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The Ultimate Guide For The 2021 Holiday Season: A Calendar For Black Friday, Cyber Monday & Beyond

the-ultimate-guide-for-the 2021-holiday-season:-a-calendar-for-black-friday,-cyber-monday-&-beyond


BFCM-calendarFor many Shopify stores, November and December performance can make or break the entire year…

Which might sound intimidating, but it’s really a HUGE opportunity to drive record-breaking sales for your store.

With this calendar, you’ll be able to stay on track this holiday season with:

  • Offer ideas that will drive serious sales
  • Inspiration for all your messaging
  • Everything you need to prepare

And so much more. Remember: you don’t have to follow this exact calendar. It’s just a blueprint with ideas to help you get started. So take what you need, and leave the rest.

Screen Shot 2021-11-09 at 4-36-25 PM-png

Get your 2021 holiday calendar!

Click this button 👆 to get your downloadable version or keep reading.

Week 1: Build your foundation

If you haven’t started prepping for the holiday season, don’t panic. You still have time to put together everything you need to have a killer couple months.

This week, it’s all about the basics: set your goals, update your return policy, and lock in your offer.

November 1st: Set your goals for the holiday season

Whether this is your first Black Friday or you’ve been at it for years, goals will help you stay on track.

If you’ve never experienced BFCM, goal setting can feel daunting. So start by looking at the last few months of data you have. From there, you can test out something like a 20-30% increase.

Not sure what to focus on? Here are 4 ideas:

  • Total sales
  • Traffic to your store
  • List growth (email and text)
  • Website conversion rate

If this isn’t your first rodeo, take a peek at the data you have from previous holiday seasons and take it from there.

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November 3rd: Update your return policy

This time of year, your customers are doing a lot of shopping for family and friends. If they purchase a gift for late December at the beginning of November, your typical return policy might not work.

So you might want to consider extending your return policy just for the holiday season like Huckberry does here:

Remember: if your customers have to go searching for the information, it will impact conversion. Make it as clear as you possibly can in as many places as you can so there’s no confusion. Otherwise, you risk losing them.

November 5th: Craft an irresistible offer

Your offer is your hook. And it’s the most important aspect to nail no matter what time of year it is. But especially for Black Friday. Luckily, you have so many different options to choose from:

  • Buy one, get one (BOGO)
  • Free gift with purchase
  • Exclusive products
  • Bundles

Just remember that you might need a couple different offers this holiday season. So start with your BFCM offer, figure out how long that will run, and from there decide on your post-BFCM offers for the rest of the year.

If you’re stuck, take a peek at offers you’ve run in the past to find out what your audience responds to best.

If you’re not sure, you can test out a poll like Chelsea from Kōv did:

In case you’re curious, this is the text she sent to VIPs asking for their inpout (but you can also send around an email!):

And if you’re looking for offer inspiration, check out this video with 5 offer ideas you can steal.

Week 2: Create a magical experience

Have you ever gone to a website or read an email and been blown away? It probably doesn’t happen very often…which is why these experiences stick with you.

So be thoughtful about every step of the experience for your audience and do whatever you can to make it magical. Start by thinking about all the little things that make a difference to you when you’re doing your own holiday shopping.

November 8th: Segment your audience

The more relevant your messaging is, the better performance will be. But that doesn’t mean you need to go crazy.

Your segmentation can be as simple as:

  • VIPs
  • Everyone else

VIPs look different for every brand. You could define it based on number of orders placed, amount spent, or anything else that makes sense for you.

What really matters is that you make them feel special. You want to reward your VIPs and give them a reason to keep coming back. Because ultimately, you need to prioritize repeat purchases if you’re going to build a successful business.

Or you can take it a step further and target 3 different groups:

  • VIPs
  • Anyone who’s made a purchase
  • Those who haven’t made a purchase

Really what matters is that you do whatever you can to send messages that are as specific to each audience as possible. But if that’s not in the cards this year, that’s OK too!

November 10th: Lock in your shipping deadlines

Logistics have never been crazier and it’s only going to get worse as the holiday season progresses. Which means the sooner you share your holiday shipping deadline with your audience, the better.

It also needs to be called out as much as possible. Don’t make visitors to your site search. With Privy, this is super simple. Add a bar or banner to the top of your site with shipping deadlines and you’re good to go!

And if you’re looking for shipping deadlines, the ShipBob team put this together:

  • UPS Surepost and FedEx SmartPost – December 9th
  • UPS Ground – December 15th
  • FedEx Ground – December 15th
  • USPS Priority – December 17th
  • USPS First Class – December 17th

November 11th: Prep your holiday images

In our latest book, Ecommerce Marketing Recipes, Liz Giorgi, co-founder and CEO of soona, describes your homepage as the equivalent of a store window.

