The global pandemic changed the way many of us celebrated the holidays in 2020. But if you thought that this was just a blip at the start of the decade and everything would return to normal in 2021, you better think again. Welcome to the holidays in the new normal.

While the holidays in 2021 will look much more “normal” than last year’s socially distanced celebrations, the repercussions of the pandemic will continue to disrupt the season. In particular, issues with the global supply chain will mean businesses have to adopt more agile marketing strategies than previously deployed.

The Holidays Are Already Upon Us

Primed by headlines highlighting the threat of potential shortages across many different categories, consumers know that if they want to buy popular holiday gifts like toys, bicycles, and anything containing a computer chip, they will have to be more organized this year.

Note: Offering a little balance to the potentially catastrophic news of holiday shortages, there are also many headlines claiming these rumors to be exaggerated. However, they do highlight that one thing will be in short supply this year — low prices.

Get Organized and Harness the Power of FOMO

Being organized may mean that consumers will shop earlier than ever this year. However, hitting the stores early isn’t the only habit that is expected to change. The fear of missing out (FOMO) might result in consumers buying a brand or product they wouldn’t normally consider. There is even talk about an increased interest in gifting pre-loved and refurbished items — a strategy growing in popularity, particularly with “Gen Z” shoppers with environmental concerns.

Just because people are buying earlier doesn’t mean they will have more money to spend later in the year. This means, if you are waiting for Black Friday to start your holiday marketing activities, you might be leaving it too late.

With this in mind, we’ve created a list of ten email marketing strategies to make sure your holiday marketing campaigns don’t get left on the shelf this season.

Ten Email Marketing Strategies for the Holidays in 2021

  1. Start now: Don’t wait for Black Friday. Make the whole of November a sales event to remember. That means really ramping up your email activity to sell more stock now. Your customers are already thinking about the holidays, so don’t be afraid to roll out your holiday marketing templates and start the party a little earlier than usual.
  2. Don’t discount (yet): Black Friday used to be synonymous with low prices. With the possibility of supply issues delaying new stock arriving, older stock and even end-of-line products will potentially hold their value for much longer. Keep an eye on your competitors’ pricing strategies, and don’t be afraid to hold your nerve and keep charging a premium rate if the market allows.
  3. Target seasonal gift buyers: Seasonal gift buyers can often be identified by their purchase patterns. If someone only makes a single purchase from your website at this time of the year, the chances are they are buying a holiday gift. There’s a good chance these customers haven’t engaged with any of your campaigns since their last purchase. This doesn’t mean they are not interested in receiving your emails at the right time. The holidays are a great time to re-engage their interest with a campaign highlighting your holiday gift offers.
  4. Upsell Opportunity #1: Previous gift purchases make the perfect opportunity for an upsell opportunity. This is particularly true if a previous purchase was a “high ticket” item that generally wouldn’t be replaced every year. Segment your offers to add value to the original purchase and extend the significance of the gift beyond the original purchase.
  5. Upsell Opportunity #2: Don’t wait to offer upsell opportunities to gift buyers. Hit them when their initial purchase is still fresh in their mind, and they still have money to spend. Transactional emails such as eCommerce receipts and shipping notifications are an excellent opportunity to encourage additional purchases.
  6. Spread the cost: To encourage early spending on larger items, why not offer your customers the opportunity to spread the cost of their gift purchases? Several financial tools, including PayPal’s Pay in 4 service, allows businesses of all shapes and sizes to offer the buy now, pay later style of credit previously only available to larger companies.    
  7. Add Value: Free and expedited shipping are valuable strategies to promote at any time of the year. However, during the holidays, why not add to this by offering added-value services like gift wrapping?  
  8. Segment, Segment, Segment: Just because you’ll want to increase your email marketing activities at this time of the year doesn’t mean that you’ll want to flood your subscribers’ email inboxes. The mantra of sending the right message to the right person at the right time is even more relevant during the holidays.
  9. Don’t overpromise and under-deliver: While you’ll want to set up campaigns in advance, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have items in stock to meet customer demand. If items are limited, don’t be afraid to drip your email campaigns out slowly and hit the pause button as, and when, they approach selling out. Conversely, you could highlight the limited availability of stock as a call-to-action. Just make sure you give your subscribers another option if stocks of your promoted item run out.
  10. Document your holiday experience:  When the holidays are finally over, take the time to document your experience and learn from it. What worked and what didn’t work? Knowing this will help you better plan your 2022 holiday marketing experience — regardless of whether we are back to normal, still in the new normal, or facing a new, new normal.

Need help with your holiday email marketing strategy? Contact us at

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