Dads are generally awesome. As with most seasonal dates, Father’s Day (Sunday June 15th UK/US) represents an ever growing online retail sales opportunity. UK shoppers are pegged to spend around 800,000 hours shopping for the ‘old man’ this year (Source: Experian).

moust’s 2013 shopper survey saw that more than 61% of UK consumers shopped online for Father’s Day. What’s more, UK spending on Father’s Day increased by 14% year-on-year in 2013 vs 2012 (Source: SagePay). A similar increase is expected this year.

However, Experian also found that, people who shopped earlier in June were likely to spend more than ‘last minute’ shoppers – the average order value of early bird shoppers being around 20% higher than those occurring in the week before Father’s Day.

So what are our recommendations to digital multi-channel retailers for maximising the potential of this sales season?

1 – Understand today’s Customer Experience

With the prevalence of mobile, customers now demand a seamless user experience from their retail brands – the online experience needs to flow into the retail experience, and all aspects of digital (including mobile) need to be catered for. National Retail Federation saw that over half of tablet owners were committing to product and store research on their device, along with over 40% of smartphone owners.

Ensure your site and your email marketing campaigns are mobile responsive – test, and test again. Your brand has to reach your consumer wherever they happen to be, and consumed however they wish to consume it.

If the browsing experience is difficult, you’re probably going to lose out on footfall, as your potential customers couldn’t research their items the way they wanted. Similarly, if they can’t engage with your brand in the way that they would a worker on the shop floor, you might be missing out on an important conversion point.

iTunes /Apple are pretty much the kings here – okay, I know they’re not multichannel, but they really understand the mobile canvas when it comes to design. Their emails fire users straight over to the app and relevant page – no breaks in the user experience.

iTunes' 2013 Father's Day Promotional Email
iTunes’ 2013 Father’s Day Promotional Email


2 – Getting Your Search Marketing right

There are great opportunities with seasonal sales windows for a specialised landing page, a connected adwords campaign and a proactive reminder-style email campaign.

If you’re a merchant with a bricks-and-mortar store, ensure consistency in your company details across you website, Yelp profile and all social sites – especially Google+. As we’ve already said, the majority of interaction with a brand on mobile is for research. If your store details and opening hours aren’t creeping into Google’s map results, that’s a lot of search traffic you could be missing out on.

A last minute Google Search!

There are two additional tools you can use to leverage search. The first is Google Trends, which compares search volume patterns across regions. If you’re going local, know what the top things that your potential customers are looking for. The second is Google Correlate, which is essentially Google Trends in reverse. You can look at what has the same search volume as the term you’re looking at, within a region, and know what else your audience are searching for.

3 – Timing and Context

Unlike with Mother’s Day, many activities around Father’s Day aren’t planned as far in advance. The best time to email customers to remind them about Father’s Day is four to five days beforehand – Wednesday 4 June would be a good day to do this.

This shouldn’t need saying, but being specific in your marketing is key. Digital Strategy Consulting saw targeted emails with a Father’s Day subject line focus receiving 14% more opens and CTRs than the average over the period May 29 – June 13 2013. Don’t ‘bury the lede’ – ensure, for example, that your email marketing hero imagery matches your subject line, and that you’ve got your cross-sell not too far down the email.

Here’s a great example from 2013 by retail company Ocado. Great imagery, mobile-friendly and all the cross-sells are contextualised.

Ocada Father's Day Email 2013 (click to expand)
Ocado Father’s Day Email 2013 (click to expand)


4 – Know your audience

How much is your target audience spending, and what are they spending it on? To know what they’re not buying is key in planning your marketing. According to retail insights org, ‘Mintel’, just 3% of surveyed UK shoppers decided to go for gift cards. Instead, Experian identified a large proportion of Father’s Day search traffic in 2012 was for personalised gifts (cufflinks, mugs, etc), tech-related accessories (iPhone wallets, headphones, etc) and ‘homemade gifts’.

In addition, they reported a rise in the number of people who never buy greetings cards – up to 45% of all surveyed shoppers. However, the number of greetings sent via email, text and social has increased: 1 in 10 now send a digital greeting – you might want to consider bundling in the option for your customers to build an e-greeting card to accompany their digital purchase.

Return Path, one of our delivery solution partners ran a couple of really interesting subject line tests with clients ,’IWOOT’ – an online gifts retailer. Tapping into their mostly male, late-20s/early-30s audience, they went for a decidedly Star Wars theme:

Credit: FourthSource

Not surprisingly, it struck a tune with their audience. It’s a given that the majority of men born in the 80s or early 90s will be more than acquainted with Star Wars mythology, so why not play off the most well-known father-son relationship in contemporary literature?


Not only did the email get read, but it also had a relatively low spam report rate, compared to the other subject lines. This is a great example of applied analytics, allowing for a bit more marketing creativity.

5 – Data Capture & Responsible Use

At the checkout stage, are you capturing that this purchase is a gift? Are you going on to cross-check whether it’s a father’s day gift? If so, how are you then using that information? In an automation platform, such as dotMailer’s, you might enrol them into an ‘anniversary’ program, reminding them in a year to make another purchase, including recommendation or upsell items from your ecommerce site.

However, you also want to think about sensitivities in using this information – the media is full of horrific stories of companies sending communications to family members that have passed on, for example.

Think of using your automation program builder, to identify the behaviours most beneficial to the sale – opens, abandoned baskets and past purchase value. You can learn more on how retailers can create automated campaigns based on buyer behaviour here.

6 – Think Social

Social is a great way to enrich your data lists – and visa-versa – your subscribers will power your social follow-ship.

Platforms such as ShortStack and Offerpop allow you to build webforms and ‘like-gated’ competition draws within Facebook, without falling foul of their terms and conditions. These forms allow brands to build seasonal promotions, that allow for brand engagement while allowing users to opt-in to email marketing. A great example is gadget brand, RED5’s photo-voting contest a couple years back:

RED5’s photo-voting contest (click to enlarge)
RED5’s photo-voting contest (click to enlarge)

Market these to your existing lists to grow your social presence.

If you’re an Amazon seller, you’ll know about the online hypermarket’s new #AmazonBasket partnership feature with Twitter. This allows a brand or seller to tweet about one of its products on the Amazon network, including an Amazon product page link into the copy. A potential customer just has to reply to the tweet, including the tag ‘#AmazonBasket’ – and the item added to a shopping basket. While the final transaction still takes place on Amazon’s website or the shopping app, this is aimed firmly at millennials and power social users – two segments that possess ever increasing buying power, so use your emails to start conversations across social about your products.