With the holiday retail peak forecast to rise by 11.3%, there is no doubt that there is a lot of revenue potential up for grabs. The obstacle, however, is the current competitive landscape for eCommerce, with many more online retailers putting their hats into the ring this holiday season.
But don’t panic – there is still time to adjust your holiday promotion strategy to ensure your brand can capitalize on the over $1.1 trillion in digital sales available this year.
To help get you ready as quickly as possible, we’ve compiled a list of winning holiday promotion examples for eCommerce retailers, including actionable tips on how you can implement them for your store.
In this post, we cover:
- The best holiday promotion types and offers for eCommerce
- 7+ winning holiday marketing campaign examples from top online retailers
Let’s dive in.
Before we get to the winning holiday promotion examples eCommerce retailers can use to boost peak season sales, let’s take a quick look at marketing campaign and promotion types that proved themselves to be the most popular during the previous holiday season.
According to one study, site-wide promotions that combine a variety of offers are the most popular. Here’s the full breakdown of the best holiday promotion types and offers in order of popularity, and a graph showing how deals changed from 2020 to 2021.
- Free shipping
- Select SKUs
- Free gifts
- BOGO (buy one get one)
Ultimately, the key to creating a winning holiday promotion strategy for your store is using the right offers for your market, niche, and campaign channel at the right touchpoint in your shopping journey.
By not only strategically planning store promotions, but using the right marketing campaigns to bring targeted holiday shoppers to your store.
Let’s look at 7+ winning holiday marketing campaign examples from top online retailers and how you can implement them.
Now let’s get down to holiday promotion examples you can use for inspiration before you finalize your holiday marketing strategy. They include:
- Combining Cross-Channel Festive Season Countdowns with Sitewide Promotions to Push Conversions
- Keeping It Simple with Small Tailored Promotions and Segmentation
- Boosting AOVs with Limited-Time Bundles, Tiers, and Discounts
- Going All-In with Seasonal Product Displays
- Combining On and Off-Site Promotion Triggers to Boost Sales
- Taking Promotional Gamification to the Next Level
- Finding New Ways to Give Back and Add Value Over the Holiday Season
Let’s look at each.
Promotion Example #1: West Elm Combines Cross-Channel Festive Season Countdowns with Sitewide Promotions to Push Conversions
West Elm are seasoned – if you’ll excuse the pun – holiday promotion winners. By starting their awareness campaigns early with festive season countdown ads and big onsite competitions, they are able to bring new potential holiday shoppers into their sales funnels, which they can then remarket and convert with strategic promotions.
This eCommerce Facebook ad, for example, started running on the 19th of October and is a great place to start when looking for simple holiday marketing ideas.
And they don’t just use Facebook ads to build lists and widen reach before the festive season. Here’s an example of last year’s co-branding partnership sponsored post on Instagram and an example of their video content marketing on YouTube – two other top social media channels for holiday campaigns.
Bonus Content: How to Use YouTube Ads to Recover Abandoned Carts in 6 Steps
But the true genius of their holiday campaign strategy is how they tie in with strategic onsite holiday promotions.
From holiday lookbooks and guides to onsite promotions using mixed promotions types, they make sure their offers add significant value.
They also keep it super simple for shoppers by forgoing coupon codes while offering a variety of promotions at once, including free shipping and limited time offers.
Main Takeaway: West Elm holiday promotion marketing ensures that their holiday PPC campaigns and onsite promotions strategy work together to bring new potential customers to their store – and convert them. By keeping their promotions simple but varied, they give the impression of instant value to any new or returning customers who land on product or landing pages.
On the flipside of West Elm’s approach is Atoms, a New York-based online shoe retailer.
Last year, they offered a BOGO promotion that included a free mask with any purchase of shoes – highly relevant to the situation at the time.
The year before, they used automatic checkout discounts of $20 per pair of Atoms. This also included a discount upsell where shoppers could increase the discount to $60 by adding a second pair of shoes or a gift card to their purchase.
Both of these holiday promotion examples are variations of BOGO, but have been tweaked to fit current market trends. Instead of offering sitewide promotions, they focus on using promotions in campaigns to bring potential shoppers to their store.
