Guide to Holiday Promotional Campaigns for Ecommerce Stores

Written by Dayana Mayfield

Written by Dayana Mayfield

Holiday promotional campaigns are a common way for ecommerce businesses to increase sales, excite their customers, and grow brand loyalty. 

But for every holiday, it seems like every ecommerce company is doing the same thing. How can you stand out and offer something truly special? The answer lies in appealing to conscious consumers who want to celebrate the true meaning of the holiday—and get something nice for themselves or a friend.

In this post, we show you exactly how to boost your sales without offering discounts. Plus, we’ve got a detailed list of every holiday you need to know about from New Year’s 🎉 to Christmas 🎄. 

Keep reading for tips and examples to help you build your own holiday promo, and how to effectively appeal to conscious consumers. 

Best types of holiday campaigns for ecommerce

There are different types of holiday promotions that you can run, and not all of them involve giving away discounts. Here are the most common types of holiday season campaigns for ecommerce stores.

Giving back (also known as cause marketing)

Conscious consumerism is growing. Social inequities are being torn down. Climate activism is becoming mainstream. Consumers simply don’t care about the same things that they did twenty years ago, or even ten years ago. Getting a discount isn’t everything.

In our guide to cause marketing, we covered why more and more ecommerce companies are using aligned causes to grow sales and deepen customer bonds. 

While cause marketing can absolutely happen year round, these campaigns can also be tailored to different holidays (which we cover later in this post).

Traditionally, giving back has been controlled by the brand. Customers buy things, and corporations donate a portion of their profits to worthy causes. Givz flips this on its head. With our platform, you can effortlessly set up give back campaigns that let your customers choose the charity they want to donate to. 

Here’s an example of Givz customer Kencko sharing what their customers gave to. They analyzed the different organizations and found that 25.7% of donations went to animal-related causes, while 36.5% went to the environment (the highest of any category).

Not only does this put the power of donating in your customers’ hands, but it also gives you data into what they care about, which you can use in further campaigns. For example, you might use your Givz donation page to spotlight a few aligned charities for customers to choose from. 

Volume discounts

Another common promotion to use during the holiday season is volume discounts. Your most loyal customers might want to stock up for special events, like Independence Day, back to school season, or Easter. 

Use data from customer orders to discover what volumes your best customers purchase in. To make the deal more accessible, you might look at your 60th percentile. Let’s take an underwear brand as an example. Your 90th percentile customers buy 6 pairs of underwear, but your top 60th percentile customers buy 3. If you want to make it easier for customers to access the deal, then you could make it $15 off 3 pairs (instead of $30 off of 6 pairs, which not as many customers would satisfy). 

Here’s an example of how Wine.com encourages customers to purchase cases (12 bottles).

Besides the bar at the top of your website, you might also tell your audience about your give back campaign on social media and with a few promotional emails. 

While a minimum order value is a popular choice among Givz customers, it’s not the only way to run a give back campaign that will increase your AOV. If you want to get a burst of new sales while deepening your connection with your audience, you don’t have to set a minimum. 

Here’s an example from CBD company Prospect Farms. Any order qualified to donate $25. 

Tiers with order minimums

Another common way to promote your business for a limited time? Discounts on minimum order values. This is a popular strategy that makes for great email campaigns and social media campaigns. 

In this example, AE.com is promotingback to school shopping season with $50 off $150, $25 off of $100, and $15 off of $75. For anyone purchasing more than a few items for the start of high school or college, this is a pretty sweet deal. 

Site-wide sales

And finally, site-wide sales are another smart holiday shopping strategy. Kylie Cosmetics does a site-wide sale from December 26 – December 30 to promote post-Christmas shopping.

In your promotions emails, make sure to put “sitewide” in big and bold font, as these sales emails tend to get high conversion rates. Customers might be willing to finally purchase something that they’ve been eyeing for a while.

How to run a great holiday promotional campaign

So how do you run a stand-out promotional campaign?

1. Avoid discounts for certain holidays (and entire brands)

We’re firm believers that while discounts do work for some holidays, they’re not a fit for every holiday or every brand. For example, during Pride Month, it can come across as very offensive to slap together a rainbow Instagram post and offer a 15% discount on a product that wasn’t designed for the LGBTQ+ community.

And some brands don’t want to discount their products, because their business doesn’t run on offering tons of SKUs but rather on offering a core line of products with infrequent fluctuations and additions.

What’s more, discount abuse is prevalent. Customers on the hunt for coupon codes might try to use ones that aren’t designed for their order. 

Whatever your reasoning, a discount-free holiday campaign is sure to stand out in your audience’s email inbox and social media feeds.

2. Choose a give back platform to help you manage the campaign

You need to choose a software that offers a seamless customer experience for donating to worthy causes.

Givz is the only platform that allows you to set up give back campaigns as a percentage of all sales, or a flat rate when hitting an order minimum. For example, a customer could donate $10 to a charity of their choice after spending $50 with your store.

