September 25, 2020

Winter is Coming: 2020 Holiday Tips Any Marketer Must Know

I know, I know. Summer just zipped by and the thought of the holidays hasn’t quite entered into your brain yet. Given 2020, even the concept of it is difficult to imagine. But it’s Fall. Football is back. Pumpkin spice lattes are here. Simply put, it will be December faster than you think.

And for that reason, I’ve decided to simplify and break down a recent intelligence report by CJ Affiliate that predicts trends and delivers some actionable insights that any entrepreneur or business owner could benefit from heading into Q4 and the holiday rush.

The report predicts that the digital shopping that occurs this year will likely trump that of any other year prior, due to the ease and safety of completing one’s holiday shopping from the comfort of their own home. This was already a trend, but COVID of course has sped up the digitalization of many of our shopping experiences.

But beyond that, there were some other interesting tidbits worth taking the time to consider before building out a marketing strategy – affiliate or otherwise.

So, let’s dive right in.

Main takeaway from this report: holiday shopping is going to be up this Q4 through digital channels

According to eMarketer, “Digital channel sales revenue will account for 15% of retail sales in Q4 2020, up from 13% in Q4 2019”

Black Friday and Cyber Monday will continue their dominance

“There is no doubt that these days, along with Thanksgiving Day in the US, will continue to steal the show and be among the highest revenue days of the season, if not the entire year. Cyber Monday’s 10.5% conversion rate was the highest of the 2019 season and sales increased 9% YOY. Thanksgiving Day has become an important day to engage shoppers, but last year’s -6% YOY performance was lower than Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”

Election Day (Nov 3) will likely slow early holiday shopping numbers as it did in 2016 (there will be a rebound, though)

There was a -6% YoY impact in sales back in 2016 during the period leading up to the election. However, the subsequent days after Election Day saw sales numbers normalize and in many cases make up for that drop relatively quickly.

Prime Day is in October, which will affect brands and their need to keep up with the pace

Amazon is still the lead horse in the race, and it’ll be important, even if not utilizing Amazon to pay attention to what they do. Many believe with the election and a lot of emphasis on politics in November, mid to late October will be a bigger more suitable time to advertise.

Pandemic gifts! People are loving the following right now…

Athleisure wear, home furniture, food and beverage, and beauty products have all seen high double-digit growth. We’re still in a global pandemic, in case you forgot. So, if your brand has home-style products, it’s still worthwhile to promote those.

MORE pandemic gift ideas…

Many holiday shoppers will lean into the product categories that sustained them and their gift recipients through the first phase of the pandemic. This includes art supplies, kitchenware, casual wear, running shoes, cycling gear, skincare, computers, and electronics.

Lean away from apparel! Unless it’s cozy warm gear, lack of ability to go out affects fashion and clothing

Apparel has always been a top-purchased item and will likely remain popular, but with a greater emphasis on luxe-versions of athletic wear or intimate apparel (robes, slippers, nightgowns).

It’s still up for debate, but “splurge” shopping will happen AND budget conscious shopping too. Prepare for both

Gift shopping, for some, will be a welcome way to celebrate and splurge on expensive purchases while others will be mindful of focusing on the basics—it is important for marketers to be aware of this when planning promotions. Publishers can play an important part in helping shoppers identify products in their budgets by creating gifting guides that focus on price points, in addition to attributes or preferences of the “giftee”.

YoY breakdown of gift categories

Optimize for mobile

35% of holiday orders were tied to mobile phones last holiday season, reflecting a 10% YOY increase.

Due to COVID-19, remember to prepare contactless/safe deliver or pick up

47% of shoppers expect to use buy online/pick up in store or curbside pick up options

People are planning to get their shopping done early this year

Google research says that 70% of shoppers intend to plan their shopping earlier to avoid crowds.

Store closures will impact and increase the amount of digital shoppers

We’ve already kind of been over this, but it’s worth repeating. Now is a good time to be marketing your products online and finding your customers where they already are.

Direct action you can take as a marketer in this new world

  • Harness the ‘New Normal’
      • At Advertise Purple and anywhere that’s still open for business really, it’s been difficult to avoid a lot of what’s been happening recently. Rather than run from uncertainty and difficulty, learn to embrace it where you can. Every brand is focused on the same challenges. You can still succeed in ways you never imagined, right now. We think the affiliate channel is a big tool to facilitate that success.
  • Test new partnerships and collaborations
      • Many marketers this year have discovered that crisis-driven innovation can be a good thing for their affiliate program and the bottom-line. New relationships or promotional methods that could not get the green light in “normal” times have gotten fast-tracked, helping advertisers experience first-hand one of the best aspects of performance marketing—it’s an ideal environment for testing while minimizing risk.
  • Be transparent about product availability and shipping times
      • This is going to be even more important this year than in the past. Our digital and shipping infrastructure will be put to the test this holiday season. Make sure you don’t end up with disappointed customers due to an overwhelming amount of orders making it so that some products aren’t delivered on time (or worse, at all).
  • Offer flexible payment options
    • Right now this matters. Do what you can to facilitate the easiest way to pay for products and services to make it less stressful for the shopper. Understandably, as a merchant, this might not be an easy one to flex on or off, but if you can work with your customer who might be on a budget, you might move more units of whatever it is you sell.

Best of luck this year! And remember, the holidays are supposed to be a happy time, spent with loved ones. Don’t stress, prepare your affiliate program adequately and watch the revenue pour in!


Are you getting started in affiliate marketing or looking to improve your current program?

Recent Posts


Submit your email and a partnership coordinator will be in touch.
We promise we won’t spam you!

Wait, before you go!

Enter your name and email address for instant access to our
Free E-book
Page load
Exit intent