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how to increase sales with singles day marketing
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How to Increase Sales with Singles’ Day Marketing

By on October 8th, 2020 Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you’re thinking about launching your holiday sales campaign on Thanksgiving, you may want to think twice. Recent years show that Black Friday Cyber Monday is morphing into a discount-laden month where customers are resistant to pay full price for their purchases. This new norm accelerated in 2020 when the importance of online shopping increased significantly.

We’ve already talked about Q4 shopping holidays, other than BFCM, to add to your ecommerce calendar and make the most of the holiday season. This time, we want to focus on Alibaba’s Singles’ Day on November 11—a day that started as a cynical response to Valentine’s Day in China and turned into a record-breaking shopping event.

Alibaba’s gross merchandise volume on Singles’ Day from 2011 to 2019 (in billion U.S. dollars). Source: Statista

Let’s take a look at how that happened, and what Singles’ Day marketing ideas you can put to use today and increase your sales.

What is Singles’ Day?

Singles’ Day is a shopping holiday dedicated to celebrating singlehood. Created in 1993 by Nanjing University students, it was then called Bachelor’s Day. As its popularity grew among Chinese youth, the world’s ecommerce giant Alibaba adopted it as a singles’ shopping holiday in 2009. Alibaba renamed the holiday Singles’ Day because the date, 11/11, represents 4 singles.

Singles’ Day on the rise in ecommerce

The explosive growth of Alibaba’s Singles’ Day shattered sales records worldwide—from $5.8 billion in 2013 to $38.4 billion in 2019—capturing the eye of the international ecommerce industry. The rise of Singles’ Day can also be partly attributed to China’s population of 1.4 billion. It is, after all, the world’s biggest market and most populous country.

Source: Etsy, Design by AlexisCaraCastro

Singles’ Day is becoming a worldwide shopping phenomenon and there’s now a whole shopping festival revolving around it—the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival. Major retailers such as H&M, Nike, and GAP have successfully merged Singles’ Day into their end-of-the-year sales. Is it time for you to jump in on the trend too?

How did Alibaba’s Singles’ Day become such a big deal?

It all comes down to strategic planning, marketing, and sales promotion. Here’s a breakdown of Alibaba’s brand experience for Singles’ Day: 

  • Interactive and engaging shopping experience—from gamification elements to online fashion shows
  • Consistent multichannel selling and omnichannel marketing
  • Virtual reality experiences for customers—from interactive games to lucky draws
  • High quality and affordability in products
  • Mobile-first and in-app coupons
  • Customer loyalty program with the chance to earn rewards, credits, and free gifts

Alibaba’s Singles’ Day also combines shopping with entertainment—shoppertainment—and celebrity appearances. In 2019, Kim Kardashian promoted her signature fragrances in a TMall livestream, and Taylor Swift performed onstage during the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival.

5 Singles’ Day marketing ideas to increase sales

Most business owners probably can’t get A-list celebrities to promote 11/11 sales, but there are plenty of other strategies you can use to make the most of this global shopping day. Let’s go over some Singles’ Day marketing ideas!

1. Create an email discount campaign

Americans check their phones 96 times a day on average because nobody can resist the temptation to check that new notification, so sending a thought-out email campaign is a great way to spread the word and reach your audience. According to HubSpot, 73% of millennials actually prefer communications from businesses to come via email

The most effective way to catch your audience’s attention on email is to create a sense of urgency with a campaign, e.g. a flash sale. You can also reward your customers with a Singles’ Day coupon code. On November 11, most international brands offer 11% off. 

Aside from product discounts, some brands offer free shipping as well. Our suggestion? As a gift to your customers, you can offer both discounts and free shipping to ensure customer satisfaction. A study by NRF revealed that more online shoppers expect free shipping, so it’s a great marketing tool to boost customer loyalty. Not only does it lead to reduced cart abandonment, but also to increased sales.

Examples of Singles’ Day deals offered by well-known brands
Sources: Milled, Edited, Aldo

If you’re doing drop shipping, make sure to frequently check with your provider about the stock availability and shipping estimates.

2. Launch products that promote self-love

This shopping holiday is the perfect occasion for self-gifting, a trend that’s on the rise among Millennials and Gen Z. Daniel Zhang, the CEO of Alibaba Group, confirms that 46% of 11/11 sales in 2018 came from customers born in the 1990s and later. Why not follow suit and offer your customers products promoting self-love? 

A recent survey revealed that the most popular Singles’ Day product category is apparel, followed by accessories. As far as self-love goes, no accessory expresses it more intimately than jewelry. Use the opportunity to launch a limited edition jewelry line! Take your jewelry to the next level by making it customizable for your customers with Printful’s personalization tool. For example, you could offer customers to have their names engraved as part of the design.