So think of all the quaint store windows you’ve passed as you’re window shopping. That’s what you’re up against. Which is why your images matter.

Something as simple as adding in sprigs of evergreen trees or wrapped presents can make your homepage and product pages feel festive.

By the way, today is also Veterans Day. And while chances are, there’s not a clear overlap between your products and veterans, there’s a huge opportunity to get creative.

Donate a portion of your sales for the day to veteran causes.

Put together a list of veteran-owned businesses and organizations and share them with your audience.

No matter what you sell, there’s an opportunity here to show your audience that you care. Take this email from Gifts for Good:

November 12th: Test your checkout flow

The last thing you want is for shoppers to drop off at the very end of the process. Start by going through your checkout flow. Even better, ask a friend to give you feedback about how to improve the experience.

If you can remove friction wherever you possibly can, you’ll improve your conversion rate. Which is especially important during the holiday season when you’re likely getting more traffic than usual.

For example, make sure your shipping policy is extra clear before someone gets to checkout. Don’t make shoppers add items to their cart to calculate shipping costs.

Test out options like Shop Pay, PayPal, and the ability to pay in installments. Each can be critical for boosting conversion in the checkout process.

Week 3: Make sure your campaigns are ready

Now that you have your offer for BFCM, you need to do everything you can to make it clear to site visitors the moment they land on your store. So this week, it’s all about the last minute details and building excitement.

November 15th: Prep your onsite campaigns

List growth is more important than ever. You’re probably getting a ton of new visitors to your store, but chances are, they’re not going to buy. So you need to find a way to capture their emails and phone numbers so you can reach out to them even after they’re gone! Steal these 3 secrets for growing your list.

And Privy’s list growth bar will help to boost your signups even more by offering a special discount to visitors who join your email list before Black Friday.

You’re also going to have a ton of shoppers who add items to their carts and don’t end up actually making a purchase. So you need to have campaigns like cart savers and abandoned cart emails in place to do whatever you possibly can to save these sales. Here’s everything you need to know about saving abandoned carts this BFCM.

The Privy Growth Plan has everything you need to launch each campaign and have your biggest BFCM ever.

Get Privy's Growth Plan and have your best holiday season ever.

We’re even launching an offer countdown that runs between Black Friday and Cyber Monday to drive urgency and help you get sales over the holiday weekend.

November 19th: Build hype with your VIPs

You already have your list of VIPs. Now, it’s time to send your first email. You want to make them feel special. So make it extra clear that you’re letting them know first because they’re one of your best customers.

Whether you’re running a sitewide discount, launching an exclusive product, or bundle offer, they should be the first to know what’s coming.

Week 4: Your Super Bowl is here!

It’s go-time. All the hard work you’ve put in is going to pay off this week. Just remember to take a deep breath and stay focused. It’s not time to relax just yet.

November 21st: VIP email #2

Your customers are getting an insane amount of emails. But your job is to get them excited about spending their money with YOU.

You’ve already shared your BFCM offer with them. But now it’s time to let them shop first before your inventory runs out. Just make sure you call out that they’re getting early access before anyone else. Remember: you want to continue to make them feel special.

November 22nd: Email #1 to non-VIPs

Remember that first email you sent to your VIP list? It’s time to get the rest of your list excited now, too.

It’s as easy as copying that email to your VIPs, tweaking it to make sense for this audience, and hitting send.

Again, this is just to build excitement. You’re not actually driving sales yet, just priming people so when they see your next email come through, they want to open it.

November 23rd: Turn on your countdown timer

Head to your Privy account and turn on your countdown timer! It will help you drive urgency and bring in sales Black Friday through Cyber Monday.

Don’t see it yet? This is a brand new play this BFCM, so keep checking back!

November 25th: Thanksgiving

Enjoy time with your family! A ton of brands start sending emails on Thanksgiving. So feel free to start your offer early, or you can wait til tomorrow to open the floodgates.

Just know that as soon as your audience starts shopping, you need to be able to answer questions ASAP or you might lose them.

November 26th: Black Friday

It’s officially time to share your offer with the rest of your list.

Remember: people are getting tons of emails today. So you want to give yourself more than one opportunity to land a sale. Don’t be shy about sending multiple emails this weekend. It’s the only way you’re going to see results.

November 27th: Small Business Saturday

Today is Small Business Saturday, which means it’s the perfect time to lean into the fact that you’re a small brand run by a real person, not Amazon.

So in your reminder emails to your VIPs and rest of your audience, make sure you’re doubling down on that.

This email from Fly by Jing is an amazing example:

Week 5: Keep going! You're almost there.

The Super Bowl of ecommerce is almost over. But don’t let off the gas just yet, there’s still a lot to do before you can totally unwind for the season.

