4 Strategies to meet the demand of the 2021 Holiday Shopping Season

The 2020 Holiday season was a tough time for everyone. Physical distancing and travel restrictions upended consumers ‘typical holiday shopping activities. The pandemic accelerated a shift to digital and facilitated the changes for consumer shopping behaviour. Online sales skyrocketed in every category. As we look ahead, the world seems poised for a turnaround. In-person celebrations are on their way back, and in-store shopping is expected to rebound this season. Expect this new hybrid of online and in-store behaviour to continue for the foreseeable future. Shoppers want the ability to choose what they buy from wherever they desire with a seamless online or offline personalized experience. In today’s marketplace reaching your ideal customer requires an omnichannel approach, delivering high ROI ads across multiple channels.  Today, we will be laying out 4 strategies to help brands grow their sales and be prepared for the 2021 holiday season! 

1 Start Today – Make your plan!

2 Visibility – Omnichannel Strategy


YouTube Advertising – Low cost, high visibility

Google Advertising – Precision

Database – Email

Retargeting – Second Chances

3 Seamless Shopping Experience

Personalized Customer Experience

Checkout Process

Mobile Ready

4 Change is Inevitable

Test, Test & Test


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1. Start Today – Make Your Plan!

The looming threat of a stock-out this year has holiday shoppers in Canada worried. A recent survey from Google shows that nearly one quarter have already started their 2021 holiday shopping as of mid-August and 62% will shop earlier to avoid these problems

For this reason, it’s important to start your strategy early by having products out and advertised in advance. Adding special offers like discounts or promotions for more convenience on buying gifts online is also a great idea. Don’t forget about all the benefits you offer such as easy returns & refunds through free shipping too!

1. Visibility – Omnichannel Strategy

As the 2021 holiday season approaches, the world is looking to “turn around”. With restrictions lessening, more consumers will be moving to in-store shopping for their holiday gift needs. However, that does not mean they will not have multiple digital touchpoints along the purchase journey. Managing Director of MI AcademyAlita Harvey-Rodriguez states, “….Consumers want to know that despite the channel for engagement, or whether they decide to step out and shop, or do it from the comfort of their couch, they will receive the same exceptional experience.” Creating a unified experience across multiple online platforms will also be important. For example, many social media platforms are offering their own shopping platforms as shown to the right. Little Grapefruit has created a shop on their Instagram profile. This offers a seamless buying experience without leaving your referral platform, making the buying process more convenient for your users!

“Make sure you are visible!” – Scott Maloley

Window shopping has been around for a long time. However, it is moving towards a more digital approach. Usage of search engines like Google has skyrocketed as shoppers look to find inspiration when they don’t know exactly what products or brands they want. For this reason, it is important to make sure you are visible and have a strategy to get in front of the right audience.


YouTube Advertising

YouTube is a powerful tool for marketing your business. Its ability to inspire consumers and make them take action can help your business grow and increase brand awareness! Media costs on YouTube are dramatically lower than many other channels. Use it for awareness and consideration this holiday season! YouTube generates more than 1 billion hours of video watched on YouTube per day! That is a huge amount of content consumed all around the world. In addition, Google reports that 70% of people bought a brand after seeing it on YouTube, this makes YouTube an incredible tool in our marketing toolbox. 

We know that with limited marketing budgets, it’s become harder to reach large audiences and convert demand at the same time. However, what if you could just use a single video ad campaign across YouTube in an easy and cost-effective manner? The Video action campaign can automatically bring video ads that drive action to the YouTube home feed, watch pages, and Google video partners, all within your one campaign. YouTube can also include any future inventory that becomes available, like the What to Watch Next feed. Thus saving time to focus on strategic initiatives for your ad creative and messaging. 

YouTube also offers a digital storefront with a browseable product feed as shown to the right. These feeds create a seamless customer experience that encourages clicks and conversions by making your ads shoppable. We will talk more about seamless customer experiences below! 

Image Sources: Google

Google Advertising – Precision

Google reports that 91% of shoppers searched online before making in-store purchases, by making your products the first thing a customer sees has never been more important! Responsive search ads can get your products in the spotlight with a personalized ad that is relevant to your target consumer. You want to be the answer to their questions when looking for holiday gifts this year.

