Table of contents

    What you’ll get from this guide

    Mother’s Day is one of the biggest retail days of the year, leaving Valentine’s Day and Father’s Day in the dust in terms of consumer spending.

    What’s more, it’s an opportunity that’s growing: Americans spent $23.6B for Mother’s Day 2017, compared to $11.5B in 2005.

    Of course, this means that it’s an increasingly important day for e-commerce marketers: in 2015, 29% of Mother’s Day shopping was done online in the US, and online shoppers spend 38% more on this holiday than offline shoppers.

    So no matter what date Mother’s Day falls on where you are (and it varies!), read this guide to make sure that you’re ready for a sure-fire e-commerce opportunity. We’ll cover:

    • how to plan a Mother’s Day marketing campaign, from the basics of using influencers, to tips and tricks to support your acquisition strategies via display and email
    • how to make sure you don’t misfire in your tone (after all, moms can be millennials too)
    • the best uses of marketing analytics to support your activity
    • how to quickly and easily prep your site to ensure that your hard work converts into sales

    1. The marketing timeline

    Influence marketing platform The Shelf has published a breakdown of how far ahead of Mother’s Day consumers shop:

    Mother's Day shopping trends

    A little like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day is all about frantic shopping activity in a short period of time.

    Nearly half of those who buy presents for their moms are looking for gifts on the week of Mother’s Day and 75% of all shoppers will make their Mother’s Day purchases within two weeks of the day.

    For marketers planning campaigns, this gives a solid timeline to plan for spikes in traffic and orders, and also when to start serving customers Mother’s Day promotional material. Here’s a sample timeline for a Mother’s Day marketing campaign:

    • 7-8 weeks in advance – strategy meeting to discuss capabilities and targets
    • 6-7 weeks in advance – start planning campaign and promotional material
    • 5-6 weeks in advance – have promotional material signed off
    • 4 weeks in advance – first email shot + launch onsite Mother’s Day section with A/B tests
    • 3 weeks in advance – launch social campaigns
    • 2 weeks in advance – soft launch paid search and social, and launch your Mother’s Day offer overlays with A/B tests
    • 1 week in advance – reserve enough budget to gain those last-minute clicks + final email blast + launch competition
    • 72 hours in advance – last minute offers + clearly signpost your cut-off for final orders

    Top tip: If you cover multiple regions, don’t forget that different countries celebrate on different dates, meaning you need to localise your activity timelines for different geographies.

    2. Creating the digital aisle

    E-commerce brands can succeed where brick-and-mortar stores fall short. 27% of shoppers would prefer a dedicated aisle for Mother’s Day – when you run an e-commerce store, you can create a digital one.

    More like Valentine’s than Christmas, while there’s a lot of pressure on the consumer to buy one gift (and make it the right one), as a retailer you have the advantage of a smaller, simpler range to put together.

    So help your shopper out by making their choices easier:

    • put together compelling gift guides to promote via email and social media
    • create special packages or even products specifically for the day. For example, since 78% of Americans buying a Mother’s Day gift spent money on a card in 2016, you could bump up the value of your Mother’s Day gifts by offering a card as part of your package
    • Similarly, if your shopper has arrived via a Mother’s Day advertising campaign, ensure they’re getting Mother’s Day-related creative and offers to create a seamless customer journey

    3. Influencing the journey

    Starting at the very top of the funnel, one tactic that can be deployed for specific campaigns such as Mother’s Day is influencer marketing – that is, teaming up with a well-known blogger, Instagrammer or YouTuber for example to create a campaign that will reach their audience.

    For example, jewellery brand Pandora used influencer marketing in conjunction with a Snapchat campaign. The brand created a custom filter and encouraged fans to take selfies with mom for the chance to win a £500 voucher, enlisting support from high-end influencers including mom bloggers and fashion bloggers to boost interaction. The campaign resulted in over 56m views, over 6m swipes and 1,000,000+ users of Pandora’s filter. As the first UK brand to use Snapchat’s sponsored geofilter, the campaign also generated press coverage.

    Top tips for influencer marketing:

    • Mother’s Day spending is associated with quality and luxury, so make sure your chosen influencers reflect those associations
    • Collaborate with your influencers in order to create something that will come across as authentic, resonating with both the influencer and their followers
    • Remember that engagement is a more important metric than follower count
    • Make sure your influencer marketing campaign is part of your larger marketing plan. This strand of the strategy should be amplifying competitions, creative advertising or social campaigns or your Mother’s Day package

    4. Smart incentivising

    There are many Mother’s Day shoppers out there, but there are also many, many competitors for their affections.

    Consumers are wise to this and know that they have enough choice to be price-conscious in their shopping – hence why 81% of people are likely to look for a discount or a voucher on Mother’s Day.

    The challenge for you will be to work out the right incentives that make an impact on your conversions while protecting your margins. Using onsite behavioural analytics can help you do this – for example, seeing the element of your checkout page that a shopper dwells on before abandoning can help you see where the problem might be.

    Don’t forget that – as always – free delivery is the most powerful incentive for Mother’s Day shoppers. If your site offers it, make the most of it.

