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Inside the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Posted 1 year ago by Skimlinks

Updated July 3 2018

It is an iconic American department store and retail institution. And one of the ingredients in Nordstrom’s recipe for success is their annual Anniversary Sale. In fact, second to the holiday season, it is Nordstrom’s most important event of the year.

Thousands of products go on promotion, across dozens of categories, making it a perfect opportunity for publishers to create content and support reader purchase journeys. People love deals and the Anniversary Sale is full of them. This blog outlines what worked well for publishers last year and guidance on how to replicate that success this year:

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2018

Officially speaking this year’s sale runs July 20-August 5, but Nordstrom Reward Card Holders will gain early access on July 13.

Early access is a key period for publishers to consider. Traffic on Google Trendsand in our network peaks the day early access opens, not once the general sale begins.

Which is not to say the general sale isn’t important: There is an extremely large spike in our network (over 600% increase in clicks last year), it’s just more muted than when Early Access opens.

Nordstrom Sale 2017:

As for last year’s sale? The numbers look good. Online in particular performed well, with 20% growth in sales year-on-year (Nordstrom Q2 Results Earnings Transcript, August 2017). Women’s Fashion and Beauty emerged as the top product categories, but the sale really does cover a wealth of categories, so there should be something for everyone to write about.

Nordstrom Rewards Members should be even more important this year. Last year they drove over half of Nordstrom’s sales (51% up from 44% in 2016), so extra focus on Early Access should pay dividends for publishers (USA Today, March 2018).


As mentioned there are two major spikes in traffic. The first comes when early access begins (July 13 this year), when clicks rose 4600% in our network in 24 hours last year.

The second increase comes once the general sale begins (July 20 this year), where clicks rose 600% overnight last year. During the peaks traffic reaches over 40k clicks per day.

These spikes are the main focus of traffic and should give publishers an indication of optimum times to publish content. Google Trends and our own network data shows interest begins to pick up from the start of July. That means there is also an argument publishers can publish ahead of the sale and look to capitalise on gradual increase in search traffic.

Learnings from last year

1. Cross promotional campaigns

The best publishers last year went in on campaigns. In fact, in our analysis of top articles of the year, several articles appeared multiple times over, with different UTMs designating where publishers had used audience development teams to promote articles through email newsletters and across social media channels.

2. The generalist approach was popular

Many of last year’s top ranking pages were simple announcements focused on either early access or the end of early access. Acting in the main as news content, with SEO-friendly language in headlines and URLs, these articles typically linked simply to the homepage. Their success lies in the fact that they still claim commission for sales that result from journeys, even if the sale happens on another page within Nordstrom’s website.

3. Or something more specific, like a vertical

Besides general pages, other high performance articles picked particular verticals, such as beauty and women’s fashion, and focused on them. Featuring the keyword in the subject line and swapping products in and out throughout the sale, they were able to sustain interest throughout the season.

4. Or play to bargain-hunters

Because it turns out deal focused content also performs well. If you think about how people search for sales, they’re typically looking for good deals too, and that lends itself to content that incorporates deal or price point focused keywords (e.g. “best deals”, “best bargains) into article headlines and SEO.

5. Evergreen content has a role here too

Evergreen content isn’t just for major holidays. It can be used during the Nordstrom sale too. And some publishers saw big jumps here. A single piece of evergreen content (featuring the sale’s title as a keyword but not the year) quadrupled clicks year-on-year. So it may be worth considering how a piece of content can be reused the following year, by updating links and copy, to avoid creating brand new pieces of content each year to capitalise on traffic.

Actions to take

The sale kicks off on July 13 and from then onwards our Merchant Team will work round the clock to populate the latest (and greatest) offers in the Publisher Hub.

So login to your Skimlinks account, favourite Nordstrom as a Merchant and keep checking the offers tab for the latest promotions to include in your articles.

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