The end of the year is when it all comes together for virtually every ecommerce brand and online retailer. That’s why it’s essential to have a solid Q4 marketing strategy. In this article, we’ll look at just how important Q4 is for retailers and we’ll also give you some solid tips to create your own Q4 marketing plan.

The Importance of Q4 for Ecommerce

In the USA alone, holiday retail sales (including brick and mortar stores) totaled more than $789 billion in 2020 and this despite the pandemic.

You’ve heard of Black Friday. It’s aptly named because, traditionally, the Friday after Thanksgiving represented a kick-start for most retailers where they switched from months-long losses (in the red) to profitability for the year (into the black).

For ecommerce brands and online retailers, however, Cyber Monday is the true rocketship. In recent years, it has become a bigger shopping day than Black Friday and ecommerce marketers are acting accordingly.

Q4 Email Marketing: Everyone All-in

With email marketing contributing to around 20% of all commerce revenue during the holiday season, it’s no surprise that a lot of brands invest heavily in it as they ramp up marketing activities during the fourth quarter of the year. Ecommerce brands and online retailers often even double their send frequency during the November-December time period.

For example, looking at ecommerce industry insights and trends — 400+ leading apparel brands sent 13% more emails in the fourth quarter of 2020 than in the third.

Across all industries, our data shows send volume in Q4 2020 as the highest of the year, with Q4 over 14% higher than Q3. Whereas in 2019 Q4 send volume steadily increased month by month with December volume being higher than November volume and November volume higher than October volume, that upwards line wasn’t as clear in 2020, with some industries sending more emails in November than December while others increased their email frequency all the way through Christmas.

More importantly, brands can expect to have promotional competition from Black Friday through Christmas. Some 3 out of every 4 emails sent (75%) from late November through late December include some type of discount, BOGO or free shipping offer.

Which type of discount is most popular? Brands rely on “percent-off” discounts in almost two-thirds (60%) of their campaigns.

Quick tip: utilize gift guides to improve your odds of customers finding the perfect gift from your entire set of SKUs. We’ve curated dozens of great gift guide email examples to get you started.

YoY data: look backward to move forward

q4 marketing stats

With our historical database of years-upon-years of data, planning promotional campaigns for the ever-important Q4 period has never been easier.

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4 Q4 Marketing Tips

If you want to stand out while everyone increases their marketing efforts in Q4, it’s important to have a plan. The Q4 marketing tips below will help you create just that.

1. Clean up and segment your email lists

As you’ll start emailing more in Q4, you’ll want to get your email list in the best possible shape. One way to do that is to run a re-engagement campaign in Q3 to make sure everyone who’s still interested in your brand is ready to take action when the time comes.

Another way to optimize your list, is by segmenting it so that you can send better-targeted emails to subsets of your audience that share one or more of the same characteristics.

You can segment your list based on:

  • engagement levels: high, medium, low, unengaged
  • loyalty program membership: yes / no
  • subscriber location
  • demographics


2. Attract new subscribers with holiday season offers

Aside from preparing your existing list, you can also try to attract new subscribers by tempting them with a “Sign up now, get a Black Friday / Cyber Monday offer” either on your website or through paid advertising.

As these new subscribers sign up specifically to get something from you, they’re likely to stay highly engaged.

3. Don’t forget about retention

Engagement is crucial not just in Q4, but throughout the whole year and so when the holiday season comes to an end, it’s imporant to keep the momentum going so your list keeps opening, clicking, and buying throughout the next year as well.

4. Make sure your website is ready for the flood

If all goes well, your website traffic will increase in Q4, so make sure your store is working properly. Test the different pathways customers might take, your shopping cart, and any other features you may have to ensure they have the best possible experience when they come to your online store.

You don’t want all of your hard marketing work to go to waste because of a technical error.

5. Ensure an all-around great experience

Things like fulfillment and customer support aren’t pure marketing but they do have a big impact on your brand reputation and will affect how well you’re able to retain customers. That’s why everyone in your company needs to understand the importance of Q4 and step up to make sure every customer has an excellent experience.

Some things to evaluate and improve where necessary are:

  • delivery times.
  • the return and exchange process.
  • customer support availability, ratings, and efficiency of solving customer queries.


Ideas for Your Q4 Email Marketing Campaigns

So you know you need to prepare for Q4, and you know you’ll be sending loads of great offers that both new customers and existing subscribers will find hard to refuse, but what exactly will you send them?

Here are a few ideas:

  • teaser emails to build anticipation.
  • stacked promotions: “Buy now to get $20 off on Black Friday / Cyber Monday”.
  • early access to sales.
  • exclusive promotions for subscribers, such as free shipping.
  • coupon emails for those who bought in Q4 to use the next year.


Key dates and holidays through Q4
Click below for in-depth email examples and strategies to prepare key campaigns for Q4.


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