Ultimate Marketers Guide to the Festive Season 2020

This festive season is guaranteed to be different for consumers and brands. Predicting exactly how different will need more than a crystal ball. What we do know is that marketers and businesses need to be prepared for a massively increased use of digital, resulting in a potentially chaotic period for everyone involved. Failing to prepare at these unprecedented times would most certainly be preparing to fail!

However, this year the festive season provides huge opportunities to not only those on the high street but the hundreds of thousands of businesses throughout the nation. For those that are well prepared, creative in their thinking and have the right technology to support at scale will most certainly succeed.

In this guide we bring you the best email marketing and digital marketing advice from leaders across the commerce industry to help you identify the key themes you should be focussing on as we head into the most wonderful time of the year!

Twist ConsultancyNick Crawford

Owner and Principal Consultant, Twist Consultancy

Key takeaways: – Get consent early. Remember your welcome emails and don’t forget those back in stock communications!


With a global increase in online commerce and a continued reluctance for shoppers to return to physical stores, peak holiday times will create an increase in year on year online traffic, including a brand new digital cohort of shoppers. This provides a real opportunity to link your web and email marketing sign up together. Both to maximise the experience, by being helpful, as well as gaining more email marketing subscribers.

Often the primary focus of a business is to gain a marketing consent for email marketing. Pop ups and forms appear on the home page. Yes, a traditional discount offer for sign up will work, but if this is your only approach, you’re losing a whole host of opportunities.

Given the duel challenges with stock supply and increased online demand, one of the key journey moments for me is when a product is out of stock. Every website should provide a potential customer a simple next step, to be notified when the item is back in stock. This potentially…

  • alleviates the initial frustration for the visitor
  • it allows you as a brand to continue the relationship and conversation via email
  • and if done really well, provides an immediate or future opportunity to gain marketing consent

Here’s a great example for https://www.cambridgesatchel.com/


If marketing consent is not given from the initial form, then when you have driven the return visit online from your well crafted ‘back in stock’ email, provide a marketing sign up. Ideally link this with a ‘we want to say thanks for sticking with us’ sign up and get x% off your next purchase.

Once signed up, ensure you have a dedicated email Welcome Programme in place. Do not just drop a new subscriber into your standard email newsletter. Assume they know nothing of your brand and so help them understand what makes you different (its so much more than your products)

Extra tip                 

Do you offer email sign up options for readers of your ‘how to guides’ or ‘similar content’ at the end of your help or blog articles? For any key engagement pages on your website site, ensure you are including this call to action (with the value proposition made with clarity and simplicity.)


Emma Gleadon

Marketing Manager, We are JH

Key takeaways: – Ensure your site is fast! Optimise your mobile shopping experience


Ensure your site is fast

With more consumers than ever before heading online this year to shop the deals you’re going to have a lot of competition on your hands if your site’s page speed isn’t up to scratch. Google found that users typically abandon sites if they take longer than 5 seconds to load, this will be even less on Black Friday when there is a time limit to shop the best deals.

Many eCommerce businesses are now adopting Progressive Web Apps in order to vastly improve their site speed (amongst numerous other benefits).

Award-winning agency JH, are currently running a PWA Accelerator Programme for SMB’s who are looking to migrate to PWA. The programme will enable your business to fast-track a PWA development project at a reduced investment.

Optimise your mobile shopping experience

This year, Black Friday is likely going to be driven by mobile. In terms of revenue, the UK saw an overall increase in spend of over £12 million in the week of Black Friday in 2019, with mobile sales responsible for 50% of all transactions. Purchases made from desktop and tablet devices made up the rest.

With COVID-19 we are already seeing more users than ever breaking previous consumer trends against spending high sums on mobile, and are overall spending more time and consuming more on their mobile phones. With customers more engrossed in their phones than ever, it’s not difficult to predict that we’ll once again see a rise in mobile sales this year.

Most eCommerce sites are now mobile-responsive, but those retailers who have invested in Progressive Web App are going to be two steps ahead of their competition. PWA’s offer the customer faster page speed times on mobile, as well as the opportunity to download an app directly from your homepage. In addition, they’ll be receiving an in-app experience even if they continue their journey in their browser.