Consumers are not always sure what products they are on the hunt for, targeting broader search intent that caters to your target demographic will be a great tool this holiday season. For example, if a customer searches, “popular gifts for teenage girls” as shown below. If your target audience is teenage girls, you want to bid on keywords pertaining to gifts for teenage girls. 

You will want your product to come up above the fold. Whether that be through shopping ads, responsive text ads, display ads, discovery ads, etc. By being above the fold on the first page of the search engine results page (SERP) can increase your click-through rate (CTR) significantly. 

Your Database

You have an amazing database of information at your finger tips. Think of all of the clients you have sold or serviced over the years. That database of information is incredibly valuable. But, It’s no longer enough just to have an email list; you need regular correspondence with smart content so readers continue to subscribe and engage with your email content. During the content creation process, use historical insights to create a personalized offer. A data-driven approach to your email marketing will deliver consistent results at lower acquisition costs.

When analyzing your database-driven marketing strategy it is important to keep in mind: 

  • Access: You can’t expect to make the most of your customer data if you don’t have access. A Customer Data Platform will solve this problem and many more!
  • Quality: If you are using inaccurate and out-of-date information, it will perform very poorly no matter how carefully it is segmented. This is where the Single Customer View process comes in handy, by merging, duplicating and cleansing your different streams of data into a single, trustworthy record for each customer.
  • Analyze: Many businesses don’t realize the value in their data and how it can help them create personalized campaigns for customers. Your ability to analyze your database will allow you access, which means more knowledge about who exactly is on this list of potential clients/customers!

The use of databases is a great tool to help your entire marketing strategy. One channel that you should consider when utilizing this information will be through email campaigns and specifically tailored for previous purchases or other specific targeting options from the data. This is a great option when retargeting your clients, which we will discuss more below in our Retargeting section!

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97% of users who visit your site for the first time will leave without purchasing. However, this may look like a loss but it’s actually an opportunity! People who see retargeted ads are up to 70% more likely to convert and so, you should have a retargeting strategy in place that brings them back – otherwise how else can we reach those potential customers?

As discussed above, data-driven strategies are very important to your marketing strategy. By using search and shopping behaviour data from your database, you can retarget quality users. Here are some effective retargeting strategies to use this holiday season:

Create Retargeting Audience Segments in Google Ads, Analytics or Facebooks Pixel
Retarget Website visitors by Source, Email, Search, Organic etc..
Retarget Website Visitors by Behaviour – Product detail page views, Cart Abandonment, time on site etc..
Retarget visitors that land on your promotional pages.

3. Seamless Shopping Experience

One of the largest trends this year will be convenience. By creating a seamless experience across multiple channels will directly affect your customer’s experience. When thinking about convenience for your customers ask yourself;

  1. Online orders. Can they be picked up at a store? How long will it take for my order to be ready? Be prepared for last-minute shoppers! 
  2. Can I reserve in-store items? Can they be picked up through curbside pick up or be waiting at a pick-up counter to avoid the holiday shopper rush. 
  3. Can I see if my closest store carries the item I am looking for? How many are in stock?
  4. How long will deliveries take? How much will shipping cost?
  5. How can I return my purchases and what will that experience look like? Do you offer free shipping for return items?

Personalized Customer Experience

Customer experience has had a growing effect on consumer behaviour in the past year. 78% of customers have backed out of a purchase due to a poor customer experience and 86% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience. 

The consumer is in the driving seat when deciding on purchase behaviour, it requires a strategy that builds and nurtures the relationships between a business and the consumer. By building a customer-centric strategy, your business is putting the customer first and will have a direct effect on brand awareness, brand loyalty and sales growth. 

Personalization is a huge part of today’s customer experience. 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that provides a personalized experience tailored to the consumer. A few great tips to personalize your marketing strategy includes;

Personalize your website: By incorporating dynamic content and interactivity into a personalized experience for your users. For example, you can tailor your landing pages with call-to-actions based on the user’s previous actions, hide sign-up forms for users that have already subscribed or show recommendations of products appropriate to them specifically tailored towards their interests as shown in the example to the right

Personalize your Email Marketing: Users receive hundreds of emails a day, you want your email content to stand out! To personalize your email marketing you can;

  1. You can include a form on sign-up that can include segment information so that you can tailor the email content to that specific segment. 
  2. Address your recipients by name, this shows a level of personalization that your consumer will appreciate and will help them feel less like a number, and more like a person!
  3. Use dynamic content: By adding content that is customized to the viewer will help retarget your customers with products they have already viewed or that are similar to previous purchases. You can also customize it by location to show low stocks in stores within their geo-locations. 

