Data On +100 Of DTC’s Most Successful Holiday Marketing Campaigns & Offers: Simplified For 2019

A woman's feet showcasing white sneakers on a table.

It’s no secret. Holiday campaigns live or die by a single ingredient: the offer.

To be sure, pregaming your strategy matters. True, the right ad creative fuels success. And yes, nailing down your tactics and timeline are musts.

But, in a season dominated by deal hunters and value-for-price shoppers, the offer is almighty.

Knowing that, unfortunately, does nothing but intensify the questions that already surround you:

  • How will your offer stack up against the competition?
  • Where can you turn for holiday sales inspiration?
  • What should your promotion (your deal) actually be?

Good news. In preparation for 2019, we dug deep and exhaustively compiled 2018’s…

Black Friday, Cyber Monday offers from 103 of DTC’s most successful brands.

(No kidding, we’ve been sitting on this for ~11 months!)

In fact, we did more than just compile them. We categorized each by deal structure and type. Crunched the numbers. Then, simplified everything into one data-backed infographic.

2018-2019 DTC Top Holiday Offers - Data and Infographic Preview

But wait, there’s more 😉…

We also took ~180 desktop, mobile, and social screenshots; labeled them by brand, event, and device; then dropped ‘em all into the ultimate swipe file. Get it here!

The ultimate holiday marketing campaigns and offers swipe file

  1. Easy: Sitewide and no coupon codes
  2. Valuable: Less than 20% is not a discount
  3. Profitable: Boost AOV & margins via bundles or “tiers”
  4. Personal: Remarketing audiences & loyal customers
  5. Merry: On brand and (if possible) gamified

Holiday Marketing Campaigns & Offers: The Big Picture

Flying at 10,000 feet — roughly 5,000 feet lower than Santa’s sleigh (Google it) — reveals the three most-popular holiday season discounts:

  • Sitewide percent-off: 44.8%
  • Select SKUs: 18.7%
  • None: 11.5%

Holiday Offers by Deal Structure and Type

At first, no discount may seem like an odd contender.

Reflecting on preliminary data we gathered with 2PM Inc. last year, Web Smith forwarded a compelling hypothesis:

“The more creative and the less drastic the discount promotion, the better the odds of increased brand equity in the long-term. For many retailers, the best Black Friday deal is holding as firm as possible on pricing, service, and consumer trust.”

Brands with no holiday discounts from 2018

Among those that renounced discounting were brands like Allbirds, AWAY, and Warby Parker. Of the 15 in total, only two — Harry’s and Warby Parker — are listed in the top 25 of 2PM’s DNVB Power List.

No holiday discount

More telling was the absolute dominance of sitewide discounts.

Brands with sitewide discount holiday campaigns

Within that category…

  • Over half (52.5%) offered between 20%-25% off
  • 12.5% hosted discounts in the 30% range
  • Nearly a quarter (22.5%) marked down 40%-50%, most at the higher end

Sitewide Discount Codes for Holiday Campaigns by Popularity

From that, we can draw two lessons.


Keep it simple, stupid scrooge.

Your sale should be clear and concise enough to be communicated boldly on your homepage (not in a tiny banner above your nav bar that disappears after a scroll).

Whatever you’re offering, never make your visitor read it twice to understand.

Make sure that the discount is automatically applied at checkout, to eliminate unnecessary steps. Anytime you introduce a code, you add friction, and the result is lower conversion rates.

(The only exceptions are genuinely exclusive codes for loyalty members, early access, and deep discounts or giveaways.)

If you do decide to have a coupon code, stay away from words that are hard to spell or have two of the same letters in a row like “holidaze” or “gatherround.”


Outliers excluded, regardless of how premium your positioning, discounting on Black Friday, Cyber Monday rarely cheapens a brand.

If you look at our list, high-end DTCs like Lulus, Outdoor Voices, Brooklinen, Parachute, and Casper decked their halls in cyber offers.

Just be sure your sale is really a sale. That means a minimum of 20%-off.

Otherwise, you risk customers saying, “What’s the point? I can get the same discount by giving you my email!” If you do a discount less than 20%, your AOV should be over $500. In which case, make your discount $-off not %-off.

So, how do you develop an offer that checks all the boxes and ensures you meet your bottom-line goals?

Black Friday through Christmas Profitability: Stay ‘Black’

Needless to say, it’s Black Friday for a reason.

For most, the danger of discounting isn’t brand equity. It’s going into the red.

That’s where (1) testing profit projections based on your deal and (2) driving AOV to offset the cost of acquisition come in.

