Conversion Optimization

eCommerce Marketing Strategies (and Brilliant Examples) for Thanksgiving

Get an early start to your eCommerce Thanksgiving marketing campaign with these 6 quickfire strategies plus brilliant examples

eCommerce Marketing Strategies (and Brilliant Examples) for Thanksgiving

The most awaited day Americans look forward to is Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday where everyone wants to unwind and relax. 

For eCommerce brands, it’s an opportunity to connect with the audience and have a piece of the revenue pie. 

With Thanksgiving coming up, you must be looking for ways, strategies, and tips for your Thanksgiving marketing campaign. 

As always, we’re here to help you out. Here’s an actionable guide to Thanksgiving strategies and real examples from brands that can help you give a direction. 

Here's an overview of the topics we'll be covering:

6 Economical (yet quickfire) strategies to help you increase Thanksgiving sales 

1. Know whom to sell to (Audience segment) 

Introspection begins at home and where else can you find precious data other than your analytics? 

Start with the good ol’ Google Analytics 

Your audience report will help you give a deep insight into the audience segments. Here’s the type of audience segments you need to sort — 

a) Generous Spenders 

Every eCommerce store has customers who spend generously compared to the rest of your customers. 

Regardless of how often they shop, they always spend big and are more beneficial since they have greater returns compared to others at the same cost of acquisition. 

To identify the generous spenders, you need to filter them by CLTV and LTV. 

To ensure they are as generous as they were earlier, you can offer premium products or limited editions, free shipping or express shipping (no minimum order value), and smart bundles or value packs. 

b) Cart abandonment peeps 

Your ‘would-have-been’ customers who changed their mind at the last minute form a sizable chunk of your customer segment. The reasons for cart abandonment could either be the lack of free shipping or finding a better alternative. 

Segment this audience by category or product of interest. 

Add related items in the emails and stop being spammy. The goal is to reactivate the interest leading to a sale. 

Don't forget to read 20 Abandoned Cart Email Examples that Actually Win Back Lost Customers

c) Coupon Aficionados 

As much as you want to despise them, you simply can’t ignore the customers who simply won’t shop without coupons. 

Coupons unlock happiness. In a study, it was found that participants who received a $10 coupon experienced a 38% increase in oxytocin levels and were 11% happier than those who didn’t receive it. 

Try and segregate the customers who bought using a coupon. This shall be your go-to segment after your generous spenders. 

Summing it up, this shall be a reference to get started. Don’t limit yourself to these segments as these are just the tip of the iceberg. 

2. Find the riches (top-selling product categories)

A core part of preparing your eCommerce store for Thanksgiving involves determining your yesteryear’s top-selling product category. 

Taking a look at your eCommerce analytics can help answer pertinent questions including but not limited to — 

  • What categories make the highest sales?
  • How does our product category compare against competitors?
  • Which product categories are showing a slump?
  • What are the trends related to the product category?
  • Which regions have more sales?

Remember, to focus on quantity, product revenue, average quantity, and average price. 

If you’re not able to find what product categories to focus on, here are Top selling categories for US Holiday Season 2021. 

US Holiday Season eCommerce Sales Growth by Product Category, 2021

With people returning to offices, the demand for office wear dramatically increased making Apparels and accessories the numero uno product category accumulating $45.35 billion. 

As expected, computer and consumer electronics came second at 11.5% making $44.66 billion in sales. 

Thank us later: eCommerce product catalog: common mistakes + how to fix them

3. Start early prep for Black November 

Black Friday will not be financially rewarding unless you start preparing a month earlier. Hence the term Black November. 

In fact, 54% of customers start looking for deals from mid-October.  Moreover, customers have shunned their preferred brands. Shockingly, 76% of customers are willing to make a first-time purchase from a brand that offers exciting discounts. 

Here’s some groundwork you need to be doing — 

a) Highest-grossing product categories

To get your prep in full swing, display your top-selling product categories on your homepage. By highlighting them in the header with different font colors, you’re ensuring higher visibility. 

Adding a discount nudge on the product category display works as a nudge for customers to click the same. 

b) Product Descriptions (only salesman you need)

Make sure you work on your product descriptions. Sell experience and explain finer points in detail. Product details or ingredients, specifications, and compatibility information are compulsory and not optional. 

Astonishingly, less than 10% of eCommerce sites have product descriptions that meet user needs. 

