10 ways to generate online holiday sales

Oct 14, 2016

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Big block retailers start working on ways to create online holiday sales in July/August. If your company hasn’t put a holiday revenue-driving campaign in place just yet, do it now. Mid-October is not too late for the agile to cream off some holiday opportunities using online marketing and eCommerce techniques. We’ll help you on your way here with 10 ways to realise online holiday sales (techniques you can actually use year-round).

Generating online sales is a great opportunity for companies

Despite the pandemic, there are still a baffling number of business whose online presence is skeletal, with no online purchasing possible. But it will be worth the extra hours.

Last year’s non-store sales accounted for $105b of the total holiday US sales of $626.1b, according to the US National Retail Federation. And, the average transaction on a computer was $114 versus $80 in-store. That’s $34 or over 40% higher than in store.

10 ways to create better holiday sales

What these facts and figures mean for retailers and all other digital marketers:

A. Create an Online Celebration.

With desktop purchases larger than in store purchases, pursuing online sales has become a ‘must’ for retailers. They must extend their brand digitally. Retailers and digital marketeers should bring typical holiday season in-store buzz and celebration onto the web.

B. Create Integrated Marketing.

Store-based retailers must try to digitally finish off in-store sales. Using marketing automation, a digital closing allows on-sell and up-sell options to be built into the sales system. Finishing in-store transactions digitally can also facilitate that clients are put on correct mailing lists following the sale, e.g. product assembly and usage instructions, and periodic related promotions after that.

ways to create online holiday sales

Wonder what could be some of the methods, tools and tactics that you can deploy – ways to create online holiday sales for your business? Here are some practical ideas.

10 Ways to Create Online Holiday Sales for your Business

1) Build a Holiday-themed Drip-feed Email Marketing Campaign.

A simple version of this is certainly a ‘must do’ for every marketer.  Even if just around your regular products, presenting them in a festive context.

Using drip campaigns allows you to stay front-of-mind of your customers,  share holiday feelings, images and ideas, and offer them your 2016 holiday deals and specials. As with many marketing ideas, the better executed, the more effective in terms of online holiday sales and branding.

If you’re a B2C marketer, begin your email marketing drip campaign as early as possible. However, if you are a B2B marketer, consider letting your drip continue throughout the holidays, as your sales season is more likely to pick up again in January.  You can leverage the fact that your prospects have a bit more time for extra reading during the holidays. So why not send them relevant and appropriate materials only. Don’t bother them, but interest and help them. References to whitepapers are a good idea as part of of your holiday drip campaign.

2) Build a Holiday Micro-site.

A micro site could be featuring products in gift categories and sharing seasonal customer stories if you’re in a B2C company. Visit the websites directly of some strong brand retailers such as Macy’s for great ideas.


However, if you are a B2B company, who aids retailers, you can set up a holiday micro site to help your B2C client companies plow through their busy season with success.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s microsite links its core skill of marketing automation to its target clients’ needs in the holiday season with this free downloadable marketing holiday calendar, which is a guide to retail success in the holiday season.

A great Fall-winter photo of a happy customer, and an even better overall marketing execution.

3) Create a Holiday Game.

For entertainment, to build brand awareness and brand affinity. Your game can come with seasonal prizes or giveaways. Certain kind of shopping, such as fashion clothes shopping, can be really fun for the gift getter. However,  for those who tag along while she tries on that dress – i.e. kids, boyfriends and husbands – the wait can be endless. Creating a fun game to entertain waiters can be a game-changer when it comes to the client party having had a happy or a horrible shopping experience.

Good games that are launched or can be shared on  social media have a potential to go viral. (Be ready for that event. ) It’s not that every game player will instantly be a loyal customer. However, games that can be played over and over again are good longer-term branding opportunities. Whether your game is in an app, on your website or delivered via social media, you could build advertising opportunities.

Creating a game is a perfect people-oriented holiday marketing idea.  Making a simple version is possible this year, but leave building a holiday game app for next year (after you’ve done a bit of market research).

4) Tie your Brand to a Holiday Activity.

Here’s a branding idea from KFC last year that could be replicated at low cost:  a free downloadable template for pumpkin carving template, so that all KFC lovers can become KFC marketers by carving their pumpkin into a Colonel-o-Lantern.   It’s simple, and it’s genial. It creates happy customer experiences,  tying one of the most favourite activities of the holiday season, pumpkin carving, to the KFC brand.

Although KFC has a brilliant advertising agency to do all this with them, it costs next to nothing to have the download available on the website. Ditto with the Twitter promotion. These are ideas that you could implement with a tiny marketing team in-house as well, couldn’t you?  Just answer the question: how can you build upon this idea for your business? Is it do-able in the next few weeks?

10 ways to create online holiday sales kfc

5) Make a Special Holiday Landing Page.

Bringing holiday Cheer to your company homepage is a good beginning. However, why not also create a special holiday landing page, on which you’ll feature the aspects of your business that relate to the holidays.  Suggesting customers to take home a bundle of your free B2B training eBooks for their holiday reading is a brilliant way to tie your brand to your customers’s happy moments.  Then, follow them up after the holidays asking them for feedback on the eBooks. A good way to start the New Year of business.

All business should implement at least a simple version of this. The better you’ll make this, the more successful it will be.

6) Create a Fun and Visual Holiday Social Campaign.

ways create online holiday sales jumpforjoy burberry

One that build brand awareness and affinity, and integrates with your non-digital marketing campaign.

