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Holiday Marketing for Mobile Apps: Your Playbook to Win & Retain Users

Holiday marketing strategy does look like an eCommerce thing. Of course, eCommerce brands pump all their resources into building on the holiday buzz to boost sales, understandably so. However, this seasonal marketing phenomenon isn’t limited to eCommerce alone.  In fact, it offers incredible opportunities for the mobile industry making holiday marketing for mobile apps as important as for any other sector. 

Holiday marketing smells like cookie dough for app marketers with delicious notes of user engagement, better acquisition, and custom retention, if executed strategically. If you haven’t planned your strategies for holiday marketing for mobile apps or are looking to refine them further, this is a place where you’ll get the answers.

Why do you need a holiday marketing strategy for your mobile app? 

Before we jump right into sketching out a strategy, let’s understand why you need a holiday marketing strategy for your mobile app. 

Firstly, this holiday season offers a golden opportunity for mobile app owners to connect with their customers, and create more organic gateways for better acquisition and engagement. Secondly, this time of the year is that unique opportunity for mobile app owners when users themselves come looking for value in the form of apps, products, and services. 

Let’s take it with some examples: 

  • If you’re a travel app, the holiday season reeks of dollars, literally. If we go by data, around 55 million Americans prefer to travel over 50 miles from home for the Thanksgiving holiday, and 120 million during Christmas and New Year’s Eve, which means immense opportunities for travel apps out there. 
  • If you own a retail app, we don’t even need to tell you the sheer amount of opportunities out there for you. Everyone’s looking for gift and home decor options during the holiday season and that’s where you come into the picture. 
  • The holiday season also sees an uptick in another trend apart from home decor and gifting – that’s healthcare. Most people make New Year resolutions that include paying more attention to their health. Healthcare apps have unique opportunities to draw more users to their apps and engage the existing users in a better way, boosting their overall lifetime value. 
  • The holiday season means business for the music apps like Spotify as well. Holidays equate to parties and parties are nothing but music blasting on speakers in full volume. Music apps can cash in on this season by bringing more personalized music experiences for their users and drawing in more users through well well-thought-out holiday marketing strategy. 

These are just some but not all sectors that can benefit from the holiday season hullabaloo. Virtually, every app including the FinTech apps has something in store for them to leverage the festive spirit and get their business singing the happy notes.  

What Trends Say: 2022 Holiday Marketing Statistics for Mobile Apps 

  • Consumer spending on shopping apps during Q4 2022 rose by 37% during the holiday season as compared to Q3 2022, which was 30% higher than the same period in 2021. This suggests an upward trend for shopping app marketers for the holiday season of 2023. 
  • According to the latest report titled State of eCommerce App Marketing by AppsFlyer, retail apps experienced a rise in revenue during the holiday season of 2022. 
  • According to last year’s data, in-app consumer spending increased by 81% on Black Friday 2022 from the month’s daily average. 
  • In 2022 alone, global eCommerce marketers invested in in-app user acquisition, although the consumer spending trend was dampened by the global economic downturn in 2022 H2. 
  • iOS apps registered an 85% higher share of paying users as compared to Android apps. 

Holiday Marketing for Mobile Apps – Strategy for Every Industry 

Let’s make it clear – one size does not fit all in terms of mobile marketing. What works for an eCommerce app might not go well with a gaming app. The best way to make your mobile marketing strategy work for this holiday season is to tailor your strategy methodically on the basis of industry, geographies, preferences, and behaviors.

Let’s approach the strategies for holiday marketing for mobile apps on the basis of each industry.  

Holiday Marketing Strategy for Gaming Apps 

The holiday season comes along with the precious gift of time. With the stream of off days and lean season at work, people often have a lot of time at hand during this time of the year. This is why player engagement is on year-high during the fourth quarter as compared to the rest of the year. 

With an extra nudge and a strategically-crafted holiday marketing strategy, your mobile game can make most of this festive revels and boost your player engagement, acquisition and retention.

Let’s unwrap it one by one. 

Below is the list of must-do action items that you as a mobile game marketer should tick off before the mid-October. 

  • Your mobile game should scream ‘holidays’ from every which way: Regardless of the genre of your mobile game, your mobile app should be holiday-ready even if that means you have to change the color theme to match Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve vibes. Apart from the holiday-themed user interface of the mobile game, skins, themes, and the player avatar, you can introduce new game segments specially curated for the holiday season to engage more players and boost the average engagement time for your mobile game. Make sure that the new game segments are ‘timed’ to create a sense of urgency among your players. 
  • Announce offers & sales for in-app purchases: Curate special sales and discounts for the in-app purchases in your mobile game. Announce the sale well in advance to build anticipation among the players. Since gifting is an important part of the holiday season, introduce gift-giving mechanics in your mobile game, through which players can send each other gifts to friends, fostering holiday cheer. 
  • Introduce advent calendars to your mobile game: Reward recurring users who log in daily with extra discounts or rewards, similar to an advent calendar. Make the calendar timed starting with the holiday season, all the way to January, ensuring a two-month-long celebration for loyal players. 
  • Holiday-themed giveaways: Curate holiday-themed giveaways on your mobile app for high-value and returning players. The giveaways shouldn’t be confined to app skins, themes, and rewards, but you can level it up by offering real-life giveaways to selected players like branded merchandise, holiday decor items, stationery, etc. For the coming year, players will never forget how special you made them feel during the holiday season.
  • Personalized offers for audience segments: Don’t force one type of offer of every audience. Segment your audience into categories depending on their player progression, in-app purchase values, in-game activities, frequency of usage, and age (demographics). Create unique offers for each segment that resonate with each group, increasing the chance of player retention and in-app sales. 
  • Partner with influencers and celebrity players: Partner with influencers who enjoy a good reach in the gaming community to create live streams, gameplay reviews, or curated in-game challenges, giving you the much-needed jump in brand awareness or even entry into a new market or player group. 
  • Put some money into paid advertising: Among all, video ads is the most successful ad formats for mobile games. They’re short, concise, and high-converting if done right. Invest in explainer ads – how to play the game, recorded gameplay sessions, features, and also the limited-time holiday segments. Create multiple versions of your video and invest small chunks of budget in each of them. 

