16 Christmas Marketing Ideas to Boost your 2018 Ecommerce Sales

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It’s never too early to search for some Christmas marketing ideas for your brand to get the most out of the silly season. 

Or is it?

Mid-August may be a little to start posting Christmas-themed photos on your brand’s Facebook page. The end of summer though is the best time to start planning.

Why?

Because there is a wide range of dates in the last 3 months of the year that e-commerce owners can leverage.

And planning to use these takes time. There’s also one other reason you should start planning a little earlier. A study from RCS UK shows that 38% of buyers start doing their Christmas shopping in October.

So, you need to have your marketing plan finalized and prepared by the end of September at the latest in order to meet the Christmas postage deadlines. In other words, to get your product seen by the early birds, you need to start planning now.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Some less-known Christmas marketing ideas,
  • Holiday promo ideas for both retail and e-commerce,
  • How to keep the sales flowing into the next year

So while autumn (or fall, if you’re that way inclined) is setting in, sit down with your pumpkin spiced latte and start planning your Christmas marketing ideas todayBefore you start planning what you’ll do though, it’s important that you have a clear goal in mind.

1. Define your goals & plan toward them

Goals are what take us forward – goals are what keeps us growing, learning and improving. Without defined goals, your brand won’t see more sales in the Christmas period. Your Christmas marketing ideas will go to waste.

Create S.M.A.R.T goals.

S.M.A.R.T is an acronym which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. Here is an example of how the concept works:

Your goal: More sales

Your S.M.A.R.T goal: To increase overall gross profits between October & December 2018 compared to the same time in 2017.

ecommerce marketing goals

For more info on S.M.A.R.T goals, check out this article from Smart Insights about SMART marketing goalsOnce you have your S.M.A.R.T goals outlined, it’s now time to figure out how to achieve them. If your goal is simply more sales, that’s great, but how will you do that?

Answer: there are many ways.

One way to do that might be to increase your conversion rate. Another way might be to increase your social media activity. It might be pairing up with an influencer. Whatever you decide the best way to reach those goals is, it’s important that it’s compatible with your S.M.A.R.T goals.

Your marketing campaign MUST create cut-through with your target audience. Every retailer will be looking to use Christmas as an opportunity to reach potential customers. As a result, your customer’s attention is pulled in so many different directions, it takes something surprising, or remarkable to get them to take an action.
-Nelson Jordan, Co-Founder of Agency Match

If you’re not entirely sure in which ways to achieve your Christmas marketing goals, keep reading!

2. Kick it off on Halloween

It seems that straight after Halloween, the Christmas shopping floodgates open. Getting the most out of Halloween and the other dates around this time are actually one of the less known Christmas marketing ideas.

christmas vs halloween

Even those of us who aren’t in the USA see the effect Halloween has. Many British, European and Australian companies now also leverage this holiday. A great Christmas marketing idea is to continue the hype of Halloween over into Christmas.

Encourage people that bought from you during Halloween to do their Christmas shopping with you. Use the hype of Halloween to draw attention to any specials that you have coming up in the lead up to Christmas.

Halloween imagery shared a week after the holiday has actually passed can help you stand out against your competitors who have gone straight to the Christmas themed promotion!

3. Customise your packaging

We all know how important custom packaging is for your brand.

Packaging is the only thing that reaches 100% of your customers.

But custom packaging with a Christmas theme is the next step in making your customer’s Christmas a little bit betterGive your customer them their purchase in some Christmas themed packaging, whether they bought your product for themselves or someone else.

Check out Packhelp’s custom packaging creator to create some Christmas-themed packaging with your logo. Simply pick the box or bag you’d like to use, place your imagery and place your order!

custom christmas packaging

Interested in using bespoke product packaging this Christmas period?

Click here to get started

4. Get emotional with your Christmas marketing

Christmas can be an emotional time for everyone. Take a look at the following video to see how the Polish marketplace Allegro use emotion:

Emotions are a necessary ingredient in almost all decisions. When you play on the heartstrings like this, you’re bound to get a reaction.

So how can you use emotion in your online store?

Consider for a moment, product descriptions. Rather than writing the minimum details of a product, tell a story. Use the space to build a desire for the product. You can also use emotion at Christmas time by sharing some behind the scenes imagery. Show off how your brand and employees celebrate Christmas.

Bonus: Rename your ‘about us’ page to ‘our story’.

5. Use seasonal PPC words

During the Christmas period, you’ll get left behind if you don’t adjust your AdWords campaigns for seasonal keywordsFor example, ‘craft supplies’ is a keyword that’s popular all year round, as you can see by the red line below:

christmas ppc advertising

But the keywords ‘buy Christmas decorations’ and ‘diy Christmas decorations’ peak, obviously, in the last week of November.

