The countdown is on. In just a few days the official holiday shopping season kicks off. And it’s expected to be a strong one for retailers. The National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual survey reports consumers will likely be spending more than $1,000 each this year, a 4% increase from 2018. And NRF’s annual holiday spending forecast expects overall holiday retail sales will grow 3.8%-4.2% for a total of $727.9 billion-$730.7 billion.

Between Thanksgiving day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday consumers are gearing up for a 5-day shopping spree. Indeed, eMarketer predicts Cyber Monday will be a record-breaker, with sales hovering around the $10 billion mark—which would make it the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history.

Update Your email List

As Adweek notes 2019 will have five fewer shopping days and one less weekend between Black Friday and Christmas this year than last. In fact, Adweek says 2019 is the shortest holiday season since 2013. To make up for that lost time many businesses have already started their holiday promotions—I’ve been getting weekly “Black Friday” emails for a weeks now.

As long as you’re planning your holiday marketing make sure to include Green Monday (December 9), which has no real meaning—it’s a day eBay created, but consumers expect good deals and Free Shipping Day (December 17) as well.

So if you want to grab your share of the holiday sales juggernaut, your marketing needs to start now! If you’re running behind, don’t worry, it’s not too late. You can still craft an effective email marketing campaign—and fortunately email is one of the most productive marketing methods.

To gear up for this busy season, you’ll want to make sure your website is mobile-ready—and your marketing materials should also be formatted in a mobile-friendly format. Last year, 54.4% of online purchases made on Thanksgiving day came from smartphones—the first time more people shopped on mobile devices than laptops and desktops.

If you can, quickly update your email list. Send an email asking people to sign up now, so they won’t miss any holiday discounts or promotions.

Countdown to Cyber Monday

Since Cyber Monday is expected to break sales records, it will likely pay off to target an email campaign for this super-shopping day. AWeber details a 5-email content calendar plan that will help you put your Cyber Monday campaign together quickly. You should read the post for details, but here are the basics:

  1. November 29: send a “teaser” email
  2. December 1: send a countdown email
  3. December 2: launch your promotion in the morning
  4. December 2: resend your promotion in the afternoon
  5. December 3: send a post-promotion email

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Does your business offer gift cards? It should. Gift cards are a great way to boost holiday sales. And they work for almost every public-facing business, not just retail stores and restaurants. Salons, spas, gyms, food delivery services, cleaning services, etc. can all profit from gift card sales. And gift cards are not just for physical outlets either. They work just as well on websites and can be set up in a matter of hours.

The good news is gift cards are in high demand. The NRF says 59% of consumers plan to buy gift cards this year, topping their list of most popular holiday gift items. Like other products you need to market your gift cards—promote them on social media, in your marketing materials and on your emails. You can even offer gift cards as promotional incentives, for instance, spend get a $5 gift card for every $75 you spend. Selling cards in bulk to corporate customers is an easy money-maker.

The real secret of why gift cards are so valuable, other than some people never bother to redeem them, is consumers usually spend more than the face value of the card when they redeem them.

Top Factor Driving Online Sales

If you want to increase your online sales, you have to offer free shipping. According to Mintel, a global market research company, free shipping is the number-one factor for consumers considering making an online purchase. In fact, 48% of consumers will spend more to reach the free shipping minimum (you determine what price point you’ll offer free shipping at). Offering free shipping isn’t really a choice these days—the NRF reports 75% of consumers expect free shipping—even on orders under $50.

Incentivize Your Customers

Most consumer surveys show customers want:

  • Discounts, coupons
  • Loyalty rewards
  • Faster checkout
  • New product notifications

These notifications are key to keeping your audience up-to-date and engaged with your brand, especially around the holidays when shoppers are looking for the best deals.

But, if your customers haven’t yet opted-in to receive your emails, sign up form incentives can also be a great way to build your email list and set the stage for strong relationships with your audience.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need loads of blog content or eBooks to provide valuable freebies. For instance, checklists or printables don’t take hours to put together, but they provide a lot of value. If you’re looking for outside-the-box ideas that don’t require tons of effort, this blog post from AWeber is chock full of actionable, creative incentive ideas that will help grow your email list.

Send Personalized Recommendations

Aren’t you more likely to buy something when a company sends you a recommendation perfectly tailored to you? Sending recommendations is made easy with an email service provider that offers automations. Maybe a subscriber clicked a link that gave you insight about what they like. Great! Make sure they receive emails about it.

Remember, the relationship with your subscribers doesn’t end with a Cyber Monday sale. Make sure your customers are opting-in to receive email and keep building those relationships by providing value in your email marketing.

In partnership with AWeber

Holiday stock photo by MJTH/Shutterstock