Therefore, focus on the pain points, and add FAQs to reduce risk aversion. 

c) Product images that bring products to life 

Since, physical touch is excluded in eCommerce, the only way(duh!) customers get to know a product is through product images. 

Expectedly, 93% of customers consider visual content to be a crucial deciding factor when it comes to making a purchase. 

You can try to use a wide variety of product shots such as” 

  • Individual shots 
  • Group shots 
  • Lifestyle shots 
  • Scale shots 
  • Detailed shots 
  • Packaging shots

d) Ensure your inventory is up to speed 

Thanksgiving is a rush so ensure you have enough inventory on the D-day. 

First, touch base with your suppliers and let them know the forecasted product volume so you have more than enough to meet your needs. Next, take a look at the stock keeping unit (SKU) and analyze it as per quantity, product revenue, average price, average quantity, and unique purchases. 

Mark your calendars for all the events and ensure you use an inventory tracking tool to notify you every time an item ships. 

e) Build the hype with engaging content 

Creating how-to guides, product comparison videos, and other types of engaging content can help build the buzz leading up to Thanksgiving. 

You can create authority content, ebooks, strong point blogs, trending content, and video content.  

Capturing the attention of your customers can build a buzz which can lead to an increase in traffic. 

Black Friday Exclusive: 25 Creative Examples of Black Friday Deals

4) Turn on ‘Theme Mode’   

In the run-up to Black Friday, you need to create promotions with Black Friday as the core theme. 

To ensure things go as planned, a promotional calendar needs to be set up. Here’s a list of things you need — 

a) Creatives and Images 

The goal is Black Friday sales and all your images and creatives should convey the same. Visuals are as important as the messaging, so make sure you get the colors and visuals right. 

From social media posts to emails, and 1-minute video clips, you need to have everything ready in your repertoire. 

Not to forget your homepage banners. 

Here is a social media image from Terra Origin for Black Friday 2021. 

Terra Origin Black Friday Sale

It drives curiosity with discounts and key messaging. 

b) Social Media 

Automating your social media posts at the peak time can help you get high engagement and traffic to your website. Using video posts can improve your conversions by 2-5%. 

Here’s a Terra Origin promotional video for your reference. 

c) Discounts and Offers 

Running promotional deals doesn’t mean you go home a pauper. You need to figure out the discount rates that allow you to keep rewarding profit margins

Before you decide on the discounts and the pricing strategies, ask yourself these two questions — 

  • Why are you offering discounts on these products in particular?
  •  Does the past data show a positive relationship between the profit margins and the order history? 

5) Get to work on those email promotions 

Your email list has hidden riches and it’s time for you to fire on all cylinders. Here’re a few tried and tested strategies to drive sales through your email — 

a) Stir the excitement with an early bird offer

Early bird offers use scarcity to drive purchase. It drives a sense of urgency for customers to act fast. It has been proven that discounts and limited period offers increase the oxytocin levels in people making them happier. 

Here’s an early bird promo email from Fitbit that drives the point well. 

FitBit Early Bird Offer Black Friday Offer

The early bird offer ends on November 10. This is two weeks before Black Friday. It offers a $100 discount and a free sports band. With the promo code mentioned in the beginning, it makes sure the message is read by the subscriber. 

This can be an inspiration for your Black Friday Early Bird Promo. 

b) Send early reminders 

Sending emails in advance builds excitement and curiosity. By giving early reminders, you’re reinforcing the benefits of signing up early instead of missing out at the last minute. 

Here is an example of Rover sending a Thanksgiving email that triggers concern. 

Rover Thanksgiving email

The conversation begins with Thanksgiving being stressful and anxious dog parents having to run door to door asking family and friends to watch over their dog. 

So what’s the takeaway from this example? 

You always don’t need to offer a discount. Scarcity and urgency work just as well. 

c) Leverage giveaways early on 

Giveaways work like a charm. After all, who doesn’t like freebies especially when they are hard to come by? 

If you can afford to do giveaways, try it and see your customer retention rates go up.

What’s the science behind it? 

Jose Kopelman, an American entrepreneur and venture capitalist explains it using the Penny Gap theory (that’s his invention). 

According to this theory, the penny gap is the space between a penny and free. It states that it is extremely difficult to make customers pay for something that they are accustomed to getting for free. Inversely, it is much easier to make customers pay an extra $10 on a $100 bill. 

Humans are wired to accept freebies. 

