Apptrust blog

Get Your Mobile Marketing Campaigns Ready for the 2020 Holiday Season

Image Credits: Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash

We hear you make a sigh of relief upon hearing that 2020 is nearly over! With many unpredictable events shaking up the industry - from the spread of Covid-19 to the rollout of Apple iOS14 - it has been a challenging year. Never before have we, mobile advertisers, had to adapt to such large-scale changes at a faster speed. Paradoxically, we have also seen an incredible rise in user growth and engagement across many verticals, due to the effects of the lockdown (take a look at our blog posts for more info). 

This means that there are tons of exciting opportunities to leverage the 2020 holiday season, as a mobile marketer. To assist you, we’ll share a trends forecast for Q4 and break the trends down into actionable steps when scaling your UA campaigns. Ready? Let’s dive in! 

Mobile User Trends Forecast for the 2020 Holiday Season 

2020 has been a year like no other, and it’s forecasted that the holiday season will be unlike any other, too. What sets it apart? Consider the following factors when planning your campaigns.

  • Holiday season started earlier and and will last longer 

Cyber Monday? More like Cyber Month. 

eCommerce giant Amazon delayed their Prime Day – their annual event delivering two days of exclusive deals – from July to October, kicking off the retail holiday season ahead of time. 

In addition, Google reports that as many as 27% of US shoppers started their holiday shopping back in August. Given that Coronavirus cases are on the rise, shoppers want to avoid public spaces, as well as their items being out of stock or being affected by shipping delays. As a result, growth in mobile shopping will be spread throughout Q4 2020, rather than focused on key calendar holiday dates. Keep in mind when planning your campaigns.

  • More mobile users shopping and spending in-app more than ever before

It’s a mobile-first world. From online shopping to video conferencing, Coronavirus has advanced mobile usage by 2 to 3 years and reshaped mobile habits globally. Therefore, Q4 2020 and the holiday season is expected to be huge for mobile apps. eCommerce will benefit. Driven by pandemic-lifestyle needs, categories like grocery, consumer electronics and home furnishings are expected to continue to drive the mobile shopping shift. In the US, eCommerce sales in 2020 will reach a level not previously expected until 2022 at $794.50 billion (eMarketer). 

But it’s not all about retail, as gaming apps also perform very well. Global app downloads and in-app spending (for in-app purchases, subscriptions, and premium apps) have reached $29.3 billion in Q3. Installs climbed to 36.5 billion across Apple’s App Store and Google Play - a hefty 32% Q/Q increase (Sensor Tower).


In 2020, more people are buying online for the first time. This boost in mobile, with the longer shopping season, will lead mobile users to spend as much as 1 Billion Hours in Shopping Apps in the US in Q4 2020 (a 50% YoY increase), App Annie forecasts. This is huge for mobile apps.

Meanwhile in APAC, Alibaba’s Singles’ Day — also referred to as 11.11 — which already broke records in 2019 with $38 billion in sales, is expected to bring in over 310 Billion CNY (over $45 billion USD), in 24 hours, making it the biggest shopping day ever (App Annie).

  • Budget-conscious consumers are on the hunt for offers and deals


Due to the Covid-19 financial crisis, shoppers are becoming savvier and seeking better deals, with online searches for “best affordable” growing 60% YoY in June 2020, and “fashion online shopping” up a staggering 600% YoY globally (Google). Fashion apps are especially popular, hoping to follow in the successful footsteps of Shein (with 12.3 million installs this year in the U.S.). Whether you are running fashion or retail performance campaigns, you can appeal to budget-conscious consumers with coupons, special offers and flash deals.

  • Food & Drink Apps Led Growth in Q2 and Q3 of 2020 and are expected to continue to outperform 

With restaurants shutting down early due to Covid-9 measures and the incoming cold season, more mobile users will be limiting contact and dining at home. As Sensor Tower reports, Food & Drinks is leading growth in eCommerce YoY, with big brands and smaller restaurants also launching their own apps. This is followed by shopping, health and fitness, games and social networking categories. 


  • Sport apps make a comeback 

To the delight of sports fans, sports apps returned to action in Q3 after delays and shutdowns due to Covid-19. Downloads in the US have now returned to near pre-Covid19 levels for top apps like ESPN and Premier League. Downloads for sports betting apps Sky Bet and William Hill also increased in Q3 YoY. With sports back on the map more people spending time at home this holiday season, the numbers are likely to continue growing. It would be wise for mobile marketers to strike the iron while it’s hot and find ways to leverage engagement.


Our Top User Acquisition Tips for the 2020 Holiday Season Campaigns

  • Do you research: How has Covid-19 affected growth in your vertical? How has user behaviour shifted? Track your competitors. Get informed and dive deep. Gather all the data before getting creative with your campaign strategy. You can revisit the impact of Coronavirus on Performance Marketing in Q1 of 2020 here. Stay tuned for our 2020 year-in-review special for more info.

  • Start spreading festive cheer as early as possible: It’s vital to connect with consumers ahead of key seasonal dates, so invest in UA and prioritize your mobile marketing campaigns as of...now. Early bird catches the worm! For example, you can already start reviewing your ASO strategy with the use of seasonal terms to maximize organic traffic to your app. 

Image Credits: Bruce Mars from StockSnap

  • Invest in creative optimization for the holiday season: Upgrade your visuals with festive creatives, either in-app, or in ads. It can be as simple as introducing some snowflakes or a Santa hat. Keep the theme and colours coherent across your different marketing channels. If done right, seasonal creatives can convert really well. Start creative testing early to see what performs well. We think it’s perfectly acceptable to go Christmas-ey right after Halloween, and are in favour of a Halloween makeover too (depending on your region and audience). In fact, always keep in mind cultural and religious differences. Don’t offend your audience by targeting them at the wrong time, so keep an overview of special dates in different regions. 

  • Use offers to keep users engaged throughout Q4: Encourage in-app spending by leveraging exclusive deals and using a sense of urgency so that users can act fast. Why not try sweepstakes and giveaways? Free shipping perhaps, or unlocking special features for a limited amount? Prolong interactions in the time between Cyber Monday and Christmas, where interest and engagement is the highest. 

  • Use special offers to reward loyalty: Don’t just focus on acquiring new users. Thank your loyal users too and show your appreciation. You could share promo codes for discounts, or to unlock special features. Use in-app messages or push notifications to share them, but don’t go overboard. Alternatively, send seasonal holiday greetings to add a personal touch. The more personalized, the better. Keep in mind that it’s not just an optimal time to build a new user base, but also to use engage with user and re-engage and retarget users who have left the app.

  • Set clear, realistic and achievable goals: It’s easy to get swept away in the end-of-year madness! Aim high, but work towards achievable KPIs. Be realistic and plan budgets accordingly. For example, keep in mind that CPIs get higher around the holidays (given the increase in ad impressions), so if you are planning for new installs and that’s your goal, ensure you have set enough budget aside. 


We wish all of you mobile marketers a successful holiday season! We hope this article will bring you a step closer to achieving your goals.

Drop as a line at partners@apptrust.io if you’re looking for further support on your mobile app campaigns. In our next blog instalment we will say au revoir 2020 by looking back at the biggest mobile highlights of the year. Stay tuned! 

Author: Elizabeth Marchetti

Industry Insights