November 28th: First day of Hanukkah

Today is the first day of Hanukkah (it ends on December 6th). And while you don’t have to send anything specific for Hanukkah vs. Christmas, inclusivity is something that will stand out to a big portion of your audience.

November 29th: Cyber Monday

Chances are, your BFCM offers end today. DO NOT expect your audience to remember that. You need to remind them. Send emails, text messages, share it on social. Call it out wherever you possibly can.

November 30th: Giving Tuesday

It’s Giving Tuesday. So it’s the perfect opportunity to donate a percentage of proceeds to an organization that’s close to your heart, or you can do something similar to this email from Who Gives A Crap and highlight charities that align with your brand, mission, and vision:

December 1st: Turn off your BFCM-specific campaigns

Once the holiday weekend is over, it’s time to make sure all the campaigns on your site aren’t showing outdated information. So anything you changed that was specific to your BFCM campaigns should be turned off.

But remember: you still have the rest of the year for holiday-specific campaigns. So make sure you keep any festive images!

Week 6: Highlight your gift-worthy offers and products

Chances are, your audience hasn’t wrapped up their holiday shopping, so it’s the perfect time to lean into gift ideas and make last-minute shopping (which can be super stressful) a breeze.

December 6th: Last day of Hanukkah

There’s nothing specific you need to do here! Just a reminder.

December 7th: Share holiday gift ideas

It’s crunch time! And a lot of people wait ‘til the last minute to do their shopping. So it’s the perfect time to call out gift ideas.

This email from Kerri Rosenthal makes it really easy to shop gifts in your price range. But it doesn’t stop there. It also calls out free shipping and gift wrapping:

Something like this gift guide is the perfect thing to share with anyone who hasn’t made a purchase recently.

But what about the people who just made a purchase over Black Friday? Think about an offer that might get them to buy again. It could be a free holiday gift with purchase, or a % off. Maybe free shipping is all you need to move the needle. The important thing is that you make it clear that you know they’ve purchased from you recently.

December 10th: Last chance reminder to BFCM purchasers

If you sent an offer to recent customers, make sure you send a last chance reminder. Remember inboxes are insane this time of year. So you can’t just assume that your audience is seeing your messages.

Week 7: The final countdown is on

You’re so close to the finish line. Your shipping deadline for customers to receive gifts in time is likely sometime this week, so make sure you’re sending reminders and using urgency to generate sales.

December 14th: Shipping deadline reminder

No matter when your shipping deadline is, you should absolutely be sending last chance reminders to your audience:

Week 8: Happy holidays!

This is really your last chance to bring in sales for the year. And just because shipping deadlines are over, don’t stop just yet.

December 20th: Gift card offer

Since it’s officially too late to send anything else, it’s the perfect time to remind your audience that it’s not too late to send a gift card! You can keep it super simple:

December 21st: First day of Winter

Winter is officially here! And while it might not make sense to send separate communication just for this, you can absolutely work it into your other messages.

December 24th: Christmas Eve

This would be the perfect time to send a last chance reminder email about gift cards!

December 25th: Christmas

You don’t need to send any communication today, but if you want to send a thank you email to everyone who’s supported you over the last year, this is a great time to do it.


You deserve a round of applause. You made it through the busiest, craziest holiday season ever. And if you’re not out of steam just yet, you can still run a few last-minute offers that might help you finish the year even stronger than you expected.

December 26th: Boxing Day, First day of Kwanza

This is the perfect time to send a message about getting what you really want this holiday season. Your audience might have gotten gift cards or cash that’s burning a hole in their pockets. So make sure you stay top of mind and highlight any post-holiday campaigns you’re running. Or just show off your best sellers from the entire year.

December 31st: New Year's Eve

Now’s your chance to try one more promo this year! Try running a special offer for one day through midnight. It’s on theme and will help you end the year strong. Go back to the offer ideas and try something new for a short period of time. Just make sure you don’t forget the last chance email to remind everyone that it’s almost over!

And don’t forget to turn all of your holiday-themed campaigns off! It doesn’t give a great impression if January rolls around and you’re still promoting holiday offers that don’t exist anymore. So comb through your site just to make sure.

January 1st: New Year's Day

It’s a New Year. If it makes sense for your brand, you can run a campaign about setting goals and how your products can help them achieve those goals.

But that might not make sense for you. In that case, you can keep it simple and share a thoughtful Happy New Year message with your audience that features you. Take a look at this one from Lake & Skye:

For your best holiday season ever, get Privy’s Growth Plan. It has everything you need to bring in sales through Black Friday Cyber Monday and beyond.

P.S. If you want to get started with SMS this Black Friday, you still have time.

And if you want to download the entire calendar, just click this button!

Get your 2021 holiday calendar!



Special thanks to our friends at Privy for their insights on this topic.
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