3. Boost social media engagement

Prepare your store for a Singles’ Day sale by engaging your social media followers. 80% of marketers use pictures in their social media marketing, so go heavy on the visuals, and don’t be afraid to use a little humor!

A few ideas for what you can create to gain more exposure for your business:

  • Infographics with interesting facts about the importance of self-love (infographics can increase web traffic by up to 12%)
  • Memes with puns or funny gifs related to singlehood or bachelorhood
  • Images that showcase your upcoming Singles’ Day products
  • Videos with relatable humor about being single vs being taken or treating yourself
  • Behind-the-scenes or personal, genuine content (images, blog posts, or vlogs)
visual processing stats

Another way to increase brand awareness and social media engagement is to create a branded hashtag. This also shows you’re part of a movement. Encourage your followers to use your hashtags and offer them something in exchange, like a chance to get featured on your accounts.

Aside from Alibaba’s Singles’ Day on November 11 which was originally a Chinese shopping day, there’s also the National Single Day (September 22) and Single’s Awareness Day (February 15) in the US. Both these dates also raise awareness on singlehood, but we suggested picking one for your marketing calendar.

4. Create a personalized shopping experience 

Alibaba has taken it to the next level with gamification. Gone are the days when customers would just wait for a sale to buy something—now they take part in highly immersive shopping activities. Online retailers often use games to enrich the shopping experience or quizzes to generate sales leads—just look at BuzzFeed’s success! The popularity of this viral news site went through the roof when they started adding shareable quizzes to their content. You, too, can do something similar. 

Here are a few ways to make Singles’ Day fun for your customers: 

  • Free quizzes. Topic suggestions: “Are you a holiday shopaholic?”, “Find the perfect Singles’ Day gift for yourself!” Use free tools such as Interact or PlayBuzz to create quizzes for your website or social media.
  • Instagram or Facebook Polls. Topic suggestions: “What’s the biggest shopping holiday in China?”, “Which product do you think will be a Singles’ Day bestseller?”, “What Singles’ Day deals would you like to see?”
  • Surveys. Topic suggestions: “Which new products would you like to see in our Singles’ Day collection?”, “What’s the best Singles’ Day gift you’ve given yourself?” Use free tools such as SurveyMonkey or SurveyPlanet to create a survey and share it online with your customers.
Topshop’s Style Quiz on their website

    5.  Livestream your Singles’ Day sale launch

Depending on your audience, you can build up suspense and hype by livestreaming with Facebook Live. In Q2 of 2020, Facebook reported 2.7 billion monthly active users, which makes it a great platform for extending your organic reach.

Aware of the potential, many ecommerce businesses use Facebook Live to boost sales and attract new customers. The best part? It’s cost-effective and easy to use—no production or editing skills required.

A few things you can livestream:

  • Countdown to a Singles’ Day sale
  • Launch event or new product announcement 
  • Exclusive sneak peek of an upcoming Singles’ Day collection
  • Singles’ Day Q&A or a discussion about the content you’ve shared (e.g., infographics, videos, posts, quizzes) to encourage feedback from your followers

Before you livestream, post reminders of the event so people won’t miss it! 

As an alternative to Facebook Live, you can also amp up your Instagram Stories on the day of the launch or use Instagram Live.

Time to start promoting

Last, but not least—start promoting early. Timing is everything when it comes to marketing, so it’s a good idea to get a head start and prepare your store for Singles’ Day. To learn more about how to create an actionable holiday marketing plan, head over to our blog on jumpstarting your holiday preparations.
While preparing your Singles’ Day marketing plan, take a quick look at the top trending Printful products in 2020 to see what sells. Good luck!

When Susanna isn't writing, she's either brushing up on her Sanskrit language skills, sharing Estonian jokes about Latvians or daydreaming about her next trip to India.

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  1. Summit Johnson

    Susanna great great content! I’m definitely going to implement these ideas for singles’ day!!!! Thank you Thank you!

  2. Sean Brown

    This is amazing, I like how structured the information is. If I were looking for a direction to follow here it is. I have a lot to learn and this will help me figure out a way to do the all year long.

  3. Charles

    Hi Guys ! Great piece of content.
    Do you have one similar about the global marketing campaigns ran in APAC, 9.9 10.10 11.11 & 12.12
    To have kind of an overview
    Cheers

    1. Alise Zindiga

      Hey, thanks for the support! Currently we don’t have such article available, however, thank you for the idea!

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