7 Ways to Boost Your e-Commerce Sales During the 2018 Holiday Season


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The holidays are HERE! They represent the highest revenue-driving opportunity for a lot of retailers and online shops. Now, more than ever, you have to drive interest in your products and services, increase conversions, and ultimately drive revenue.

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Last year, online shopping sales hit a record high (after eclipsing offline sales for the first time during the 2016 Holidays), at $108.2 billion — up 14% from the prior year (Adobe).

Retailers reported $7.9B in online sales on Black Friday and Thanksgiving 2017, up about 18% from 2016 (Reuters).

This year, Cyber Monday BROKE the record for the single highest selling day in U.S. history — grossing $7.9B in sales!

Expect numbers to rise again this year. Take this opportunity to enhance your customers’ personalized experiences as they skate through the purchase journey on your website during the 2018 holidays.

Boosting Your E-Commerce Sales During the Holiday Season

As we inch closer to the snowflakes, stockings, and seasonal spirit, it’s time to take a look at how you can get the most bang for your buck this year. Here are 7 practices you can adopt right now to get more sales during the holidays.

1. Use historic data (from last year)

The holidays are a perfect time to use historical customer data and make more informed decisions about who to target, when, and with what content and promotions this year.

Look at existing promotions, and ask who’d be most interested in them. Who do you have on your list that buys in that category? Who shopped early last year? Who bought at the last minute? Use data to match your audience to each promotion for better conversions.

Use data to figure out which segments would be most interested in specific categories — and if you have a retail presence, consider pulling unique data points to drive more in-store shopping.

Anita L. Saleh, Vice President Specialty Leasing at Taubman, offers advice for capitalizing on local opportunities:

“Know the demographics of the shopping venue you’re in, and choose your products accordingly. Don’t imagine yourself as the first retailer who’s going to make a million dollars selling iPods to seniors. Instead, focus on your most-likely buyers… use all available shopper data, traffic patterns, and past traffic history during the holiday season.”

2. Leverage AI marketing technology to spruce up emails and improve engagement

AI marketing enables a machine to collect and analyze massive amounts of data so you can focus on the strategy, content, and creative behind holiday campaigns, rather than the mundane data collection many marketers find themselves bogged down by.

You may be surprised to know that you can easily deploy artificial intelligence marketing to campaigns you already have deployed by adding a few special tools!

► Optimize email send time

Many marketers spend a lot of time A/B testing to find the perfect time to send an email to various segments. But what if you could send emails at the exact time a customer is most likely to open them? You can use historical data to pinpoint which time is most likely to pique interest and encourage opens, then send emails at the best time for each individual.

► Ensure email content is live and up-to-the-minute

Email engagement requires interesting, engaging content beyond a subject line. Content is king — and you don’t want to be marketing out-of-stock products or showing outdated offers. Take advantage of the opportunity to send emails with dynamic, live content that auto-populate with up-to-date content for product availability, weather updates, and more.

3. Initiate personalized win-back campaigns for defective customers

Since the consumer population is generally more inclined to buy around the holidays, what a great opportunity to re-inspire defecting, inactive, and seasonal shoppers who have bought from you before — but who may have gone cold (pun intended) lately.

Remember: the goal of win-back email campaigns is to convert idle contacts by offering an irresistible custom offer, typically with a fantastic deal. Best practice tips to remember include:

  • Copywriting is crucial. Win-back email subject lines should use clear language alluding to “missing you,” “where have you been?” and the like.
  • Be specific. Be clear with the offer, and specify where, when, and how it’s valid.
  • Get to the point. Remember, these customers haven’t bought from you in a while; show all critical information “above the fold.”

4. Up-sell and cross-sell in January and February to customers who bought during the holidays

I don’t know about you, but when I’m doing holiday shopping, I do it in bulk. That is to say, if I’m buying one item for my son, you can bet I’m also thinking about what else he might like in addition to my other kids and husband, too. I’m more likely to be interested in relevant recommended products and upgrades around the holidays. But there’s a delicate art to the cross- and up-sell.

