Unsure about when to focus your marketing efforts? Use our holiday marketing calendar to plan and implement your strategy and campaigns for a successful season.
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It’s no surprise that a lot is at stake for companies during the holiday season. But for a winning holiday marketing strategy, it's crucial to ensure your campaigns are relevant to your audience, taking into account their connection the specific holiday/occasion.
To help you direct your marketing efforts, we’ve gathered the ultimate holiday marketing calendar with the key dates around the world to plan and implement your strategy and campaigns. Not all dates may be applicable to your business, industry, country or region, so adapt your holiday marketing strategy where it's necessary!
November 14 – diwali
Diwali is one of India’s biggest festivals, otherwise known as the Festival of Lights and is celebrated each fall in recognition of the victory of good over evil and light over dark. In the weeks leading up to the special day, Indian families living around the world decorate their homes but also shop for new clothes, accessories and gifts. The big question for this year remains closely related to the global pandemic, what will the consumer outlook be like in terms of spending for the festivities?
According to InMobi, one of India’s leading mobile intelligence platforms, the majority of consumers remain positive, with most expecting to exceed their spending from last year, carrying out the ‘revenge buying’ phenomenon. It was also confirmed that 53% of consumers had recently carried out their first ever online purchase. This is to say that online marketing, and especially mobile, will undoubtedly become one of the most important strategies, as over 85% of consumer have already been exploring online brands prior to the festival.
November 26 – Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving in the United States is a holiday set aside for giving thanks. Many people have a four-day weekend, so it is typically a busy travel time. While the impact of the pandemic is still unknown, retailers will still make special Thanksgiving sales part of their Holiday season marketing strategy.
Consumers spent $4.2 billion on Thanksgiving Day alone in the U.S. last year, with 45% of sales taking place on mobile, according to Adobe. This represents an increase of 14.5% on spending and a 24.4% increase on mobile shopping when compared to 2018.
By setting up limited-time offers, flash sales and making sure that seasonal keywords and personable communication is carried out towards your potential buyers, your campaigns are bound to be successful. Remember, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks and caring for your customers, so put them first, and expect a win-win.
November 27 – Black Friday
Black Friday started as a US shopping holiday but is now a worldwide phenomenon. Even if in recent years many large retailers have launched early bird “Black Friday sales” as early as the day after Halloween, the true discount frenzy doesn't arrive until the week of Thanksgiving.
This year’s shifts in consumer behavior have encouraged many ecommerce retailers and brands to elevate their strategies. In 2019, online retail sales in the US alone spiked by 334% and conversion rates were up 54%. This year, we can anticipate a shift in the retail process for health and safety reasons, which will replace crowds and rush with consumers shopping from the comfort of their own home.
Buyers usually search for the items they’re interested in at least 1 month before Black Friday, so make sure to get your campaigns ready ahead of time, and accessible on more than one channel and device.
November 28 – Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday is a day to celebrate and support small and local businesses. While this might not be your case, this is a great opportunity to get traction on your local markets through social initiatives or localized SEO.
This year, small businesses are expected to see between 20-40% of their total sales take place between November and December. As customers look for more personalized approaches, don’t forget to take a look at your local, smaller competitors to see how they’re succeeding.
November 20 – Cyber Monday
The first Monday after Thanksgiving is Cyber Monday, one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. If you already have an online shop, you definitely want to get your message out on every possible channel: Adobe reported 2019’s Cyber Monday achieved a new record with $9.4 billion spent online, a 1 percent increase over 2018. While mobile purchases dominated during Black Friday and Thanksgiving, desktops actually took the lead on Cyber Monday, with 53% of visits and 69% of sales.
The shift to online purchasing started even before these unprecedented times, it's now simply being followed through. In 2019, there was a total of $16.8 billion in online sales for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. The most important steps for your brand to take is to make sure website speed is up to par, that advertisements and accessibility is optimized for mobile and finally, to start early!
December 1 – Giving Tuesday
Giving Tuesday is a day to give back and get involved in your community by helping others through gifts of your time, donations, goods, or the power of your voice. A good way to incorporate the day as part of your holiday marketing strategy is to simply ask your real and online customers to support your charitable efforts by making a purchase that day. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to a local charity. In 2016, charitable donations-per-visit were up by 93% on desktops, 128% on tablets and 53% on smartphones when comparing with the November average.
