9. Create a customer service plan.
Marketing will help attract and convert new customers. But retaining existing ones by delivering them amazing shopper experiences falls on your customer service team.
For that very reason — and as mentioned above — your customer service team should be briefed on your marketing plans and strategies. What’s more, they should be involved in your larger discussions, as well.
Prepare them for any anticipated order/out-of-stock issues or sales timelines, so they’re better equipped to respond to the queries of customers.
You could even get your customer service staff directly involved in your marketing campaigns through Twitter takeovers, shooting FAQ videos about order/shipping policies, and more.
10. Keep an eye on your competitors.
Finally, it’s important to pay attention to what your competitors are up to.
Watch and learn from their strategies. Get on their email lists, follow them on social media (with alerts on), and visit their websites to see what holiday digital marketing strategies they’re employing.
Don’t blatantly copy the tactics that work for them — but do take notes and see how you can come up with something even better.
Start Planning Your Holiday eCommerce Marketing Strategy Today
When it comes to your holiday marketing strategy, the earlier you start, the better. Start testing and experimenting today to lock in your strategy for the upcoming season and get a head start on your competitors.
That said, don’t be afraid to change up your strategy as your creatives, trends, and results adjust over the next few months. Be agile; the worst thing you can do is be inflexible with your approach.
If you need help creating your eCommerce holiday strategies, look back at our previous blogs:
- 10 Holiday eCommerce Conversion Optimization Strategies for 2021
- 10 Ideas for eCommerce Holiday Email Marketing Campaigns in 2021
- 10 Strategies for Your eCommerce Social Media Holiday Ads
- 10 Strategies for High-Performing Holiday PPC Campaigns
- 10 Holiday SEO Tips to Prep Your Site for this Shopping Season
You can also request a free proposal from Inflow’s eCommerce digital marketing experts for a personalized strategy based on your brand’s needs and goals.
Good luck — and happy holiday shopping!