Use technology to automate BOTH up-sells and cross-sells. You can automate not only product offers and pricing, but add-ons that customers “might also like,” and take the guesswork out of it all. The goal is to help the machine understand which products go well together, then let it do the dirty work of offering higher priced add-ons to each customer, based on their specific circumstances.

By gauging who bought what during November and December, you can climb on the post-holiday “bandwagon” which can still be a really valuable time of year leading up to Valentine’s Day. If a customer bought a new microwave during December, for instance, you may offer them a great deal on other appliances from the same brand a few months later.

5. Run social ads to retarget customers — and to acquire new ones

While the holidays are a prime time to focus on retention marketing, don’t neglect acquisition. You can run social ads to drive action for both purposes.

How valuable would it be if you could identify WHO was looking at WHAT items on your website but, for whatever reason, didn’t convert — then retarget them where they’re most active online? Marketing technology can help! Create social media ads, and retarget prospective buyers across Facebook, Instagram, Google search, YouTube, and Gmail ads, for example.

The idea here is to leverage the powerful data that’s already in your CRM platform and create highly personalized, ultra-targeted experiences for shoppers across the most popular social platforms and when they’re likely looking for that killer gift.

Whether working with those who’ve bounced from your site or targeting new audiences, social ads are a great way to drive quick and immediate action back to your website and increase conversions when demand is highest.

6. Ensure your browse abandonment and abandoned cart campaigns are locked and loaded

The holidays are perhaps the most critical time of year when it comes to reminding browse and cart abandoners that they may have forgotten something! These emails are triggered when a customer abandons a cart with products in it or leaves a site after browsing without taking another action.

Even though it seems like a “duh!” kind of tactic, you’d be surprised how many companies aren’t quite getting their abandonment emails right — lining up timing, content, and a touch of personalization isn’t easy.

Even though some of your visitors might click the Add to Cart button, ensuring conversion is a steep challenge facing all e-commerce companies. The median abandoned cart rate across all Emarsys e-commerce clients is 67.2%.

To increase the likelihood of engagement, ensure the email includes the abandoned products and messaging tailored to the individual to make the message personalized and enticing. I recommend setting up a segment of all contacts who abandon a cart (or abandon browsing after several product page visits) and creating a triggered email that will deploy within an hour after the action is taken.

7. Tell an omnichannel story

Think about it — during the holidays, people are all over their technology! Whether gathering around the table or living room to talk about the hottest trends, or doing some last minute shopping, customers jump from their mobile device to a desktop computer to their iPad or Kindle. Most shoppers switch between multiple channels and devices before making a purchase, too — nearly 50% of shoppers use four or more touchpoints before purchasing.

This change in shopper behavior requires a flawless omnichannel experience and channel-agnostic approach.

Companies who deploy strong omnichannel strategies retain roughly 89% of their customers (Aberdeen group). Consumers now expect the same brand experience regardless of channel. When brands deliver an omnichannel presence, they’re rewarded with the greatest gift of all… customer loyalty.

Final Thoughts

It’s estimated that U.S. shoppers will spend $120B with online retailers during the upcoming holiday season — a marked 15% increase from the following year (Digital Commerce 360).

There’s more demand from consumers, but a corresponding spike in readiness (advertising, promotions, and marketing activities) from your competitors, too.

To break through and capitalize, pull what resonates from these 7 tactics and get cooking!

➤ Get more holiday tips in our whitepaper, The Omnichannel Marketer’s Holiday Domination Guide or grab Emarsys’ no-strings-attached 3-minute demo to learn more.

Lindsay Tjepkema
Lindsay Tjepkema is Marketing Director, Americas at Emarsys and host of the Marketer + Machine podcast. She and her team deliver resources that empower marketers to seek out solutions and strategies that will allow them to focus on what they love – strategy, content, and creative – not technology. Although her true love is tech marketing, Lindsay's experience is built on time spent leading in-house teams, in agency settings, and independently running her own marketing consultancy.


  1. As holiday season have started, many new marketing strategies has been emerging daily. Planning productive marketing will give maximum output of it and helps to boost business revenue. It is best season where audiences are interested in finding something new. These ways you mentioned will helps us to stand out to gain profit for business. I like the idea of using AI in marketing plans. It will help us to reach potential customers in more easy and effective way. I am obliged for this great help.


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