On the first, we’ve created Holiday Fuel Profit Template so you can maximize your offer in a way that makes sense for your consumer, your unit economics, and your overall goals.

Holiday Fuel Profit Template

On the second, consider bundling products — especially if your sale will be on select SKUs collected on a landing page — or structuring your deal through tiered discounts. We absolutely love the way DIFF Eyewear did this:

  • Buy 1 🔥🕶 Get 30 % Off ⚡️💸💕
  • Buy 2 🔥🔥🕶 Get 40 % Off ⚡️💸💕
  • Buy 3 🔥🔥🔥🕶 Get 50 % Off ⚡️💸💕

Bundles and discount tiers boost holiday AOV and margins

Shockingly, a mere 8.2% of brands we examined made their sitewide discount tied to a tier.


Grab the Holiday Fuel Profit Template and crunch your numbers. Play around — sticking to the 20-30% off range if you can — until you find an offer that you like. If your unit economics don’t back out to 20-30% off, use a “Spend X, Save Y” model.

To do that, take inspiration from sites with tiered deal structures like ModCloth, Bonobos, MeUndies, and RHONE (there’s even more in the swipe file of screenshots):

Examples of Tiered Discount Holiday Campaigns and Offers

In addition, ModCloth led with content marketing via a holiday gift guide

The shining star, however, is Brooklinen. Last year, it created a savvy %-off based on spend tier that it used both onsite as well as in its ads. It also layered on a free gift at $150 — triggered automatically and shown immediately via a pop-up.

As if that wasn’t enough, it then integrated the entire process into the checkout… prompting shoppers with exact $-amounts and suggested products to hit the next discount threshold.

Brooklinen’s tiered discount at the checkout

Via Brooklinen and Shopify (hashtag ecommerce glory)

Holiday Shopping Season Cheer: Your Brand’s ‘Loved Ones’

Holiday campaigns are nothing if they don’t warm the hearts of the people who matter most: your remarketing audiences, your current customers, and your loyal customers.

The value of remarketing audiences and loyal customers during holiday campaigns

For more data, check out Black Friday Social Media Campaigns (Warning: Not a Listicle)

The most successful holiday marketing campaigns beyond DTC root themselves in emotional soil: REI’s #OptOutside, Starbucks Red Cups, Google’s Santa Tracker, and Apple’s “Misunderstood” (to name just a few).

Classic holiday marketing campaigns beyond DTC

But how do you mix cheer and connection into your ecommerce offer?

Much could be said about the converting power of Black Friday email marketing. That’s not our wheelhouse, so instead, we recommend Klaviyo’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday 2018 Results.

As for the offer, let’s close out with two more musts…


With 48% of BFCM sales in 2018 coming from customers who had engaged prior to the holiday — and, 75% of CTC client’s revenue from remarketing — the value of existing audiences and loyal customers cannot be overstated.

Balance comes from not pitting multiple offers to multiple audiences against each other.

Inkbox, for instance, walked this line masterfully. Last year, it announced an early Black Friday deal exclusive to its loyalty program members. While it was first sent via email and Facebook messenger, it was also made public on social and heavily promoted to add new members in the week prior to Black Friday.

That same discount was unveiled universally on Black Friday. And, then, increased slightly on Cyber Monday:

Inbox on Black Friday, Cyber Monday

Steve Madden took things one step further by placing a bonus discount front-and-center onsite: 40%-off for its loyalty members versus 30%-off for non-members.

Steve Madden’s holiday marketing campaign incentivized loyal customers


Lastly, the most-neglected deal type was gamification. Out of the 103 brands, only three — Shinesty, Chubbies, and Anker — took advantage of this approach. The first two rapidly released new free-gifts to keep the excitement high:

Steve Madden and Chubbies used rapidly released free gifts to drive holiday campaign success

For Chubbies, that was in addition to its tiered coupons:

  • 15% off orders $75+
  • 25% off orders $175+

Anker, in contrast, built a digital “Prize Carnival” that dealt out discounts and prizes in exchange for email subscriptions:

Anker gamified its BFCM offer with the Prize Carnival

What’s more, each and everyone were dead-on brand!

Behold, (Your) Almighty Holiday Offer

All that’s left now is to…

  1. Grab the Holiday Fuel Profit Template
  2. Crunch and experiment with your own numbers
  3. Take inspiration from the exhaustive swipe file of ~180 Black Friday, Cyber Monday screenshots

Successful Holiday Marketing Campaigns from 2019 for 2018: Infographic

This article was originally published by our friends at Common Thread Collective.

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