Upselling Throughout the Year: An Essential Guide for eCommerce Holidays

Upselling Throughout the Year: An Essential Guide for eCommerce Holidays
Photo by Jon Cellier / Unsplash

Staying current with seasonal events and holidays can be challenging, so we’ve compiled a comprehensive marketing calendar to help you stay on top of your game. Use it as a guide to plan your promos and offers throughout the year—and ensure your eCommerce store is always one step ahead of the competition.

Understanding the eCommerce Peaks and Valleys

Analyzing sales data and tracking consumer behavior trends can pinpoint the optimal moment to kick off a campaign and identify potential lulls in sales. Understanding the peaks and valleys of eCommerce can help you strategize your marketing efforts to target those periods when consumer spending is at its highest.

Peak Seasons:

  • Holiday season (November - December)
  • Back-to-school season (July - September)
  • Summer vacation season (June - August)

Valley Seasons:

  • Post-holiday slump (January - March)
  • Mid-year slump (April - June)
  • Fall slowdown (September - October)

As an eCommerce brand, you should develop marketing campaigns aligning with these peak and valley seasons. For example, during the holiday season, consumers are typically more willing to spend money as they search for gifts for their loved ones. This is a prime opportunity to run promotions and discounts to attract more customers.

On the other hand, during a post-holiday or mid-year slump, consumers may be less likely to spend money. In these periods, it is important to focus on retention marketing and engaging with your existing customer base through personalized offers and loyalty programs. 

Understanding when and how to deploy your campaigns is paramount to success. With these strategic considerations in place, you can look at an entire year’s selling opportunities and plan your promotion schedule accordingly—something we'll help you do within this article.

Focusing on Upselling Throughout the Year

Whether you're in a high or low season, upselling and cross-selling are surefire ways to increase Average Order Value (AOV) and boost revenue. Weaving upselling creatively into your campaigns, regardless of the time of year, can help increase your sales during peak and valley seasons and lead to a steady and consistent revenue stream. Here's how to make the most out of it:

  • Pick the Right Timing: Choose periods of the year when customers likely need complementary products. For example, offer accessories like phone cases during peak smartphone release periods.
  • Offer Bundles: Suggest discounted bundles of related products, giving customers a cost-effective solution while increasing sales.
  • Personalize Cross-selling: Use past purchase data to cross-sell items similar or complementary to those previously bought. This approach capitalizes on previous interest and can increase overall conversion rates.
  • Create FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): Highlight what customers will miss by not choosing the upsell, emphasizing unique features and scarcity at times of the year when many people are shopping. This fear of missing out on a product or deal can increase conversions.
  • Include Social Proof: Display existing customer reviews and star ratings to build trust and justify the value of the upsell.

Let's keep these in mind as we review the list of notable dates for eCommerce marketing.

Q1 Holidays: Starting the Year Off Right

January 1 - New Year’s Day: Kickoff with Exclusive Offers

New Year's Day marks the beginning of the year and is an ideal time to engage customers who are eager to start fresh. And for some verticals, this is the perfect fit: The fashion-forward crowd revamps wardrobes, beauty enthusiasts try new looks, and fitness seekers gear up for the gym in search of trendy activewear. This day is perfect for introducing exclusive offers, clearance sales from the holiday season, or launching new products to keep momentum.

An example you can use: Offer a special "New Year, New You" promotion.  Showcase life-changing items like workout gear, planners, and educational courses to guide customers in reaching their goals. Seize the fresh start vibe to create an engaging shopping journey, encouraging customers to discover and invest in products that match their self-improvement ambitions. Make the most of this campaign to clear stock and showcase complementary goods, ensuring your offerings align perfectly with customer hopes and expectations for the upcoming year.

Leveraging the sentiment of new beginnings can create an engaging shopping experience right from the year’s start. 

February 14 - Valentine’s Day: Share the Love with Special Promotions

Valentine's Day offers a fantastic opportunity to promote products related to love and relationships, such as jewelry, flowers, chocolates, and personalized gifts. Implementing a “gift finder” tool on your website can help customers navigate your offerings and find the perfect gift for their loved ones.

Steal this example: Offer a discount or free gift with purchases made before Valentine's Day to encourage early shopping and boost sales. You could even use targeted popups to showcase specific products or highlight a limited-time offer or sale. 

With the right marketing strategy, you can tap into this holiday's emotional sentiments and drive conversions by offering unique and thoughtful gifts that speak to your customers' desires.

