Oct 14 | 10 minutes read

Make the most of holiday campaigns with marketing automation

Holiday campaigns and marketing promotions are a great way to boost sales and increase revenue during periods when shoppers are traditionally looking to splash the cash.

Times like Christmas, Black Friday, Halloween and Easter are moments when customers let loose and splash out on purchases they wouldn’t normally make at other times of the year.

That’s why you tend to see big brands go hard and fast as they try to drive holiday sales. That can get annoying - who else hates seeing Christmas adverts in October - but businesses do this for a reason.

This year, getting your holiday campaign right is going to be more important than ever. The last 18-months have been impacted by the pandemic, but people are still prepared to spend to make the most of all the festivities. 

And with more people turning to online shopping, planning is essential. Preparing in advance will set your business up for success - leaving things until the last minute will result in a mad dash and failure to capture the revenue that might have been available. 

Before anything can take place, you’ll need some help navigating the pain points that can make organising big marketing efforts a little overwhelming for some operators, especially those smaller ones with more limited means.

Furthermore, holiday events can be used to boost your marketing efforts through the rest of the year. You can boost brand profile, gather new, loyal customers and keep them coming back - but you have to do it right.

happy christmas elf

Banish the holiday gremlins

A lack of organisation around campaign creation can be a real killer here. eCommerce was always big, but COVID-19 has stuck a rocket up it. If you’re not organised, and if you don’t have a clear campaign idea, then your marketing efforts will get drowned out by all your competitors who are doing it better.

Retail companies can often be a little time poor as competing demands butt up against one another, which is why it’s important to consider how marketing automation can help solve that. As we’ll explore below, using an effective program can make a real impact while allowing staff to continue with other business.

A lack of inspiration regarding what campaigns to build can stymie efforts in this space, too. We’ll also have a browse down memory lane to see great examples of powerful holiday campaigns that really made a difference. It might sound silly, but doing the basics right can really help. 

Start by downloading a great content calendar and use it to get inspired. Don’t let it sit on your desk for months gathering dust while you struggle to organise all the different thoughts running around your head.

Crucial preparations before holiday season hits

It’s really important to review your holiday campaigns before you let them loose on the world, especially after the 18 months we’ve just had.

It would be helpful to acknowledge that it’s been a difficult time for everyone, and that a lot of people are going to have different holiday experiences because of that. You’ll need to change some of the marketing copy to ensure you don’t sound rude or insensitive.

There’ll be people spending time alone as travel restrictions keep folk away from loved ones, so your copy should try and take a more sensitive tone.

Review your copy and make sure it fits with the season. Welcome emails are great, but if someone is signing up to your mailing list for a specific holiday purpose, they’ll probably expect to see that reflected in the copy.

Landing pages should be reviewed as well to make sure they match with the season, as should social media posts. And don’t forget to say thanks!

Streamline marketing promotions

arrow hitting the bullseye

Everyone worth their salt will be running marketing promotions during the holiday period, but the clever ones will use marketing automation to streamline their efforts.

This has three main benefits: 

  1. It allows you to send personalised messaging based on a user’s behaviour on your website and streamlines processes by automatically understanding how audiences interact with your brand, and then uses that data to deliver the right messages.
  2. Marketing automation is a great time saver as you can use it to schedule your emails in advance.
  3. Allows you to send them the right message around the clock, so you never miss an opportunity.

These are things that will benefit you during your holiday campaigns, but they’ll have a longer impact too. You can take learnings and add them to your daily marketing efforts, and watch how they grow.

Use segmentation to nail your marketing promotions

Every single holiday period is going to be busy, so it makes sense that you’d save time for your staff by using marketing automation to free up a few hours. You can send out welcome emails to new subscribers, special offers to those who’s browser history indicates they’d be interested in a specific product range, and reminders to folks who are about to miss out on the latest hot sale.

Audiences can be segmented to make sure you’re sending emails to the right demographic - you wouldn’t want to waste time informing the 50+ crowd about the latest teen trend, nor would youngsters want to get an email about something the older crowd are concerned about.

Using segmentation is important because personalised emails come with a whole host of benefits that you’d be silly to miss out on.

Use drip marketing to boost holiday sales

Drip emails are a series of emails sent to follow-up with subscribers. You can set them up to go one after the other with different send times. However, they can be responsive to user behaviour, which is what makes them so valuable. 

They’re a great fit for ecommerce because customers will take their time to make purchases, which is only natural. Drip marketing can be used in the build-up to holidays to try and increase sales, or they can also be used in the aftermath as businesses try to squeeze every last cent from shoppers keen on a bargain.

