It's the most wonderful time of the year--the day we've all been waiting for - Free-Shipping Day. This is the day where certain online vendors offer free shipping and guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve, and it is continually increasing in popularity amongst businesses.

Founded in 2008, Free-Shipping Day traditionally falls in the middle of December (about a week or so before Christmas), and this year Free-Shipping Day will be on December 15. Over 1000 online retailers participate in the "holiday," and have seen huge success--so much success that Free-Shipping Day has consistently ranked as one of the most profitable days in e-commerce.

But why? Consumers simply don't like shipping fees. In fact, 51% of shoppers will choose one retailer over another if free shipping is an option, according to a 2016 study by UPS. If your business isn't already participating, now is a great year to get started and test your audience. If you're looking for the best marketing strategies for getting the most traffic and pay out of this special day, you've come to the right place.

1. Set Yourself Apart with Special Offers

As you read above, a good number of e-commerce vendors participate in Free-Shipping Day, including some of the nation's largest brands. If you're a smaller retailer, you'll need to find ways to set yourself apart from the competition.

Think of special offers you can realistically execute. This could be as minimal as a small discount for customers who buy from you on Free-Shipping Day, or as substantial as an extra day of free shipping with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve. Regardless of the route you choose, you'll need an effective way of promoting your Free-Shipping Day deals (we'll get into with the strategies below).

2. Create Exposure through Social Media

Everyone and their mother (literally) have some sort of social media account, usually through Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram. On average, people will spend 5 years of their lives on social media, so the following strategies are guaranteed to get you widespread exposure. 

To start, make sure your company's social media accounts are up to snuff, so your Free-Shipping Day campaigns have the best chance at performing well.

Then, share Free-Shipping Day information and promotions directly from your company's social media account; you may even consider creating an "event" on Facebook. Friends and followers are an effective (and free) avenue for cultivating exposure and trust for your brand. Create incentives for post shares, maybe offering product discounts for those who re-post your Free-Shipping Day posts.

Finally, create some text and visual ads on your social media accounts. With the right targeting in place, you'll see high Free-Shipping Day conversion rates from those you reach on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

3. Inform & Promote Through Email Marketing

Not all of your customers will know when Free-Shipping Day is, or even what it is for that matter. Spread the word early, at least a few weeks in advance, to your email list and send periodic reminders leading up to the day.

Use those email reminders as an opportunity to promote your top-selling products and any special offers you'll be running on Free-Shipping Day. When consumers have a better idea of which products they want to buy, their path to conversion is shorter, and your path to a profit is more certain.

Email marketing is more effective when it comes to yielding conversions than promoting via social media channels. With best practices in use, you should have email recipients excited and ready to buy on Free-Shipping Day.

4. Partner with Other Sites

Even in the world of digital marketing, sharing is caring, which is why you should consider co-branding and co-marketing with other online retailers for Free-Shipping Day. The benefits of working with other vendors in e-commerce include:

  • More exposure for your company: The brands you co-brand/co-market with can promote your products and Free-Shipping Day participation to customers you may not have reached otherwise.
  • Increased credibility for your brand: The retailer(s) you partner with should reflect and endorse your company's best assets and products.
  • Larger marketing budget: This will depend on the co-branding/co-marketing terms you agree on, but a combined (and bigger) marketing budget should spell success for each vendor involved.

So, where to start? First, think of the companies you've fostered nice relationships with and then research some new retailers with products that complement your own. Suggest running a Free-Shipping Day campaign, which could include on-site promotions where your partner company advertises your products for purchase (and vis versa), or special discounts for customers who buy from both retailers on Free-Shipping Day.

Take the opportunity to run joint email and social media Free-Shipping Day campaigns as well. With an increased marketing budget and the insight you'll gain from your co-branding/co-marketing partner(s), you'll reach more people and be able to target potential customers more effectively.

By forming a symbiotic relationship with another online vendor, you'll both see increased sales on Free-Shipping Day.

5. Build a Free-Shipping Day Page

Create a separate page devoted to explaining what Free-Shipping Day is and how your company will participate. Be sure to include keywords like "free shipping," "free shipping day," "discounted shipping," and any other related words/phrases in your meta tags--it will help your Free-Shipping Day page show in organic search results, giving you a jump on the competition.

Use this page as an opportunity to promote special products and any discounts (if applicable) you want visitors to take advantage of on Free-Shipping Day. This page serves as an anchor for people to link to (off of social media, for example) and can be updated each year you participate in Free-Shipping Day. 

6. Generate Urgency with a Countdown

To boost your site visitors' curiosity and sense of urgency, create a live countdown on your website and social media channels a week or two before Free-Shipping Day. A well-designed timer will draw your customers' attention and well-written ad copy will get them to click.

Implementing the timer as an evergreen element on your website and/or Facebook event will create a sense of urgency and excitement for your customers. As the seconds count down, visitors will focus less on the rationale behind purchasing and more on taking action.