For the past several years, the holiday shopping season has posed unprecedented challenges and unique opportunities for brands that sell through ecommerce. The way that consumers shop for gifts during the holidays has completely transformed since the onset of the pandemic. Your 2022 holiday ecommerce strategy will need to take this into account.

Some quick tips:

  • Expect customers to start shopping earlier than ever (again) this year.
  • Keep a close eye on your account for trends that crop up early on so that you’re prepared to convert as many shoppers as you can this year.
  • Be flexible with your budget allocation this year. There’s no foolproof expectation for how customers will shop!

Let’s dive into the top five tips you need this year to create a profitable 2022 holiday ecommerce strategy for your brand.

1. Don’t Be Surprised by Lower Year-Over-Year Growth

Data from Microsoft and Google predicts that Cyber 5 2022 will deliver major year-over-year growth yet again. Still, growth isn’t expected to surge nearly as much as it did in pre-pandemic Cyber Weeks – and it will probably take a few more years to level out.

Some brands are already seeing lower ecommerce numbers year-over-year. Many brands that sell online rely heavily on Cyber 5 to deliver a significant portion of their annual revenue, but it’s wiser to err on the side of caution and not expect that to happen this year. To help numbers level out, start advertising earlier to get more shoppers into your funnel and turn them into buyers.

Many brands are concerned about not seeing the yearly growth that they want this year. Every business wants to see huge YOY jumps, but that just might not be the case this year – so set your expectations appropriately. Consumer behavior has changed drastically not just since last year but also over the past several years in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2020, many brands have benefited tremendously from consumers being home and having disposable income – but that may not be the case for the 2022 holiday season.

Brands that sell luxury items or other products that saw big upticks from shoppers being at home shouldn’t be surprised to see negative YOY trends this year.

ROI 2022 Holiday Ecommerce Strategy Tip

Year-over-year growth likely isn’t the best way to measure success this year, so make sure you have clear goals for Cyber Week. Is your goal to increase traffic and get your brand’s name in front of as many people as possible, or is it purely to increase revenue? How concerned are you about profitability? These are questions you should ask yourself every holiday season, but especially in 2022.

Bonus tip! Stay flexible with your ad budget in case your year-over-year numbers do spike and you need to increase your ad spend! If you do end up having a busy Cyber 5, you want to make sure you can go after it without capping out your budget.

2022 holiday ecommerce strategy - person in sweater shopping on computer with holiday items nearby

2. Expect Consumers to Start Shopping Earlier Than Ever (Again)

This summer’s Prime Day proved that people are shopping earlier yet again this year. In fact, 38% of Prime Day shoppers say they purchased holiday gifts at the event!

At ROI, our Amazon experts noticed that more shoppers than in previous years signed online to shop at midnight when deals went live. In previous years, numbers started to spike gradually throughout the morning, peaking at lunch break time.

ROI 2022 Holiday Ecommerce Strategy Tip

This year, consider turning on your seasonal campaigns earlier in Cyber 5 – even Thanksgiving evening. Make sure you have enough budget to start on Thanksgiving Day. Pace your ad spend accordingly and try to get approval for more budget than you typically would earlier on in the shopping season.

3. Make Sure Your PPC Strategy Accounts for Performance Max & Rising CPCs

Costs per click (CPCs) continue to grow year-over-year, and predictions from Google and Microsoft indicate that this trend will continue for the Q4 2022 shopping season.

Even if your product doesn’t benefit from seasonality, be cautious to keep up with advertising costs, which will be up across the board for Q4.

The shift to Performance Max (also referred to as PMax) will also play a significant role in this year’s Q4 shopping season.

Right now, there aren’t any tools that allow brands to forecast any trends, making it somewhat difficult to predict how your holiday sales will look. There are also no longer Expanded Text Ads in Google or Microsoft, which means ads are unable to feature promo-specific copy.

Successfully creating and editing ads in the moment for immediate use during the holidays is nearly impossible since the ads have to go into a learning period in addition to needing time to be approved. You’ll want to ensure your ads are general enough that they entice customers without requiring promotion-specific copy.

ROI 2022 Holiday Ecommerce Strategy Tip

Ad customizers are still available with Responsive Search Ads. Just be careful, as you still run the risk of ads going into approval period. A safer strategy is to leverage extensions to have good coverage on your site links and to use callouts more than ads.

2022 holiday ecommerce strategy - shopper holding debit or credit card about to make a purchase on a laptop with holiday items in the background

4. Know What Types of Deals & Discounts Your Shoppers Want

Whether you’re advertising through paid search or social media, free shipping alone isn’t enough. If your only discount promotion during Cyber 5 is free shipping, don’t expect stellar performance – customers have come to expect it, especially during the busiest shopping season.

Free shipping should always be positioned with another discount like 10-15% off the sale.

Another trend that doesn’t perform well is including a free additional gift with the customer’s purchase. Especially in 2022, shoppers want to save money, not get something free they don’t necessarily want. This strategy could also end with your brand having extra inventory that clogs your warehouse and wastes your time and money.

On Amazon, the highest performing deals are outright discounts with a slash-through price as opposed to deals that require shoppers to clip a coupon to redeem or a BOGO. That extra step provides additional friction, and many shoppers don’t understand that they have to clip the coupon. Of course, customers will always expect free shipping on Amazon, so make sure your product is available on Prime or that you can provide free shipping on it yourself. Amazon is typically very reliable with shipping because of its high timing expectations.

ROI 2022 Holiday Ecommerce Strategy Tip

You can choose the discounts you want to promote based on your goals. If you’re trying to retain loyal customers, send a special early bird deal or an extra discount exclusive to your members. If you want to attract more new purchasers, focus on sending deals to your new users or new email subscribers.

Bonus Tip! This year, Amazon will reportedly host a Prime Day-esque Fall Deal Event in October to offer even more deals to shoppers. If your brand plans to participate, make sure you have the inventory to support both this event and Cyber 5 during Q4.

5. Keep Tracking Top-of-Mind

This holiday season, Apple’s iOS 14.5 update is still impacting brands that rely heavily on Facebook advertising. Seeing accurate year-over-year trends continues to be difficult as the size of the audience brands can target with well-informed data has shrunk tremendously. This will make it more difficult to understand trends, what works with your audience, and how your ads are performing in general. Focusing on your upper-funnel efforts can help balance out the uncertainty.

For brands advertising on social media this holiday season, the change in iOS impacts tracking the effectiveness of ads more than it impacts audience targeting. Many ecommerce providers like Black Crow and Shopify offer resources to provide more accurate tracking.

If you haven’t already switched over to GA4, make sure you do ASAP so that you’ll have accurate year-over-year data for the 2023 holiday season!

ROI 2022 Holiday Ecommerce Strategy Tip

Consider remarketing to your list of holiday season shoppers (or even just Cyber 5 site visitors) from last year. On Facebook, you can pull a customer list of your purchases from the previous Q4 and create a lookalike audience based on them to reach new customers. For your PPC holiday strategy, implementing Enhanced Conversions will help your brand get additional insights.

2022 holiday ecommerce strategy - gift box with blue ribbon and blue background

Tying It All Together: Your 2022 Holiday Ecommerce Strategy

This holiday season will be a challenge for brands across industries, but you can still achieve your loftiest goals – especially if you partner with digital marketing experts that have over 20 years of experience discovering untapped profitable growth for brands like yours. To start a conversation about how our team can help you not just with your holiday marketing strategy but also your brand’s commerce strategy going into the new year, reach out to our experts today.