March 17 - St. Patrick’s Day: Get Lucky with Creative Campaigns

St. Patrick's Day is a fun and festive holiday celebrating Irish culture. Leverage these themes in your marketing campaigns by offering discounts on green products or creating limited-edition St. Patrick's Day bundles.

You can personalize this example: Use gamification to engage customers by creating a "pot of gold" promotion, where they can enter a contest or complete tasks for a chance to win exclusive prizes. Share these promotions through email and social media marketing to generate excitement and participation.

You can use features like "Frequently Bought Together" through product tagging to upsell complementary products, such as a "GREEN" shirt with matching accessories for a complete St. Patrick's Day outfit.

Feel free to get creative with your campaigns, as St. Patrick's Day is all about having fun and embracing the luck of the Irish. By tapping into these themes, you can attract new customers and retain existing ones by offering a unique and memorable shopping experience.

March/April - Easter: Hop into Sales with Easter-Themed Offers

Easter is a holiday that's celebrated worldwide, making it an excellent opportunity to attract a broader audience. Offer promotions on products related to the holiday, such as candy, decorations, or spring fashion.

An example you can use: To encourage additional sales, you can sprinkle in some Easter-themed messaging into your post-purchase flow. You can have a thank-you page with Easter discounts on specific items or offer special one-click upsells for other Easter items.

You can even leverage the feeling of fear of missing out by implementing a countdown counter. This can encourage customers to purchase before the promotion ends, increasing urgency and driving conversions.

Q2 Holidays: Spring into Action

Second Sunday in May - Mother’s Day: Celebrate Moms with Thoughtful Gifts

Mother's Day is a special day to honor and appreciate all the moms in our lives. This holiday presents an excellent opportunity to showcase your products as perfect gifts for all types of mother figures, from new moms to grandmothers.

An idea you can steal: Offer gift bundles that cater to different interests and age groups, such as self-care kits for new moms or cooking tools for seasoned mothers. Collaborate with influencers to showcase your products and offer exclusive discounts to their followers.

Mother's Day is about showing love and appreciation, so make sure your marketing campaigns convey a heartfelt message that resonates with your audience. This is an excellent opportunity to use the "Frequently Bought Together" popup when customers click "add to bag" and provide a discount to encourage placing an order. As a cross-selling tactic,  showcase complementary products to pair with the items customers already buy.

Last Monday of May - Memorial Day: Honor the Brave with Patriotic Promotions

Memorial Day is a time to honor and remember those who have served our country. This holiday also marks the unofficial start of summer, making it an ideal time to offer promotions on outdoor and seasonal products.

Something to try: Since this holiday is typically celebrated by hosting gatherings, cookouts, and eating a lot of food, finding ways to remain healthy during the celebration can be a great angle. 310 Nutrition offered a “mystery box” bundle to package together some of their items.

One way to take this up a notch and encourage additional sales is by offering free shipping for purchases over a certain amount to reach that threshold. This will motivate customers to make larger purchases and help anticipate and prepare for an increase in sales during this holiday weekend.

By tying patriotic elements to your promotions, you can attract a larger audience while honoring those serving our country. 

Third Sunday of June - Father’s Day: Celebrate Dads with Unique Gifts

Like Mother's Day, Father's Day is a day to celebrate and honor all the dads in our lives. This holiday presents an excellent opportunity to showcase your products as unique gifts that cater to different father figures, whether they are into sports, tech, or cooking.

Another example to try: Offer personalized gift options, such as engraved products or customized bundles, to make your gifts even more special. You can achieve a boost in revenue through thank-you page upsells. Simply offer a complementary item at checkout and a discount for purchasing both. This strategy increases sales and creates a seamless shopping experience for customers. After all, dads love a good deal!

Finding meaningful gifts for fathers can pose a challenge. You can use features like smart search to help spark customer inspiration for gift ideas and encourage further exploration.

You can learn more about boosting eCommerce sales for Father's Day here.

Q3 Holidays: Sizzle Up Your Summer Marketing

July 4 - Independence Day: Celebrate with Red, White, and Blue Promotions

Independence Day is a popular holiday celebrating the birth of the United States, usually marked by parades, fireworks, and backyard barbecues. Use this theme to create promotions that showcase your brand's patriotism and offer products perfect for outdoor celebrations.

