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What Holiday 2020 Taught Us About Mobile Marketing Strategies in 2021

It goes without saying, but the holiday season in 2020 was unlike any other we’ve experienced as creatives. With social distancing restrictions again taking hold throughout the world, consumer behaviors are shifting from traditional norms.

For advertisers, this is further removing us from traditional and Out-Of-Home (OOH) strategies, and leading to a reliance on mobile and digital engagement. In addition to starting earlier, the unprecedented rise in gift cards given is expected to extend the holiday season well into 2021.

Shoppers are not only spending more on gift cards (17.58%) this year, but buying gift cards more frequently (+12.33% YoY).


Crafting holiday messages and encouraging shopping via mobile and digital channels will be a skill necessary for marketers to embrace for many years to come.  

70% of gift cards are redeemed within 6 months of purchase.


While mobile advertising has historically been impactful, we must be conscious of its unique challenges: consumers turning to shopping on smaller screens means less real estate for advertising. Moreover, the propensity for scrolling on mobile devices means that attention spans are shorter than ever amongst a sea of similar advertisements. 

This makes it all the more important to set your brand apart, making sure creative messaging is sending the right messages succinctly, sitting well with potential buyers, and driving action that leads to desired results. The first step towards demonstrating that personal touch to consumers comes from the creative process behind your product marketing. 

Start With a Game Plan and the Right Tools

The first essential step before writing a word of copy is to understand two essential pillars:

  • Who do you want to reach?
  • What action do you want them to take? 

Before digging into messaging and imagery, first, take a step back and think about what you’re trying to accomplish. Are you trying to raise awareness for your brand? Are you introducing a new product to the market? Are you trying to drive up sales? 

In a mobile environment, it’s likely that all of these objectives will not be possible, but with the correct game plan, you can build a campaign with an incremental lift to build engagement across these goals. This linear thinking will allow you to cut through the noise and create an impactful brand moment.

Have a Broad Mix of Tools to Choose From

Once you have outlined a clear strategy and goals, turn your attention to tools. There is a full range of tools to help make sure your creative implementation is successful—store locators, rich media capabilities, video, existing social content, and more. 

To blend in digitally, leaning on digital tools like interactivity and gamification are increasingly becoming the building blocks of successful campaigns and helping brands stand out. Regardless of the creative packaging, engagement and a clear call to action are imperative for creative messaging that resonates with consumers in both meaningful and impactful ways. 

Incorporate Gift Card Content where relevant

Given the rapid rise of gift cards this holiday season, promote your own gift cards and add relevant suggestions to encourage usage.  This includes helpful links on all messaging that allows users to check balances and get relevant recommendations based on past purchases so that those who receive a gift card get inspiration based on the collective buyer trends or event-specific purchase behaviors. . 

Success Stories to Inspire Strategy

Across every challenging time for advertisers, there are inherent winners; brands that broke through the noise with thoughtful strategy, engaging creative, and a dynamic presentation. Here are some campaigns that combined each of these elements to create winning strategies: 

  • Big Lots! – This American retailer created a campaign that delivered daily information on gifts and deals to consumers. This creative unit combined a swipeable gallery of content with animation on each frame, featuring a unique, animated holiday item to engage with shoppers even more. A shop now call to action (CTA) button then led to the product’s purchase page. This was highly successful creative in its combination of rich media capabilities and fun, quirky imagery.
  • Josh Cellars – took a more traditional approach to their holiday campaign campaign, leveraging a full screen, high impact video. The cozy imagery of wine being poured near a roaring fire creates an enviable use case for the product, and builds the intangible value of the product without demanding creativity from the viewer. The landing page is simple and elegant, featuring two of their top vintages with a link to buy the wines now.
  • STIHL – an international supplier of power tools and batteries used a holiday themed campaign in which an opening animation zoomed out on a stack of their packages in their theme-color and power tools. Clicking the CTA led consumers to a swipeable experience, with holiday lights strung above, where you can shop through three different deals. Further engagement led viewers to the product’s detail page and a store locator to find the closest retailer that sells their products. This campaign did a great job of combining rich media animation and interactivity to create an engaging unit that drives product/deal awareness, as well as a great tool for finding the nearest dealer.
desktop animation

Success this holiday and beyond will require companies to prioritize personalized creative campaigns that draw in consumers via interactivity, meaningful messaging, and gamification. And although this one might be different, here’s to making the most of this holiday season. Stay safe!  

Joe Intile

Joseph Intile is the Creative Director at InMarket and has 10+ years of experience working as both an in-house and freelance designer, specializing in branding, print and mobile based design.

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