Making Holiday Marketing a Part of Your Year Round Strategy
The holiday season is the time of year when marketing legends are made. It’s the time when brands can capitalize on consumer spending habits and ingratiate new audiences in creative ways.
The U.S. average online holiday spending has reached over $2 billion per year, providing plenty of opportunities for marketing professionals to reach new customers.
Holiday marketing is all about timing and audience targeting. If done correctly, you can boost your Q4 revenue and end the year victoriously.
Let’s put a holiday marketing plan in place that sets your business up for late year success.
What is Holiday Marketing
Holiday marketing involves crafting campaigns across multiple digital channels to capitalize on increased consumer spending habits during the holiday season.
These campaigns are usually chock full of special offers to woo consumers and stand out from the competition. Since the holidays are the most ritualistic season for consumers, it’s vital that businesses capitalize on these popular shopping days by upgrading their marketing standards to meet the occasion.
Beefing Up Your Holiday Email Marketing Strategy
Successful holiday marketing campaigns start with the cultivation of strong customer relationships. Email marketing is one of the best vehicles for making strong connections and helping customers enter your sales funnel quickly.
With email marketing, you can build and segment your email lists around specific products and holiday offerings. You can prepare your audience several weeks prior to the big sale days so they are ready to make purchases the moment a sale begins.
Marketing is always about timing but holiday marketing takes this concept to another level of importance. If you can organize your email campaigns accordingly based around the big holidays and sales-oriented days, you will grab a leg up on the competition.
Holiday Marketing Campaign Evolution
Holiday marketing strategies evolve over time. Each year introduces new fads and methods for reaching new customers. Successful holiday marketers are aware of the latest trends in their industry and they are prepared to plan accordingly.
Holiday Marketing Success = Year-Round Success
A successful holiday marketing season can put an exclamation mark on the year, and it can position brands for a successful new year as well.
If brands are able to substantially increase revenue over the holidays, it can help them overcome lulls or down periods throughout the year.
It all comes down to preparation, and it starts with a sound holiday marketing strategy.
The Importance of a Good Holiday Marketing Strategy
Successful holiday marketing strategies are all about guiding consumers towards a decision succinctly. From October through January, everyone is bombarded by special offers, once a year sales, and other content that’s designed to trigger FOMO.
It’s a marketer’s job to cut through the chaos and deliver a digestible message that isn’t too overwhelming. Limited-time holiday promotions are meant to carry along a sense of urgency, but they should be delivered methodically. Bombarding your audience with multiple times-a-day emails will not endear them to your brand, nor will it significantly boost your bottom line during the holiday season.
Focus on your Strongest Digital Marketing Channels
There are an endless amount of digital marketing channels to choose from, so it’s important for brands to make their holiday push in the locations that make the most sense.
Think in terms of where you communicate most with your audience online. Holiday social media marketing campaigns are the way to go for many brands, especially in the ecommerce space (they are a big component of ecommerce holiday marketing strategies), but successful holiday marketing campaigns come in many varieties. Do you receive more traction from simply posting new content on your website (SEO)? Or perhaps your small business thrives from its strong Google Business Profile and 5-star Yelp reviews?
Wherever you get the most online traction, lean into those channels heavily during the holiday months. Start posting fresh content early on before getting into the busiest months.
Creating a Holiday Marketing Strategy
A strong holiday marketing strategy comes down to hitting deadlines, reaching target markets & audiences, and connecting with the right buyers at the right time.
The holiday marketing season doesn’t begin on Thanksgiving, it should begin several weeks earlier when you start teasing upcoming offers and deals with your audience.
You can utilize the time leading up to November and December to share holiday marketing slogans that will get customers into the holiday spirit and aware of your brand.
If you wait until Thanksgiving morning to start posting about “tomorrow’s Black Friday deals,” you will likely get drowned out by the competition. Pick your best digital channels during Q3 and start preparing for the end of the year ASAP.
Here are some of the biggest online sales days to be aware of this holiday season:
Remember back when the deals started at midnight after Thanksgiving Day? Not anymore. Nowadays, businesses are unleashing sales before the turkey even hits the plate. Marketers should be ready to launch campaigns as early as the start of the week.
With the demand for in-store sales gradually decreasing and the online sales space getting more popular, Black Friday campaigns are becoming a multi-day experience.
In addition to building anticipation before the day itself, brands should offer early access deals to their customers via email or through other channels. These deals can be offered on Thanksgiving or earlier in the week, and they should provide something of value to help get your audience excited for the holiday season to begin.
