9 Holiday Marketing Tips to Capture Last-Minute Shoppers

Last-minute holiday shoppers contribute to a significant portion of most retailers’ holiday sales. You should keep plugging away at your holiday marketing so you get the attention of those late shoppers. Here are nine marketing tips to help you with that.

When are your customers likely to be doing their holiday shopping? Although some consumers start shopping in October, many put off some or all of their Christmas shopping until later in December than you might think.

Think With Google reported that as of December 1, 2021, 94% of consumers still had gifts to buy. Not surprisingly, some of the top sales days during the holiday season come during the last week before Christmas for brick-and-mortar retailers.

While shopping habits could change this year, many people put off shopping as long as possible. They wait until the last minute, either because they don’t know what to buy for gifts, they’re waiting for hoped-for Christmas bonus money, or they’re hoping to score big, last-minute discounts on goods at their favorite stores.

What does that mean for your small retail store? First, it means you shouldn’t stop marketing too early. And, second, if you’re getting a late start on holiday marketing, you still have a chance to increase your holiday sales. Here are five last-minute marketing tips to help you raise sales figures during the happiest time of the year:

1. Send a holiday message

Just because Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed you by doesn’t mean it’s too late to start marketing your goods for the holidays. In fact, early December is a great time to send your loyal customers cards or emails to celebrate the season. Print up paper cards or opt to choose a holiday template from your email service provider and send your holiday greeting electronically.

For best results, include a gift or special savings offer with your holiday wishes. If you operate a brick-and-mortar shop, you might want to include a coupon that encourages shoppers to visit you in person. For example, you could provide a free Christmas ornament with any $20 purchase in your shop. Sending a holiday card is also a great way to remind last-minute shoppers to get their acts in gear before the end of the month.

2. Support late shoppers

Convenience and urgency are key factors in purchase decisions the closer the date gets to the gift-giving holiday. Seeing and touching some products is important, but other important criteria are being able to obtain a gift at the last minute without worrying about shipping delays and being able to do so in the most convenient way. 

To catch the eye of last-minute shoppers, be sure your Google Business Profile and Bing Places for Business pages are updated with your holiday hours, phone number, and website. If you have curbside pickup or your own delivery service, make that information clear on the Google and Bing pages, your social media pages, and your website.

Additionally, shop owners should consider offering free or expedited shipping at this time of year if their profit margins on the items will allow it. This perk can be invaluable for those who are sending gifts to friends and loved ones living out of state. But be sure to indicate the cutoff date for on-time delivery of holiday gifts.

3. Create a holiday gift guide

If you’re just creating your Christmas marketing plan, then you can probably sympathize with those shoppers who are also late to the gift-buying game. One of the best ways for e-commerce and brick-and-mortar shops to support last-minute customers is by offering gift guides. Help customers make gift decisions by letting them know which items are popular and which gifts teenage girls or middle-aged fathers like. Take it a step further and point out gifts they might want to buy for themselves, such as a new holiday dress or festive home decorations.

4. Develop gift bundles or baskets

Create a gift basket or assortment of items that complement one another and showcase it prominently on your website or in your shop. For example, a local gym could create gift bags featuring branded water bottles, t-shirts, healthy snacks, and a certificate for a free training session. A boutique might feature a snowy-day bundle featuring cozy slipper socks and a comfy robe.

5. Promote gift cards

Gift cards or gift certificates are also great items to showcase for indecisive customers and those looking for last-minute gifts for bosses and co-workers. In fact, gift cards to local restaurants, coffee shops, and other food specialties are ideal gifts for office workers and teachers.

Keep in mind that these will make you liable in the future for providing the goods or services for which you’ve collected money today.  So these are only a good solution for businesses that don’t tend to run into serious cash flow problems.

6. Be visual

If you’re looking for a way to draw more shoppers into your store, consider breaking out the holiday decorations. People tend to be in celebratory moods at this time of year, and they’re more likely to wander into a shop if the windows are decked out in bright holiday décor. You can also evoke the essence of the holidays by burning candles in seasonal scents and giving away holiday cookies and other snacks.

When you’re doing your decorating and marketing, remember that Christmas isn’t the only gift-giving holiday at this time of year. Hanukkah and Kwanzaa frequently fall at or near the same time as Christmas.  

Don’t have a retail store? Decorate your website and social media pages with holiday pictures and colors. By getting your customers into the holiday mindset, you increase the odds of them buying gifts — and therefore spending money — in your establishment.

7. Host a themed giveaway on social media

Holiday giveaways are great last-minute marketing tools for busy retailers. Consider creating a social media contest through which customers can win gift baskets or other holiday prizes. While Facebook giveaways that celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas — or 8 Days of Hanukkah — are popular, you can also invite customers to share their ugly sweater pictures and cookie recipes or even post about the worst gifts or best gifts they’ve ever received. The goal is to have fun, boost engagement, and, ideally, increase traffic to your website or store.

Additionally, retailers can use social media to remind shoppers about upcoming sales and specials and showcase gift ideas.

8. Be considerate and friendly

The holiday season tends to inspire kindness and generosity in people, and shop owners should be no exception. Even if you haven’t created an elaborate marketing plan for December, you can boost seasonal sales by treating your customers well. Show shoppers you care by providing free holiday beverages like hot cider and cocoa. You can also set up a gift-wrapping station in your retail shop to save customers’ valuable time — and paper cuts — and offer gift wrapping on your e-commerce site.

If you sell online, you should mitigate miscommunication and increase goodwill by posting clear “ship by” dates on your web pages. Use email marketing to start reminding customers weeks ahead of the ship-by date, so they aren’t caught by surprise. The last thing you want is for a customer to order a product on December 24th thinking it will arrive on Christmas morning.

9. Don’t forget the new year

If your store or franchise is a gym or spa or sells anything that might be part of a New Year’s resolution, play that up in your marketing and in your store. If you sell calendars, have a display where last-minute shoppers can easily spot them. Run a special that gives customers a small discount, a free service, or a gift for themselves if they buy a gift certificate or product of a certain value to give to a friend. Market anything fitness- or health-related as the perfect, lasting gift to give a friend and to give oneself.

Just because you’re late to the holiday marketing game doesn’t mean there isn’t still time to boost your revenue. Follow the above tips to increase December sales figures and start planning next year’s Christmas marketing early — like in the summer!

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.


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