You can’t ignore it: there’s a certain buzz in the air. The holiday season is upon us.
As store owners, you survived the biggest shopping weekend of the year. But even with Black Friday Cyber Monday behind us, shoppers are still scrambling to buy last minute gifts, pushing the limits of your shipping deadlines. And if you have a retail presence, that chaos can last until closing time on Christmas Eve.
If your customers are celebrating Ramadan or Hanukkah or just looking forward to popping the New Year’s cork, they’re in a buying spirit. With a few last-minute tweaks to your store design, festive product collections, and creative holiday marketing ideas, you can make the most of the next few weeks.
Even if you don’t sell seasonal products or gifts, consider the massive opportunity the holiday season brings. Holiday ecommerce sales are projected to top $209.7 billion in the US alone. Although spending will be down overall, online holiday sales will see a 2.5% bump over 2021.
Ahead, you’ll find a huge list of holiday marketing campaign ideas, including gift guides, email marketing campaign examples, and festive apps to get your store ready for the holiday shopping season.
Getting your store holiday ready
Now that you know why it’s worthwhile to get in the holiday spirit, let’s talk about how to do it. Holiday preparation for commerce stores usually happens much earlier in the year, as you consider and get ready for:
- Increased inventory needs
- Seasonal staff hiring
- Shipping deadlines and policies
- Holiday marketing campaigns
- Packing and shipping supplies
- Holiday-themed product development
- Festive store design and assets
- Holiday returns and exchanges policy
- Gift-giving product collections
If you’ve already checked all the boxes, congrats! You’re in for a smooth ride through the festive season. If not, don’t fret. With weeks to go, there’s still time to implement a last-minute holiday marketing strategy and give your store a festive facelift as you brace for holiday shoppers.
31 holiday marketing campaign ideas for ecommerce stores
Many of these holiday marketing strategies are designed to be easy to implement, even if you’re short on time and budget. The list of holiday marketing campaigns and ideas also includes apps and tools you can use to implement them, plus real examples to inspire you.
Holiday products and themed collections
1. Develop holiday-specific products or variants
For everyone else, with a few tweaks to packaging or variants (say a rebranded festive sock color or holiday label for a pine-scented candle), stores can give the impression of having new offerings, even if they’re reimagined classics.
2. “Gift-ify” your existing product catalog
Bundle products into gift packs for the holiday season, update packaging with festive add-ons like To/From tags or ribbons, and add gift wrapping as an option right on the product page or checkout. Everyday products from your core collection can generate new interest when bundled as a holiday combo and sold as gifts.
3. Offer digital gift cards
Digital gift cards can be added to any store at any time of year. You can easily update the design to reflect the season and promote these as last-minute gift ideas to your customers. Consider featuring them prominently on your site and at the top of gift-giving collections. Promote them on social media after your shipping deadline has passed to keep holiday sales flowing until Christmas Eve.
4. Create holiday collections
Create new collections around holiday themes, categories, or gift recipients. This will help website visitors easily navigate your site for holiday shopping. Curate core products into collections like “Holiday Party Dresses,” “Gifts for Dad,” or “Toys for Toddlers.” This is an easy and free marketing strategy for a small business that is tight on time or budget.
5. Consider timed holiday “drops”
Build anticipation around new products or product variants by teasing “drops” to your social media audience or email subscribers. Example: run a “12 days of Christmas” campaign that introduces a new featured product each day leading up to your shipping deadline. Or delight your customers with a virtual advent calendar that reveals a new holiday promotion each day.
6. Add gift-wrapping as a product
Selling gift wrapping service as a separate product means it will show up prominently in search and collections. You can choose to offer this as a free add-on or to charge for premium wrap as a unique personalized shopping experience. Customers purchasing gifts will appreciate this convenience during the busy festive season.
Holiday content and social marketing
7. Develop a holiday gift guide
Help your customers navigate your store from a gift-buying perspective. Consider creating gift guides on your blog, in email marketing, or via social media. As an easy alternative, link from social media or your homepage to holiday-specific collections renamed as gift guides.