Atoms use strategic promotional campaigns like this throughout the year as well. The aim of their holiday marketing idea or seasonal promotion is to bring smaller, more targeted pools of potential shoppers to their online store, forgoing sitewide promotions. Here are a few examples of their Facebook campaigns:
The reason they are able to focus on smaller, more tailored holiday campaigns is because they put a lot of effort into building their brand through branded eCommerce Google ads and personal storytelling. This got a major boost when Atoms founder Sidra Qasim was the subject of a Humans of New York photo series by Brandon Stanton at the beginning of 2021.
Main Takeaway: Yes, we all know holiday promotions work. But the trick is tweaking and testing various combinations to find the best option for bringing highly targeted traffic to your store – traffic that’s more likely to convert. Sometimes even the simplest promotion will get you conversions, especially when you put effort into building a strong brand identity. It’s all in the targeting.
The next winning holiday promotion example comes from Bonobos. By creating limited-time holiday deals, tiered options, and high-value discounts, they not only add a lot of value but push their AOVs, ultimately enabling them to capitalize on the high revenue potential of peak season.
To give you an idea of the success of their holiday promotions, Bonobos saw a whopping 98% increase in online sales over the peak 2018 holiday season.
But it’s not the only thing they focus on when it comes to holiday marketing. They use email, PPC, and onsite marketing to highlight products while also adding heaps of value. Here’s an example of their previous Thanksgiving email campaign:
Instead of putting all their holiday eggs in one acquisition basket, Bonobos focuses on year-round customer retention strategies that include fantastic customer service, free shipping, and easy returns, as well as discounts for new customers.
In fact, when it comes to email marketing specifically, Bonobos are geniuses, and it’s definitely worth signing up to them for eCommerce marketing inspiration.
Main Takeaway: While limited bundles, tiered offers, and discounts are vital in ensuring you can boost holiday sales, they don’t exist in a vacuum. When used in conjunction with customer retention and brand loyalty strategies throughout the year, they increase your chances of doubling your revenue in the final quarter through brand recognition and trust.
Another brand that knows all about this strategy is Dollar Shave Club.
For eCommerce brands with a large inventory of seasonal products, going all-in with seasonal product displays and holiday promotion campaigns can boost overall holiday sales performance. This is something that StoreYa merchants California Englished are masters at.
Take a look at their current home page, showcasing not just seasonal products but products that make great holiday gifts. You can see that from the minute a potential customer reaches their store, they get that holiday shopping vibe.
Creating that “holiday” vibe with their store helps convert holiday shoppers regardless of which campaigns they are running.
By changing product displays on their store to align with the holiday season, California Englished can take advantage of their already converting traffic stream, without having to make massive changes. This is particularly relevant given that their ads are automated, and that they are getting 6.5x ROAS from their ads which are run by Traffic Booster.
- Facebook and Instagram retargeting and acquisition ads
- Google Shopping, Dynamic remarketing, and Dynamic Search ads
- YouTube ads
- Customized search ads
One of the best ways you can capitalize on peak season is to automate your campaigns as much as possible. Here’s what California Englished had to say about using the right PPC management software to automate their holiday ads:
“In the 29 months we’ve been using Traffic Booster to run our Google and Facebook ads, we’ve seen a 6.5x overall ROAS. Working with StoreYa frees us up as entrepreneurs to do what we do best and leaves this more tedious work to the PPC experts.”
They do the same seasonal branding, across their content marketing channels as well. Take a look at their Instagram feed leading up to Halloween this year, as well as the Halloween-themed holiday social competition they ran.
Main Takeaway: No matter what your holiday marketing ideas and promotions are, backing them up with the right types of products is vital to ensuring you can convert the traffic you’re bringing to your store. If you can automate those campaigns, it’s even better – especially during peak season when the number of promotions, PPC campaigns, and product ads increase substantially.
Another brand that invests a lot in brand equity is Brooklinen. This roughly $47 million a year online linen retailer knows a thing or two about winning promotions, too.
[Source: Piper Piper Designs]
With clever offsite campaigns – like the above poster ads which dominated the New York subways in 2019 – combined with various digital promotions, holiday guides, and quizzes, they offer a lot of holiday marketing inspiration for eCommerce retailers.
One of the best things they do over the extended holiday seasons is offer specific on and off-site campaigns for specific shopping days, such as Singles’ Day, Black Friday, and holiday gift shopping days.
Take a look at their holiday shopping and promotion customer journey for this promotion and the steps they follow:
- Step 1: Users click the online banner to get to the customer preference quiz and choose a category.
