SMS Strategies

16 SMS Holiday Marketing Ideas to Hit Your Revenue Goals

SMS holiday marketing ideas
Published
Sep 2, 2021
Written by
Elodie Huston
Elodie is a Senior Content Marketing Strategist on the Content Team. She spends her logged off hours cycling, scouting out soft serve, and yelling about really good books.

Your one-stop-shop for the holiday marketing strategies you need ahead of the biggest and longest season yet.   

Last year, shoppers turned to their phones to complete their holiday shopping, driving a 41.4% increase in mobile sales. This year, eMarketer predicts mobile sales will grow by another 15.1%

As stores open up, shoppers are embracing old traditions along with the ones they formed last year. 66% of consumers say their mobile device is their most important shopping tool. And shoppers aren’t just using their phones to browse your site. They’re keeping them in their back pockets to navigate stores, research products, and complete their purchases. 

Having direct, personalized conversations with shoppers will be key to holiday marketing success. Text messaging helps brands engage shoppers in real-time with messages tailored to their preferences. 

Whether you’re building your text messaging program for the first time or looking for ways to grow your existing one, here are key holiday SMS marketing strategies your brand can implement to hit and exceed your revenue goals. 

Grow your SMS subscriber list (and check it twice)

Scaling your list of subscribers is the first step towards maximizing your SMS program. It’s vital to grow your subscriber list as much as possible ahead of the busy holiday season. The more people you can text, the more e-commerce and in-store revenue you’ll drive.

Our suite of powerful list growth tools will help you compliantly grow your list of SMS subscribers. Whether your audience loves to engage with you on your website, social media, email, or in-store, you’ll have access to a wide range of list growth solutions to help you convert your web and foot traffic into subscribers. 

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Convert web visitors into subscribers 

Turn high-intent browsers into SMS subscribers with sign-up units displayed across your mobile and desktop websites. Encourage shoppers to opt in with a special offer, or position your text messaging program as a VIP community and let subscribers know they’ll get exclusive offers and in-store experiences. 

We quickly launched our program and scaled our list of SMS subscribers with Attentive ahead of the holiday season. From the get-go, we’ve seen that our text messaging subscribers are more likely to convert. Being able to directly engage our most loyal subscribers has already made a tremendous impact on our holiday performance.

– Liz Owens, VP of Marketing, Paper Source
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Grow your SMS and email lists at the same time 

Simultaneously grow your text messaging and email subscribers using Attentive’s 2-in-1 sign-up flow on both desktop and mobile websites. This feature allows you to collect email addresses alongside phone numbers in an easy, two-step sign-up process. Connect your SMS program with your email service provider (ESP) to seamlessly and automatically pass back all email opt-in information—giving you even more insights into your audience. 

The SMS Pro Play: You should continually A/B test your sign-up creatives. Experiment with offer types, creative types, and 2-in-1 vs. SMS-only sign-up units to find the creatives and offers that resonate most with your audience. 

Tap into your social audience 

Convert your social followers into SMS subscribers with landing pages. You can add a link to dedicated landing pages within posts and in your profile links (through platforms like LinkTree). Think about how you can tailor your sign-up incentives to entice your social audience, including letting them be the first to know about product drops and sales. 

To extend your reach beyond your followers, consider using sponsored posts to promote SMS sign-ups. 

Drive opt-ins offline with Text-to-Join (TTJ) keywords

Don’t forget about engaging your audience offline,with Text-to-Join (TTJ) keywords. This sign-up solution is a great way to encourage sign-ups through offline channels—including in-store signage, checkout kiosks, packaging, receipts, mailers, TV and radio advertisements, event collateral, and more. Since shoppers may be spending more time in line during the holiday season, promoting your text channel with checkout counter signage is a great way to drive more opt-ins. 

The SMS Pro Play: Create a short and memorable TTJ keyword to make it easier for subscribers to remember and opt into your SMS program. We recommend using your brand’s name, something related to your products and services, or playful holiday-themed keywords. 

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Increase your digital reach with landing pages

Dedicated landing pages give your audience another way to learn more about your SMS program and opt in. You can link to these customized landing pages in paid media, social media posts, emails, and other digital channels to increase your reach and scale your subscriber list. 

