Boost Holiday Retail Sales: A Year-Round Planning Checklist for Mobile Marketers

Emily Buckman Global Strategic Consultant

Preparing for the holiday season is a year-round process. Our checklist will help you stay on track for success throughout the year. Want everything in this post in a handy PDF? Download our eBook!

It may feel like it all went down just yesterday, but the holiday season will be here before you know it! Marketers need to be present at the point of influence and purchases through multiple channels. 

Following the steps and tips below will help you cover all your technical, creative and targeting bases – and make your next holiday shopping season the most successful one yet!

Q1: Assess and Retain

While you may already have your annual marketing plan in place, Q1 is an excellent time to reflect on improvements to this year’s messaging plans. What did you learn from last year’s mobile messaging campaigns?

Q1 has a number of natural touchpoints, such as end-of-year clearance and Valentine’s Day, to re-engage and retain holiday shoppers.


  • Conduct a mobile messaging post-mortem of what was effective, what could be improved upon, and what competitors did during the holiday season.

  • Meet with vendors and partners to understand their release schedules and updates, so that you can plan your internal technical requests early.

  • Retain holiday downloads by recognizing that holiday app download cohort might be very different from your other users. (Here are three tips for improving retention from this cohort.)

Q2: Integrate, Personalize and Optimize

Three areas retail marketers can drive significant additional value are cross channel integration, personalization and optimization. Q2 is a great time to focus on one or more of these initiatives.

Cross Channel Integration

Retailers’ websites have to be fully optimized for mobile –
 good enough to win shoppers’ trust, so that they’ll be inclined to not just to buy from you this one time, but to download your app and opt-in to push notifications.

So what’s your mobile web to mobile app conversion plan? How are you engaging customers across all of your channels? Now is the time to audit your cross channel experience and plan for technical integrations with your shipping, CRM, email and other systems.


To minimize the risk of opt-outs and maximize response rate, make your notifications as personalized as your email communications.

There are a number of ways to accomplish mobile personalization through Airship — uploading targeted lists, integrating with backend systems, using personalization templates and more.

Get familiar with the toolset that is right for your goals, and work with your tech team now to test. (We can help – get in touch any time.)


Always be testing. Check out our blog post “3 Ways You Can A/B Test Your Push Notification Marketing Messages Today” for some ideas about what to test and how you can learn from your results.


  • Audit your cross channel experience and your app ecommerce flow.

  • Test web push notifications.

  • Work with your technical resources to integrate back end systems, set up tags, or improve your app experience.

  • Plan your deep linking and measurement strategy.

  • Leverage A/B testing to ensure that you’re using the best copy combinations

  • Set up a test plan to keep track of what you’ve learned.

Q3: Target and Acquire

What are you doing now to build your app audience? Do you have a loyalty program? What is your plan to engage and retain loyalists, and win new customers over the holidays?

To acquire new app users, and target current users consider:

  • Audience Segmentation: Identify specific audiences that you would like more of, such as high LTV customers, category purchasers, and recent purchasers.

  • Targeting: Export a list of your best customers with their IDFA (or advertising ID) to find Lookalike Audiences to target on Facebook. (Remember to exclude your original customer list to only reach net new customers.)

  • Leveraging Your Loyalty Program: Target loyalty program users with special offers

Running behind on your Q3 holiday planning? It’s not too late to launch a digital wallet coupon or holiday offer. Mobile wallet passes can be distributed through email, social, and even print mailings via a URL. It acts like a lightweight app, allowing for notifications and updates once installed on a user’s device.

>> Related content: 4 Mobile Wallet Marketing Campaign Ideas You Can Execute in 2 Weeks or Less


By the end of this quarter, you’ll have your holiday plans in place including:

You should also:

  • Assess cross channel customer touch-points for places where you can highlight your mobile value proposition.

  • Consider your app store rating, and ask your best customers to review your app (here’s how to trigger the ask for your best customers).

  • Plan your audience segmentation and targeting strategy. Know who your buyers are and tailor their online experience accordingly.

  • Assess the attributes of your best mobile customers and target offers to look-alikes to ensure that you’re acquiring customers who will have the greatest long-term value to your business.

  • Set up deep linking and cross-device tracking so you can understand customer behavior across mobile and desktop.

  • Incorporate loyalty program messaging and targeting now to retain loyal fans and grow base.

  • Roll out a mobile wallet marketing campaign.

Q4: Engage and Maximize Sales

The holiday season has arrived!

For the mobile holiday shopper, push notifications are the best way to announce flash sales, remind them of their abandoned shopping carts, and to offer mobile only and VIP discounts.  

By early October, your mobile app is probably on lockdown, and ready for the winter storm of mobile messaging.


  • Test your mobile app ecommerce functionality, abandoned cart and promo codes

  • Make sure you have your app welcome series in place to engage new users

  • Personalize your messaging

  • Capture abandoned carts

  • Optimize the gift-giving spirit of the season by targeting men’s products to women and vice versa

  • Emphasize the convenience of ordering online. For example: “No need to run to the mall!” or, “Don’t wait in line on Black Friday!”

  • Call out free shipping and any other exclusive discount codes or coupons

Here’s to the Holidays!

By planning ahead, preparing engaging messaging, tracking results and optimizing along the way, retail marketers can ensure that they deliver impactful business results for the holiday season and beyond.

We hope this list will help you stay ahead of the holiday season and improve your mobile messaging throughout the year.

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Are you maximizing your reach and engagement with cross channel campaigns? Let us know how we can help.