Givz works like this

  • Post-purchase so it doesn’t affect the checkout process
  • After a qualifying purchase (any order, or hit a minimum), customers can choose a charity to donate to
  • You can spotlight charities relevant to the holiday
  • Donations are processed are your behalf, with the tax preparation documents you need auto-generated
  • Easy to setup with Shopify

You pay a monthly platform fee for access , or you contact us for volume pricing

3. Come up with the concept and creative

Every holiday has it’s own unique holiday spirit (Christmas isn’t the only event that gets us in a special mood). 

With the right software in place, the most important part of your holiday strategy is the concept and creative. 

Create a brief and get alignment on it before assigning it to the implementers on your team. Here’s what to include in your brief:

  • Theme – Sure, the holiday is coming, but what is the overall theme of what you want to say? What does this holiday mean to your company and your audience? This will help you write the copy and choose the charities to spotlight.
  • Order qualification – Determine what should qualify. Will you donate a percentage of every order, or boost average order values by requiring a minimum purchase? 
  • Copy – Add some approved email subject lines, social media graphic copy, and caption copy to your brief. Collaborate with your creative team on the copy and get it approved, so that when you send the brief to the designers and implementers, the campaign will go a lot more smoothly. 
  • Creative – Next, you’ll need inspiration for the creative. You can add similar work your team has done, or make a moodboard with inspiration from other brands. 
  • Charities – On the brief, also add what charities you want the Givz donation page to highlight. This will also clarify the purpose and sentiment of the campaign to all collaborators.

4. Setup and promote your campaign

Next, it’s time to set up and promote your campaign. With all of the above defined in your brief, it’ll be a lot faster to set up. Givz integrates directly with Shopify, so qualifying orders will automatically trigger the donation page. Shoppers will be able to choose one of the spotlight campaigns, or search the name of their favorite non-profit. You’ll also be able to view analytics to see how many qualifying orders were made, and how many customers completed the donation. Because not every customer will complete the donation, this is a more affordable strategy than discounts. 

The top ways to promote your campaign are with a website banner, organic social media, influencer marketing, and email marketing. Make sure that the cause is front and center. For example, you could write something like, “It’s International Women’s Day! Donate $20 to educational nonprofits for girls and women for every $100 you spend.”

3 example ecommerce holiday campaigns

Most ecommerce businesses aren’t like big brands. They form deeper relationships with their customers and they offer the promise for a better, more sustainable, more equitable world. Here are three unique brands who used cause marketing as their holiday strategy.

Kencko's Cyber Monday give back campaign

In their emails, they let customers know how much had already been donated to entice more last-minute shoppers to get the deal. 

Terez's Pride Month give back campaign

Terez is an activewear brand that showed exactly how to do cause marketing right. Rather than sell low-quality rainbow gear in a shameless money grab, they offered to donate $25 for any order over $200. And they highlighted three LGBTQ+ charities on their donation page. Best of all, they even tagged these charities in the Instagram announcement post, so even non-purchasers from their audience could go and check out these non-profits and learn more about them. This is a great example of how to appeal to conscious consumers effectively and authentically.

Sakara's Feeding America campaign

Sakara, a home delivery service for healthy meals aligned their business with the perfect cause: Feeding America. The holiday season is a time when people want to help combat hunger even more. 

For every order over $75, Sakara donated $30 to a charity of the customers’ choice, and featured Feeding America on the Givz donation page which pops up after a qualifying order.

A $30 donation for a $75 purchase is a very generous limited time offer, and one that is perfect for spreading awareness and holiday spirit.

90 holidays every ecommerce company needs to know

There’s Christmas in July. There’s Cyber Monday. There’s Back to School. Besides the winter holiday season, there are so many different types of holidays that you need to know about. Not all of these will be the right fit for your store. Take a look and consider which ones you want to create a campaign for. 

Depending on the type of campaign you want to build, you’ll need anywhere from 1 to 6 months in advance to give you plenty of time to create all of the marketing materials and page designs. 

From January through December, here are all of the holidays that ecommerce store owners need to know about:

National holidays refer to the US.

JANUARY

  • New Year’s Day, January 1
  • National Sticker Day, January 13
  • National Hat Day, January 15
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day, third Monday in January
  • National Pie Day, January 23
  • National Compliment Day, January 24

FEBRUARY 

  • Black History Month, all of February
  • Groundhog Day, February 2
  • Super Bowl Sunday, usually the first or second Sunday of February
  • National Pizza Day, February 9
  • Chinese New Year, the new moon between January 21 and February 20
  • Valentine’s Day, February 14
  • Single’s Awareness Day, February 15
  • President’s Day, February 15
  • Love Your Pet Day, February 20
  • National Retro Day, February 27

MARCH

  • Women’s History Month, all of March
  • Mardi Gras, March 1
  • World Wildlife Day, March 3
  • World Book Day, March 4
  • National Dress Day, March 6
  • International Women’s Day, March 8
  • St. Patrick’s Day, March 17
  • International Day of Happiness, March 20
  • First Day of Spring, spring equinox occurs between March 19 and 21
  • National Doctors’ Day, March 30

