20 Marketing Tips to Prepare Your Business for Holiday Shopping in 2021
Is your marketing ready for the 2021 holiday season? Follow these guidelines to get your business into the holiday spirit and maximize holiday revenue.
Shoppers are increasingly spending their money online rather than in person, and holiday shopping is no exception. Ecommerce accounted for 25.7% of all retail holiday revenue last year, with online shoppers spending $188.2 billion over the 2020 holiday shopping season, an increase of 32.2% over 2019.
Being prepared before the shopping season begins will ensure you get as many sales, and as many happy customers, as possible.
- Test the shopping experience: Does your ecommerce website have search or filter features that let customers easily find what they’re looking for? Is the checkout process smooth and efficient? Find and fix any glitches before the heavy shopping starts.
- Check website performance: Most ecommerce sites see a higher volume of traffic during the holiday season—double-check that your website infrastructure and web hosting provider can support the expected increase so your customers don’t experience slowdowns or interruptions.
- Make sure your site is mobile-friendly: Mobile devices accounted for 39% of ecommerce revenue for the 2020 holiday shopping season, and eMarketer predicts mobile commerce will increase 18.8% to $97.15 billion during the 2021 holiday season. Verify that your website is providing a great experience for mobile users, with a mobile optimized layout and navigation, easily clickable buttons, and a mobile-friendly checkout process.
- Check your inventory: With pandemic-related supply chain issues facing many retail sectors, it's more important than ever to confirm you have enough stock for the major shopping holidays (see below), as well as for any specific sales you’re running. If your product supply is in question, be ready with replacement ideas and have a customer service plan in place to deal with any disappointed customers.
The holiday season poses specific challenges and opportunities—don’t miss the chance to give your customers valuable content to help them navigate this time of year. No matter what type of business you have, there’s probably a way to come up with holiday content that relates to your field.
- Do your homework: Research holiday trends in your industry and ask your customer-facing employees what concerns, issues, plans, and goals your target audience has during the holiday season and use that information to create content that is interesting and relevant.
- Share ideas: Everyone loves last-minute shopping ideas, holiday recipes, and local event guides. Find a way to relate seasonal ideas to your business, even if it’s only “our employees’ favorite holiday recipes” or “fun things to do this weekend” in your area.
- Add holiday images: When possible, update any photos or visual elements on your site to ones with a holiday feel.
The fun, informal nature of social media makes it the perfect place to try out new holiday marketing efforts, and to create a sense of community and warm holiday feelings to promote your brand.
- Be festive: Get your social media followers in the shopping spirit by creating a holiday ambience on your social media pages. Consider updating your profile photos to something with a seasonal feel, adding holiday colors or imagery to your regular visuals, and posting holiday-themed photos of your products.
- Promote events: If you plan to host any holiday events or run any holiday promotions, now is the time to start telling your followers about them and building excitement.
- Create content: Having fresh holiday related content on your social media pages is the best way to keep customers engaged and get them to check in with your page regularly. Try running a holiday series of posts such as “12 deals of Christmas,” daily gift ideas, or featuring holiday traditions, recipes, or fun craft projects from employees.
- Enable messaging: In a survey by LivePerson, 75% of holiday shoppers said they would purchase more from a website that allowed them to message with an associate. If you haven’t already, now is a good time to set up Facebook Messenger for your business and start using it to engage with customers and promote your holiday sales and events.
Email is one of the most effective ways to reach your customers, and the holiday season gives you an opportunity to deepen your connection with existing customers and reengage inactive customers.
- Give gifts: Use an email campaign to give your most loyal customers something extra to make them feel appreciated—early access to a sale, an invitation to a special event, or an additional discount.
- Send greetings: Send your customers a holiday email greeting, thanking them for being a customer and sharing some highlights from the year.
- Get in the spirit: Show your customers the human side of your company by sharing holiday thoughts, tips, recipes, or photos from your team.
- Spread the word: Encourage your customers to share the deals you send with their friends and family by offering a free gift or discount for each referral.
- Make it easy: Do the work for them—send an email highlighting the “most popular” gifts on your site, with a link to your site to make the purchase.
People will be doing a lot of holiday-shopping related searches in the next few weeks, and you want your site to rank high in results for those searches. Maximize your search ranking by making some updates to your website SEO.
- Use keywords: If you have an ecommerce site, add keywords like “seasonal,” “holiday deals,” “Black Friday,” “Cyber Monday,” and “gifts” to your website content, as well as any specific holiday keywords related to your business.
- Optimize for local search: Capitalize on local searches by creating a well-optimized Google My Business listing, getting your business added to local listings, monitoring your online reputation and reviews, and making your business more visible to local shoppers.
- Post accurate business info: Check any listings for your business to verify your address, phone numbers, and business hours, including any special holiday hours, are correct.
- Advertise online: Consider launching a holiday PPC (pay-per-click) digital advertising campaign to capitalize on holiday shopping-related searches.
Major 2021 Online Shopping Days
November 26: Thanksgiving Day. With many stores opting to remain closes on Thanksgiving this year, post-turkey shopping is expected to move online. Online shoppers racked up $5.1 billion in sales on Thanksgiving Day in 2020, up 21.5% over 2019.
November 26: Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday is the unofficial beginning of the holiday shopping season, and also a day when many retailers offer extended shopping hours and one-day sales. Last year, online shoppers spent $9 billion on Black Friday, a 21.6% increase over 2019.
November 27: Small Business Saturday. Also called Shop Local Saturday, Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 by American Express to encourage consumers to patronize their local businesses. Last year, Small Business Saturday generated $4.68 billion in online sales, a 30.2% increase over 2019.
November 29: Cyber Monday. The Monday after Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday was created in 2005 and has grown to be the biggest online sales day of the year. In 2020, online shoppers spent $10.8 billion on Cyber Monday, up 15.1% over the previous year.
December 13: Free Shipping Day. Started in 2008, free shipping day is a one-day promotional event in which the more than 1,000 participating online retailers agree to offer free shipping, with no minimum order and delivery guaranteed by Christmas Eve.
December 18: Super Saturday. Otherwise known as Panic Saturday, Super Saturday takes place the last Saturday before Christmas and is primarily an in-store event, though shoppers who are unable to make it to a store or who can take advantage of fast shipping or pick-up-in-store options do still shop online.