While many marketers are focused on the major upcoming holidays—like Black Friday and Cyber Monday—there are three key dates before Cyber Week that should be on every retail and e-commerce marketer’s promotional calendar: Amazon’s Early Black Friday, Halloween, and Daylight Savings. 

While this year’s prolonged holiday shopping season presents marketers with even more opportunities to drive sales, consider how consumer behaviors have shifted over the past year due to COVID-19—and how this will impact the early holiday season. 

E-commerce sales in the US are expected to reach $794.50 billion by the end of the year (up 32.4% year-over-year), accelerating the shift to online shopping by nearly two years. This trend will impact the holiday season, with 61% of shoppers planning to complete their purchases online. An increasing number of shoppers will complete their online purchases on their mobile devices: mobile holiday sales are expected to grow 12% year-over-year, reaching $71.3 billion this holiday season. 

With consumers relying on their phones more than ever, text messaging presents a direct (and mobile) communications channel for brands to reach consumers through to drive sales during—and after—the holiday shopping season. 

To help you create a strategic holiday text messaging plan, we’re sharing a comprehensive holiday planning calendar. Below are three key dates and inspirational SMS marketing tips to engage mobile shoppers and drive more conversions ahead of Cyber Week: 

1. Amazon’s Early Black Friday (October 16 – November 19)

Recognizing shoppers’ growing interest in a prolonged holiday shopping season—which helps spread out purchases while avoiding shipping delays and out-of-stock products—Amazon held its annual Prime Day sale on October 13-14. Experts predict that worldwide sales exceeded $9.9 billion, up 43% from last year.

To maintain holiday sales momentum, Amazon has already begun a series of early Black Friday deals that will run until November 19. Consumers are eager to take advantage of these early holiday promotions: a recent survey by ICSC found that 77% of consumers plan to shop earlier than they usually would, with 23% of shoppers planning to make their first purchase in October. 

💡 Pro Tip: During this extended promotional period, invite subscribers to take advantage of your brand’s holiday pre-sales to stay top-of-mind. 

2. Halloween (October 31)

Americans are still finding ways to safely celebrate Halloween, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. While overall participation is down, more than 148 million US adults plan to participate in Halloween-related activities, with safe, at-home activities ranked highest—including decorating their homes, carving a pumpkin, and dressing up in a costume.

Even with a drop in participation, consumer spending is expected to reach $8 billion, down slightly from $8.8 billion in 2019, according to NRF. Those who are celebrating Halloween, however, plan to spend more on the activities that will ensure a memorable holiday—spending $92.12 on average compared to $86.27 in 2019. 30% plan to make their Halloween purchases online, compared to 25% last year.

💡 Pro Tip: Help subscribers create a memorable Halloween celebration this year—even if they’re staying home. Share a special “treat” via text messaging by offering a percentage or dollar amount off to help them celebrate.

3. Daylight Savings (November 1)

This year, 67% of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving. Major retailers are now spreading out promotions over two months, rather than concentrating them over a few weeks. 

During a prolonged holiday season, marketers can use moments like Daylight Savings to stand out and promote larger deals. Consider running a playful weekend sale related to the micro-holiday, and offer your SMS subscribers literal savings in the form of percentages or dollar amounts off. 

Or, as the clocks fall back, invite your subscribers to shop a “25-hour flash sale.” Because users usually open their text messages immediately, limited-time offers are especially suited to text messaging. 

💡 Pro Tip: Highlight seasonal clearance items, encouraging your audience to “buy before they’re gone” to further emphasize the time-sensitive nature of the sale. 

By building a strategic messaging calendar early on, you can feel confident that you won’t miss out on any opportunities to engage your audience during this holiday season.  Explore the calendar to discover more key dates between now and January, and get inspiration for what types of text messages to send (including real-life campaigns that drove revenue for leading brands).  

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