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2024 marketing calendar: Key dates for retail and e-commerce

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Advanced SMS guides 22 min read | kasey wrote in blog on April 19, 2024

In the world of e-commerce and retail marketing, holidays are often directly connected to sales and special offers. How’s your 2024 marketing calendar looking? Is it loaded with ideas for seasonal promotions, or are there some gaps you still need to fill? If you’re worried about missing a chance to take advantage of the holiday hype, we’ve got your back.

Some holidays and special events give people a reason to make purchases. There are gifts to buy, parties to throw, and places to go. But even some of the lesser-known dates may present an opportunity to engage with consumers. Let’s take a closer look so you can find the dates in 2024 that fit your marketing strategy.

TOP TIP : Plan your campaigns well in advance. This way, you’ve got plenty of time to prepare your content, put out any fires if things go wrong, and embrace any new opportunities that arise.

Q1: January through March holidays and events in 2024

A new year represents a fresh start. Keep that idea in mind as you map out your marketing calendar. Your customers are making their own plans and filling out their personal calendars for the upcoming year. How will your marketing messages and seasonal campaigns align with their lives over the next 365 days?

January 1st: New Year’s Day

While some of your customers will be nursing a New Year’s Day hangover on the first of January, many others will be thinking about self improvement. Could your brand help someone with a New Year’s resolution? A motivational message with helpful advice and product recommendations makes the perfect New Year’s Day marketing campaign.

Tips for New Year’s Day SMS marketing

  • Stay positive. Use the right tone for a “Happy New Year.” This holiday campaign is about optimism, encouragement, and new beginnings.
  • Be supportive. How can you help make it a great year? Besides pushing for sales, try delivering personalized content to your customers that helps them achieve their goals.
  • Launch something new. Join in on the New Year’s fun and promote something fresh and exciting from your company. It might be an ideal time to announce a new product or service.
  • Have a New Year’s sale. Following the December holidays, some people will be taking a closer look at their budgets. Position your promotion as a way to help them save a few bucks.
  • Beware of holiday fatigue. Don’t forget, we’re coming right out of the big holiday shopping season. Be careful about overwhelming customers with too many marketing campaigns. Your contacts could be ready for a break from hearing from retail and ecommerce brands.

TOP TIP : Start out right with the perfect SMS campaign. See how you can improve customer engagement with SMS in the new year.

January 15th: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

MLK Day became a U.S. federal holiday back in 1983, but only in recent years have many schools and private businesses started giving students and employees the day off. This is a day that can be both celebratory and somber. Tread carefully when planning marketing campaigns around MLK Day.

While it’s a good idea to recognize the day on channels such as social media, using it for promotional purposes could easily be seen as insensitive and backfire. Instead, consider using MLK Day to support relevant causes, give back to the community, or highlight civil rights heroes who are making a difference.

February 2nd: Groundhog Day

Here’s one of those minor days on the marketing calendar that other brands may be ignoring. Groundhog Day is a good chance to cut through the noise and come up with an original campaign idea. Go ahead and get cute. Besides the Easter Bunny, what other holiday features an adorable rodent?

For people who live in colder climates, February can be a rough month (thankfully, it’s also the shortest). The drudgery of winter is setting in and, even though it’s a silly, superstitious tradition, everyone hopes that groundhog Phil fails to spot his shadow so that spring comes early.

If your retail or e-commerce brand offers anything connected to the spring season, this is an excellent time to start promoting.

February 13th: Mardi Gras

Why should revelers down in the Big Easy be the only ones who get to have fun during Mardi Gras? This holiday is colorful, joyful, and festive. If it fits with your brand’s identity, add it to your marketing calendar. Throw your own Mardi Gras party and capture the spirit of New Orleans to create some marketing magic.

February 14th: Valentine’s Day

$26 billion. That’s about how much the National Retail Federation (NRF) expects U.S consumers will spend for Valentine’s Day in 2024. Money can’t buy love, but apparently that doesn’t stop anyone from trying.

To make the most of this romantic sales event, you need to get your best-selling Valentine’s Day gifts into the hearts and minds of consumers early. Start promoting your offers in mid- to late-January – using our five best Valentine’s Day SMS campaign ideas as inspiration.

