No retailer can make their fourth-quarter numbers without sales, which are practically synonymous with holiday shopping. But at the same time, if you train your customers to buy only on promotion, well, they’re going to, eating away at your long-term margins and brand equity. And think of how many holiday sales and promotional events are already baked into the calendar. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday all occur within six days! And that doesn’t even count Green Monday or any special events specific to your brand.

Given the events of this year, we expect to see a holiday season unlike any other, with retailers facing even more pressure than usual to crush Q4. The best time to start planning your marketing is now. With that in mind, consider incorporating these seven promotional strategies into your holiday sales.

Keep It Simple

Holiday shoppers are looking for deals and Cyber Week is not the time to make it complicated. Consider the three-second rule, wherein the customer can understand the deal — and any potential caveats — within three seconds.

Drive Urgency

Every January, when we look back at the top performing emails from across our customer base, we always see a few countdown clocks, like this one from The Bouqs Company. These clocks create a sense of urgency, ticking down the seconds until an offer expires. And that’s just one example of an effective time-bound discount. Our sister brand Liveclicker enhances emails with similar real-time elements such as low inventory notices and dynamic product grids with both campaign and triggered emails.

Stagger Holiday Sales

Don’t come in too early with too big of a deal. Otherwise, where do you go from there? Target pre-holiday sales to those customers with items in their carts and wishlists. Incentivize shoppers with unique email- or mobile message-only discounts. They can decide to purchase sooner at a lower discount or run the risk of items selling out. This helps preserve margins while driving conversions from high-intent purchasers, while also saving something for later

Create Exclusivity

Love your loyalists by rolling out early access and special holiday sales for your best customers. You can also spread the love with extra reward points, promotions or promotional gifts exclusively for email subscribers, app users or loyalty program members.

Diversify Holiday Discounts

Time-bound is one type of discount. There are also “buy more, save more” tiered discounts and plenty of others that aren’t monetary.  You can also incentivize sales with bundled promotions, which helps with sales of some of your not-so-best sellers; gift card bundle discounts; and freebies. Who doesn’t love a free gift? Tory Burch went that route with gift cards instead of traditional discounts. This tactic also provided a perfect opportunity to follow up, reminding shoppers they have $50 to spend.

Flash Sales

Flash sales combine a few of the other strategies in this section. They drive urgency and promote greater loyalty, as flash sales condition your customers to keep their eye on your emails so they don’t miss what’s next.

Mystery Offers

Make your sale a surprise. People love a good deal and they love a surprise, according to neuroscientists. The brain’s pleasure center reacts more strongly when something is unexpected and that bit of information can help guide your promotional strategy, as it did for Fabletics. This approach is better earlier in the holiday season, perhaps as an exclusive offer. Cyber Week should be more cut-and-dry.

Promotional strategies are just one piece of the pie. Download Marigold Engage by Sailthru’s 2020 Holiday Marketing Playbook to learn about the holiday season’s must haves, tips for augmenting your abandonment messaging, blueprints to grow your base and more.