Marketing funnel

Drip emails can be sent to customers advising them of an impending clearance sale. This is a great way to shift stock by setting up a drip campaign that uses marketing automation to sell to customers who have previously expressed an interest in an item, but didn’t complete a purchase.

You can segment profiles based on action or inaction during the holiday season, and then you can show them items that fit with their profile. Tip: create a sense of urgency by reminding targeted shoppers that stock is running low!

Flows that pay for themselves

Let’s apply the benefits of marketing automation to a scenario where it picks up shopping behaviours and acts accordingly. As the online customer journey isn’t fast track and potential customers move in and out of the sales funnel, you need messaging that’s as dynamic as they are.

  1. A customer has been browsing the same page on your website for a couple of days now - let's say you sell electronics and they’re after the latest release.
  2. Marketing automation picks that up and sends them an email about all the new gadgets you’ve got in stock, and maybe a small offer to pique their interest (maybe free shipping or something like that). 
  3. That person then puts an item in their cart, but abandons before completing a purchase? This would trigger a browse abandonment flow, which sends that customer an email that tempts them back to purchase.

Just like that, you’ve given yourself the chance to make money that would have been lost - and that’s just for one customer. Imagine a system working like that, for you, 24/7 365 days a year.

Email flows can be really lucrative, but there’s another trick you can use that delivers proven results and reaches people in the place they're most likely to be: on their phone.

Use SMS for marketing promotions

SMS campaigns during holidays deliver strong results - but they still need to be planned well. Authentic, reliable content that resonates with people can drive engagement and put any marketing promotions you’re running in front of the right eyes at the right time.

Nearly 100% of SMS messages are read, while around 90% are opened within three seconds of getting them - imagine if your email marketing campaign could show those numbers! During a short holiday time, this is the perfect way to reach busy people.

All this is well and good, but you’ll need some inspiration on how to run a good SMS holiday campaign - so here we go:

Suggest a gift 

Why not design some copy that suggests a gift someone could get a loved one? You could produce an HTML link with the top 10 ideas and send that out. This could help drive traffic to your website, and hopefully sales.

Remind people

If you host special events around holidays, then you could use SMS to send out reminders and help drive ticket sales. Customers could even RSVP via a link embedded in the text message, which makes it easier for them to let you know their intentions.

Personalise by location

You can use marketing automation to send texts based on the customer's location. If you have a range of stores, or have decided to regionalise discounts, you can segment customers and deliver them the information they need.

Holiday campaign examples

All that info is cool, but how does it look in real life? Here’s some examples to get you inspired.

Rose & Dove

Sometimes all you need to do is announce a new holiday themed product and your customers will lap it up - which is exactly what Rose & Dove did.

This email was a double whammy really, as there was a product announcement, the tone of the message was suitably excited, and it included a discount code at the bottom. If that doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit, I’m not sure what will!

Additionally, the imagery was beautiful, crisp and really conveyed the right message. 


reMarkable is a digital notebook software, which turns jotted down notes into something typed and legible - which I reckon is pretty important! The company used its new year email advert to offer customers a $50 discount that aligned beautifully with the ethos of the new year: making plans, getting affairs in order and setting goals.

The product was presented as the ideal way to do that - with a handy discount of course - which implored customers to get everything sorted on their app!


Resy is an app that connects customers with the best restaurants in the world. It markets itself as the ‘go-to destination for restaurant discovery, exclusive access, original content, and chef-driven culinary events.’ 

For its new years email, it invited subscribers to the best eateries in the San Francisco Bay Area - and lets customers make reservations easily and without hassle. 

The email was kept fairly simple, with a focus on celebrating - and positioning Resy as the best way you can have a best time as the old year becomes the new year. And nobody really wants to cook and clean after a party do they?


Black Friday is also a holiday now, and Murad did it’s thang in a really colourful way. They did it in a way that represented the brand - choosing colours that matched the aesthetic of products, and used a subject line that tried to match the excitement and frenzy of Black Friday.

It has a clear CTA that creates a sense of urgency and a clear path to products and checkout. A nice little discount also helps move things along here, too.

The APSIS content marketing calendar will let you get ahead of the game and really make the most of the holidays - just like those examples. Download it here, or speak to one of APSIS’s experts today! 

Hack your holiday campaigns!

So there you have it - there’s all sorts of tricks you can employ to hack your holiday campaigns to ensure you have as much fun in business as you do for pleasure.

If you get this right, you can really smash all your goals but also make customers for life. These are moments that come around a handful of times a year, so you need to be well placed to make the most of it by employing some clever marketing automation, hitting customers with well-timed SMS campaigns and designing the perfect email.

Do all this, and you could find yourself having the best holiday period yet! Competition is fierce, so good luck.