Each year, when the holiday shopping season approaches, we share our recommendations for crafting a successful marketing strategy and preparing digital channels to reach shoppers everywhere. But 2020 is no ordinary year. The holiday season falls in the midst of a once-in-a-hundred years pandemic and an uncertain economy.  

What will it take for retailers and brands to stand out this year? Let’s explore the do’s and don’ts for every marketer to ensure each message strikes the perfect tone and finds shoppers on the right channel just when they need to see it.

Use SMS, push notifications, and chat

Mobile has surpassed desktop in driving digital traffic and orders since 2019. Mobile programs are a key way to reach shoppers directly with timely information, such as shipping updates, details on your safety protocols, and promotions.

Mobile do’s

  • Create unique offerings for mobile channels, such as exclusive access to announcements and promotions. 
  • Consider implementing a chatbot to give shoppers the same experience of customer service that they would get in a physical store.
  • Have a game plan for when customers reply back to your outbound SMS messages. What if they are asking an important question? Ensure you can route the request to a service agent, who can respond in the same message.
  • Make the most of your in-store experience: create signage promoting a text-in program where shoppers can keep engaging with your brand after they leave the store.

Mobile don’ts

Don’t go overboard. If someone is opting into a mobile program, that means they are a very loyal customer. Is your voucher worthy of potentially interrupting a dinner table conversation?

Connect with consumers on social media

This year, social channels are not just a place for inspiration and community. They’ve become virtual shopping centres.

Social media do’s

  • Listen — and really listen, especially if you’re marketing to customers at a local level. Start by seeking insights about your brand, and then about your competitors, in addition to broader discussion around your industry. If you want to go even further, consider bringing in more image recognition tools.
  • Analyze common questions from your own social accounts. For example, are you seeing queries about curbside pick-up from specific social audiences, regions, or superfans? Build insights into your messaging for each audience segment.
  • Use your social insights to inform content on your FAQ page or help center. What kinds of requests is your team repeatedly responding to? You can use these enquiries as a signal to create helpful self-service content.


  • Keep an eye out for comments coming in from influencers. What can you reshare? In contrast, is there a problem you need to address immediately? 
  • Partner with micro-influencers who align with your brand to promote your products.
  • Transform your social channels into virtual shopping centres. Facebook and Instagram, for example, have made it easier for followers to browse and buy in-app with “Shops.”   
  • Create a plan to manage unexpected peaks in social volume during the holiday shopping season, from things like over-performing viral posts or website downtime. Social automation tools like Social Studio are key to managing unexpected volume and focusing on the most important posts.

Social Media don’ts

  • Be tone deaf and potentially harm a customer relationship. It’s important to factor in sensitivity during these uncertain times.
  • “Boil the ocean.” Start with a few topic profiles that make most sense for your business and get agreement across marketing, sales, and service.

Send email that stands out

Promotional offers flood email inboxes throughout November and December every year. On top of that, this year email has become one of the key ways brands engage with consumers who have shifted to digital shopping due to the pandemic.

Email do’s

  • Build emails with sections for dynamic content, powered with artificial intelligence (AI). This can include recently viewed products, vouchers, loyalty points, and more, so each email is tailored to the recipient. 
  • Review deliverability best practices to send your message at the precise time a subscriber is most likely to engage. 
  • Set your abandoned cart journey to ensure an email reminder is automatically sent if a shopper puts items in their cart but navigates away from your site before completing a purchase.
  • Test and learn. If there was ever a time to try new things, it’s now!

Email don’ts

  • Get lost in the crowd. Revisit your email cadence and look at your data. What is your open rate? What time of day are emails being read? Adjust as needed to make sure you’re sending the right messages at the right times. 
  • Waste your time with batch and blast emails that will never get opened. Instead, create tailored journeys with resources like Email Studio to inspire engagement.

Create compelling holiday pages

Nearly half of consumers say they are more interested in holiday shopping online this year, according to our survey. Serve customers the right content as soon as they get to your site.

Site do’s

  • Try out Salesforce CMS to manage multiple versions of your content across different languages.
  • Use this high peak season as an opportunity to grow your subscribers through clear and concise opt-in forms.
  • Offer a profile centre where customers can choose how and when they would like to hear from you.

Site don’ts

  • Make signing up for notifications a complicated process — keep the message simple and clear about what value a customer receives by opting in.
  • Use the same colours, designs, or layout that you do every day. It’s the holiday season! Customers expect to be wowed.

Inspire your team and amaze your customers this holiday season