- Step 2: Shoppers define their subcategory preferences.
- Step 3: Customers choose their style or product feature preferences.
- Step 4: Potential shoppers get their matched product option.
- Step 5: Shoppers are taken to a product page where discounts are applied.
Here’s another holiday promotion example from their extended Black Friday promotion last year that ran beyond Cyber Monday. Here, they offered customers a percentage off based on a spend tier promotion in holiday campaigns in conjunction with automatically triggered onsite free gifts.
[Source: Common Thread Co]
They also use these kinds of segmented seasonal promotions across their eCommerce marketing campaign strategy, including Google Search ads with extensions.
[Source: WP Guy News]
Tip: Check out our 5 Best Practices for Google Ad Extensions that You May Have Forgotten for more Google extension ideas.
Main Takeaway: Like with any eCommerce marketing strategy, the best holiday promotion approach is to not only combine various promotional triggers but to make sure you’re triggering them across all your channels, both on and off-site. Also, as you can see from Brooklinen’s Singles’ Day promotion example, streamlining your eCommerce store customer experience plays a big role in the ultimate success of these promotions.
Online retail giants Chubbies are no strangers to gamification promotions. In fact, they have mastered the art of creating customer-centric promotions, and even created their own Chubbies holiday, Thighber Monday, which is before Cyber Monday and ties in perfectly with their fun and comedic brand voice.
This customer-first ethos is also integrated into their customer retention strategies.
Throughout the year, a Chubbies loyalty program is fully gamified, offering a wide range of prizes in the form of free gifts and rewards based on a points system. This gamification became a focal point of their holiday campaigns as well. This is outside of sales, sitewide discounts, and seasonal promotions, and makes an excellent foundation for any marketing campaign in the holiday season.
They also use this gamification as customer acquisition well before the big shopping days. They do this by pushing their free gift rewards system to get new subscribers before the biggest holiday shopping days hit.
Main Takeaway: Customer retention should be at the forefront of any promotion, including your holiday campaign and discount strategy. Gamification, customer loyalty strategies, and exclusive deals can go a long way to not only attracting new customers during the peak shopping season but growing your pool of happy customers who are likely to buy from you in the year to come.
eCommerce retailers Pura Vida know a thing or two about giving back. In fact, their entire brand is built around it, with set proceeds from product sales allocated to different causes and charities.
However, their giving value doesn’t just stop there. Over the last couple of holidays, they have also done several promotions that add value. This includes a huge 50% off sitewide sales, as well as free gifts and mystery cart-level upsells.
[Source: Hello Subscriptions]
Some other holiday promotions and giving they have done over the last couple of years include:
- Offering free downloadable gift cards
- Teaming up with Sackcloth & Ashes and Humble Design to sponsor a family and other charity work
- Running a competition for a holiday shopping spree prize valued at $1,000
Main Takeaway: With every holiday promotion, Pura Vida stays on brand message by focusing on giving in even the smallest of ways. Giving back or standing for a cause over the holidays can have profound effects on building brand equity for the coming year as well. Another example of a brands that has done this is REI’s #OptOutside campaign that actively discouraged customers from shopping on Black Friday.
Final Thoughts: Bring Highly Targeted Traffic to Your Stores and Convert with High-Value Promotions
What do each of these promotions have in common? They are easy, on-brand, and speak directly to their customers. Each of these brands also works incredibly hard to optimize their customer experience, loyalty, and retention strategies all year round, while bringing a steady stream of quality traffic to their stores.
No matter what holiday promotion you run, it is important to ensure every single one:
- Is easy to implement and easy for customers to “cash in” on
- Speaks directly to your key target shopper and is customer-centric
- Offers high value or rewards
- Is in line with your brand and market trends
- Creates a sense of urgency
- Connects to your email marketing and PPC campaign strategies
Even better if you could automate your digital marketing to ensure you’re getting a steady stream of holiday traffic.
You also want to find ways to offer unexpected value in terms of holiday guides, free downloads, or online quizzes to help customers choose the right holiday products for their needs.
And don’t forget to make sure you analyze your performance every step of the way and be ready to pivot in real-time. This will help you boost sales and ROAS like these winning holiday promotion examples and brands.
Need help with your holiday digital marketing and ads? Post your questions in the comments below.