Optimize your Checkout Process

  1. Once your customer has reached the checkout page, they already have the intent to make a purchase. However, according to BigCommerce, on survey showed that 21% of online shoppers in the US abandoned their shopping carts due to long and complicated checkout processes. For this reason, it is important to optimize your checkout process offers the best user experience possible and a seamless checkout experience. 

    A few optimization tips include;

    Simplify your Checkout to One Page: By simplifying the checkout to one page you can simplify the loading time for multiple pages – this is especially important for mobile devices. This also gives the customer less time/factors to abandon their cart. 

    Guest Checkout: Sometimes customers need time to trust your business and their products. Many customers do not feel comfortable saving their contact info during the initial visit. Creating an online profile can also take extra time and steps that a customer might not feel is worth the extra time or effort. 

    Multi-recipient Functionality: We know that consumers might be purchasing gifts for multiple people. Remove unnecessary stress by adding an option to send to multiple addresses. 

    Shipping Options: Some shoppers may be last-minute while others plan their shopping experience weeks in advance. It is important to offer multiple shipping options so that customers can make the best choice for themselves when it comes time to purchase an item with delivery expectations. And don’t forget about the timing and pricing details! Customers do not want to go looking for this information. 

    Recommendations: Adding personalized recommendations or previously viewed items that pertain from previous actions the customer has taken on your website can entice your customers to purchase more items. 

Mobile Ready

  1. It is not news that consumers are using mobile devices more and more to make purchases online. Google reports that more than a quarter of consumers are purchasing using their mobile devices since the pandemic began. That includes app usage and downloads. For this reason, it is important to optimize your mobile platforms, this includes apps or websites. For example, Indigo has a customer-first approach to their mobile phone app. As shown to the right, they have a navigation bar that is easy to maneuver, multiple calls to action above the fold and are pushing their holiday products everywhere! They also have their cart at the top, with a reminder that you have products currently waiting in there and an option to choose your closest indigo store at the very top. You do not have to search for anything – except for a specific book that you might be looking for!

4. Change is Inevitable

  1. Lastly, be ready for change! The pandemic brings on a source of uncertainty and risk in the way consumers behave. Businesses must have an emergency plan to quickly alter their strategy when anything happens; this includes store closures or restrictions on how they conduct business. But by creating multiple purchasing channels through your company website or other means available now (e.g., social media), will allow businesses like yours, not only to survive but thrive during these challenging times.

Test, Test & Test

  1. Imagine that your site is down, all your customers excited to make their purchase drop off because of an error during the purchase process. This can mean huge losses in revenue! It is important to be constantly testing your e-commerce platform. 

    Not only is it important to be checking the functionality of your platforms, it is also important to test your content. One of the most overlooked aspects of marketing is content. It’s not enough to just be posting on platforms like Facebook and Twitter; you need quality posts too! But how do we know what will work best for our businesses? A/B testing can help with this by giving us a variety of options from which to choose one that suits our needs specifically.


  1. In Conclusion, if you want to be ready for the 2021 Holiday Season, start early. You can create a seamless shopping experience with omnichannel strategies and personalized customer experiences by using channels including YouTube advertising, Google advertising, or any other form of digital marketing that suits your needs. Be prepared for change; it’s coming whether we’re ready or not! Don’t forget to test, test, test! 

    We would love to help you stay ahead of these changes through our strategic approach to digital marketing services.  Let us know if these topics interest you so we can contact you soon about how we may best serve your business goals going into the 2021 holiday season and beyond!

Scott is a business owner and entrepreneur very familiar with the daily grind of running a business. He founded Digital Clicks Marketing 11 years ago to ease the marketing burden for businesses without internal resources or in-house expertise. He makes sure businesses and brands deploy the right digital marketing strategies and tactics to help them excel online.