Memorial Day SMS Strategies: 2020 Recap, Insight + Campaign Ideas for Brands in 2021

Corinne Watson

Reading Time: 6 minutes

The past year threw a wrench into many holiday plans. While holidays are typically a time spent traveling and socializing with groups of family and friends, quarantines and stay-at-home orders forced most people to rethink how to celebrate.

This time last year, we were in the middle of the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. 95% of Americans stayed at home for Memorial Day — a record previously held by Memorial Day 2009, during the end of the Great Recession. While we sheltered in place, we did all of our shopping online. After barely surpassing $2 billion in 2019, Memorial Day 2020 ecommerce sales reached $3.5 billion – a 63% growth year over year.

With that being said, brands who sell themed and patriotic gifts view Memorial Day differently since there’s an easy connection between their products and the holiday. Plus, the consumer mind is trained to expect discounts and special products during any holiday – ‘popular’ or not – so many brands instead use this time to run summer promotions (like seasonal apparel, swimsuits, SPF, and more.)

Consumer buying habits shift year-over-year. The ideal “marketing strategy” for ecommerce brands must adapt to meet these changes. Brands are discounting less, decreasing their paid ad spend and doubling down on owned channels like SMS.

In this piece, we’ve created a roundup of stand-out Memorial Day SMS strategies, promotion types, and advice to help retailers make the most of this holiday.

Memorial Day 2020: Original Data & Recap

When planning out your holiday campaigns, you should take a look at what happened last year. Here are some metrics pulled from brands using Postscript.

Memorial Day is not a gift-giving holiday that requires subscribers to purchase in advance so that items can be shipped in time for the holiday. Instead, in 2020 most campaigns and promotions related to Memorial Day were sent out during the long weekend itself and offered special discounts in celebration of the holiday.

The volume of text message marketing campaigns sent was slightly higher (2.8x) on Memorial Day compared to other Mondays in the month surrounding Memorial Day. The majority of campaigns (36%) were sent on Memorial Day 2020. 17% were sent on Friday before the long holiday weekend, and the rest were sent on other days.

The revenue generated from campaigns sent on Memorial Day Monday was 2.1x higher than the average revenue generated from campaigns sent on Mondays in the month surrounding Memorial Day.

The fact that the revenue generated didn’t scale with the number of messages sent on Memorial Day implies a lower average EPM (earnings per message) compared to the typical Monday campaign, but this actually makes sense. Many brands sent full-list campaigns on the Memorial Day holiday (including to subscribers who may be disengaged or unlikely to purchase), which tends to lower EPM compared to typical campaign sends segmented to target high-value subscribers. A quick way to combat this is to segment your list, which will decrease the amount of credits you use and results in better earnings for you.

The top-used emojis in Memorial Day campaigns from 2020 were:
😍, ❤, 👇, ➡, 👉, 🎉, 🙌, 🖤, 😎, 😉, and 💙

Usage of the sun emoji ☀️ was also trending upward in the Memorial Day campaigns compared to its usage in the earlier months of 2020 — which makes sense for more “start of summer”-themed campaigns.

3 Expert Tips For Your Memorial Day 2021 SMS Strategy

1. Consider whether it applies to your audience.

As mentioned earlier, customers are very accustomed to discount schedules, but consider if it really fits into your SMS marketing strategy or if it feels forced.

“Should the brand even do it? Too many brands just limp from one stat holiday promo with a discount to the next. Customers get trained to wait for these. Not all brands need to do a marketing campaign just because a holiday is coming up.” — Duane Brown, Founder, TakeSomeRisk.com

2. Be empathetic.

Memorial Day is about honoring those who died while serving in the US military. It might not be the best time for marketers to crowd customers with promotions, especially in a sensitive channel like SMS.

“My advice to brands is simple: remember that Memorial Day is a somber occasion to celebrate selflessness, sacrifices, and bravery. It’s not about BBQs, the start of summer, or parties.” – Brad Hoos, Chief Growth Officer, The Outloud Group

Below is a great example from Veteran-owned Postscript brand Redline Steel. They honor the holiday and make it applicable to their brand.

