Holiday Marketing Campaigns for Retail - SMS Promotion Ideas

Holiday Marketing Campaigns Featured Image
October 29, 2021
David Kovacs
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Reading time about 14 min

Retail text message marketing is one of the most effective and budget-friendly marketing activities retailers can use to reach their audience and drive traffic to online and brick-and-mortar locations. More than a tactic, SMS promotions are quickly becoming an integral part of every retail marketer’s communication suite, especially during the holiday season.

This article discusses everything you need to know about text message marketing for retail stores leading up to, and during, the holidays. We’ll also look at supporting advertising campaign executions and strategies you can use to support your overall marketing efforts. Use this guide to maximize your holiday retail text messaging effectiveness and create a plan to deliver high-performing, results-driven messages to prospects and customers.

Quick Links:

  1. Holiday Marketing Strategies for Retail
  2. Why Use SMS Marketing for Holiday Retail Promotions
  3. Try SMS Marketing for Your Next Holiday Marketing Campaign

Holiday Marketing Strategies for Retail

If you're just starting to plan, here are six easy (emphasis on easy) marketing ideas and successful advertising campaign examples to inspire and guide you!


1. User-Generated Content (UGC) Campaigns

A UGC campaign is any campaign that encourages a consumer to create and share photos, videos, or other advertising content. It can be as straightforward as setting up a customer feedback area on a product page or asking followers to tweet a specific hashtag along with a photo of themselves using your product.

Why Try a Holiday UGC Campaign?

  • Build brand reputation and create a sense of trust with your consumers during a busy shopping season
  • Build social credibility with potential followers
  • Requires minimal time or money to get started and you could be sending your first message in minutes
  • Interact and engage with your audience more effectively

#OptOutside Campaign

REI’s #OptOutside Campaign

This campaign was simple to kick off with just a basic landing page, hashtag strategy, and social posts.

To spread the word, REI had followers share their reasons for opting to act and include the #OptOutside hashtag. Followers could choose to share the message on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, and with the click of a button, their website would automatically generate the phrase with the post to make it quick and easy to share.

2. Publish a Gift Guide Series

A gift guide is a collection of gifts you recommend to your customers to buy. It can be in the form of a blog post, SMS message, YouTube video, social media post, PDF download, or even a newsletter you email out to subscribers. Make the gifts you add to your guide relevant to your audience. If your followers are into cooking, recommend kitchen appliances, cookbooks, aprons, utensils, or popular kitchen decor.

PRO-TIP: Instead of offering one extensive guide full of several gift ideas, you could separate those ideas into smaller messages and publish them spaced out over some time. This can make it easier to send messages quickly while still creating a reasonably large, months-long campaign. Add a hashtag to create some continuity between guides and increase the findability of your posts.

3. Create a Holiday Countdown

A Holiday Countdown is a timed promotion that expires within “x” hours, days, or weeks before Christmas. No matter what your business is, a holiday countdown can encourage people to act now.

PRO-TIP: You can pop up a quick landing page and easily embed a free countdown timer within minutes.

Pastel Trail on Pinterest

Pastel Trail on Pinterest

Pastel Trail uses several hashtags to ensure that their promotion performs organically for Pinterest users who search on the hashtags including: #pillowcase, #throwpillow, #posterprint, #Christmas Decoration, #christmas crafts, #saleposter, #salebanner, #walldecor, #wallart, and #livingroom.

4. Create a Holiday Contest

Contests are easy to get going and are an excellent way to interact with your customers.

You can create a simple selfie contest or comment-and-win contest in less than an hour. Your contest can take place online or in physical locations.


Easy Holiday Contest Ideas

  • Selfie Contest - Create a hashtag for your contest, ask your followers to take a selfie with your product at one of your locations.
  • Comment & Win Contest - Share a photo of the prize and tell people to comment on the photo to enter for a chance to win it.
  • Be a Santa Contest - Give your followers a chance to be Santa for someone else by asking them to tag someone they feel is worthy of receiving a gift.
  • Name My Gift Contest - If you are a retail business, ask customers to tell you what product you sell they would love to have most as a gift for Christmas. Choose one of the commenters to receive the product they wish for at no cost.
  • Name Your Favorite Christmas Movie Contest - Ask followers to comment with the name of their favorite Christmas movie for a chance to win a gift.

5. Buy a Gift, Get a Gift Holiday Campaign

“Buy a gift, get a gift” campaigns are an easy way to boost your sales even after the holiday season is over and work exceptionally well in restaurants. Here’s an example: For every $25 you spend on gift cards, you get a $5 gift card for free. This would tempt your customers to buy more of the $25 gift cards so they could get the extra ones free for themselves or other people on their list.