Always stay compliant

We build all of our list growth tools with compliance at the forefront (including audit trails and subscriber opt-out protection), and our in-house legal team is focused on TCPA law. You should never buy subscriber lists or opt in subscribers without their express consent. It’s not compliant with industry regulations, and it could expose you to expensive litigation. 

Automatically drive holiday revenue with triggered text messages

Triggered messages help you nurture brand loyalists and drive revenue without any extra manual work (a holiday must). These messages are automatically sent to SMS subscribers based on an action they’ve taken, like opting into your text messaging program, abandoning an online cart, or completing a purchase. Building these automated flows ahead of your busiest time of year ensures that you won’t miss a single opportunity to engage with a high-intent shopper.  

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Welcome subscribers into your SMS program

Your welcome message is the first impression you make on a new subscriber. Set up a triggered welcome series to deliver your sign-up incentive, educate subscribers about your brand, or invite them to join your loyalty program. You can also include a contact card to personalize subscribers’ experience even more. 

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Capture otherwise lost revenue with browse and cart abandonment reminders 

During the holidays, shoppers are looking for great deals, likely bouncing from site to site. Browse abandonment reminders are a great way to encourage high-intent shoppers who have browsed a specific product to return to your site to make a purchase. Include a link directly back to the item they browsed to make it as easy as possible for them to add it to their online cart.

As shoppers search for the best deals possible, they’ll inevitably leave items in their online shopping carts. Triggered abandoned cart reminders can help you recover otherwise lost revenue with a well-timed reminder, linking shoppers directly back to their carts to complete their purchase.

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Keep the conversation going after they’ve made their purchase

Engage your subscribers after the holiday season with a series of post-purchase messages. Send helpful transactional updates (like real-time shipping and delivery notifications) to build excitement before their items arrive. Then, nurture them with incentives to redeem with their next purchase, invitations to join your loyalty program, or request they leave a review on your site or social media.

Our SMS program with Attentive helped us achieve our biggest Cyber Week yet. We’ve seen tremendous SMS results throughout the year, but our text messaging performance over Black Friday and Cyber Monday exceeded our expectations.

– Deirdre Kelly, Director of Acquisition, Pura Vida Bracelets

Engage holiday shoppers with one-time SMS campaigns

Once you’ve grown your list of subscribers and set up triggered flows to engage them automatically, it’s time to start sending holiday SMS campaigns. 

Campaign text messages are one of the most effective ways to engage shoppers and drive incremental revenue during the holidays (and beyond). There are two main categories of campaign messages: promotional (like sales and other special offers) and non-promotional (like sharing shipping reminders and inspirational content).

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Immediately drive revenue with promotional SMS holiday campaigns 

During the holiday season, many shoppers expect deals and discounts. Even if your brand doesn’t normally discount, the holidays are an opportunity to share special offers and perks without diluting your brand. Promotional holiday SMS campaigns include: 

  • 12 days of deals: Send a “days of deals” campaign to your SMS subscribers, offering a new deal each day. Not only does this create excitement around each new deal, but it will also help drive repeat visits to your website or store.
  • Flash sales and limited-time offers: Invite subscribers to shop limited-time offers and flash sales. Highlight the time-sensitive nature of the sale to build urgency and drive traffic to your website. 
  • Tiered promotions: Offer SMS subscribers bigger discounts for spending more money, like $15 off orders of $150 or $20 off orders of $200. This is a great option if your brand doesn't offer many discounts or sees a bigger AOV. 
This is a very engaged audience and SMS is a very effective, direct way to connect with people. It’s the easiest thing I work on and the most successful.

