We’re quickly approaching the holiday season – and it’s time for apps to get serious.

The holidays are the biggest shopping season of the year, and with increasingly more people opting out of hectic in-store hysteria in favor of virtual purchases, brands need to give careful consideration to their app campaigns.

Mobile accounted for 27% of online purchases on Black Friday last year, and that number is expected to jump even higher this holiday season. When it comes to targeting and delivering the best product recommendations to users in the season of mobile shopping, apps are undeniably essential.

With this in mind, we’re discussing 5 ways retailers can prepare for the upcoming holiday season.

1.Promote Your App ASAP


Once August hits, retailers have non-stop action until after New Years. From back to school shopping, Halloween, and Thanksgiving to Christmas and New Years, there’s an endless barrage of seasonal activity.

Start promoting your app now so that users will have you on hand when seasonal shopping skyrockets. Highlight seasonally relevant discounts targeting products that match the holiday.

In addition to getting the word out about your app early, retailers will also want to craft their campaigns as soon as possible to ensure that highly targeted seasonal campaigns can be rolled out efficiently.

2. Buckle Down For Black Friday (And Beyond)

For mobile shopping apps, Black Friday is one of the most profitable days of the year. Make the most of this deal-busting day with plenty of drool-worthy discounts your users will love.

Prepare Black Friday push notifications and in-app messages that announce your sale, along with emails reminding users to jump on your app for special savings they’ll only find on your mobile shopping app.


Even once Black Friday comes to a close, make the most of that mobile data by reminding users of missed purchases. As November ends and December begins, what products did customers look at (or even added to their cart), but didn’t buy?

Consider offering special discounts for these forgotten purchases in case customers are still interested, but got lost in the overwhelming Black Friday madness.

3. Tie Your App To In-Store Events

For merchants who have physical locations as well as online storefronts, use geo-tagging and other location-based tactics to drive users in-store while they are nearby. As app users walk by your storefront, share news about in-store specials.

Holidays also provide ample opportunity for brick and mortar-based events, such as a store visit from Santa Claus. Inform users about these events through your app, and show them where nearby physical stores are so that they can join in on the fun!

4. Show Your Human Side & Connect With Your Audience


The holidays are a great time for apps to take a step back from the screen and show their human side. Businesses may consider highlight the charitable work they’ve done – consider getting your team out into the community for some community service, and share the experience on social media or through an email newsletter.

Whether your business gives back locally, or goes the extra mile to take care of its own employees with extended holiday breaks, the holidays are a great time to remind your customers that you’re not just a business – you’re a business made of real people that care.

Apps can also use this time to humanize their grander business objectives.

The holidays are already an emotionally charged time, as many individuals reflect on the past year and make an effort to focus more on friends and family members.

This time of year provides businesses with ample opportunity to stretch their storytelling muscles and create emotionally appealing campaigns that highlight the spirit and humanity of the holidays.

REI did this extraordinarily well last year during Black Friday, when the company abandoned the colossal day of shopping obsession, instead encouraging customers to go outside and enjoy nature with their friends and family with their #OptOutside movement.


It sounds like madness to close stores on the biggest sales day of the year, but this action highlighted REI’s humanity in the eyes of its customers. REI knows its audience and took action to emphasize the values the company shares with customers.

REI didn’t just say that they loved the outdoors – they showed it, and endeared themselves even more to their loyal fan base as a result.

5. Craft Customized Holiday Campaigns To Win Over Users

Ready to cook up some high-powered holiday campaigns? We’ve got the quick tips you need to create campaigns that will work wonders.

  • See What Worked Last Year. As your craft those killer holiday mobile shopping campaigns, make sure to take a look at data from the previous year and see what worked and what didn’t work for the previous year’s holiday campaigns. It’s easy to forget lessons from last year, so make sure to reexamine the results.
  • Change Language Based on Timing. Even within December, retailers should change the language they use throughout the month. While early December copy may encourage shoppers to finish shopping early so that they can relax, late December copy should have more urgency and focus on speedy shipping and last minute deals.
  • Personalization. Make sure to personalize your app campaigns based on what you know about your user – from their name and location to their favorite brands. Implementing user data to provide a more personalized experience endears customers and provides a better mobile shopping experience.
  • More Holiday Discounts For Mobile. Naturally, apps will want to highlight holiday discounts to encourage more mobile shopping. Give special deals to users who shop using your app to boost adoption rates and foster existing customer loyalty.
  • Capitalize on Imagery. Capitalize on those warm fuzzy feelings of good cheer with vibrant images that match the season. Incorporate powerful, holiday-relevant imagery into your app. Don’t forget that, when it comes to Android, images can be inserted directly into push notifications!
  • User Generated Content Contests. Since the holidays are a big time for mobile shopping, many users are more active and engaged with marketing campaigns than usual. This makes the holidays a prime time to launch UGC (use generated contest) campaigns. Competitions like photo contests can provide apps with great material that they can share across other channels, while developing a connection with customers by sharing their submissions.
  • Relevant Purchases. As users pick out gifts for friends and family, it’s worth considering what they bought around this time last year. If a user bought their significant other a beer making kit last year for Christmas, there’s a good chance they may be on the hunt for more gifts designed for a DIY enthusiast or beer junkie. This year, they may be interested in an IPA Beer Book Guide, or a cheese making kit! Suggest relevant recommendations based on past gift purchases.
  • Sense of Urgency. Retailers can drive up mobile shopping by implementing a sense of urgency within their copy (especially as it gets closer to late December). Consider an in-app holiday countdown clock, or app messages reminding users that they only have 11 more days to get free shipping for holiday packages.

With well-tuned, highly-optimized holiday campaigns, apps can help users find the perfect gifts for their friends and family, all while building valuable rapport with users that could turn them into life-long fans of your brand!

Do you have any other tips that can help retailers prep for the holidays? Share your advice in the comments!