December 5-6 - St. Nicholas Day
In some countries in Europe, St. Nicholas Day is another important date in the holiday calendar. Saint Nicholas is renowned for giving gifts to children who have shown good behavior throughout the year. Whilst some celebrate the day on the 5th like the Netherlands, other such as Belgium and other Central European countries celebrate the day on the 6th. This day is also celebrated on 19 December in Eastern Christian countries using the old church Calendar.
December 14 – Green Monday
Green Monday is usually the 2nd Monday in December with about 10 days remaining until Christmas. It's a day of finding last-minute deals online, thus generally one of the biggest shopping days in December.
Be sure to stay on top of your customers’ minds through targeted social and email campaigns, which are especially appealing to procrastinators!
December 14 – Free Shipping Day
Free Shipping Day was started in 2008 and is a one-day event held annually in mid-December which has been getting bigger every year. During this day, thousands of online stores offer free shipping combined with the last day to shop online with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve. Free shipping remains to be the number 1 incentive for buyers to complete an online purchase, so don’t let this one pass.
In the US, it’s also known as Ground Shipping Day, and it’s the last day you can ship packages by ground and have them arrive by Christmas Eve. If deliveries are one of your concerns, be sure to let your customers know ahead of time.
December 18 – Super Saturday
Super Saturday is the last Saturday before Christmas and is also sometimes called “Panic Saturday” as shoppers rush to purchase last minute gifts. More focused on brick-and-mortar businesses, you can still target any last-minute shoppers with special offers delivered by email and social advertising.
December 23 – E-Gift Card Day
For the chronic procrastinators, egift card day is the ultimate opportunity for holiday shopping! With the rise of mobile email, this day has turned into the perfect opportunity for businesses to catch the “last-minute” and “real-time” holiday shoppers.
This day is also known as Festivus - made famous in a Seinfeld episode, as a holiday for those seeking a break from the commercialism and pressure imposed by the modern Holiday season. If it’s a local popular event, take advantage of it with targeted message campaigns.
December 25 – Christmas
Christmas Day is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth. As people will be busy, either in family celebrations or travelling to be with family, it’s not a big day to sell, but it’s the perfect opportunity to connect with prospects and customers, sending your seasonal wishes, even if it's just through your website or social media channels.
December 26 – Coupon Day & Boxing Day
After-Christmas sales are a big thing in some countries, such as the UK. Not only will people be going to the shops to exchange unwanted presents, but also to get the first discounts. Smart business owners can entice them with coupon codes and other special offers.
December 26 is also the day when Kwanzaa starts. It’s a week-long celebration honoring the culture and traditions of people of African descent. Depending on how significant they are on your customer base, it might be beneficial to also mark the period. Families usually exchange gifts on the last day of the 7-day holiday, but keep in mind they’re usually homemade. If you do choose to build marketing efforts around this holiday, be mindful of the African heritage and values surrounding it.
December 31 - New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is the last day of the year in the Gregorian calendar, six days after Christmas day. In many countries, New Year's Eve is celebrated at evening social gatherings, where many people dance, eat, drink and watch or light fireworks to mark the New Year. Typically, these will be the product categories that people will be looking for on the day. For most businesses, it’s usually a day as slow as Christmas. However, make sure you don’t let the date go unnoticed and plan some communication between December 31 and January 1 wishing your customers, prospects and partners a happy new year.
January 1 – New Year’s Day
New Year’s Day marks the beginning of the New Year and the most celebrated public holiday, often observed with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the New Year starts in each time zone. Other global New Years' Day traditions include making New Year's resolutions and calling one's friends and family.
January 25 – Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year celebrates an optimistic fresh start, so marketing opportunities are endless in terms of brand awareness, sales and customer relationship. Like many of the Western holidays, Chinese New Year is a time for family reunions, entertainment and celebration, but shopping is also a main attraction.
Keeping your target in mind as a priority is crucial, so how about expanding your online interactions through WeChat and Weibo? You could even focus some of your efforts into incorporating the color red in your campaigns! It’s beyond important to remember that global marketing is a concept that is adaptable by region, so do not neglect researching your audience’s cultural background.
Time for action
Now that you know the key dates you need to invest most on your digital marketing efforts, you're all set to prioritize the tactics. Let us guide you through the strategy essentials and best practices - download our free Digital marketing guide for a successful Holiday season.
About the author
Inês Pimentel is Senior Content Marketing Manager at Amplexor, based in Lisbon. With broad experience in marketing and communication in tech, service and non-profit contexts, Inês joined Amplexor marketing team in 2016. She's certified in Inbound, Email and Content Marketing.