– Phillip Cruickshank, Brand Marketing Manager at CB2
Michaels first to shop

Inspire holiday shoppers with non-promotional SMS campaigns

The holidays aren’t just about sales and discounts. Bring the in-store product discovery online with these non-promotional holiday SMS campaigns

  • Gift guides: Keep your audience engaged throughout the entire shopping season. Send out wishlist ideas and gift guides to help your subscribers find the perfect gift for everyone on their list. 
  • New product and back-in-stock announcements: Drive more sales by letting your subscribers know when you launch a new product or when a favorite item is back in stock. Include a link directly back to your site to help increase traffic and make it as easy as possible for shoppers to complete their purchase.
  • Shipping deadlines: Send helpful reminders when shipping deadlines are approaching. Your shoppers will appreciate knowing when they need to complete their purchase to ensure it arrives on time.
  • E-gift cards: Suggest e-gift cards to shoppers who have missed holiday shipping deadlines. When recipients redeem their gift cards in the new year, you’ll get a nice post-holiday sales boost.
MATE cause marketing

Spread some holiday cheer with cause marketing campaigns

71% of consumers say they prefer to shop from companies that reflect their values. Communicating what your brand believes in can help you deepen your connection with your subscribers. Especially during the holiday season, shoppers want to know that they’re making a difference. Share editorial content highlighting how your brand is making an impact, or let them know you’ll donate a portion of their purchase to a cause you care about.

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Encourage in-store purchases

Shoppers are embracing a hybrid shopping experience. Create the shopping experiences they crave by bridging online and in-store experiences with text messaging. Highlight your brand’s buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) options to drive foot traffic. Use geo-targeting to share location-specific updates and offers, and always include a link to find their nearest location. If your brand hosts in-store holiday events or pop-ups, treat SMS subscribers like VIPs by giving them first access to tickets.  

SMS Pro Play: You’re busier than ever during the holiday season. Schedule your campaign messages ahead of time to ensure they’re sent on time and you never miss a chance to engage shoppers. Check out our SMS holiday calendar with campaign ideas to keep shoppers coming back to your site all season long. 

Send two-way triggered messages that drive action

People are used to having back-and-forth interactions with friends and family via text messaging. Your subscribers may want to be able to respond to your brand’s messages, too, or ask their questions.

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Strike up two-way conversations 

Creating two-way conversational text messaging campaigns helps you drive engagement. You can use these automated interactions to learn more about your audience’s preferences (including what holidays they’re observing), and give them personalized offers and recommendations in return. 


SMS Pro Play: You can also use two-way triggered messaging to delight your customers with holiday-themed, gamified experiences. Check out how Groove Life
launched a two-way conversational text messaging campaign to re-engage subscribers during a peak holiday moment.

Answer your subscribers’ customer service questions

Our recent mobile marketing study found that over 70% of consumers want to ask brands questions via text—and get answers in real-time. Offering customer support via text messaging creates a seamless customer experience—they don’t need to switch devices or be placed on hold to get answers to their questions.

You can answer questions directly within our platform, or integrate your SMS program with your customer support platform to route it to the right team. 

Conversational text messaging has been a successful way to engage our audience. Our SMS subscribers are excited to communicate with us in a way that feels more personal. We text subscribers like they're our friends, and they love that our brand voice shines through. Our audience naturally replies back, asks questions, and gets in touch with our customer service team.

- Maya Menon O’Connor, Director of Marketing, Swap.com 

Holiday SMS marketing copywriting tips

We've worked with over 4,000 brands to send millions of texts. Here's what we've learned about writing text messages that drive action: 

  • Be brief: Our attention spans are short, especially during the busy holiday shopping season. Text messages should be succinct. Consider what subscribers will see as the message preview in their text message inbox. And treat the first few words of your message the same way you would an email subject line.
  • Get festive: Include holiday-themed images and emojis to add visual excitement and emotion to your message. Your subscribers will appreciate the sentiment.
  • Lean into the holiday rush: Create a strong sense of urgency and make sure your messages encourage subscribers to act immediately.
  • Drive action: End with a strong and creative call to action. Shoppers are extremely busy during the holidays—tell them exactly what next step to take and include a link that makes it easy to take action.

Shoppers will be relying on their phones more than ever for their holiday shopping this year. Creating a thoughtful SMS marketing strategy will be key to engaging shoppers, building brand loyalty, and driving incremental revenue. 

Want to dive deeper into how to achieve your best holiday season yet with SMS marketing? Explore our Holiday Village to find your personalized path to holiday SMS marketing success, and collect tips and SMS examples along the way. Be sure to complete your journey to earn a special gift (and get a donation made on your behalf).

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