The Great Indian Festival and Shopping Season is here! And that calls for putting your online business on the forefront to grab some attention (and drive more sales) to achieve those year end goals you’ve been working on. That's why we've created a quick guide on holiday marketing which includes some of the best small business Christmas marketing ideas too!
How and where Indian consumers are shopping has changed quite significantly over the past 14 months. While the majority of millennials in Tier-1 metropolitan areas shop online frequently, we are also seeing this trend expand to Tier-II and Tier-III cities as well.
53.3% of millennial shoppers from non-metros surveyed by Shopify for the Festive Shopping Outlook Report 2021 showed a strong preference for shopping online. Overall, more Indian consumers are shopping online with 76.9% of those surveyed by Shopify looking to do so this festive season because of the convenience it offers.
YouGov research also reported that 91% of consumers plan on shopping online during this festive and holiday season while the Retailers Association of India confirmed there will be pent-up consumer demand this festive season.
While this is the best time to bring forward your best deals and discounts, it is also the one time when it gets tougher to get your offers noticed.
So we took into account the most commonly used channels by consumers in India and brought together some of the best seasonal marketing strategies you can implement to ensure that you’re on your consumer’s mind (and cart) during this period of gifting and crazy year-end shopping!
Now let's get down to finding the best holiday marketing strategy for you.
Holiday marketing strategies for the festive and holiday season sales
We took a look at some of the most successful Indian brands out there and tried to break down how they were reaching the right audience at the right time with the right message with their seasonal marketing campaigns.
Here are some of the lessons we learned from them, listed as simple steps or even a checklist to help you run the best holiday marketing strategy this year:
- Get your online store ready for the festive and holiday season
- Create a festive-ready collection of your products
- Create offers and discounts keeping the holiday season in mind
- Reach out to your subscribers on email to let them know
- Set up social media ads to boost awareness around the sale
- Set up search ads to tap into the search intent of online shoppers
- Leverage content marketing
- Reach out to customers on SMS
- Send a promotional broadcast on WhatsApp
- Send promotions on Telegram
- Automate your web push notifications
- Create and offer gift cards
- Set up retargeting and remarketing ads
1. Get your store festive ready
First things first. Whether you have an offline store, an online one, or both, it’s time to give it the look and feel of the season!
If you have a physical store, adding a few lights during Diwali or a Christmas tree for some happy, winter cheer can go a long way in getting into the groove and inviting more footfall.
Similarly, if you have an online store, make sure you bring in some festive and holiday season cheer to your design. You can do this by simply changing the hero banner image on the homepage to something that reflects the festive cheer. Or if you’re taking your sale live, you could showcase this as a banner.
Then you can create an additional page to display all your discounts and deals, and redirect websites to this page. For example, ‘Secret Santa Sale’ for your Christmas marketing campaign, could be a page that displays all the items that are on discount.
Another good idea and holiday marketing campaign example of something that works to capture attention is to use product labels to highlight the items on sale. They’re also a subtle design element that makes it easy for visitors to spot the items on discount amidst the hundreds that may be present on your site.
For example, The Man Company uses a popup to display their Diwali contest that nudges visitors to subscribe to participate.
Bonus tip: You can also promote a hashtag that subscribers can use to participate in the contest while sharing a purchase on social media. This is one of the ways you can gather social proof, which can become one of your most influential marketing assets.
2. Create a festive or holiday ready collection of products
Take a look at your products, what your customers are buying actively and then create a holiday season sale collection. These could be individual items that you offer on discounts for the time period. Or you could even bundle different items to create packages they are more likely to purchase.
For example, Phool combined their incense sticks along with diyas to create Diwali gift boxes with custom packaging for their Diwali Sale.
Similarly, an effective Christmas promotion idea is to set up a Secret Santa page wherein shoppers making a purchase from the collection, receive a surprise gift alongside their order.
Think strategically about how a consumer can make use of your collection or offer and go all out with it.
This is also a good time to bundle your slow-selling products with hot-selling items to make the purchase more valuable for your customers, and to get your inventory out. But remember to create a limited inventory of the same, to keep the FOMO going in your holiday marketing strategy.
3. Create offers and discounts keeping holiday shopping in mind
The festive and holiday season sales aren’t just all about the deals and discounts for consumers. A lot of your potential customers are also looking for things like express shipping or discounted shipping. So take consumer psychology in mind while creating offers and discounts for this seasonal sale.