Last year’s Burberry’s jump for joy campaign in London comes to mind.   It had social media, video, customer-centric brand experiences, holiday cheer, the new scarf collection, product trial, and Regency flagship store experience, all woven together, and reinforced by a giant billboard ad around the corner of the store, on Trafalgar square. An all-around excellent piece of marketing, creating a most-positive customer experience full of dazzling holiday atmosphere.

Start ideating an integrated marketing campaign now, for next year. A campaign like Burberry’s cannot developed in 2 weeks.

7)  Share the Sharing.

Let me dwell on that last point, customer experience. Any customer touchpoint is an opportunity to strengthen brand affinity by building a relationship.  Why not make that two relationships?

This is the best time to help your client be a Santa, by letting him be a gift giver or  share a discount with a colleague or business relationship.  This would work for business seminars, books, magazines and conference participation. But it equally works for a branded coffee.   “Buy now, and give one to a colleague, free on us.”

For the agile marketeer, a promotion such as this is implementable, even if you start now.

8) Deploy a Mobile Marketing Campaign.

Gartner predicts that, by 2017, U.S. mobile commerce will have increased so much in popularity that it will account for 50% of U.S. total digital commerce revenue.

This might be something to take on more fully for next year’s holiday sales, but if your target audience (used to) like flipping through pretty holiday product catalogs, and love window shopping, consider creating a mobile flip book of sorts. Lifestyle pictures featuring products can work particularly well in categories such as home & garden, fashion and food – all very relevant categories for the holidays.

How about offering a mobile code for a discount or a free add-on gift to enjoy in the holiday season.  The mobile code could be an in-store advertisement, could be mentioned on social media, traditional media, and of course, be a push notification on the phone as well.

If you have Salesforce Marketing Cloud or other mobile-enabled marketing automation platform in place, this is not difficult. If not, start evaluating which marketing automation platform is right for your business.

9) Offer Free Gifts Online.

Free gifts as add-ons to a regular purchase is an oft used and potentially successful list building strategy. This strategy works at any time, and particularly makes sense in the holiday season.

Holiday sweepstakes are a variation of this theme and offer good marketing opportunities too. Particularly if your business cannot do deep discount promotions, or is year-round rather than a seasonal business, these are effective ways to boost online holiday sales.

Again, for the agile marketeers, this is do-able for this year. Next year though, you should really work with your marketing team on preparing this kind of campaign in July – August, so that it could be best integrated with your overall marketing plan.

10) Take the Pain out of the Gift-giving Season.

When you take the pain out, you put the joy back into gift giving. Gift shoppers could use a hand in the holiday season. Packing your products with matching gift add-ons, beautiful gift wraps and fast delivery options can be exactly what is on the gift givers’ wish list. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What would they like? A discount code will be welcome. What else?

Whether your ideas are feasible for this year, or next, depends on the nature of them.

Bonus tip: decorating your basic brand images with holiday cheer builds a happy brand.

nordstrom gift card - ways to create online holiday sales

It’ so simple and feels like putting Christmas decorations up.  But it will present your business as a relevant and likeable business in the holiday season.

Adding a twig of holly onto your logo is one thing. But know that focus on relevance and creative execution will determine effectiveness. What will work? Here’s a gorgeous example of Nordstrom regular gift card transformed as a holiday gift card.  Nordstrom, as one of the US’ prime retail marketers, has year-after -year delivered the most fantastic holiday sales promotions. They are certainly worth looking at for ideas. (Be careful, they are tempting!)

If you don’t offer a gift card yet, offer one this holiday season, and intensify its promotion (through your drip campaign) the closer it gets to Christmas, as it’s an ideal ‘last minute holiday gift’ to those who are hard to buy for or those who were previously overlooked.

Is a holiday gift card idea #12? It does not matter.  Pursuing several of these ways to create online holiday sales, in an integrated manner, is the winning formula to create online holiday sales. How far you must take it depends for a great degree on how competitive your market is in that part of the year.

What’s Your Winning Online Holiday Sales Plan?

What would your customers like to get from you this season?

These 10 creative ways to create online holiday sales are pointers to get your own creative juices going.

ways to create online holiday sales

Since we believe that business exists to be of service to its customers and the community, we recommend to start with the giving:

  • What would your customers like to get from you this season?
  • What would you like to give this season to your customers?
  • How can you create customer delight?
  • How does your product or service tie in with the holidays?

Like a Santa helper for your email marketing this year?

What we like to do is be your digital marketing Santa helper for his year. We can help you with all aspects of digital marketing, technical and marketing-wise:

  1. Customer Persona development so that it’s easier for you to develop content marketing as well as other marketing materials for the holiday season, and beyond.
  2. We can supplement that with Buyer Insight Maps and Customer Journeys, that are tailored for the holiday season.
  3. Holiday Campaign Ideation, Creation and implementation. We will work with you from start to finish, using our pool of resources we can draw upon to get your campaign of the ground, be that creative designers, marketers, content writers, marketing automation specialists or Salesforce CRM software developers who will ensure that customer data will be properly stored for next year’s sales season.
  4. Content Marketing & Social Media Marketing campaigns and publishing. We’re happy to take over your social media account for the season, or provide you with content marketing to fill your pipeline, while you are busy with other aspects of your business.
  5. Marketing Automation. As Salesforce CRM, Pardot and Marketing Cloud certified professionals, we are ready to help with both the creative and/or marketing technology aspects of what you want to accomplish this year to create online holiday sales.

Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your needs and ideas.


Interested to learn more?

We would be very happy to help you.

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