6 holiday marketing ideas for 2021

September 28, 2021

Julie Weitzner is EVP at Sellwin, the in-house Amazon consultancy at dentsu. Sellwin helps brands navigate retail operational challenges, and develops customized, strategic advertising plans that best leverage Amazon Ads' solutions.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday right around the corner, it’s time to start planning for the holidays. Typically, we’d benchmark heavily off the prior year; however, we need to temper that guidance while brands and retailers alike are adjusting to the ever-changing conditions of the pandemic.

Analyze performance from previous Amazon retail events

Historical learnings provide the foundational roadmap to future success. Analyze performance from previous Amazon retail events (like Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday) and have a thorough understanding of what worked for your brand, what didn’t, and why. Scale successes across your product portfolio. Performance at each retail event should ideally improve. At dentsu, our learnings from previous key periods led to hourly refinements throughout the most recent Prime Day for more accurate keyword targeting and a better understanding of nuances in creative performance, including the importance of have badging front and center on ad creative driving to deals. This year, we improved our overall efficiency by 11% year over year according to aggregated client metrics.

Optimize supply chain and holiday assortments

Prepare for increased demand and higher than normal sustained traffic throughout the holiday shopping season. Many retailers have already announced Thanksgiving Day closures, opening the door for even greater digital commerce traffic on this key date. Additionally, variables such as the ongoing supply chain challenges may affect inventory flow in-season for some product categories. Be nimble with inventory availability for promoted ASINs and ensure that you have an adequate supply of advertised SKUs.

Savvy shoppers are waiting for deals and promotions, and they are constantly searching for great bargains and comparison shopping across brands and retailers. Plan accordingly—glance views may be strong, but deals may be needed to convert. Prepare your promotional calendar early and develop strategic promotions with competitive pricing mapped to appropriate in-stock levels to meet demand throughout the promotional period. When a deal runs out, have an alternative ready. Brands that do not have the depth of deals and inventory may find themselves doing well but running out of steam early in the season.

Plan your retail media holistically

Define and create audience segments at each stage that will help your brand to generate awareness, aid in consideration, and drive conversion. Build a measurement framework that recognizes the discrete KPIs by stage. Sales and conversions cannot be your sole KPI, or performance will not scale. Develop media plans that can be agile and flexible, but that also lock in key dates ahead of time for in-demand inventory and placements that may sell out. With Amazon Ads' increasingly large pool of ad-supported video inventory across Streaming TV ads on Fire TV devices and IMDb TV, there is an ever-greater number of impactful and measurable reach opportunities to evaluate. We advise clients to take a three-pronged approach to maximize potential:

  • Recruit new-to-brand audiences by creating awareness and excitement
  • Respond to category interest by educating audiences about your brand’s unique qualities and removing any potential friction in the path-to-purchase
  • Reconnect with product detail page and Store page visitors, providing strong calls to action to inspire purchases

Prioritize holiday and seasonal content updates

Product detail pages need to be retail ready, a process starting months in advance, and your product detail pages and storefronts should highlight seasonal updates. Organize your storefront with top navigation fields to merchandise effectively, and use the Stores Insights reporting to assess impact and optimize accordingly. Too often, we see brands skip this step and miss out on seasonal content updates, but this is key for bringing an element of timeliness to the holiday shopping experience.

Experiment with new formats

Test and learn with the latest betas from Amazon. Determine which opportunities make the most sense for your brand: video with shoppable links, Amazon Live, actionable ads (voice and remote). Prep a minimum of four months in advance to account for creative production. Our clients have seen an uplift in sales from official Amazon Live tie-ins, especially when they’ve included shoppable links in the video assets.

Continuously optimize

Be prepared to constantly monitor activity and measure performance. Stay prepared with contingency plans, allowing your brand to participate in all available opportunities during the holiday period.

The holidays are almost upon us! The time is now to get ready. By taking these steps, you can lay the foundation for a successful season. One thing we know for sure is that consumers love the holiday shopping experience on Amazon gift-giving is one of the ways people can still cultivate 'normal' holiday habits this year.

Interested in learning more about advertising for the holiday season? Visit our collection of online courses on using sponsored ads and Stores in your holiday marketing strategy.