A few offers and discounts that you can experiment with for Christmas marketing and holiday season promotions include:
- % off storewide
- % off on select items/ collections
- % off on a defined cart total
- Free shipping for a limited period of time
- Discounted shipping
- Free shipping on orders above a set threshold
- % off on volume purchases
- Buy x, get y discount
Want to learn more about the different types of discounts you can offer to customers in your holiday marketing strategy? Read this article.
And if you have a Shopify store, learn more about creating discounts here.
4. Reach out to subscribers on email
As soon as you have your festive or holiday season sale planned out, use email marketing to reach out to your existing customers and subscribers. But remember a one-time announcement will do you no good!
Start with a sneak peek into the discounts to create excitement around the sale. Then gradually countdown to the sale, nudging your subscribers to create wish lists or keep a tab on the products going up on sale to not miss out on a good deal.
Here's an example of a Christmas marketing campaign being run by Apple on email:
If you’re open to taking pre-orders on the discounted prices, remember to clearly mention the same in your emails. And finally, when your sale goes live, remember to clearly state the same in the email as well!
Pro tip: Keep your subscribers engaged even during the sale using email marketing to recommend products based on their browsing history, previous purchases and more. You can also use emails to seek product reviews or feedback from customers.
We’ll make this one more level easier with Shopify Email. You can create branded, well-designed emails and automate them using the Shopify Email app to fuel your holiday season marketing campaign. Learn more about it here.
5. Set up social media ads to grab attention
According to a study, about two-thirds of online shoppers today use social media as a part of their shopping journey. But it’s also a fact that posting on social media or creating video content is no longer enough to grab consumer attention. To get your festive and holiday season sale deals noticed, you should leverage social media ads.
Depending on which platform your audience is the most active on, create ads that announce your sale, share discounts and deals or even collections that are up on a special price. But don’t forget to combine it with a good ad copy that lets shoppers know that these deals are time-sensitive!
Depending on the social media channel you’re making use of, you can also set up shoppable ads like these to make it simpler for your audience to buy products they see in the promotions:
Not sure how to get started with social media ads your holiday marketing strategy? Here are some resources to help:
- Facebook Ads for Beginners: A Step-By-Step Guide to Running Your First Campaign
- The Beginner's Guide to Advertising on Instagram
- Guide to setting up Shopping ads by Instagram
6. Run search engine ads to tap into intent
According to a study conducted by Google, 39% of consumers are influenced by a relevant search. This simply means that for most of us, online shopping journeys start from the search engines.
Now ranking high up on the search results when there is so much content being published, can be tough and time consuming. This is where search ads come in.
Similar to social media ads, you can use search ads to direct traffic to your seasonal sale page for specific keywords. This will ensure that when someone is searching for ‘christmas gifts’, your ad becomes visible to them right at the top of the search results.
Here’s an example of what search ads look like for Christmas marketing campaigns:
If you haven’t run search ads before and don’t know where to begin, we recommend reading this guide first: The Google Ads Playbook: 13 Campaign Types And What to Expect From Them.
7. Leverage content marketing
Have you ever gotten stuck in a rut where you don’t know what gift would be best for a festive celebration? Or did you run out of ideas to surprise your friends and family on Christmas? Or maybe you’re hosting a party during the holiday season, but you don’t know what games you could play together?
The very first thing you’re most likely to do, is head to the search engine to look for answers. Now your consumers are the same!
To put things into perspective, here’s how many monthly searches are made around Diwali gifts in different set ups:
And here’s how many people are searching for Christmas gift ideas around the holiday season in India; you can use these to come up with Christmas promotion ideas:
Now we’re not saying that all of these searches were made by someone who eventually did go on to make a purchase online. But these were consumers with a high intent of making a purchase, seeking information that they may use for online or offline shopping.
If you have a unique set of products that fall into different search buckets, leverage content marketing to target these keywords. You could write a quick blog with a list of gift ideas. Or you could simply create an Instagram guide with the help of carousels to share gift ideas from your collection of products.
If not gift ideas, you can actually use content marketing to share a story, talk about a sensitive topic or something that your audience cares about during this period. For example, Heads Up For Tails always has timely content up on their blog to guide pet owners in making the right purchases. Their focus is to educate first and then sell!
If content marketing is a completely new strategy for you, we recommend you take a look at some of our resources here. From step by step guides to examples and ideas, you’ll find something that will definitely inspire you to give content a shot!
8. Reach out to your customers on SMS
Did you know that 64% of consumers think brands should contact them via SMS more often?