APRIL

  • Earth Month, all of April
  • April Fools’ Day, April 1
  • Easter, occurs on the Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox
  • Coachella, usually starts on the second or third Friday in April
  • National Sibling Day, April 10
  • National Pet Day, April 11
  • Get to Know Your Customers Day, April 15
  • Earth Day, April 22
  • International Dance Day, April 29

MAY

  • Mental Health Awareness Month, all of May
  • Asian American Heritage Month, all of May
  • Cinco de Mayo, May 5
  • Mother’s Day, second Sunday of May
  • National Love a Tree Day, May 16
  • National Wine Day, May 25
  • National Smile Day, May 31
  • Memorial Day, last Monday in May

JUNE

  • Pride Month, all of June
  • Men’s Health Month, all of June
  • World of Environment Day, June 5
  • Best Friend Day, June 8
  • Juneteenth, June 19
  • Father’s Day, third Sunday of June
  • International Yoga Day, June 21
  • National Selfie Day, June 21
  • First Day of Summer, summer solstice is usually June 20, 21, or 22
  • Social Media Day, June 30

JULY

  • Independence Day, July 4
  • National Bikini Day, July 5
  • World Chocolate Day, July 7
  • Malala Day, July 12
  • Get to Know Your Customers Day, July 15
  • World Emoji Day, July 17
  • National Ice Cream Day, July 18
  • International Day of Friendship, July 30

AUGUST

  • Back to School, second week of August through first week of September
  • Black Business Month, all of August
  • International Cat Day, August 8
  • Book Lovers Day, August 9
  • International Youth Day, August 12
  • National Non-profit Day, August 17
  • International Dog Day, August 26

SEPTEMBER

  • Labor Day, first Monday in September
  • International Literacy Day, September 8
  • National Video Games Day, September 12
  • National Grandparents Day, September 12
  • Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15
  • Oktoberfest, usually celebrated late September to early October
  • International Day of Peace, September 21
  • World Alzheimers Day, September 21
  • First Day of Fall, the fall equinox is usually on September 22 or 23
  • World Tourism Day, September 27

OCTOBER

  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month, all of October
  • Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), all of October
  • International Coffee Day, October 1
  • World Vegetarian Day, October 1
  • World Smile Day, October 2
  • International Day of the Girl, October 11
  • World Mental Health Day, October 19
  • Boss’s Day, October 16
  • National Make a Difference Day, October 23
  • Halloween, October 31

NOVEMBER

  • Men’s Health – Movember, all of November
  • National Native American Heritage Month, all of November
  • World Vegan Day, November 1
  • Veteran’s Day, November 11
  • America Recycles Day, November 15
  • International Men’s Day, November 19
  • Thanksgiving, the fourth Thursday in November
  • Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving
  • Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving
  • Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving
  • Hanukkah, 8 days long and begins on 25th day of Kislev, the ninth month on the Jewish calendar

DECEMBER

  • National Sock Day, December 4
  • Green Monday, second Monday of December (signalling only 10-12 days before Christmas)
  • First Day of Winter, the winter solstice is usually on December 21 or 22
  • Christmas Eve, December 24
  • Christmas Day, December 25
  • Boxing Day, December 26
  • Kwanzaa, December 26 to January 1

A note about holidays and events aimed at celebrating disadvantaged groups: When celebrating holidays for disadvantaged groups, make sure that your holiday promotional campaign doesn’t come across as disingenuous. You’re better off creating a give back campaign (in which you generously donate a flat amount for higher-than-average cart orders), rather than offering discounts. You need to make the campaign about non-profit organizations helping these groups, not about your business and your profit. 

A note about greenwashing: Don’t use Earth Day or Love a Tree Day as a way to just get more sales. This will only come across as extreme greenwashing, especially if your brand is not environmentally friendly. Create a give back campaign (instead of offering discounts), and make sure that you highlight organizations that conserve national forests or work to offset carbon emissions. If your business is eco-friendly, you could possibly offer a discount as a way for more people to adopt a sustainable lifestyle. In this way, you’ll be using the discount to lower the barrier to entry. Of course, a give back campaign can be a perfect fit for eco-friendly brands too.

Your turn: create a give back campaign

Conscious consumers can smell through BS labeling itself as compost. Trust us. And besides, as a modern brand-builder, you genuinely want to have a positive impact. 

Here are some key takeaways for building effective holiday campaigns that foster goodwill towards your brand:

  • Be generous, especially during the November and December holiday season.
  • Highlight charities not only in your donation page, but your marketing materials too. 
  • Align your brand to the right causes.
  • Align your spotlight charities to the right holidays. 
  • Make the giving about your customers and the non-profits, not about you. 

If you follow these strategies, you can create a holiday shopping experience that sets your company apart. 

Ready to create a unique holiday promo campaign? Check out Givz

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