Fracture did a Thanksgiving promotional campaign where they sent out three giveaway emails. 

Here is one of the emails. The theme was a 12-day countdown to Thanksgiving where a lucky person would receive a giveaway worth $5000. In return, the customers had to just keep subscribed to the emails. 

Followed by this, it adds a 25% discount on one of their products. This is a subtle way to upsell without making it obvious. 

Fracture 12 Day Thanksgiving Giveaway
For you: 15 amazing drip email campaigns that actually drive sales

6) Optimize for search intent (high intent works better) 

 Search intent refers to the purpose of the online search. It helps in determining where a user stands on the customer journey map. 

Here are the four types of search intent — 

  • Navigational: Keywords users use when searching for a particular brand or product. For instance, what stores are open thanksgiving 
  • Informational: Informational keywords reflect the information users are seeking about a particular product. In this case, is heb open thanksgiving day 
  • Commercial: Keywords users use when they’re decided to purchase. For example, Is home depot open on thanksgiving
  • Transactional: At this stage, the user is sure about buying. They’re looking for the best deals. For example, where to buy turkey for thanksgiving 

6 Brilliant Thanksgiving Marketing examples that you can’t help but admire

1. Butterball Canada: Make it all about Thanksgiving 

With Thanksgiving around the corner, make your brand all about Thanksgiving. Ranging from your website, social media, email, and paid ads, Thanksgiving should be the heart of your brand. 

Start working on revamping your social media because 56% of shoppers use social media to research during the holidays.  

Here’s what Butterball Turkey did to stir the excitement and buzz of Thanksgiving in 2020. 

It started a Thanksgiving turkey dinner contest asking users to try a Turkey 65 recipe which is Indian cuisine. 

Butterball Canada Thanksgiving Turkey dinner contest

The contest required users to comment on what makes them excited to try this recipe using the #ButterHolidayPromotion to win a $10 Butterball gift certificate. 

Starting in October, this contest gave a head start to Butterball Canada’s Thanksgiving marketing campaign. 

This gives an incentive for people to participate because Thanksgiving is the holiday season the people look forward to year around.  

Why it works 

  • True spirit of Thanksgiving: The true spirit of Thanksgiving lies in celebrating together. With an Indian recipe, it gives the community to revel in the spirit of Thanksgiving by trying an Indian flavor. 
  • Highlights diversity: Canada is a diverse country and has always welcomed immigrants with open arms. By adding Indian cuisine, it truly embraces diversity as a culture. 
  • Culinary helpline: Butterball Canada set up a helpline for users to seek help with the recipe and preparation for turkey 65. This drives conversations which can give insights on consumer behavior. 

Pro Tip —  A simple gesture such as a greeting card or a free subscription for Thanksgiving on limited items can dramatically increase your traffic 

Transform your social media with 15 Underutilized Social Media Ideas For eCommerce Brands

2. Monki:  Evoke excitement with flash sales 

Flash sales are limited period offers providing discounts or promos. 

They drive FOMO well combined with the principle of scarcity. Since flash sales are offered on high-demand products for a limited time it stimulates customers to act. 

Running flash sales on multiple channels such as social media and email can help drive traffic and conversions. 

And when flash emails are sent out, they hardly disappoint. As per a study, flash sales have proven to — 

  • Increase open rates by 74% 
  • Uplift transaction rates by 67%
  • Persuade satisfied customers to spend 385% more than the normal 

Monki sent out a flash sale email for one of its Thanksgiving and holiday season marketing campaigns. 

Monki Thanksgiving Flash Sale email

The key message of last minute holiday shopping and express shipping is great persuasion. 

Psychological triggers such as these are effective in compelling users to click which is the first step in lead nurturing. 

Why it works 

  • Typography: The font size for 50% is bigger than the rest of the text. This ensures cognitive ease. It refers to the level of ease the human brain can process information. Moreover, small font sizes and low contrast are major complaints users have while reading content online. 

 Even vision is an influencing factor as nearly 40% of Americans are nearsighted and is only going to increase further.  

  • Color combination: The pink background and the white font complement each other ensuring users can read the text. Colors have a profound effect on shaping customer perceptions of a brand. In fact, 84.7% of buyers state that color is a major influence

Pro Tip — Adding a countdown timer will drive users to take action. It works 2x better when there is a time limit to avail free or shipping 

You'll love this post on: Top 26 lead nurturing emails in eCommerce

3. Chewy: Roll out product specials 

AOV is always an important metric for eCommerce and Thanksgiving is an excellent opportunity to help you just do that. 