There are about 75% of consumers who want to receive texts with special offers or notifications of ongoing discounts. And that’s your sign to start leveraging SMS marketing this festive and holiday season!
Reach out to your existing customers and subscribers on SMS. Send them a quick update about your ongoing deals, let them know until when you have the sale live or share a special coupon code with them to encourage them to visit your store.
Here’s an example of how mCaffeine uses SMS marketing to promote seasonal offers:
You can run a series of SMS campaigns such as these for your Christmas marketing too!
If you have a store on Shopify, getting started with SMS marketing is really easy. All you need to do is install an app and set up your text marketing campaigns. Explore all SMS marketing apps here.
9. Reach out to your customers on WhatsApp
With about 340 million users (and increasing), India is WhatsApp’s biggest market. There are more than 100 billion messages sent via WhatsApp every day. That only goes to say how frequently we use the chat app on a daily basis!
And that’s reason enough for you to start using WhatsApp for seasonal and holiday marketing.
Similar to SMS marketing, you can use WhatsApp to send out broadcast messages to announce your sales and discounts. You can even set up follow-up messages to remind subscribers about the ongoing sale when it goes live, recover abandoned carts or even nurture them post-sale with review requests, product recommendations and more.
Here’s an example of Diwali promotion being run on WhatsApp, directing the recipient to the sale page on the brand’s Shopify store:
Setting up a WhatsApp broadcast message or other marketing campaigns for your Shopify store is really easy. We have a few app partners that enable smart automations along with custom personalizations to make your campaigns more effective. Explore all our WhatsApp marketing apps here.
10. Send an update on subscribers on Telegram
A popular alternative to WhatsApp, the Telegram app has been downloaded more than 220 million times in India since August 2021. According to The Next Web, Telegram’s active user base has grown by 110% in India last year, making it another promising channel for businesses to reach out to their customers for promotional purposes.
Similar to SMS and WhatsApp marketing, Telegram too can be used to send out broadcast messages about your ongoing sales. You can also send sale/ discount updates during the holiday season to keep customers in the loop and nudge them subtly towards making a purchase.
Some businesses also use Telegram to create exclusive communities for their customers, wherein they share special discounts or early bird offers before the holiday season sale actually kicks off.
Here's an example of a brand using Telegram to broadcast the ongoing promotions:
11. Leverage web push notifications
Owing to the increase in the number of online businesses, some consumers are becoming skeptical about sharing their contact information with brands. Imagine getting bombarded with promotional messages on email, SMS, WhatsApp and other platforms!
This is where web push notifications come in, offering a soft touch communication channel. A store visitor can easily subscribe to getting updates about deals and discounts without sharing any of their contact information.
Here’s how Boll and Branch uses a web push notification to announce sales and discounts on their store during the holiday season:
And here's one from Bombay Shaving Company:
If you have been using web push notifications to grow your subscriber list, make sure you make it a channel to promote your seasonal sale. Start early by promoting an upcoming sale, building up to the day of launch and then a few regular updates to keep people engaged by automating messages around the time left to avail deals.
In case you haven’t tapped into web push notifications yet, you can easily download an app to get started. Explore all our web push notification apps here.
12. Set up gift cards on your store
According to a study conducted on the Indian retail market, the gift card market in the country is slated to grow at a CAGR of 18.4% from 2020-2025. The number shows how consumers today want to give the gift of choice to their friends and family at different occasions. And it’s no longer restricted to birthdays.
Set up gift cards on your Shopify store for Diwali, Christmas, New Year and every little occasion in between. They make for great last-minute gifts that no one minds receiving too!
But make sure that you promote your gift cards proactively on all popular channels of communication. Be it through social media, ad campaigns, web push, SMS or even with promotional banners on the website, don’t forget to get them in the limelight.
Here’s an example of a gift card from Tanishq that can also be used as an evergreen marketing strategy, letting customers purchase throughout the year.
Want to learn more about setting up gift cards on your store for holiday marketing? Read the guide here.
13. Set up retargeting and remarketing ads
When you start promoting your season sale, remember that it’s not a one-time effort. An average internet user sees about 5000 ads every day, on different channels and in different formats. There’s a high chance that they may forget about yours by the time they actually need to make a purchase.
This is why you need to set up retargeting and remarketing ads to bring back consumers who had shown interest in your initial set of promotional ads or other marketing efforts to promote seasonal, festive and holiday sales.