Sample bundle to experiment with: Offer discounted bundle deals on products ideal for summer gatherings, such as grilling equipment or outdoor games. This is where checkout upsells are great. You can have customers take advantage of the "add-on" at checkout, where customers can add small items like condiments or decorations to their orders.

Make sure to incorporate the colors of the American flag in your promotions and social media posts to capture the attention of customers looking for festive items.

August /September - Back-to-School: Help Students Prep for a New Academic Year

As students gear up to head back to school, they need all the essentials to start the year off right. This presents an excellent opportunity for businesses to offer products and promotions that cater to this demographic.

A creative idea to experiment: Back-to-school shoppers usually shop in bulk to refill supplies and prepare for the new year. This presents tons of great opportunities to generate more revenue. Consider offering discounts or bundles on school essentials, such as backpacks and notebooks, to attract students and their parents. You can even start this process on the product page by suggesting additional items to complement the one they view. 

Make sure to tailor your marketing campaigns and messaging towards different age groups, from elementary schoolers to college students, highlighting the benefits of your products for each.

First Monday in September - Labor Day: Honor Hard Workers with Sales and Promotions

Labor Day is a holiday that celebrates the contributions of workers in America. Use this opportunity to highlight your brand's work ethic and values while offering discounts and promotions for customers to enjoy.

An example you can use: One unique way to sell during Labor Day is to celebrate different professions such as teachers, healthcare workers, and essential workers. Offer discounts on products that would be useful for these professions to show your appreciation and support for their hard work. 

Use in-cart upselling to help customers get the most out of their purchase by offering complementary items at a discounted price. This increases sales and showcases your commitment to providing value for your customers. 

Make sure to communicate the meaning and purpose behind this holiday in your marketing campaigns, showcasing the values that align with your brand.

October 31 - Halloween: Get Spooky with Seasonal Promotions

Halloween is a holiday that has become increasingly popular over the years, with people of all ages participating in festivities and dressing up in costumes. Use this to your advantage by offering promotions on products perfect for Halloween parties, decorations, or costumes.

A simple example to use this year: This holiday is great for kids and families, but it's also good for adults who enjoy dressing up and celebrating. Regardless of your vertical,  consider offering Halloween-themed products or bundles to cater to both demographics. 

You can offer bundles like a "Halloween Mystery Bundle" for easy shopping. You can boost conversion by showcasing customer reviews boosts confidence for new shoppers. With AfterShip Personalization, you can even integrate with Yotpo reviews to show star ratings and review counts to build social proof.

Q4 Holidays: Peak Season

November 11 - Veterans Day: Show Appreciation with Special Offers

Similar to Memorial Day, Veterans Day is a holiday that honors and commemorates the contributions and sacrifices of veterans and their families. Take this opportunity to show your support and appreciation by offering special promotions and donations.

Use Case: Veterans Day is no ordinary holiday; it's a day dedicated to expressing gratitude and backing those who have served in the military. Consider providing discounts or exclusive offers tailored for families to purchase gifts as tokens of appreciation. Use personalized product recommendations to suggest complementary products and increase AOV. 

It's important to remember the significance of this holiday and not simply use it as a marketing tactic. Show authenticity and empathy in your messaging to connect with customers looking to support businesses that align with their values. 

Black Friday / Cyber Monday: Prepare for the Holiday Peak Season

These two shopping holidays are some of the busiest and most lucrative times for businesses, with customers looking to snag deals and discounts on their favorite products. Make sure to plan and offer enticing promotions during the peak season. Preparing far in advance for this season is beneficial, but a few shorter-term promotions could still help.

Some sales to try: Offer limited-time flash sales or exclusive deals for loyalty members to reward your most loyal customers. Use countdown timers or scarcity tactics to create a sense of urgency and encourage customers to make a purchase.

Consider partnering with other businesses or influencers to expand your reach and attract new customers. You can drive sales during this highly competitive shopping season by standing out in the crowded market.

Boost eCommerce sales for Fashion and Beauty

Beyond the broader celebrations, many industries benefit from focusing on niche holidays tailored specifically to their target audience. These special days can provide an excellent opportunity for businesses to showcase their products or services in a fun and engaging way, creating a unique shopping experience that resonates with customers.

The "Big Four" Fashion Weeks

Paris Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, and London Fashion Week are the four major fashion events that occur twice a year, in September and February. These weeks excite fashion lovers, as designers showcase their latest collections and trends. Businesses can leverage these events to boost sales by offering deals on current collections or giving customers a sneak peek at upcoming releases.