If you haven’t launched on PWA yet though, there are still many ways you can ensure your site is optimised for mobile by ensuring you’re using mobile-responsive imagery and navigation. Your agency (or in-house development team) should be advising on this regularly, but it’s a good idea to check in with them on mobile-responsiveness ahead of the big day!


Katie Noonan katie-noonan

Senior Customer Success Manager, Pure360

Key takeaways: – Anticipate new audiences. Be prepared to avoid delivery problems


Christmas starts early!

The impact lockdown and Covid-19 had on deliveries saw consumers having to wait over a week for products that would normally be delivered the next day. To avoid a stampede of online shoppers, allow them to beat the rush and give consumers a chance to shop early to avoid disappointment with potential postal delays. In the run up to peak, I recommend that brands adapt customer communications through email marketing, web and mobile in the run up to highlight customer reviews and the easy returns policy to help remove any element of doubt when customers buy online.

Whether we’re faced with greater restrictions or even a lockdown in the run up to the festive period we know we will see new audiences driven online by necessity. Some of these cohorts may not be familiar with online shopping so therefore it’s essential the paths to purchase (from email to web)  are seamless, engaging and easy to navigate. Understand your data, look at this segment and ensure you have a strategy to keep them in the long term, not just for Christmas!


Kate Barrett Kate Barrett

Director, eFocus Marketing

Key takeaways: – Created a cohesive segmented email marketing automation strategy


Re-evaluate your email marketing automated campaign timing and content as well as your segmentation strategy.

Consider what information needs to be amended or added, as well as how your audience’s behaviour may change and ways to adjust your targeting accordingly; think about those who have historically only bought from you during the holiday season and the level and frequency of purchases they usually make. (Find out why you should implement a  personalisation solution in time for Christmas.)

Make sure you have your strategic send plan in place, in advance.

This will allow you to take advantage of the main shopping times for your audience, deliver key messages and ensure a cohesive theme throughout. Consider what will be helpful, useful and inspirational to your subscribers; perhaps even asking them what they need, to help your amended segmentation and personalisation strategy better hit the mark; e.g. who are you looking to buy gifts for?


Nat Johnson

VP, Global Sales, Phrasee

Key takeaways:- Ensure you focus on the right language for the right audience.


While it’s tempting to jump on the Halloween/Black Friday/Christmas bandwagon, marketers would be wise to avoid the annual influx of inbox clickbait messaging.

At Phrasee, we conducted rigorous testing into this. Shouting about the same messages as your competitors doesn’t mean your email will get opened, and while heavy discounts might help with your short-term KPIs, it doesn’t sit well for your long-term brand loyalty.

My advice would be to focus on the language you’re using in your campaigns – test it throughout the year to make sure you’re listening to what your audience engages with and learn from it, to generate both short-term commercial impact and long-term consumer loyalty.


Andrew Bonar

co-Founder, emailexpert UK Ltd

Key takeaways:-  Be transparent, informative and mindful of the changing festive environment.


In light of recently introduced restrictions that the PM has indicated may last as long as 6 months, it seems clear that big family get-togethers have been cancelled this year by rule of law.

How will that translate into online shopping? I rather suspect there will be many who want to spoil their loved ones who they cannot be with, undoubtedly we will see an even bigger increase in ecommerce revenues for this period. More people will be shopping online and earlier. Additional opportunities exist with less spent going out, there is more to spend online, with people on the most part confined to the house, more time is spent online.

If recent trends are anything to go by, then etailers will be enjoying a bumper season with unprecedented growth. Despite all of this it is still an overwhelmingly stressful time for many. I would caution marketers to remember this when they approach their marketing. The stock images and usual promotional messaging used at this time of may well not evoke the same responses this year. For many Grandma and Grandad will not be at home to share in the usual festive cheer. This will be a radically different holiday season for many.