6. Holiday SMS Marketing Campaigns

If you are looking for a super fast and easy way to reach your customers, SMS messaging research has shown that text messages have a 98% open rate, compared to an open email rate of 18%.

What Is SMS Marketing & How Does It Work?

SMS subscribers opt in to receive your texts on their device. You can send them announcements, coupons, exclusive offers, or even real-time alerts for important events.



Why Use SMS Marketing for Holiday Retail Promotions


  • SMS software is easy to use, implement, and operationalize to track your SMS campaigns.
  • Text messaging is highly targeted because you know who you are messaging and can cater to their interests.
  • SMS marketing outperforms other digital marketing efforts. (See 98% open rate above!)
  • People remain ever more highly connected to their devices and view text messages as a more personal and frequently preferred form of communication.
  • SMS marketing and email marketing work exceptionally well together to interact and engage with your customers.


Retail Holiday Promotion Tips Using SMS Marketing

Start here when you are ready to invest in SMS holiday marketing and need a plan.

Before the season arrives:

1. Pay Attention to Consumer Trends

Now's the time to start digging into data. What types of products are your target consumers buying right now? What do they want more than anything? How are they spending their money?

When you know what products your customers want, you know which ones to push during your holiday promotions. You can push those items through your text marketing, email marketing, and social media campaigns to entice potential buyers and boost sales exponentially.

2. Develop Fresh Content

From text marketing to social media to blog posts, start planning your content now. You should fill out your editorial calendar for the weeks and months leading up to the holidays, so you know what you'll post and when.

Before you start writing and preparing that content, though, take a look in the rearview mirror. What worked best for you during the last holiday season? What worked for your competitors? You can even research non-competing brands to "steal,” or better yet, "borrow" promotional strategies that lead to increased engagement and conversions.

3. Double Your Ad Spend

You have to spend money to make money, right? This is especially true during the holiday season. Entrepreneur guest writer Eric Samson recommends doubling your ad spend to determine which creatives drive the most conversions.

Since you've already prepared your editorial calendar, you know what you'll post. Run tests on every ad, text marketing strategy, and email to determine what graphics, images, and copy work best. Using that data, ramp up your ad spend to reflect the results so you can drive more sales.

4. Create a Brand Hashtag

A holiday hashtag can make your holiday promotions more festive and less sales-oriented. For instance, ASOS used the hashtag #instaadvent, which resulted in more than 2,000 photos from followers and fans. Those photos exposed ASOS to new audiences and drove sales.

Create your own holiday hashtag, but don't limit its use to social media. You can add it to your text marketing messages, your emails, and your blog. Create a community around that hashtag and make sure your audience knows what it means.

In other words, create a purpose behind the hashtag to which your specific audience can relate. For instance, if you sell pet products, you could use a hashtag like #christmaspups (and throw your brand name in there) to celebrate dog lovers.



So. You’ve done your homework. Now you need some tactical solutions—here’s our very big list of tried and true holiday executions that you can use as the foundation for generating great returns with these proven tactics. As you review them, consider how each applies to your business and your customers.

Text Can’t-Miss Holiday Coupons, Deals & Promos

Entice holiday shoppers with textable (and trackable) coupons and promotions. Over the holidays — one where many are experiencing economic upheavals—price-slashing deals are hard to pass up! Offer customers and VIP clients exciting BOGO (Buy One, Get One) deals, price cuts, or cash off their purchase. As a bonus, textable coupons bring customers inside your store (either physically or virtually)—research shows that text promotions offer incredible 70-80% redemption rates. This also translates into more time spent browsing and buying other items. It’s a win-win!

Promote Keywords, Short Codes & Text-to-Landline Numbers

A Keyword is a short word or phrase that customers use to opt in to ongoing text communications. A short code is the number they use to text you (like a phone number is a number to call you). A text-to-landline number gives you the flexibility to have your existing landline turned into a textable number, allowing your customer to speak with you in the channel they prefer.

Encourage customers to subscribe for VIP promos and essential updates (like different opening hours or safety precautions) by promoting your Keyword for maximum subscriber opt-ins. How? Show it off on in-store signage, on receipts, in email signatures, and other high-traffic offline and online sources.

Minimize Abandoned Cart Syndrome

We’re all busy during the holiday season. Naturally, so are your customers! There may be many gifts to buy (and price-check), as well as latkes to bake and trees to decorate. It’s easy to understand how a customer may leave a purchase in an online cart and then forget to return to purchase it.

