Even though the pandemic and economic uncertainty have altered consumer behaviors and spending patterns, consumers are still planning to celebrate…and spend during the 2020 holiday season. According to consulting firm, Deloitte, holiday retail sales this year will rise by 1% – 1.5%, reaching up to $1.152 trillion during the November-January time frame.1 The pandemic means that in-store/live events are mostly out of the equation this holiday season, so digital marketing strategies are even more critical in 2020 than they were in 2019.
A recent Data Axle study found that holiday-themed emails convert at a higher rate than “business-as-usual” campaigns, and Techcrunch found that email drove 24.2% of page visits during the holiday season.2 Now is the time for brands to start planning effective holiday campaigns to reach their target audiences and give them a competitive edge for the season.
Customers expect to receive more emails around the holidays. When developing your email marketing calendar, you should always keep external factors and holidays in mind.
Do you have a great deal on a popular sweater style around the holidays? With the colder weather, having a on in-demand items is an excellent opportunity to increase your email cadence. After you deploy an initial email promoting the sweater sale, you can follow-up with another email to those who opened and/or clicked but did not make a purchase. When consumers are actively seeking deals around the holidays and other high-demand times of the year, they are inclined to open emails more frequently to ensure they are getting the best deals available.
Brand Example: Michaels
Craft store, Michaels, increased their email frequency in October in preparation for the Christmas season. On October 10th, they sent an email with the subject line, “Christmas DIYs to start now,” along with craft ideas and links to instructions and shopping lists. On the 15th, they followed up with an email filled with coupons and a reminder that the holiday craft season is upon us. Michaels knows that their audience needs advance notice, as DYI-ing the holidays takes time and preparation. Their emails offer crafters valuable ideas, shopping lists, and guidance alongside the deals.
Making your product easy to get is a must, especially in 2020 when consumers have limited in-store shopping options. Perks such as curbside pickup, Facetime virtual shopping, expedited shipping, and same-day delivery are essential to shoppers who need items quickly and want to stay safe. Even before the pandemic, convenience was becoming increasingly important to shoppers largely due to the lofty shipping and delivery expectations set by Amazon. In a survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF), 83% of shoppers said that convenience while shopping is more important today than it was five years ago.3 Brands should highlight the safe and efficient product delivery/pickup options they offer to attract and convert shoppers this holiday season.
Brand example: Best Buy
Electronics retailer, Best Buy, started Black Friday promotions in October. In their email campaigns promoting these discounts, they highlight ready-in-one-hour and curbside pickup options for items bought online.
The supply chain shock that started in China in February had a domino effect – almost no industry was unaffected. Most industries have gotten their supply chains up and running again. But an increase in COVID cases around the world is threatening to close businesses anew and there are still a few bumps in the road as consumers start shopping earlier.4 “Instead of waiting for Black Friday to announce new lines and Christmas deals, brands are finding that it may be easier to elongate the holiday season, creating a slightly more steady trickle of holiday shopping instead of a fast-paced peak in late November and December,” said Randy Mercer, vice president of global product management at 1WorldSync.5
Extending the holiday season shopping period is also a matter of public safety. The NRF’s consumer education campaign, “New Holiday Traditions,” encourages consumers to start shopping early and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classified “shopping at crowded stores just before, on or after Thanksgiving” as a high-risk activity to avoid to help prevent the spread of the virus.6
Consumers are also anxious to start shopping sooner. A survey of shoppers by Affirm found that of the 2,000 Americans surveyed, 7 in 10 respondents said they’re more likely to buy something on sale now rather than waiting for the traditional Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales.7
Brand example: Amazon
Due to COVID-19, Amazon pushed back their annual sales event, Prime Day, from July to October 14-15. By doing this, Amazon was able to beat their competition to the punch on their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, and take the pressure off some of their merchants by spreading out the sales. Big box stores Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Target are following in Amazon’s footsteps and starting their own sale ‘holidays’ before Black Friday.
Marketing during the holiday season is trickier in 2020, but far from impossible. Planning to increase email frequency, touting convenience in cross-channel campaigns, and preparing for an extended shopping period will set brands up for success this holiday season.
Now that you have your holiday strategy down, download our whitepaper to learn how to develop/update email template systems, and maximize engagement through smart, performance-driven email design.
Maureen has been in account management and email & digital marketing for over 8 years in the New York City area. She has worked closely with clients across multiple industries in both B2B and B2C to grow their digital marketing campaigns and identify new opportunities to increase revenue. Additionally, she manages and works closely with the account management teams to create efficiencies and lead strategic client planning to guarantee email best practices are being applied in across email marketing programs. Maureen received her B.S. degree from York College of Pennsylvania in Sport Management, with minors in Marketing and Business Administration.