Watch the second-annual, premier hybrid event for ecommerce innovators.

Watch the second-annual, premier hybrid event for ecommerce innovators. Learn More


Share This Article

Drop Route directly in your inbox.

Ecommerce Has a Serious Holiday Marketing Problem

Jan 7, 2021

It’s always kind of funny hearing about “Black Friday doorbusters” in September. It seems like Black Friday starts earlier and earlier every year — in 2020, these sales started as early as November 4

Which, and we could be very mistaken, is any day but the day after Thanksgiving. At that point, most of us are still taking down Halloween decorations, chowing down on leftover candy, and breaking our teeth on rock-hard Dubble Bubble. 

Whatever sugar-induced coma we’re in, we know one thing: We’re definitely not thinking about holiday shopping. 

Marketing around the holidays has been in a free fall in recent years, and 2020 exposed the epitome of the decline of Black Friday. When more than half of consumers prepared to do their shopping online this past holiday season, it became clear that ecommerce has a holiday marketing conundrum.

Marketing verbiage like “doorbuster” or “limited-time” is quickly becoming meaningless. Shoppers can’t exactly bust down doors if they’re primarily shopping online. Meanwhile, these “limited-time” sales last for days on end, some even the entire month of November. The once claustrophobic, urgent, anxiety-inducing, calamitous Black Friday is, in truth, no longer relevant. This is true in both marketing’s prowess and sales’ performance

Customers are also clueing into the tricks that many retailers employ during the holiday shopping season. These include strategies like raising prices before Black Friday to then make the sale seem steeper, only discounting old models, and other strategies that make the sales seem like bigger blowouts than they are. 

It’s time for brands to rethink the way they offer holiday shopping experiences. The majority of consumers are less inclined to go Black Friday shopping than previous years, showcasing that doorbuster deals aren’t resonating with shoppers the way they used to. With all the old tricks showing their age and losing meaning, it’s a must for ecommerce marketing to draw up a new playbook.

Holiday Marketing That Makes Sense for Ecommerce

Maybe it’s time to ditch the tired idioms that have blanketed our consciousness every November. As consumers grow tired of Black Friday and Cyber Monday (and the now futile language surrounding both), consider that the very thing that killed Black Friday opens up an opportunity to revive your store’s holiday shopping experiences altogether: goin’ digital.

Let’s face it: Black Friday died because people are able to do all their holiday shopping, with the same discounts, from their couch instead of packing into crowded malls and getting trampled by frazzled parents trying to snag the last items on the shelves for their children. Leaning into the online holiday shopping surge will do more for your brand than any Black Friday sale ever could.

This shopping frenzy can now be enjoyed from the comfort of your couch, in your pajamas, away from people. Bless the internet 🙏

Give Your Ecommerce Shop a Holiday Marketing Facelift Before Next Season

Standing out in upcoming holiday seasons is going to take a lot more than launching an assault of *now* meaningless buzzwords like “doorbuster” or “limited-time” or “Black Friday” or “synergy” (oops, wrong thread about outdated buzzwords). The point is, these words have lost their meaning and shoppers are basically immune to their once-magical sales-driving powers. 

To truly entice the swath of online customers, try these strategies on for size:

Personalize Your Holiday Promotional Messages

No matter what channel, your holiday promotional messages must be tailored to each customer. This means generic “Black Friday” (or whatever) sales won’t push you over the competition anytime soon.

Email, mobile app, SMS, social—basically all channels can all be tailored to make the most relevant offers to your customers. If your budget supports it, consider targeted ads. 

If you’re looking for more frugal personalization options, make adjustments to your email marketing and send custom product recs and upsells based on a buyer’s history. Or if they’re a frequent customer, consider sending more exclusive, VIP-level deals to show appreciation (and that you’re paying attention).

Go on, Tout Your Mission Some More

Millennials and Gen Z have sustainability and transparency in mind more than ever. Conscious consumerism is on the rise and becoming more of an expectation than a niche benefit. At every stage of your customer journey, showcase your products and services from this perspective. 

Whether that means showing where your products are sourced from, visibility into your sustainability targets, or transparency from product discovery to delivery, ensure that your product detail pages cater to this rising demand. Knowing that they’re buying from a brand that cares about its employees, the earth, philanthropy, or all of that combined play a huge role in their decisions and experience. 

After all, what feels better than treating yourself while knowing you’re playing a small part in the greater good?

Brag About the Experience, Not the Price 

The virtual onslaught of emails screaming about discounts and Cyber Mondays and percentages off becomes a slurry of white noise around the holidays. Subject lines filled with emojis or mentions of slashed prices often find their way to the trash along with hundreds of others swarming the inbox. 

It’s almost like all retailers want is money…

What if your store took a different angle? One that was less about locking in purchases and taking a shopper’s money, and more about what your store gives to customers. As more and more shoppers seek out the best experiences, put the spotlight on what they can expect when shopping at your store. 

  • Real-time package tracking for pre-holiday peace of mind
  • One-click online ordering
  • Free shipping (or expedited shipping) 
  • Discounts when purchasing multiples or subscriptions
  • Package protection to let shoppers know they won’t get left without a gift or their money if their purchase should arrive damaged, get lost, or suffer delays
  • Live push notifications about their purchase’s progress so they don’t have to waste time or enter the battlefield that is the holiday inbox
  • Interest-free financing or more ways to pay
  • Easy and fast issue resolution instead of an endless loop of customer service bots and calamity

If you have any of these benefits already living in your customer experience, you’re sitting on a stockpile of holiday marketing materials. Put what you’re giving to customers first, then mention the steep, steep discounts or other offers you’re rolling out for the holidays.

What’s Your Holiday Marketing Problem? 

Black Friday may have come and gone this year, but holiday shopping will be back before we know it. Lean into new buyer behaviors and win the holiday shopping season by ditching outdated buzzwords that have entirely lost their meaning. Instead, adopt new holiday marketing strategies that break the norm and appeal to the modern consumer

Who knows, you might just be the store to start the next big holiday marketing tradition. See how Route can get your store’s strategies ready for whatever holidays lie ahead.

Share This Article

Get more Route right in your inbox.