Start by offering product bundles. Product bundles are a pricing strategy where two or more complimentary items are sold together at a discounted price enabling higher profit margins. 

Here is an example of price bundling from Chewy which is constant year round including Thanksgiving. 

Chewy Thanksgiving product bundling example

The product bundle includes 3 products increasing the perceived value of the products. When you’re getting three products for a much lower price, that’s a steal. 

This makes for a great shopping experience. It triggers the subconscious mind into taking a decision to buy or not to buy. 

Why it works 

  • Price badge: All three products have a price badge reinforcing a deal. It works as a hook grabbing the buyer’s attention and enabling them to make quick purchase decisions. 

Additionally, it provides an option to select the number of items from the bundle. Fun fact, including a price badge on your eCommerce site, can increase your conversion rates by 55%

  • Social Proof: All three products have a combined star rating of 4.83 which is assuring the users. Reviews, ratings, and testimonials have a significant impact on buying decisions. As a matter of fact, 57% of customers won’t buy from a business having anything less than 4 stars.  

Pro Tip —  Including a price match guarantee on the product pages sends greater trust signals

4. Sakara: Celebrate Thanksgiving by giving back 

The true spirit of Thanksgiving is to give back to society. Being invested in a social cause improves your brand image, develops a sturdy community relationship, and builds customer loyalty. 

The statistics agree as well. As per Forbes, 87% of customers have a favorable perception of a brand that works toward environmental and social causes.

Sakara ran a Thanksgiving donation campaign where the proceeds would be contributed to Feeding America. 

Sakara Thanksgiving Donation Campaign

As part of the campaign, for every order worth $75, $30 would be donated to Feeding America, the leading charitable organization for food banks. 

Why it works 

  • Empathy: With this campaign, Sakara demonstrates that its sole focus isn’t profitability. With the donations, it conveys its empathy and compassion to the less fortunate. This shows their human side. 
  • Trust signal: By joining hands with Feeding America, one of the oldest non-profit organizations, it sends trust signals assuring customers that their money is in the right hands. Started in 1979, Feeding America holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, an independent charity assessment organization. 

Pro Tip — Add social proof from charity organizations certifying your contribution to social causes 

5. Leesa: Show appreciation for your customers 

Organizations big and small often forget the sole reason for their success. 


91% of customers state that they are more likely to buy from brands that appreciate their customers. 

Leesa thanked its customers in its Thanksgiving promotional emails. The email thanks its customers and mentions that with their support, it has been able to donate over 30,000 mattresses to the needy. 

Leesa Thanksgiving/Black Friday Offer email

Why it works 

  • Visuals: The images depict happiness, especially children in a cheerful mood. Children form a critical part of demography. By focusing on them, they are conveying a message to the parents about their well-being and future. 
  • Customer centricity:  Your purchase fuels our heart and soul conveys a sense of belonging to customers. Using nouns in your marketing copies gets people to take action because it invokes group identity. This fosters community building. 

Pro Tip —  You can include a referral link for customers to spread the word. Word-of-mouth recommendations have a higher level of trust. 

6. Crate & Barrel: Slide your Push Notifications  

Push Notifications are targeted pop-up messages that appear on a user’s device. 

Interestingly, push notifications can deliver an ROI as high as 3500%

And, your click rates can go up to 30% if you run highly segmented push notification campaigns. 

Here is a Thanksgiving push notification from Crate & Barrel which is highly engaging.  

Crate & Barrel Thanksgiving Push Notification

The copy is simple yet effective. The use of adjectives First and Next grabs the attention of the readers. The next line explains the offer without taking up space. 

Captivating copy drives a 7.8x increase in site traffic improving brand recall and engagement rates. 

Why it works 

  • Emojis: The use of emojis acts as a hook. Using emojis in your copy can improve open rates by 20%
  • Incentives: The copy mentions the incentives such as free shipping and 30% off on holiday season using the promo code SAVE15. This effectively works as a persuasion tactic. 

Pro Tip —  Add a riveting CTA in your push notifications. It can boost your CTR by 40% 

Explore 18 Push Notification Templates for eCommerce (& great Examples)

Why Thanksgiving marketing? 

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth of November in the US as a harvest festival. It is an expression of gratitude to God (giving thanks) for the sacrifice and blessing of the harvest of the previous year. It's the most popular holiday in the United States for eons now with a popularity rating of 81%.