Ideas for SMS marketing messages around Valentine’s Day

  • Send a helpful text reminding contacts not to forget about their special someone.
  • Offer original gift ideas. Suggest something beyond the expected flowers and chocolates.
  • Have fun with romantic emojis. There are plenty of heart-themed options to choose from.
  • Go Anti-Valentine’s Day. Build a campaign around “Galentine’s Day” or encourage single people to treat themselves.

With literally everyone promoting some type of deal around Valentine’s Day, it can be tricky to stand out from the competition. This is your chance to go really big. Try out adding engaging MMS to your campaigns or mobile landing pages that’ll really make your messages stand out.

Mobile landing pages SMS examples
Mobile landing pages are a great way to make your SMS campaign stand out.

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February 19th: Presidents Day

For some reason, in the U.S., Presidents Day is a very popular federal holiday for retail sales. Maybe to celebrate free market capitalism or something? There are even websites that track Presidents Day sales like it’s Black Friday. Whatever the case, many shoppers will be expecting and hunting for bargains on this date. So, it’s a good one to add to your 2024 marketing calendar. Presidents Day is especially popular for seasonal promotions on large purchases such as household appliances, vehicles, furniture, mattresses, and the like.

March 17th: St. Patrick’s Day

Feeling lucky? Everyone is Irish when St. Paddy’s Day comes up on the calendar. Similarly, you don’t have to be a pub or sell corned beef and cabbage to build a promotional campaign around St. Patrick’s Day. This holiday presents another opportunity to reach out to consumers with special deals and a fun-filled theme.

Consider organizing a contest that encourages customers to “test their luck,” or deliver St Paddy’s themed coupon codes via text message to use on your website.

March 31st: Easter

Easter is a holiday that has both religious and secular angles. While not everyone celebrates Easter, most people enjoy the lighthearted spring themes that come with this time of year. It’s easy to get creative with the elements of Easter, especially when you invite people to participate.

  • Hold a fun photo contest (cute kids and animals are always a hit)
  • Develop a virtual Easter egg hunt
  • Put together “baskets” of themed products

Consider using these efforts as a way to convince customers to opt in for SMS marketing communications.

Q2: April through June holidays and events in 2024

As everyone settles into the rhythm of 2024, you’ve got a little more room to really connect with your customers. Even though the traditional “holiday season” is more than six months away, there are still plenty of spots on your marketing calendar to consider adding a promotion or two.

April 1st: April Fools’ Day

When done in good taste, pranks and practical jokes on April Fools’ Day are a favorite pastime for many marketers. It’s a chance to throw in a little extra creativity. Sometimes, brands use this date to make fake (and totally ridiculous) announcements.

In 2023, for example, the kids’ pizza chain Chuck E. Cheese used April Fools’ Day to announce it would start hosting adult wedding receptions. Welch’s Fruit Snacks introduced a joke product – gummies filled with ranch dressing. Heinz pretended to launch new ketchup packaging with a cap on the top and bottom of the bottle.

As long as no one gets hurt (or too confused), some innocent April Fools’ fun is a great way for certain brands to connect with consumers. Delivering the laughs via SMS is the perfect way to get engagement. With 98% open rates, almost everyone gets to be in on the joke.

April 7th: World Health Day

The World Health Organization (WHO) sponsors this global awareness day. It’s a good opportunity to call attention to specific health-related issues as well as products and services that are connected to health and wellness.

The theme for World Health Day 2024 is centered around providing access to quality healthcare services, education, and information. In addition to pitching your products, consider an SMS campaign that delivers on this theme.

April 15th: Tax Day

This is not at all a holiday. In fact, it’s a day many consumers are dreading. If you offer products or services that help people file their taxes, this is an obvious date to have on your marketing calendar. However, it could also be a good time for other industries to seize the opportunity. For example, maybe you want to offer consumers a little tax filing stress relief. There are also tax refunds landing in bank accounts, which could mean some of your customers have a little extra to spend.

April 22nd: Earth Day

Earth Day represents another opportunity for brands to support a cause, take a stand, or make a difference. Add it to your marketing calendar if you offer environmentally-friendly products or made significant strides towards improved sustainability. Communications that highlight those facts will resonate with consumers who care about protecting the planet.

Just be careful about greenwashing. You’ll want to be sure your business can back up any claims it makes around sustainability.

