eCommerce Holiday Campaigns  for 2021: Easy Referral Marketing Ideas

eCommerce business makers, rejoice! The holiday season is right around the corner. The weekend after the Thanksgiving holiday starts the season where shoppers have a few days of rest,  and begin to spend a little bit extra on gifts. 

Soon, every shopper's inbox will be swarmed with limited-time offers. You and your customers have seen them many times — these well-designed emails with beautiful pictures promise out-of-this-world deals while showing a creeping countdown to evoke FOMO and urgency. 

Let’s take a closer look at how to leverage referral marketing during the busiest sales season of the year.


You expect more, and customers want to pay less


Much of this year's Black Friday shopping will be online. After the holiday season in 2020, 75% of 20,000 surveyed shoppers bought at least half of their holiday presents online. Mobile sales in 2021 are projected to grow by 25% due to the increasing efficiency of mobile wallets. 

As consumers increasingly move their shopping online, eCommerce has captured a growing share of the pre- and post-holiday pie. Shoppers have gotten used to the convenience of buying and bargain hunting from their smartphones and laptops at home.

All of this makes your online marketing even more important. Talkable statistics indicate that referral sharing is 3x higher on Black Friday. As share rates rise, so do referral sales. They are 2x higher 6-8 weeks after your Black Friday sale. 

Why do referral campaigns work so well on Holidays?

  1. The power of social proof. Shoppers say close friends are 4x more influential on their purchasing decisions than celebrities or influencers. This works even better during the pre-holiday shopping spree. 

  2. The higher discount. Customers hunt for lower prices, and often referral discount is the biggest among all others on the website. Sales and discounts activate this positive feedback because we experience joy at getting something we want more easily, or for a lower price than we would otherwise expect to.

  3. A shared experience with friends and family. Another idea is suggested by consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow, speaking to Popular Science, he explains that shopping has an element of family tradition — thus satisfying us in connecting with others through a shared experience. Sharing a brand you like becomes a pleasant part of the shopping experience. 

With referral marketing, you can create a campaign with special rewards that stand out among the deluge of other offers. 


Holiday Campaigns Ideas: Low-Friction and Efficient!


1. Promote your on-site Black Friday sale via your referral program. Increase advocate reward and focus on a later date redemption while promoting early access to your Black Friday Sale. This is the most effective type of holiday campaign we’ve seen performed for our clients. 

Projected Referral Sales Increase: 6x

2. Run a limited-time offer to increase engagement and take advantage of increased holiday traffic. Update offer for both advocate and friend for maximum impact.

Projected Referral Sales Increase: 2x-5x

3. Need to remind friends about their rewards? Update promo messaging and images. Stay top of mind, increase impressions, and activate engagement with holiday-themed reward reminders. 


4. Drop-a-Hint campaign to promote specific products and help with gift lists

Drop-a-Hint means that a customer can send a "gift hint" to her friend when browsing products.  When customers use Drop-a-Hint, they’re not just sending a link, they send beautiful on-brand product images with a personal note. Their friends are then directed back to a specific product detail page. 

By encouraging gift suggestions, your brand reaches prospects who may not know about you at all. Friends buy for someone else, or maybe for themselves, too - after all, friends and family tend to like the same brands and products!

5. Sweepstakes Campaign with a chance to win a prize

Shoppers can invite their friends to join a Referral Sweepstakes Challenge. There are a few different strategies that can be used with a sweepstakes campaign:

  • One random user and their friend will get a grand prize
  • Or create a program where each share increases the chance to win a prize.

    Sweepstakes are a fresh way to promote campaigns and get new customers during the holiday shopping season. 

Start early with the Holiday Campaign promotion


Accenture reports that 87% of shoppers plan to look for deals in the days before Black Friday. For the millennials this number is even higher: 93% of them have done research online listing interesting deals for the sales period. 

Even though Black Friday sales stretch well before and beyond the day itself, the importance of early promotion can not be underestimated. Promote your campaign through different touchpoints, such as on your homepage, post-purchase pop-ups, and social media. 

The banner reminder of the refer-a-friend could be a less intrusive way to promote an offer compared to a pop-up. Redirect the shopper to the Refer-a-friend landing page once they click on the CTA in the navigation bar.

If you promote your on-site campaign with updated messaging, you can increase your referral sales by 8x.

Ready to launch your Black Friday campaign?

The shopping landscape is full of holiday promotions, from the traditional to the extraordinary. While it’s hard to imagine retailers will stop thinking of new promotions, you can increase your sales with these tested, foolproof moves: 

  • Start promotion in advance

  • Target active segments

  • Update your offer with bigger discounts/additional perks

  • Create themed messages and designs

Need help planning and preparing Holiday campaigns? Contact our team of referral marketing experts.