Don't Shoot Your Eye Out. Keys to an Effective Christmas in July Campaign

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Author Bio

Greg Zakowicz is a senior commerce marketing analyst at Oracle + Bronto. With more than 10 years of experience in email, mobile and social media marketing, Zakowicz knows the retail industry and its challenges, staying on top of the latest trends by leveraging deep insight into the marketing spectrum. His subject matter expertise stems from his experience in providing commerce marketers — including numerous Internet Retailer Top 1000 clients — with in-depth analysis of their marketing programs, recommendations for improvement, best practice support and implementation guidance and execution.

Zakowicz is a frequent webinar speaker and presenter at ecommerce events, such as Fashion Digital New York, SIA Snow Show and ROI Revolution Summit. He has been published by top retail and marketing publications, including Power Retail and Inside Retail, and is a regular contributor to Bronto’s Commerce Marketing blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @WhatsGregDoing.

As a heat wave grips the nation and we are saddled with 100+ degree temperatures here at Bronto HQ, there is only one thing on my mind; Christmas. And although many retailers are beginning to focus on Q4 holiday planning, one opportunity that remains on the immediate horizon is Christmas in July.

A Christmas in July campaign can be a great way for retailers to fill the time between July 4th and back to school campaigns. And if you are not already planning your Q4 holiday promotions it can be a good exercise to begin thinking about what it will take to have a successful holiday season. Let’s look at some key steps for developing an effective Christmas in July campaign.


When is the best time to send? Well, it really depends. July 25th could be a good date to target to capture your audience’s familiararity with the ’25th’ and Christmas. You can promote a one-day only sale in advance and build anticipation for the big day. A one day sale will also help create a sense of urgency. However, providing a three-day sale culminating on the 25th will provide your shoppers with more time to complete their purchase. You will need to figure out what works best for your company.

Choose the Gift Without Shooting Your Eye Out!

Choose your incentive

So what offers do you want to leverage for this campaign? I would certainly offer a more compelling discount than a typical campaign. After all, it is a holiday! You could offer:

  • A certain percentage off
  • A dollar amount off each order
  • A free gift with each order
  • Free shipping

If you want to increase AOV you can always offer a free gift or free shipping on top of the discount if the customer spends over a certain amount. Just make sure you don’t leave money on the table by making the rules for qualifying too complicated. Make it easy for people to save and complete their purchase.

Send a Christmas Card

Now that you have decided to run a Christmas in July campaign when should you send the emails? I suggest sending an email one week in advance promoting the holiday. I would send a reminder email on “Christmas Eve,” one full day prior, and then again on “Christmas morning.” Remember to play up the sense of urgency in the emails as you get closer to the date.  If you are running a multiple-day campaign, be sure to adjust your emails leading up the start and end of the sale accordingly.

Take this example from the Personalization Mall I received as I was writing this blog post. What timing! This first email came through on the first day of the sale, July 2nd, and the “Hurry!” email showed up on July 4th. I received the “Last Chance” email on July 6th. This really was the last chance email as I did not receive one on the final day of the sale.

Personalization Mall First Email

Personalization Mall Second Email   

Last Chance Christmas in July

Although Personalization Mall pushed Christmas related items, don’t feel you have to.  Even if you don’t push Christmas related items don’t forget to get into the Christmas spirit and tweak your creative to reflect Christmas and July, such as Santa leaving presents under a palm tree. You can also use current events like this heat wave to play into the message theme.

Christmas is a Time for Giving…and Receiving

People get excited for sales and Christmas. So why not let them share their excitement? Make the email easy to share, both via email and social networks. Be sure to include a link to your email signup in the email itself so those who were forwarded the message can opt-in. Also, be sure to promote the Christmas in July campaign on your social network sites. You’ll want to draw attention to the fact email subscribers are the first to know about specials like these, and link to your signup page. Now you have made it easy to spread the word of the sale and have taken steps to grow your subscriber list.

Tell Santa (and others) what you really want for Christmas

Use WishlistsDoes your website offer wish list functionality? If so this is a great opportunity to remind your customers about completing their wishlist. They can then forward this wishlist to friends and family now or in December. It is another great tool you can use to create customer loyalty and get a jump on your competitors. So go ahead, tell Santa what you really want.  Check out “Wish Lists are a Dream Come True for Marketers” to learn more about effectively using wishlists as a marketing tool.

Finally, Be Smart About It!

Don't get stuck

Don’t get stuck if you don’t think you’ll have enough time to organize the campaign by July 25th. What about breaking away from the mold and running a Christmas in August campaign?

No matter when you decide to run your campaign, be sure to keep the rules in mind:

  • Determine your incentive. You’ll want to create a better incentive than usual.
  • Include a FTAF and SWYN links in your emails.
  • Help grow your list by including an email signup in your emails. Also promote via your social networks that email subscribers were the first to hear about the sale. Link to your signup.
  • Use the wishlist feature and encourage subscribers to build their Christmas wishlists for not only now but also December.
  • Get in the holiday spirit. Edit your email creative to reflect the Christmas theme.
  • Use current events, like a heat wave, to play into the message theme.

Now that you know how to plan your campaign I hope you will be inspired to get in the holiday spirit, take aim on your customers, and reap the rewards!

So will you be running a Christmas in July campaign? Go ahead, I triple-dog dare you!

Greg Zakowicz
Marketing Strategist at Bronto



XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code class="" title="" data-url=""> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> <pre class="" title="" data-url=""> <span class="" title="" data-url="">