5 Creative Ways eCommerce Brands Have Improved Holiday Sales

- Luke Metcalfe

For eCommerce brands, the holiday season is often the most important time of the year. Your success in the months of November and December play a huge role in your ability to hit revenue goals for the year. Today we are still seeing huge growth in eCommerce sales during the holiday season. Between 2015 and 2016, there was nearly $10 billion in holiday sales growth.

Source: SalesCycle

It’s critical that companies are able to stand out from the crowd during the holiday season. Even with the increased spending, the environment is much more competitive during these months. The last thing that any brand should want is to be seen as boring, or normal. Families spend a lot of time preparing for the holiday season and

REI Closes Their Doors and Asks Their Customers to #OptOutside

Conventional wisdom tells us that if you want to make the most of the holiday season, you have to actually be open for business. That’s just common sense. But, REI thought about things differently and as a result were able to run one of the most successful holiday marketing campaigns in the history of the company. The campaign was so successful that it has now being implemented during other holidays as well.

Originally debuting on Black Friday, the REI #OptOutside campaign bucked conventional wisdom. Instead of desperately trying to find a way to get customers into their stores and website, they closed for the day. Instead of buying that new ski jacket, they asked that customers start a new holiday tradition by spending the holiday enjoying mother nature.

It all started with a simple question during a holiday marketing meeting:

“In the midst of a big holiday brainstorming session, the head of our merchandising group said, ‘We could never do it, but what if we close on Black Friday?'” Chief Creative Officer Ben Steele said. “Obviously at face value it seems crazy, but it was all about giving our people the day off and inviting others to join us. Part of this job is about storytelling, but when you can take an action and show people rather than just telling them, it can be really powerful.”

REI originally debuted their #OptOutside campaign during Black Friday. The company quickly received coverage from some of the largest publications in the world. The campaign was such a  success that REI now duplicates it for other holidays. Sometimes the conventional thing to do can keep your marketing inside of a box.

Lagavulin Enlists Nick Offerman for Fireside Silence

What do you get when you mix high-end Scotch and the holiday season? A cozy, quiet drink in front of the fire. That’s how Lagavulin envisioned it, anyway.

During the Christmas 2016 season, Lagavulin debuted their genius marketing video, “Nick Offerman’s Yule Log”. Nick Offerman had become somewhat of a pop culture icon for playing masculine Ron Swanson on NBC’s Parks and Rec. The character had a taste for high-end scotch and had named Lagavulin as his favorite on the show. Lagavulin’s marketing team must have known that they had hit the jackpot.

So how do you make the most of a celebrity endorsement? Invite them to events? Plaster their face on marketing materials around the world? Put him in a commercial?

Not Lagavulin. Instead, they sat Offerman in front of a cozy fireplace and had him drink a glass of Lagavulin, in silence, for 45 minutes. It was classy, if not a bit ridiculous. More importantly, the video was an excellent fit for the Lagavulin brand.

The video immediately went viral. Part of the appeal was the absurdity of the idea. Many quickly found that the video made an excellent replacement for those fireside screensaver apps that many TVs come equipped with. Today, the video has millions of views and the campaign was so successful that they did it a second time on New Year’s Eve.

Lowe’s Turns Holiday Shopping Into a Game

Posting great holiday deals to your social media accounts is pretty standard for eCommerce brands. But, Lowe’s took a run-of-the-mill marketing strategy and turned it into a big wind for their brand during the holiday season of 2016.

Instead of just posting deals, Lowe’s posted the silhouette of different items that were about to go on sale. Customers were invited to try to guess what the item was. They handed out prizes and free items to those that guessed right, then replaced the silhouette image with an image of the item along with the sale price.

It seems so simple, but turning something as simple as a holiday sale into a game attracted a lot of attention to the brand. The campaign was successful enough for Lowe’s to duplicate it during other holiday sales.

Amazon Enlists Moms to Crowdsource Xmas Gift Ideas

For the last five years, Amazon has received a lot of attention for their innovative holiday marketing campaigns. A mainstay for the company has been their yearly Amazon Holiday Toy List. On the surface, the idea doesn’t seem to be that innovative. There are thousands of eCommerce companies that publish holiday gift lists.

Where this campaign stood out was in Amazon’s ability to utilize their most precious resource — the one thing that they have that no other company has — 244 million customers. Instead of just publishing their own list, Amazon enlisted all of the moms that shop with them to put together a definitive list of the hottest toys that season. All mothers were encouraged to submit their votes and contribute.

This campaign stood out because the recommendations were coming straight from Amazon’s customers. Social proof can go a long way. You can bet that the customers that used this list to find gifts would not have been as excited about a list that Amazon had published themselves.

Macy’s Encourages Kids to Write to Santa

Every year millions of children write to Santa Clause to let him know what gifts they would like to find under the tree that year. There are an unending number of apps and websites that can help kids send their letter. So it may not seem so special that Macy’s launched their own “write to Santa” app.

But Macy’s was able garner a lot of publicity from the campaign by guaranteeing a donation of $1 to the Make-A-Wish foundation for every letter that was submitted through their Macy’s Believe website or app. Kids were able to pick items straight from the Macy’s catalog and add them to the letter that they sent Santa. Not a bad way to connect parents with the gifts their kid’s want, all while helping a great charity!

Holiday Success Comes from Creativity

All eCommerce and retail companies know just how important the holiday season is for their bottom line. There is a lot riding on the holiday marketing campaigns each and every year. To make matters worse, it is incredibly difficult to get noticed during the holiday season.

However, by taking traditional marketing ideas and putting a little creative spin on them, you can stand out from the crowd. Some of the campaigns on this list are completely original, like Lagavulin’s Yule Log video or REI’s #OptOutside campaign. But others, like Amazon’s Holiday Toy List, are a creative spin on a traditional concept.

Embrace your creative side this holiday season to stand out from the competition. Give your customers more reasons to interact with your brand and come to your website and you might have your best Christmas season yet.

For more traditional Christmas marketing prep check out our 5 Tips to Boost your PPC Campaigns This Christmas and The Surprise Holiday Shopping Trend You Might Be Missing Out On.


Luke is a Content Marketer at Crealytics

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