What does this mean to you?

You may have a more successful PPC campaign if you change the keywords you bid for in the lead up to Christmas. Doing this involves looking at the problems your product solves, a point you saw earlier. Remember though, a good PPC campaign relies heavily on solid research and testing!

6. Black Friday & Cyber Monday are your Christmas marketing friends

It’s pretty obvious how big these two days are in the world of both retail and e-commerce. These days, along with many others, are two days are days that you can also leverage.

Use them to bring more attention to your brand and your Christmas marketing campaign. 

Of course, you can offer the massive discounts that all other retailers do, but what will make you stand out is adding value to each purchase.

Bring Black Friday and Cyber Monday buyers back for Christmas by doing the following:

  • Offer a coupon that’s valid for the rest of the year,
  • Add in a ‘stocking filler’ product for free,
  • Offer free postage and free returns,
  • Include an extended warranty or guarantee

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great opportunities for you to increase your sales. You can also use these occasions to grow an email list in the lead up to the Christmas rush.

This Black Friday, level-up your brand awareness with custom packaging.

Click here to get started

Note: Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just 2 of many other events that you can leverage in the lead up to Christmas. Dates like Small Business Saturday and Free Shipping day are a few others you can be a part of. Here are some more unique days your brand can use to get seen and sell more.

7. Pay attention to the novelty days

There are many dates throughout October, November and December you can leverage. For example, ‘Singles day’ in China falls on November 11.

ecommerce singles day

Do you have many buyers in China? Perhaps a lot of your past customers are Chinese living in other countries. By paying attention to smaller, more niche holidays like this, you engage a smaller niche of followers and keep them loyal.

If you market everything as overtly Christmas themed (unless you’re a Christmas retailer), you are potentially alienating other demographics that celebrate different holidays. Winter themed campaigns work really well!
-Arielle Kimbarovsky – Codal

Another example, Hanukkah. A massive gift-giving holiday for the Jewish community at the start of December.

8. Update your imagery

Make sure anyone who visits your web store, blog or social media pages knows that you’ve got a Christmas promotion on. In the following example, you can see what Crate&Barrel did in 2017:

christmas marketing images

The benefit here is that anyone that visits your homepage knows that you’ve got a promotion on. By using an easy to read banner, Crate&Barrel are showing they can save you money this Christmas.

Be sure to update your social media imagery, too.

social media marketing christmas

In the following example, you can see how Ferreiras have updated both the Facebook cover image and profile photo to a Christmas theme. The result? Anyone that visits their Facebook page knows that they have a sale on.

9. Sell the solution, not the product.

The most successful companies around focus on showing how their products improve the quality of life of the user. For example, a microwave means that you don’t have to put your soup into a saucepan and heat it up – it saves you time.

A great way to show how your products solve problems is by showing it in use. In the following image, you can see how this Amazon seller does exactly that.

solution based marketing christmas

They use imagery to show this gadget’s features in use and solving problemsFirstly, the pen’s screwdriver feature is being used to solve a problem – a spontaneous loose screw – and then the ruler that’s printed on the side of the pen is being used to measure a component in a plan.

This works for nearly all kinds of products.

Even the humble socks and underwear that you’ll get your dad as a last minute gift. What problems do they solve? Well, if you buy them for him, he doesn’t have to buy them for himself!

10. Offer free shipping. Period.

Today, buyers expect free shipping. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small bottle of beard oil or a kitchen bench. Free delivery is an incentive that many people expect in 2018. But you may have to adjust your pricing to absorb the cost of postage.

Once again, this increase in price is often overlooked when the words ‘free worldwide shipping’ is part of the deal.

christmas free shipping

Take a look at this article to see a timeline of cut-off dates for ordering your supplies and sending out your orders. 

With a good Christmas campaign, you’ll attract a lot of last-minute buyers in the week before Christmas. So, it’s important that you start to offer free express postage up until the latest possible date.

Why?

Last minute buyers are more than willing to buy from you as they know they can get the product before the big day.

11. Create a gift guide

Creating a simple gift guide can be a great way to draw people to your products that make great giftsA gift guide is nothing more than a simple collection of products that people buy as gifts for others.

Take a look at the image below:

christmas gift guide

Here, you can see The Everygirl’s 2016 gift guide. It is nothing more than a collection of products that make great presents.

So how can you make a gift guide in your online store?