May 12th: Mother’s Day

Believe it or not, U.S. consumers spent more on Mother’s Day in 2023 than they did on Black Friday shopping. Moms are important people. They deserve some extra attention and we all know it. Help your customers celebrate their moms by planning Mother’s Day campaigns ahead of time.

Ideas for Mother’s Day SMS campaigns

  • Send a friendly SMS reminder that prompts people to text their moms on Mother’s Day.
  • Use an authentic emotional hook that highlights the connection between mothers and their children.
  • Consider an opt-out. Many businesses kick-start Mother’s Day campaigns with a considerate opt-out message for those who may find Mother’s Day a difficult time of year.
  • Suggest services and experiences for mom. Consumers often want to treat their mothers to things like spa days and other opportunities to unwind.

Want more inspo? Check out our mother of all Mother’s Day SMS marketing guides.

May 27th: Memorial Day

The final Monday in May is often considered the unofficial kickoff to summer in the U.S. However, it’s also a somber day of remembrance. Keep in mind that Memorial Day is meant to honor fallen U.S. service members. While any day is a good day to thank people for their service, realize that Veteran’s Day (November 11th) is the federal holiday in which we recognize military personnel who are still with us.

Memorial Day can also be a time for Americans to display patriotic pride and fire up their backyard barbecues. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating, and Memorial Day sales are a festive way to launch a summer promotion.

June 16th: Father’s Day

Why do dads bring an extra pair of socks to play golf? In case they get a hole in one!

Father’s Day is the perfect date on your marketing calendar for texting your customers a dad joke or two. Dads are also notoriously tough to shop for. Your marketing campaigns can make the gift giving a little easier if they offer personalized recommendations. After school lets out and summer vacation begins, it’s easy for people to get busy. But SMS marketing campaigns are an effective way to remind your customers to do a little something for their dads.

For more inspiration, here are 8 Father’s Day SMS marketing ideas to boost sales.

June 19th: Juneteenth

Juneteenth is the newest U.S. federal holiday. It marks the date in 1865 at the end of the Civil War when the news of the freed African American enslaved people reached the westernmost Confederate state of Texas. While there’s no question that it marked an end to a dark time in American history, Juneteenth is meant to be a joyful celebration.

Juneteenth messages from brands should promote community and togetherness. People of all backgrounds are often encouraged to attend Juneteenth gatherings. However, be wary of using this holiday for purely marketing purposes as it could be viewed as inappropriate and insensitive.

June 20th: Summer solstice

The official first day of summer is also the longest day of the year. Okay, technically, it still has the same 24 hours as any other day. But the summer solstice is when we see the most daylight in the northern hemisphere. Sounds like a good entry for your marketing calendar to us.

The summer solstice provides a nice seasonal hook. Use it to remind consumers that summertime won’t last forever and shop for the warm months while they last.

Q3: July through September holidays and events in 2024

Sales and website traffic tend to slow down for retail and e-commerce brands as the summer months continue. People are doing a little less shopping and a little more vacationing. A creative marketing campaign might be just what your business needs to get a revenue boost through the dog days of summer.

July 4th: Independence Day

How can your brand create marketing fireworks around what is arguably the biggest holiday of the summer season? Since many consumers will be busy on the 4th of July, your campaign should start at least a week before and build anticipation for promotions related to Independence Day.

If you’re driving customers to your site using SMS messaging, don’t forget to have mobile landing pages set up to receive those visitors. Design it with some Americana and patriotic flair to showcase the spirit of the summer celebrations.

Get your marketing fireworks going

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July 17th: Emoji Day

Yes. This one feels pretty random, we know. But Emoji Day is a good excuse to have a little fun with SMS marketing and connect with customers in an engaging way. If you’re using two-way SMS, you could even prompt contacts to respond with their own emojis or hold a contest/promotion that makes use of emojis.

Wondering why July 17th is emoji day? Check out the calendar emoji. 📅 The date you see on this emoji happens to be July 17th. So, this particular date on your marketing calendar even has its very own emoji.

August 15th: Back-to-school season starts

While there’s no official date on the marketing calendar when back-to-school shopping begins, it’s generally accepted that students and parents are definitely thinking about it by mid-August.

SMS example of back to school promotion
Create some FOMO with your back-to-school discounts.