3. Consider a charity.

Customers may feel more comfortable contributing their money to a Memorial Day that has a humanitarian or philanthropic component, especially during a day of remembrance.

“Instead of running a promo, select a relevant charitable partner and run a % of sales are donated to the partner. If you are going to run a promo, run it earlier (start on like Wednesday) to get ahead of the promo overload everyone is going to get over the Memorial Day weekend.” — Jeremy Horowitz, Host, Messenger Mastermind

Brand Spotlight: Wander Club

Wander Club offers personalized and collectible travel memory keepsakes. Sourced with ethical and sustainable materials, The Wander Club’s token and token holders are the perfect gift for wanderers.

We sat down with Kenny Azama, The Wander Club founder, to hear about their plans for Memorial Day.

How are your Memorial Day strategies shifting from 2020 to 2021?

Instead of the usual Memorial Day discount that we’ve done in the past, we wanted to kick off the summer by giving away Wander Club branded insulated water bottles with every $75+ order! These are high quality — like Swell bottles — so our customers are going to be excited to get their hands on these.

What role does SMS play in your Memorial Day strategy this year?

We’ll be sending a campaign to all of our subscribers (minus recent purchasers) and then a promo-ending reminder a few days later to our most engaged subscribers. This way we’re not bothering uninterested folks with a reminder text message.

What types of Memorial Day promotions are you running and why?

Giving a discount for every holiday was getting boring for our customers and boring for us. So we’re making a conscious effort in 2021 and beyond to think outside the box! We mix into our calendar Spend X, Get Y promos, travel giveaway promos, free monogram promos, etc. Something to keep our community interested and on their toes

Memorial Day: 5 Types of Memorial Day SMS Messages

As a brand, one of your first decisions to make in any holiday SMS marketing campaign strategy is what you want your offer to be.

This could be based on a number of factors — like what products are popular during the summer season, what inventory you need to discount, what new products you’re offering, and more.

Here are some of the most common SMS campaigns sent by brands during Memorial Day 2020.

1. Early access.

This example from ACTA keeps it simple – offering Ambassadors (their frequent shoppers) access to the Memorial Day sale first. This creates exclusivity and makes loyal customers act quickly since the promotion ends at Midnight.

Creating a segment of frequent shoppers like Ambassadors is easy to do and yields a higher CTR (click through rate) and EPM (earning per message) since the audience is already bought into your brand. To create this segment, simply decide how many orders qualifies as a frequent shopper and create a segment in your SMS account.

2. Special releases.

In this MMS, Riffraff offers a special collection of Memorial Day themed merch. The included image clearly shows the products, and the copy is playful (“six feet apart”).

3. Special bundles.

Holidays are the perfect time to offer a limited-time or limited-quality bundle of items, like this example from Curie. Their tone and copy here are very conversational and even include a branded hashtag.

4. Discounts and promotions.

This example from Riffraff uses a GIF to explain their tiered Memorial Day discount.

This example from Sol Angeles embraced the patriotism of Memorial Day with themed colors in their promotional MMS. Notice the great emoji usage, too.

5. Gift with purchase.

Oars + Alps is well-known for their long-lasting, effective skincare and body products. Their avid following loved hearing about free hats in their 2020 Memorial Day SMS campaign.

Incorporating Memorial Day into Your Marketing Strategy

Memorial Day is often seen as a kickoff to the summer, and many brands also see it as an opportunity to announce new sales or promotions. When you’re strategizing what to do for Memorial Day 2021, think through your strategy, be intentional about your messaging (don’t crowd the channel!), and lead with empathy.

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Corinne Watson

Corinne is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Postscript. After working at an ecommerce brand straight out of college, Corinne made the roundabout journey to leading content at BigCommerce, afterwards joining the Postscript team in March of 2020. When she's not researching and writing about all-things-ecommerce, she's exploring Austin, enjoying time with her 4-month old, and not waiting for the dough to chill before putting it in the oven. Follow her on Twitter at @corinnejuliette.