US Popular Holiday Statistics 2021

For eCommerce brands, it’s an opportunity to thank customers for supporting their business all along. 

In one word — it's about sharing and caring for your customers. 

Thanksgiving is the biggest holiday season of the year and also an avenue for brands to sell their products.  

With this begins the official season of Black Friday, Small  Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. 

Here’s an overview of how Thanksgiving 2021 fared in terms of customer turnout and revenue. 

Turnout on Thanksgiving weekend 2021 United States by day
Source: Statista

While Thanksgiving began with a decent turnout of 30.6 million people, Black Friday and Cyber Monday showed great promise. 

108 million people planned to shop on Black Friday while 62.8 million people did so on Cyber Monday. 

Needless to say, it will only increase further. 

And the Thanksgiving eCommerce revenue revealed interesting insights. 

Estimated Thanksgiving eCommerce Weekend revenue 2018-21

Here’s the latest graph showing the Thanksgiving weekend eCommerce revenue in the United States (in billion US dollars).

The Thanksgiving sales remained same at 5.1 billion dollars for 2020 and 2021.

Surprisingly, Black Friday and Cyber Monday showed a dip in 2021 as compared to 2020. Customers spent 8.9 billion dollars in 2021 against 9 billion dollars in 2020 on Black Friday.

While customers spent 10.7 billion dollars in 2021 against 10.8 billion dollars in 2021 on Cyber Monday.

While one might quickly dismiss that Thanksgiving is no longer lucrative like before, that simply isn’t the case. 

Customers are simply branching out their holiday shopping habits. 

Here’s the evidence. 

Customers spent 109.8 billion dollars between Nov 1 and Nov 29 in 2021, an increase from 98.1 billion dollars for the same period for the year 2020. That’s an 11.9% increase. 

So, Thanksgiving hasn’t lost its sheen, but discounts throughout the year have provided many options for shoppers which they have capitalized on. 

Thanksgiving Marketing 101 

1. How can brands stand out during festive sales?

You first take a look at your past data and start retargeting campaigns of your previous customers. 

Next, offer a loyalty discount through emails. Even gift cards and rewards also work great in making the customer consider a purchase.

Mention what makes you a brand. Align the Thanksgiving values with your brand ethos. Thanks to your customers and employees for their contribution. Highlight your journey from your initial days to the present and express gratitude to all stakeholders. 

Express this on social media. Run contests, ask your loyal customers what makes them stick to you. Partner with micro-influencers, who have less than 10k followers on Instagram and do a Thanksgiving live stream. 

2. How do you do holiday marketing? 

Here is a 3-step strategy to make sure you do holiday marketing right:

Step 1: Make a hard-to-say-no offer 

The Holiday season starting with Thanksgiving is a major opportunity and when you’re competing with other brands vying for the attention of your customer. You need to offer something different from usual. 

Brandless sends a Thanksgiving email which includes a free guided live meditation session. Stress is an inevitable part of our daily lives. From work to family problems, we don’t make time to breathe and unwind the stress. This is an example of a live stream done right. 

Brandless Thanksgiving Marketing promo email

Step 2: Be punctual (Send back in stock emails)

Thanksgiving is a busy season and so the demand for products is high. Understandably, products may go out of stock. Give them an option to receive notifications or send it without them asking for it. 

Brandless includes the out of stock items in this email. 

Step 3: Highlight the social cause 

Socially responsible brands have a positive brand perception by customers. In this email, Brandless mentions that it was able to donate 100,000 meals to Feeding America. 

Customers will always want to associate with brands that undertake social initiatives and not just care about profitability.  

3. How do you attract customers on holidays?

Irrespective of what Thanksgiving marketing campaigns you run, the key thing that can help you achieve success is stirring the right emotions. 

Every brand has a target audience who are motivated by different emotions. It could be happiness, fear, anger, love, pain, or empathy. 

Chewy targets the parental instincts of dog parents as a part of its Thanksgiving 2021 campaign. 

Chewy Thanksgiving concern social media post

It invokes concern because dogs tend to eat things that are harmful to them. This also sends out a strong message that Chewy is a responsible brand. The first comment reflects the same. 

Studies show that ads with purely emotional content perform 2x better than rational content (31% to 16%). 

Remember: Take care

This time of the year can be stressful for everyone! It’s important to have a support system in place outside of your business team.

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