From Halloween to Valentine’s Day: Year Round Holiday Marketing

The temperatures have dropped. Macy’s and Target are selling Christmas decorations. The holidays are fast approaching. But it’s important to note that “the holidays” aren’t just Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa… and OK, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They’re also Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Halloween.

While not all of these have traditionally been occasions for gift-giving, the fact is that brands will be having sales and customers will be shopping.

Halloween is right around the corner and according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, 70% of Americans plan to celebrate. They’re projected to spend a collective $9 billion, a number that has increased significantly over the years.

Earlier in the year, the NRF found that Valentine’s Day represented $19.6 billion in spending, with 11.5% of consumers buying Valentine’s Day gifts for themselves — and Mother’s Day, which broke retail records last year. Easter spending has also been on the rise for the past four years.

Clearly, these B-list holidays represent a big opportunity for marketers. Luckily, they can be addressed with many of the same strategies that were deployed so successfully during the year-end holidays. Here’s a refresher:

Personalized Send Time

This is one of the easiest thing marketers can do to make sure their messages get heard loud and clear. Even on secondary holidays, customers will be receiving an increased volume of emails. It won’t be quite as overwhelming as the year-end barrage, but inboxes will still be full.

Personalized send time ensures that your email arrives just when each individual customer is most likely to open it. If a customer never checks their email before their second cup of coffee, why send it at 6 a.m., only to see it get buried? That send time is more suited to folks who read their email early — and that’s exactly what personalized send time will do.

Gift Guides

If you’re producing a holiday gift guide, look for other ways to highlight those same products in your shop. During Mother’s Day, this strategy is deployed by every retailer from Macy’s to Tiffany & Co. They should appear in recommendations, and get pride-of-place in shopping venues, be those onsite, in-app, or mobile.

Figuring Out Where You Fit In

Not every holiday lends itself to gift-giving. There are Mother’s Day gifts and Easter baskets, but for Halloween, most consumer spending will be concentrated on candy, decorations and costumes. But here’s something to keep in mind: Anything can be a costume. For Halloween, Sephora understands that and promotes cosmetics while teaching customers how they can use them. 

“Wisdom of the Crowd” Recommendations

Also known as collaborative filtering, these recommendations often begin, “Customers who bought this item also bought…” These are ubiquitous across e-commerce sites for a reason: They work. Now, take advantage of the holiday themes to update your copy and better reflect your brand’s personality.

Best Buy Memorial Day sale


In many cases, people will be buying both for themselves and for others. And often, gift-givers aren’t sure exactly what they want to buy. Make it easy for them to browse your site with recommendations for bestsellers, favorites, or most popular designations. Showcase products that do especially well at converting first-time buyers, since gift-giving often pushes people to buy outside their usual categories – and brands.

Abandoned Cart Campaigns

Don’t give up just because it may seem like your customer did! Abandoned cart campaigns give marketers a great opportunity to make product recommendations. Maybe the item in the cart isn’t quite perfect, and the shopper is still looking. Help them out with a recommendation presenting another item they can get excited about.

Triggered Emails

For many marketers, triggered emails represent an opportunity to get more mileage out of communications that they’re already sending. That’s because triggered emails, such as order confirmations and shipping confirmations, have sky-high open rates. While your customers engage with those communications — and with you — use them as an opportunity for cross-selling and discovery.

Differentiated Discounts

Discounts can bring in new customers and do wonders for your top line. Of course, they also can hurt profitability. That’s why not all customers should get the same discount. For each customer, you want to make the offer that will compel them to buy without damaging your financials or your brand’s reputation. Some customers may respond well to trial sizes or gifts with purchase, while others may want free shipping. Offers such as “10% off your purchase of $100 or more” can be effective in boosting purchase value.

Most of these personalization strategies are effective year-round. But if you’re not already employing all of them, these secondary holidays can be a great opportunity to up your game — and to make sure that your customers stay engaged with you, year-round.

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