Remember that there are different audiences for back-to-school season:

  • Parents shopping for kids
  • First-time college students shopping for life away from home
  • Teachers shopping for classrooms

According to research from Circana, 12% of teachers expect to receive less funding for their classrooms in 2024. Many educators spend their own money on things like decorations, shared supplies, and other tools. If you’re marketing to teachers, consider a campaign that offers them special savings.

September 2nd: Labor Day

The Labor Day holiday honors American workers and gives most consumers one last day off at the end of summer. This is a great time for a FOMO campaign that encourages people to get the most out of summer before it’s over. Labor Day sales are very popular promotions among big box retailers.

September 21st: Oktoberfest

While it’s a decidedly German holiday, many Americans enjoy celebrating Oktoberfest. Who doesn’t love beer, food, and music? You’ll find festivals and parties in many U.S. cities while plenty of brands launch Oktoberfest promotions and special events. This could be a good time to use SMS for competitions like a photo contest or an exclusive giveaway.

By the way, the reason Oktoberfest starts in September is pretty straightforward. The weather is still warmer and the days are a little longer in September. Leave it to the Germans to be logical and efficient.

Q4: October through December holidays and events in 2024

This is it. The quarter that regularly smashes sales records, with back-to-back promotional events keeping retail brands and e-commerce marketers on their toes. To maximize sales, make sure to develop a solid plan well ahead of time. In other words, if you’re reading this in October, you better get cracking on your holiday campaign strategy.

Want some tips? Look over Sinch MessageMedia’s top SMS secrets for holiday campaigns.

October 14th: Columbus Day

Columbus sailed the ocean blue back in 1492, but he also did a bunch of not-so-great stuff too. While Columbus Day was once a very popular date for sales and discounts on the marketing calendar, it’s largely fallen out of favor with retailers. In 2021, the White House also designated October 14th to be Indigenous Peoples’ Day to recognize the many who were and are original inhabitants and cultures of the Americas.

While Columbus Day sales are not unheard of, think twice about whether this holiday is right for your brand’s marketing calendar.

October 31st: Halloween

Once upon a time, Halloween was a single night of trick-or-treating. These days, it’s become a festival of fun that gradually builds throughout October – with shoppers on the look-out for decorations, dress-ups, party supplies, and loads of candy. But Halloween isn’t just for kids. Many adults participate in this spooktacular holiday… and so do plenty of pets. The NRF says U.S. consumers spent more than $108 per person on Halloween purchases. Around $700 million went towards costumes for pets.

People start thinking about Halloween as soon as the calendar page turns to October. So, be ready with a pumpkin-spiced marketing campaign. Because Halloween is a very visual holiday, consider using MMS messaging to deliver mobile campaigns that let you send pictures, graphics, and GIFs to customers and contacts.

November 11th: Veterans Day

If your marketing calendar includes plans for Veterans Day, be sure to use it in a supportive and inspirational way. Consider a simple message of thanks or offer exclusive deals and discounts for service members. Small Business Trends offers some ideas for appropriate Veterans Day messages.

November 28th: Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving (or Turkey Day if you prefer) marks the very start of the biggest weekend for shopping of the year. Of course, the “weekend” stretches from Thanksgiving Thursday all the way through Cyber Monday.

Your BFCM messaging strategy probably started weeks ago – if not even earlier. And that’s the right move. 2023 consumer research from Sinch found more than 35% of people want to know about Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals as soon as possible. Another 21.2% are open to BFCM marketing a month ahead of time.

Chart shows 35.5% of consumers want Black Friday deals ASAP.

Many retail and e-commerce brands make a conscious decision to stay closed on Thanksgiving. That seems more aligned with the spirit of the holiday. Another way to do that is to send a simple message to customers expressing your gratitude for them. It’s a good way to mix up your mobile messaging with something other than the same BOGOs and deep discounts overwhelming consumers this time of year.

November 29th: Black Friday

The Thanksgiving leftovers are stored safely in the fridge and consumers are now fully prepared to do what they do… shop for the holidays (and maybe themselves too). Black Friday brings out the bargain hunters in droves. So, retail and e-commerce brands should give those shoppers what they want.

You can certainly use SMS marketing to increase foot traffic to a brick-and-mortar store on Black Friday. However, keep in mind that more and more online shopping occurs on Black Friday. While there was a time when e-commerce deals mainly occurred on Cyber Monday, it’s all one big shopping event now.