By creating a landing page that showcases all these products in one place. Promote this product page on social media and other channels. Soon enough, you’ll see the sales roll in as your customers are spoon-fed products that make ideal gifts.

12. Bundle items

Want to take the gift guide to the next level? Consider bundling some of your most popular items together. In the example below, you can see how even the behemoth Amazon likes to bundle items together:

bundled items marketing

Buy a pair of headphones and you’re reminded to buy some extra ear rubbers, just in case.

What’s the benefit?

The benefit your customer sees is a ‘bargain’. Products bundled together increase the perceived value of the items. This effect multiplies when bundled items are discounted. This increases your average cart spend as well as your conversion rate.

Finding the best items to bundle

To find the best products to bundle together, take a good look at your top selling products. Then find a product that compliments that. Is your top seller a set of steak knives? Bundle it with a knife sharpener.

Protip: Offer free postage on bundled items. This will add to the value of the product perceived by your customer.

13. Don’t forget ‘after’ Christmas

There is a blurry period between Christmas and when people go back to work in the new year. This is a great time to continue pumping out your sales. This is a time when people are usually fat, happy and relaxing with their family – and passing their time on their phone. Offer a ‘Santa didn’t get me what I wanted’ flash sale and heavily discount any products that you’d like to move quickly.

Double down on your most successful campaign categories, both in the advertising medium & marketing concept throughout the New Year. Take what you learned in the Christmas 2018 period, and focus your budget on your most profitable campaigns. Leverage owned channels to cross-sell your other products.
-Dean DeCarlo, President of Mission Disrupt.

This is a great way to remove some stagnant products and clear some space for a new range of products in the new year.

14. Work with a charity

As mentioned earlier, emotion plays a big part at Christmas time. Charities often use this time to drum up some fundraising for themselves. Last Christmas, AppleGreen fuel partnered with 3 charities and helped spread the message of what those charities do:

ecommerce christmas charity

There are many ways you can do something similar yourself:

  • A certain percentage of every sale goes to a specific charity.
  • For every product that is purchased, you’ll donate the same amount of money to charity.
  • Give your customers the chance to donate to charity through the checkout process.

Consider teaming up with a charity for an event like Halloween or Green Monday, too. Regardless of with option you use, partnering with a charity is a great way to spread more brand awareness. You’ll also build your network and most importantly, do something good for the world!

15. Keep your most popular products stocked

This one is pretty simple, but you’d be surprised how many times it happens. The best selling, most popular product on your shelves will move quick. But be absolutely certain that it won’t run out! Your Christmas campaign will come to a grinding halt if you have to email your customers and explain that you don’t actually have the product that they purchased!

Double down on this and use your stock numbers to create a sense of urgency.

Having a live stock figure clearly shown for each product can be a massive benefit. It’s a great way to be transparent and help give customers more information. But it also creates great urgency and can nudge browsers into making that purchase decision now – especially if they think that stock may run out in the run-up to Christmas.
-Matt Warren, CEO & Founder of Veeqo

16. Create a cut off date for last purchases

With so many postage deadlines in this part of the year, time is of the essence in the lead up to Christmas. Your slower purchasers will be feeling the burn if they haven’t purchased from you before December 20. If you’re based in Los Angeles, it won’t take long for your package to arrive at a customer in San Francisco. But if you have a customer that’s based in Bucharest, Romania and you’re shipping to them from L.A, it’s going to take longer.

For that purpose, it’s important that you make it clear the cutoff dates for delivery in certain regions.

We’ve done something similar for you: here is a timeline of cut off dates that you can order your custom branded packaging and be sure to get it for your Christmas campaign!

Summing up

So there you have it! 16 Christmas marketing ideas that you can implement this holiday season. There are plenty more out there, but the one mentioned here are some of the less known ones. Time is of the essence this time of year and it’s important to know your limits.

Along with keeping your site content and social feeds fresh, having core promotions planned and scheduled early frees up your time during the rush. So if you need to create last-minute posts to highlight holiday specials or trends, you can without interrupting or delaying your core promotions.
-Krista Fabregas, Fit Small Business

Take a read of this article to see your cut off dates for postage for all the holidays, as well as the last days that you can order your product packaging. What’s most important through all of this is that you plan and measure everything. Who knows, if you find a golden marketing idea, it may just work for you throughout the rest of the year!


Phil Forbes
Phil Forbes An Aussie living in Warsaw. Specialising in the field of SEO, digging into analytics and getting graphs trending up and to the right.
An Aussie living in Warsaw. Specialising in the field of SEO, digging into analytics and getting graphs trending up and to the right.