It would behove marketers to not be seen as exploiting the situation, take the time to send better messages and not more than is already the norm at this time of year. Rather than promotion, for many all we need to do is inform. What is available, returns policy, what guarantees can be provided in respect of quality, delivery and address other buyer concerns. If you have not updated all of this information in respect of Covid-19 then you are failing. A popup saying everything has gone to hell and there may be delays also instils no confidence.

Just take a look at what B&Q has done as one excellent example (links: https://www.diy.com/customer-support/delivery/).

This will ensure your messaging continues to reach inbox when others may be battling with spam/junk, and done well your message should stand out in what will be a crowded space this season, make a better bid for eyeballs than just sending more.


Chloe Thomas Chloe Thomas

Author and Podcast Host, eCommerce MasterPlan

Key takeaways:-  Be prepared and remember the post purchase journey


This holiday season is going to be unpredictable.

There are so many factors in flux that rather than waste time trying to work out what’s going to happen you need to be regularly monitoring performance and being ready to adapt to what’s happening in your business, and in the wider marketplace.

There are 2 things I’d recommend you do to make that easier to do day in day out over the coming months.

  1. Streamline your reporting

Use automated reporting tools like Google’s Datastudio (free) so that you don’t waste time building reports. And make sure you’ve cut those reports back to the key data you need to see daily / weekly / monthly to make decisions.

AND make sure you’ve got the data you need – this year that’s probably going to include stock levels as well as marketing performance.

  1. Build a ‘Levers List’

This is a list of things you can do to increase sales / or decrease sales.

A list you can quickly refer to in the heat of peak to make sure you’re doing the right things.

The list will probably fit on one page of A4 so it’s easy to use – but should be more detailed than “Increase Google Ads budget”. Rather it should have “Turn on XYZ Google Ads Campaigns”, or “Duplicate Facebook Ad campaign X for target audience Y”.

It takes a little bit of time to work out what should be on your list – doing that now will make peak much easier to manage.

The one thing we can be pretty confident of is that online sales are going to be a LOT higher than they were last year. That means this is going to be a great time to recruit new customers, that will maintain your growth next year and beyond.

That gives us my third recommendation:

  1. Get your post purchase experience right

Make sure the delivery experience is awesome!

Build the post-purchase communication sequences that are going to make each and every customer fall in love with your business. Build right these can also help keep customer feelings positive (and reduce customer service calls) if delivery delays are happening.


Liz Brewer liz-brewer

Lead Customer Success Consultant, Pure360

Key takeaways:- Think outside the box, be creative and useful!


Creativity is key to winning this year. Curate a handful of scenarios where your brand could be more than a place to purchase products, but a useful extension of the gift giving process. Think about gifts that could be wrapped and delivered directly from your site. A gift giving service that included beautiful wrapping, free personalised cards and a free treat or stocking filler posted with all orders.

The ability to add multiple addresses for deliveries at checkout will help alleviate the stress of having to set up many orders – saving time and increasing your potential for revenue.

Taking a leaf out of the original lock down bible, brands would do well to enable families to come together virtually. Creating online Christmas cooking classes, film evenings, games nights and even the coming together virtually to watch the Queens speech. The ideas are endless!

It’s important that brands ensure these ideas solve problems and stresses that consumers may face in the coming weeks. Spend the time mapping out what these might be for your audiences and create specific campaigns to solve these problems!



In Summary

Thank you to all the great advice from the UK’s leading experts in Commerce. Here’s the key takeaways:-

  • Get consent early
  • Remember welcome emails
  • Don’t forget the back in stock communications
  • Ensure your site is fast
  • Optimise your mobile shopping experience
  • Anticipate new audiences
  • Be prepared early to avoid delivery problems
  • Create a cohesive automation strategy
  • Focus on the right language for the right audiences
  • Be transparent, informative and mindful
  • Prepare your reporting now
  • Understand your levers
  • Get the post purchase experience right
  • Think outside the box, get creative and be useful

If you would like to find out how the Pure360 Ai Marketing Platform and Services can help you succeed during this most crucial period for retail and commerce please contact us here.

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