8. Promote your holiday promotions and products on social
Reward your loyal fans with discounts and deals shared exclusively to your social followers. Use a discount app like to offer a gift with purchase, BOGO deals, or tiered discounts that drive higher cart totals. Try timed or limited daily deals that create a sense of anticipation and urgency.
9. Use content marketing to drive traffic
A great holiday SEO strategy can help drive more prospective customers to your site. Consider what value you can offer to your customers this time of year. Whether your target audience is looking for festive recipes, unique gift ideas, or DIY content, find relevant ways to attract them through this content and drive them to your products. Consider multiple formats like gated ebooks or how-to videos.
10. Host a giveaway
Get into the giving spirit by hosting a giveaway on your social accounts. Ask your followers to complete certain actions like sharing your post or signing up for your newsletter to gain an entry.
11. Update social media headers or avatars
You may want to update social media assets like your Facebook cover image or Twitter avatar for the holiday season to remind customers that you’re a destination for gifts. Try a tool like Hatchful or Canva to create a custom logo and social media assets for the season. Also update your bio to include holiday messaging.
Holiday marketing campaigns for email
12. Send a holiday discount code to your email list
Reward existing subscribers with an email marketing campaign to drive them to your site for their shopping needs. Get creative with your subject lines—you’re competing with a ton of noise in your customers’ inboxes ahead of the holiday season.
13. Incentivize new subscribers with a discount
You can also incentivize signups by offering a discount to new subscribers. Set up a welcome email that generates a unique coupon code for new subscribers, or use a pop-up on your site and reveal the code upon sign up.
14. Launch a timed email campaign with daily or weekly features
Kick off a multi-email campaign and help increase your open rates and click-through rates by teasing new holiday promotions and surprises each day or week. Think: daily deals, discount codes, gift with purchase, and new products.
Holiday marketing campaign ideas for online stores
15. Swap out standard lifestyle images with festive versions
If you have the time and budget to reshoot some of your bestsellers as holiday-themed lifestyle photos, it encourages your site visitors to consider your products as gift ideas. Otherwise, browse free stock photos on sites like Burst to find images to use for collection headers and more.
16. Dress up your homepage
Add festive touches to your homepage to let buyers know you’re a destination for gifts or holiday products. Several apps in the Shopify App Store make the process even easier if you don’t have time to design custom holiday assets:
- Create a snow-falling effect on your homepage with Christmas & Snowfall Effect
- Festive Decorations adds animated holiday icons to you store
- Greet customers with a seasonal soundtrack using Custom Background Music: Xmas
17. Add an announcement bar
An announcement bar at the top of your website can be used to announce specials or shipping deadlines to new visitors. An app like Hextom works with your Shopify store to add custom banners in seconds. Use this space to promote free shipping and other holiday campaigns.
18. Create a gift registry or add a wish list feature
Wishlist Plus and Gift Reggie are gift registry apps that let customers save favorites and enable you to send custom marketing messages and reengage them. This is a great marketing tactic to help build your customer list—customers create an account to save favorites, helping you reengage them in future marketing campaigns.
19. Enable gift-wrapping with an app
Rather than set up wrapping as a separate product, try an app that integrates with your store. Wrapped adds a gift wrapping option directly to product pages and checkout. Customers can select from multiple options and add a gift message before adding to cart.
Promoting holiday shipping options
20. Add a countdown bar
Apps like Countdown Timer by POWr and Order Deadline remind customers of your order deadlines, with countdowns embedded in product pages. Communicating cut-off shipping dates clearly on your website can create a sense of urgency—a successful holiday marketing strategy you can use to drive sales.
21. Create a shareable shipping calendar
Customers appreciate clear guidelines around shipping to ensure their gifts will arrive under the tree in time. Don’t make them search for it. A calendar graphic or chart with important dates is a useful asset that you can share across FAQ pages and even email and social media.
22. Promote last-minute delivery and pick up options
If you sell to local customers, offer ordering beyond the shipping cut off, and allow customers to use curbside pick up for last minute orders from your physical store, studio, or office. You may even offer a one-time local delivery option just for the holidays.