Tips for leveraging Fashion Week: Collaborate with fashion influencers or bloggers to showcase your products in styled looks or behind-the-scenes event content. Offer exclusive discounts or free shipping during the week, targeting customers interested in fashion and looking for deals.

Use social media platforms to engage with customers and generate buzz around your brand and promotions. You can also host Instagram Live events or Q&A sessions with designers or influencers to further promote your brand and > generate excitement for your products.

World Health Day: Promote Wellness and Self-Care

World Health Day is a global health awareness day that promotes healthy living and well-being. Use this holiday to highlight products or services that promote self-care and wellness, such as skincare, fitness equipment, or mental health resources.

Using World Health Day for Marketing: Host a wellness challenge or offer free online workshops related to health and wellness, inviting customers to participate. Provide incentives such as discounts on wellness products or a complimentary item with purchase to encourage participation. This boosts sales and helps build a community around your brand centered on shared values of health and self-care.

Engage with your audience through social media by sharing tips, inspirational quotes, or personal stories related to wellness and health. Partner with healthcare professionals or influencers in the wellness space to add credibility and attract a wider audience. This approach amplifies your brand’s commitment to promoting a healthier lifestyle and positions your business as a supportive ally in your customers' wellness journeys.

Best Practices for the Entire Shopping Journey with AfterShip Personalization

Having ideas for campaigns and promotions is one thing, but successfully executing them to drive sales and customer engagement is another challenge. AfterShip Personalization provides the tools and features necessary to create effective marketing strategies that cater to individual customer preferences and behaviors.

Boost AOV and conversions

To boost AOV and conversion rates, leverage targeted upselling and cross-selling with AfterShip Personalization. Use multiple touchpoints to provide personalized product recommendations and upsells/cross-sells based on customer data. Integrate these offers in holiday campaigns to drive higher spending and boost sales. Include upsell opportunities in:

  • Product page upsells: Use upsell widgets on product description pages to boost revenue, optimizing the ROI of low-performing products. Effective strategies involve offering dynamic bundles and frequently purchased items together.
  • Checkout upsells: Suggest highly sought-after items bought by customers through analyzing historical sales data. Simplify purchasing choices by highlighting products that are already popular among your customers.
  • One-click upsells: Boost your revenue by leveraging post-purchase pages featuring tailored product suggestions. Implement OneClickUpsell (OCU) alongside promotional options such as discounts, free shipping, and countdown timers to drive sales.
  • Thank you page upsells: Enhance repeat sales by showcasing product recommendations on the thank you page. Effective tactics involve suggesting often missed items and showcasing new arrivals.

Remember to use personalized messaging and dynamic product recommendations in your upselling and cross-selling efforts. Use customer data, such as purchase history or browsing behavior, to suggest related or complementary products most likely to appeal to each customer.

Create smart shopping experiences

Promotions in this article succeed when personalized for each customer. AfterShip Personalization offers tailored shopping experiences with relevant products, recommendations, and promotions at every touchpoint, boosting sales.

Some of the most useful features you can take advantage of include:

  • Frequently bought together: Suggest products often bought together with the current item, leveraging co-purchase patterns in a single transaction. Enhance the average order value by guiding customers to discover bundles with attractive deals.
  • Complementary products: Enhance the appearance and functionality of existing products based on category relevance and compatibility. Offer customers a seamless shopping experience to boost revenues.
  • Bestsellers: Suggest top-selling items based on customer purchase history to simplify buying choices. Highlight products beloved by your customers to make shopping decisions more straightforward.

Stay Ahead of the Competition with AfterShip Personalization

Leveraging AfterShip Personalization's advanced analytics and reporting tools can give eCommerce businesses a significant advantage. By closely monitoring customer interactions, purchase patterns, and engagement metrics, businesses can gain deep insights into what strategies work best for their audience.

With this knowledge, they can refine their marketing campaigns throughout the year, improve product offerings, and tailor the shopping experience to meet customer needs better.

Regardless of the time of year, return to this guide to stay competitive, leverage new trends and events, and use AfterShip Personalization's features to drive sales and boost customer loyalty. Your personalized marketing campaigns will increase revenue and leave a lasting impression on your customers, building brand affinity for long-term success. 

Try AfterShip Personalization today!