Since this is an audience that is already aware of your discounts and the deals you’re offering and has been introduced to your brand before, they are more likely to convert. According to studies, the average click-through rate (CTR) for ads is 0.07%, while the average CTR for retargeting and remarketing ads is about 0.7%, getting you more ROI on your campaigns!
Running retargeting ads on social media and remarketing on search engines is easy if you have a Shopify store. We have a number of apps that you can use to set up these campaigns and automate the process. Explore them all here.
If you’re new to running retargeting ads, you can read our guide here before getting started.
Holiday selling tips to make your seasonal marketing campaigns a success
While we’ve listed out some basic steps to ensure you maximize your seasonal marketing strategy, holiday marketing strategies may vary based on who you’re targeting, what you offer and the resources available to you. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to seasonal marketing. But when it comes to eCommerce holiday marketing, there are a few best practices and tips that we do recommend following:
- Set up an online store
- Understand your customers and identify needs
- Create discounts that fit into the festivities
- Reach out to your existing customers
- Get started with marketing early on
1. Set up an online store
According to Shopify India’s Festive Shopping Report 2021, 76.9% Indian consumers show deep inclination towards online shopping this festive season because of the convenience it offers. Another study states that there will be around 75 million online buyers participating in the festive season sales actively. So if you don’t have an online store already, these numbers are a sign it’s time to set up one.
With Shopify, you can have your online store up and running in just a few steps. With an easy drag and drop builder, beautiful Shopify themes to give your storefront a good look and feel and apps that will help you sell more, the eCommerce platform is trusted by millions of businesses worldwide.
2. Understand your consumers and identify what they’re looking for
Festive and holiday season sales are not just about discounts and deals. Consumers are also looking to buy specific items during this period and for your seasonal marketing campaigns to be a success, you need to understand and identify this need.
For example, before and during Diwali, Indians tend to go through weeks of spring cleaning. So if you’re running a dropshipping store, you can actually start selling cleaning products.
Similarly, around Christmas, everyone’s looking for ideas to surprise their friends and family. You can create discounts around popular products that can be used as gifting items and run a Secret Santa sale.
We also have a list of trending products you can sell online. Check it out here!
3. Create discounts that fit into the festivities
If you want consumers to engage with you, you need to be relevant with the seasonal sales you’re running too!
For example, during Diwali, consumers tend to buy budget-friendly gifts and sweets for their neighbors. So ideally, you should create gift hampers or bundle deals on products that fit the bill! You could even offer volume-based discounts.
Similarly, during New Years, everyone is trying to make resolutions for a healthier year ahead or changing things around them to a ‘new’ look and feel. If you’re a fashion and clothing store for instance, you can actually create discounts around ‘season celebrity favourites’.
We'll give you another example of a Christmas marketing campaign. During Christmas, people are looking at a timely delivery of orders; so you can create an offer around the shipping you offer.
4. Don’t forget reaching out to your existing customers
According to studies, acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one. The same holds true when it comes to bringing back a customer to buy from you again vs convincing a new one to explore your deals. The study also states that the success rate of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is merely 5-20%.
So when you set up your holiday season offers, make sure you don’t forget to notify your existing customers. Reach out to them on email, SMS, WhatsApp or announce the sale on the social media platform they’re the most active on!
Note: If you have a brick and mortar (physical, offline) store, make sure you let walk-in customers know of the online sale as well.
5. Get started early!
The trick to get attention in times when everyone is putting their best foot forward, is to start early.
Set up and start promoting your festive and holiday season sale early on. You can set up a pre-launch page and start sneak-peek seasonal marketing campaigns across all channels, to keep your audience engaged and looking forward to what you have in store for them.
Depending on who your audience is and what you’re offering, you can also consider taking pre-orders on the upcoming sale. That way you can secure your sales even before the season hits!
Join in the festivities and make this year the best for your business!
Festive and holiday shopping season is the best time for online businesses to reach out and engage their audience by joining them in all the celebrations. But more importantly, it is that period of the year where people are in a ready state of making purchases for one reason or another; be it gifting for Diwali, surprising friends with Christmas gifts or a little self-indulging before the New Year kicks in.
So make the most of this time to put your business up, front and center to grab some attention!
If you have a store on Shopify, it’s much easier to get started with all the holiday marketing strategies we’ve shared above.
From email marketing to web push notifications, pop-ups and more, there’s a Shopify app for everything. Explore all our apps here.
And if you need help with anything, you can even find a Shopify expert to work with you to get the ball rolling. Find them here.