Holiday Marketing Strategy for Music Apps 

The holiday season means parties and parties are never complete without good music. During this time, music apps are much in demand, especially those that cater to the moods of holiday revelers. According to a report by Adjust, installs for music apps are 86% higher in December than the rest of the year. Be it for a cozy family gathering or a rager, music apps have the perfect opportunity to deliver holiday cheer to users worldwide. 

Below is the to-do list for music apps to strike off before the end of October. 

  • Audience segmentation: Create audience segments on the basis of usage frequency, subscription tier, and preferences and curate personalized playlists and offers for each segment type. 
  • Invest in contextual advertising: Contextual advertising can be your way to get your advertisements up on related websites and content including holiday-themed playlists and festival celebrations. Contextual advertising helps you to reach potential users who are actively seeking holiday-themed music. 
  • Brand collaboration: Collaborate with similar brands to multiply your reach like Sonos & Spotify did for their holiday promotion campaign called Playlist Potluck, which lets hosts create Spotify playlists they can share via email, and anyone who’s invited to add to the playlist. Similarly, you can create co-branded playlists, partner with influencers, share advertising efforts, and co-host virtual events to create memorable holiday campaigns. 
  • Create custom playlists – Create surveys for your existing users and share them using email marketing, social media, and paid advertising to gather data about their music preferences. Using this data, you can create custom playlists for every user segment to build holiday campaigns that make a lasting impression. 
  • Influencer collaboration: Team up with influencers who already enjoy a good foothold in their niche. Collaborate to co-create content that resonates with the audience, spotlight on the value add you’re bringing to the holiday revelers. For example, collaborate with an influencer to create content on holiday playlists or party ideas. 
  • Merchandise giveaway for premium users: Giveaways and gifts work best for retaining users on your app. Offer special branded merchandise to premium plan holders to show them you care about them during the holiday season. 
  • Social sharing: Encourage users to share their favorite holiday tracks and playlists on social media. This will help your music app to expand its reach organically. 
  • Interactive challenges: Curate holiday-themed challenges and contests where users are encouraged to share content featuring your music app. Offer them offers, badges, or branded merchandise as incentives for their creativity and enthusiasm. 

Holiday Marketing Strategy for eCommerce Apps 

Opportunities are unlimited for eCommerce apps during the holiday season. That’s why holiday marketing is THE most important task at hand for you if your app deals in eCommerce. Given the higher consumer spending and gift-giving, the holiday season promises a three-month full of better sales, brand visibility, and consumer loyalty. Therefore, having a well-crafted holiday marketing strategy for your eCommerce app is even more important for any other industry. 

From personalized sales & offers to holiday-themed layouts, here’s a list of everything you can do to ride on the festive wave. 

  • Give your storefront a festive feel: Redesign the UI of your app for the festive feel, featuring holiday-themed banners and highlighting the products that cater to holiday needs. 
  • Extra discounts for top-performing affiliates/partners: If you’re running affiliate campaigns, this is the time to analyze their performance and reward top performers with even bigger payouts. Create custom campaigns for top-performing affiliates and motivate them to go even more creative to get better conversions. 
  • Incorporate gamification in app interface: Curate holiday-themed games like Spin the Wheel, jackpot, etc. to encourage users to spend more time and shop on the app, especially during the holiday season. Reward high-value users with exclusive discounts and coupon codes. 
  • Social shopping: Encourage users to share their holiday shopping experience on your app with a forum/community of other users. Such kind of user-generated content can influence the purchase decision of other users as well. 
  • Live shopping events with influencers: Host a live shopping event where influencers can share a series of holiday-centric products from your app and customers can live shop through the link, followed by a safe checkout. Also offer limited-time offers only for the live shopping, creating a sense of urgency among the customers. 
  • Gift wrapping services: For a limited time during the holiday season, offer gift wrapping services. Customers will be delighted to shop on your app that not only offers them holiday gift items but also wraps them for them. Customers will thank you for taking that action item off their to-do list. 
  • Diversify your advertising strategy: Expand outside what you’ve been already doing throughout the year. Try out different ad formats like native advertising, retargeting display ads, YouTube TrueView Ads, etc. to hammer home your holiday marketing message and capture the attention of diverse audiences during this festive season. 

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