23. Enable multiple-address shipping on a single order
Giftship is a great feature to offer your customers. If a customer is doing all their shopping in one place, they can ship items within the same order to multiple addresses.
24. Update your returns policy and set up seamless returns
Nail down your refund and exchange policies well in advance, especially if your terms change over the holidays. The promise of a stress-free returns experience can give customers purchase confidence over the holiday season and increase conversion.
Try Shopify’s free Refund Policy Generator tool. Enable an easy returns flow as well, allowing your customers to submit return requests right on your website. An app like Returns Center or ReturnGo integrates with your Shopify ecommerce theme seamlessly.
In-person holiday marketing ideas
25. Organize a BIA holiday marketing campaign
If you have a physical store, consider rallying the other businesses in your neighborhood to combine efforts on a holiday marketing campaign. Try a Main Street bingo card, collaborations with other brands, a scavenger hunt, or a “doors open” event with special hours and activities.
26. Host an in-store holiday shopping event for loyal customers
Open late for your loyal local customers and invite them into your space for an exclusive event with food, music, and sale items.
27. Try a holiday market
Whether you attend an existing holiday market or host your own, this is a chance for ecommerce businesses to test the waters with retail selling. Network with other entrepreneurs, meet the local community, and invite shoppers to visit your website.
28. Host a workshop or class
Schedule in-store events around a holiday campaign. For example, if you’re trying to push a new product, how can that product be incorporated into a DIY project that you can teach?
The holiday rush doesn’t end even as your packages land safely under the Christmas tree. Some countries celebrate Boxing Day—a day of deals after the gifts are unwrapped. It’s a meaningful opportunity to market to shoppers looking to spend their holiday money. Check out our list of 13 top-rated discount apps for your store.
29. Reallocate marketing efforts to last-minute gifts
30. Say thanks
Don’t forget to say thanks! Keep your customers engaged with your brand and don’t get lost in the shuffle. After the glitter has settled, send holiday-themed thank you cards and include an offer for their next purchase. PostPilot helps you bypass the over-crowded inbox with physical, personalized postcards sent directly to your customers.
31. Promote your Boxing Day deals
Wrap up your holiday marketing campaign with Boxing Day (or Boxing Week) promotions. Send teasers for these ahead of Christmas to hit inboxes early.
Plan ahead for 2023 holiday marketing campaigns
Which upcoming global holidays and events matter to your brand? Think Superbowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Graduation. There may be other niche events like National Doughnut Day or Women’s Equality Day that align with your brand or audience, too.
As you set goals for 2023, think about how seasons and holidays may affect product development, marketing campaigns, shipping deadlines, hiring, inventory management, markets and events, and product collections as they apply to each gift-giving occasion.
🎁 Tip: Add these dates into your marketing and product launch plans months in advance so they don’t creep up.
Wrap up 2022 with a bang
Marketing during the holidays is a different beast. For one, your customers are typically shopping for others, not themselves. And shipping cut-off dates create a sense of rush and urgency. Adapt your marketing efforts to the unique nature of holiday shopping to give your customers a positive experience that will keep them coming back into the new year.
Feature image by Leeloo Thefirst/Pexels
Holiday marketing FAQ
What is the best form of marketing for the holidays?
The holiday marketing campaigns and channels that are best for your brand depend on a number of factors. During the holiday season, you’ll still want to use consistent messaging and branding, but injected with holiday cheer. Your holiday marketing efforts should account for the increase in competition and shipping deadlines. Engage your target audience with a holiday promotion like a free gift with purchase. Or run a social media contest on your most popular marketing channel.
How do you attract customers during the holidays?
Running a successful holiday marketing campaign starts with understanding your target audience. If you’re looking to attract new customers, learn their needs, find out which social media platforms they’re using, and develop new products, holiday gift guides, and ad campaigns that speak to them. Invest in customer experience to build loyalty beyond the holiday season.
What are some creative holiday marketing campaign ideas?
A few creative holiday marketing campaigns you can try are:
- A holiday “spin to win” contest
- Targeted gift guides based on customer personas
- Promoted products or gift bundles using influencer marketing
- In-store holiday events or workshops
- Promotion offering free shipping on featured products