    5. Getting mobile-ready

    According to BingAds in 2016, nearly 60% of Mother’s Day-related searches took place on mobile in 2016. In the UK in 2017, 36% of Mother’s Day purchases took place over multiple devices.

    With this number likely to increase, it makes sense for e-commerce retailers to ensure that their Mother’s Day landing pages – along with checkout – are not just mobile-ready but mobile best.

    This means putting the mobile experience at the centre of your e-commerce strategy by revisiting your customer journey and ensuring that there’s seamless movement between social, mobile and desktop search that shoppers will find intuitive.

    6. Extending your reach

    Given the tendency for consumers to shop last-minute for Mother’s Day gifts, there’s a good chance that many forget until close to the day, so do the work for your customers by reminding them that the approaching celebration is a great way to ease the buying process.

    However, it’s important to note that for many Mother’s Day gifts, the shopper might be new to your brand: they are, after all, buying for someone else. Likewise, a brand whose audience has traditional ‘mom’ appeal might not find much joy in targeting their current customers, who won’t be buying themselves Mother’s Day gifts. As a result, you’ll need to question whether your existing email base is the right audience for this campaign.

    Your efforts over Mother’s Day may help acquire new customers who are only buying for someone else, rather than themselves – so segment these for future Mother’s Day or Christmas Day email marketing drives.

    7. Preparing for last-minute shoppers

    As we’ve already mentioned, the majority of people leave Mother’s Day shopping until the last minute. This presents challenges for businesses and marketers to gain maximum sales throughout the period but also to fulfil them in time for a hard deadline.

    Moonpig, the personalised greeting card company, made a promise via a national TV advert that their Mother’s Day cards would be delivered on time, but were unable to fulfil it. And they paid the price on social media, with mentions of their brand exploding on Mother’s Day and the Monday after.

    Mother's Day statistics Moonpig

    Mother's Day statistics Moonpig

    The moral here is to ensure that you’re prepared and able to deliver on a substantial increase in traffic and orders, and also that you clearly communicate to your customers when the cut-off point for orders is. You can use countdown clocks to tick down to your order deadline to make sure that you don’t end up in Moonpig’s situation.

    But you can also let panic work to your advantage: leverage last-minute shopping by offering customisable, Mother’s Day-specific digital gift cards to those who have arrived via Mother’s Day-related channels.

    8. Using analytics to increase order value

    As with any e-commerce purchase, stretching the value of each order is a key way to increase revenue. By segmenting audiences and using onsite analytics, you can serve dynamic offers to customers to increase order value.

    For example, The Trade Desk modelled different customer profiles and likely Mother’s Day gift purchases based on location in the US:

    E-commerce shopping trends worldwide

    Meanwhile in the UK, flower retailer Bloom & Wild released its 2017 Mother’s Day data to reveal which UK locations spent the most on their Mother’s Day flower orders, finding that Alton residents averaged £43 per order of flowers, while Knutsford’s orders averaged just £18.

    Using knowledge like this, marketers can tailor offers so that consumers find the items they are most likely to buy, as well as target paid advertising to demographics where there’s likely to be the biggest return.

    Research has also found that many will be buying for more than just their own mother – 37% of Mother’s Day spending is for grandmothers, step-mothers, friends, sisters, godmothers, aunts and daughters. This creates an opportunity for marketers to increase the value of orders by nudging customers towards buying for others beyond their own mom. This can be done by:

    • Creating ads to highlight other mother figures in customers’ lives
    • Targeting keywords around not only moms, but step-mothers, godmothers, aunts, grandmothers and other moms
    • Offers, discounts or free shipping for multiple orders
    • Overlays at checkout stage reminding customers that there might be other people to buy for

    9. Avoiding a faux pas

    For Mother’s Day 2015, Spotify launched a social campaign asking people to share how they’d describe Spotify to their moms:

    Spotify Mother's Day campaign

    However, the patronising tone received backlash from users who called the campaign ageist and sexist:

    Spotify Mother's Day campaign backlash

    Spotify Mother's Day campaign backlash

    It’s clear that Spotify saw Mother’s Day as an opportunity to increase users among a particular demographic – but customers saw through them.

    The lesson here? Mother’s Day is too often associated with bouquets of flowers and chocolates – it can be a little unimaginative and at worst, patronising. Remembering that not all moms are the same – and that moms can be millennials too – is key to making sure your marketing passes the test.


    Launching an e-commerce marketing programme for Mother’s Day can be daunting but also highly rewarding, and a chance to acquire new customers.

    As one of the major dates in the e-commerce calendar, marketers who want to get the most out of Mother’s Day spending need to:

    • Be prepared for most purchases to take place within the final week – but also be prepping for those sales two months in advance
    • Do the heavy lifting for customers by serving them a custom Mother’s Day experience
    • Use knowledge of customer demographics and behaviour to help them buy – and to increase the value of their purchases
    • Be aware of the competitive nature of the holiday and deploy promotions intelligently in order to increase sales without taking a hit on the bottom line
    • Create positive brand associations by putting plenty of heart into the campaign

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