Send a 1:1 automated text so that you can interact with these customers, reminding them of the item and addressing any concerns they may have via two-way messaging. You’re more likely to close the sale!

Generate Valuable Content Across All Channels

Whether your store is brick-and-mortar or fully ecommerce, your info doesn't need to exist solely in the form of paper handouts. Your retail customers enjoy and expect you to have a rich website full of information. For example, if you want your customers to try out your products, make sure to have a strong FAQ section focused on their questions and needs.

My Total Retail advises that an "online presence needs to be about much more than the products you sell. A website or mobile site should be an educational resource for consumers, offering unique photos, videos, tools, blog posts, reviews, and more."

Host a Special Holiday Giveaway

If you'd like to boost customer engagement, host a giveaway. Everyone likes to get something for free. You don’t even need to do this in a store; you could also accept online applicants. Best of all, you can promote your giveaway through text message marketing (since these messages are opened in an average of three minutes from their receipt).

And if subscribers opt in to your database for a chance to win, they’ll stay to learn about more deals and updates!

Promote Safety

Again this year, retailers need to give shoppers secure, stress-free methods to browse, buy, and take home. Many consumers won’t feel comfortable in crowded stores. Reevaluate habits, employ creative ways to interact, and use SMS to get closer to your customers and close more sales.

Offer Curbside Pickup

Over 75% of customers now seek curbside pick-up options to assuage safety concerns: a statistic likely to rise during the winter. Safe, fast, convenient, and often less costly than delivery—it also leaves less of a carbon footprint with fewer cardboard boxes to recycle—text clients when orders are ready for, pick-up and simplify a secure, no-touch payment process with SMS.

Add a Contactless Delivery Option

What’s worked as a critical selling point for Jeff Bezos and Amazon all these years can also work for smaller, even local businesses. Communicate dispatch and delivery confirmations to customers, send updates en route, and alert drivers to inclement weather or traffic concerns.

Promote Your Holiday Sales

Tempt customers and clients with too-good-to-miss textable (and trackable) coupons and promos, whether it’s a BOGO (Buy One, Get One) offer, an exciting discount, or even a free item. It’s like a special gift for your customers. And because promos are the gift that keeps on giving, you’ll be equally rewarded with a boom in business.

Streamline Seasonal Staffing

‘Tis the season to boost your workforce. Seasonal hiring to accommodate a spike in business will help you seamlessly manage an influx of customers and sales. Trigger automated text alerts to signal job seekers and freelancers to new opportunities, use incentives to drive in-house referrals via text, quickly share documents, and streamline everything with reminders and alerts for important deadlines.

Boost Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Amid a lovely Thanksgiving dinner spent with friends or family, cherishing what’s truly important (IRL > Zoom), give further thanks for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Traditionally, the year’s biggest revenue bonanzas, stores will start sales early this year with a “pull-forward” strategy to grasp better market share. Text shoppers to alert them on essential details.

Engage Ecommerce Opportunities

Mobile commerce continued to grow during the pandemic. Keep customers engaged, interested, and informed with SMS text messaging campaigns highlighting your ecommerce opportunities.

Employ Smart Work Solutions

Propel business forward, nurture customer funnels, and make spirits bright with effective marketing plans and SMS strategies. Drip Campaigns are especially popular.

See More Sales with a 😄

Hooray! It’s time for pumpkin spice and everything nice — and this includes a festive, energetic marketing voice. If this year has taught businesses and consumers anything, it’s to focus on what’s important and find joy wherever we can. Leverage the power of positivity in your multi-channel campaigns to see positive growth.

Upgrade Your Business Landline & Never Miss a Text Again

Amplify engagement and functionality with Two-Way Texting on Text-to-Landline numbers so that you never miss a lead or a chance to speak with customers or your staff. We’re pretty sure this is how Santa communicates with the elves these days over at his Workshop. There’s a lot of toys to bring to kids all over the globe, so it only makes sense he’d connect as seamlessly and efficiently as possible.


Try SMS Marketing for Your Next Holiday Marketing Campaign

The adoption of SMS texting as a preferred channel has made holiday retail SMS marketing a compelling and affordable medium for marketers to consider. More than anything, this article demonstrates that holiday text marketing campaigns implemented in concert with your other marketing activities can differentiate your retail brand and engage the customers you seek.


Are you interested in jumpstarting your holiday texting program?

Get expert help from the professionals at EZ Texting.

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