Check out our Black Friday SMS templates and examples to get some ideas for engaging retail customers on and around Black Friday 2024.

November 30th: Small Business Saturday

While the Black Friday sales continue through the weekend, Saturday presents an opportunity for locally-owned small businesses to get some much needed attention. If you’re a small business owner, SMS customer communication is an engaging way to connect with your community.

Getting out in the community during the holiday season is a great way to spread cheer, especially in vibrant downtowns where there are displays, music, and more. Consider hosting a special event at your small business and spread the word via mobile messaging.

December 2nd: Cyber Monday

Even though Black Friday might be the busiest day for in-person shopping at retail stores, consumers are spending more money on Cyber Monday. The chart below shows the spending spikes on these two days according to Adobe. In 2023, Adobe reported that U.S. shoppers spent $9.8 billion on Black Friday and $12.4 billion on Cyber Monday.

Line chart shows Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending in 2023

It’s also important to note that more online shopping now takes place on mobile devices than desktops. Adobes analytics suggest 51.1% of holiday spending happened via mobile in 2023, surpassing desktop for the first time. Expect that trend to continue in 2024. This fact certainly supports starting your holiday marketing with mobile messaging campaigns.

December 21st: Super Saturday

While Black Friday grabs all the headlines, there’s another date on the marketing calendar that’s nearly as busy and almost as important. Super Saturday is the final Saturday of the month before Christmas, and it’s considered the second busiest shopping day of the year. As you may know, this is the time when last-minute holiday shoppers rush out to get the final gifts on their lists before time runs out. That’s why it’s also known as “Panic Saturday.”

Retailers should use this opportunity for one last promotional push before the big day. Because getting items shipped in time is a concern, Super Saturday shoppers may be more likely to visit physical retail stores. So, use SMS to encourage in-person shopping if possible, or assure customers they’ll get their online orders in time for Christmas.

December 25th: Christmas Day

To make the most of the Christmas rush, you really need to start your holiday marketing as soon as Halloween is over. Since many of your customers will be spending time with loved ones on this day, it’s best to go quiet for a while. Getting a text from a brand on Christmas morning might not go over well.

Here are some tips to keep in mind: 

  • Start early. If you can, plan a two-month campaign to take you from November and into December, making the most of the many sales dates along the way. 
  • Get in the spirit of Christmas. Dress up your shop, social media posts, and campaigns with festive branding. 

Focus on the customer experience. Make sure all your systems – in-store, online, and however else you interact with customers – can cope with heavier traffic. Plus, last-minute shoppers, early birds, and those wanting to catch a good deal or curated collection.

Once the traditional holiday season is over, you can start communicating with customers again. Check out our suggestions for post-holiday SMS marketing ideas. It’s a good opportunity to welcome new customers and

December 31st: New Year’s Eve

And here we are. It’s the final day of the year and the final date on your 2024 marketing calendar. If you’re like most digital marketers working in retail and e-commerce, you probably feel a little bit exhausted. So… what are you doing New Year’s Eve?

Don’t think too hard. Most of the marketing campaigns around New Year’s Eve are the same as New Year’s Day strategies. Just scroll back to the top of this list and you’re good to go.

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Key months for your marketing calendar

In addition to specific dates throughout the year, there are also certain months during which we celebrate and remember different groups of people. It’s smart to note these on your marketing calendar as well:

  • February: Black History Month
  • March: Women’s History Month
  • May: Mental Health Awareness Month
  • June: Pride Month
  • September 15 through October 15: Hispanic Heritage Month
  • October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • November: Men’s Health Awareness Month (Movember)

This list of dates and months for your marketing calendar is not exhaustive. If we failed to include an event that’s personally important to you, please forgive us.

Make 2024 your year of SMS marketing success

U.S. consumers are growing more accustomed to hearing from retail brands via text messaging. The mobile messaging channel represents an amazing opportunity for connecting with customers in unique, personal, and effective ways.

Let’s make 2024 the year your business expands its communication strategy to include SMS. Check out all of the resources MessageMedia provides to help you get the most out of the channel. Eccomerce operations can easily integrate our solutions with popular platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify. That means you can use SMS for both promotional and automated transactional messages. When you’re ready to get started, our flexible pricing plans start at just $49 per month.

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