Small Business Saturday
One of the newer holidays on the marketing calendar, Small Business Saturday is always held on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. It was first observed in 2010 as a way to draw attention towards small and local businesses amidst a busy profits week for the large companies.
American Express was the first business to officially publicize the day, which would ultimately prompt nationwide support.
Every small business holiday marketing strategy should account for Small Business Saturday. It’s a day worth celebrating with storewide sales and local events for the whole family to enjoy.
Started as an ecommerce-specific event, Cyber Monday is like the “Black Friday” of the digital space. It takes place on the Monday following the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend and provides online retailers a chance to market their products at drastic discounts.
All online businesses should circle Cyber Monday on the calendar as a key jumping off point for their holiday marketing efforts.
Geared towards nonprofits, Giving Tuesday has become known as the day that kicks off the season of giving. Taking place after the three major commerce days, Cyber Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, this day is meant as a reprieve from the heavy spending and a time to donate to worthwhile causes.
Your holiday marketing strategy should approach Giving Tuesday with a conscientious tone. Send inspirational quotes to your social following and explain the definition of Giving Tuesday with your email list to encourage their involvement.
Coined by eBay in 2007, Green Monday is known as the biggest online sales day in the month of December. It’s become known as the ‘last chance shopping day’ before Christmas, taking place on usually the second Monday in December.
Hanukkah is another celebratory event that marketers should pay attention to. Known as the ‘festival of light,’ Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days around late November to early December.
Small businesses can include menorahs or dreidels among the holiday items positioned around their store. From a digital marketing standpoint, businesses can craft email campaigns with graphics and other visual cues to show how they are celebrating the occasion.
The day before Christmas has started to become a low-key shopping day for last minute shoppers. Some brands have started to introduce ultra-last minute deals with the hope of selling some extra inventory. Even if it won’t arrive until after Christmas, shoppers will sacrifice the timeliness in order to secure a great deal.
Christmas day is all about sending customers and prospects well-wishes for the rest of the holiday season. Through a well-crafted email or social media post, you can take a minute to wish your community a wonderful Christmas day and a Happy New Year!
New Year’s Eve
Similarly to Christmas Day, you will want to wish your audience well wishes on New Year’s Eve. You can do this across email and social media channels, and you can even add a “Happy New Year” banner on your website.
You might want to add a New Year’s Eve Times Square ball graphic in your campaign as well.
Target Markets and Audiences
Depending on the location, size of the business, and niche, there are certain targeting considerations to be made prior to launching your holiday campaigns.
For more established businesses, there’s the brand-loyal audience. These are the people who have previously purchased products from you, and will likely buy again during the holiday season.
These audiences are built based on loyalty metrics like email correspondence rates, store visits (physical or online), and time spent interacting with the website or other digital channels.
Because this audience is much more likely to respond positively to your holiday marketing campaigns, you can approach them with a more personalized message. Express gratitude for their loyalty this holiday season and provide some exclusive offers as rewards.
Small businesses who operate in a physical location can use the local community element to their advantage.
Throw a small holiday gathering at your storefront or team up with a local restaurant and coordinate a larger event. Bringing the community together is the perfect mantra for the holiday season and local businesses will benefit from catering to those who live and work around them.
Let’s face it, the holiday season is all about finding the best deals. Businesses don’t need to waste time sending discounts to shoppers who have a low lifetime value—many of them just want to buy one item and never return.
You should focus the discounts and special offers on your brand-loyal audiences. For deal-seekers, give them exactly what they came for, your cheapest offers.
Deal-seeking audiences are most active on the thriftiest days of the holiday season, i.e. Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Through proper marketing segmentation, you can build successful campaigns targeting these discount lovers on the days that they are looking for you.
The holidays pass us by quickly, so it’s important to have campaigns ready to go well in advance of the big events. Drip campaigns should be drafted and scheduled for publishing with time to spare.
Plot your holiday marketing calendar weeks ahead of time to ensure that you don’t miss any holiday social media marketing opportunities.
Organizing your calendar, determining your target audiences, and scheduling your campaigns means that all you have left to do is get the actual content in order.
This is the phase where clever, catchy holiday marketing slogans are implemented across all channels to encourage shareability. Nearly three-quarters of consumers rely on word of mouth to make purchasing decisions, so you must make your campaigns easy to share.
B2B Holiday Marketing
Most holiday marketing strategists think of the end of the year as a time for B2C businesses to thrive, but B2B brands are another demographic that could benefit from holiday campaigns.
Companies are always looking for discounts on software and useful tools to help improve their business going into the new year. Plus, some organizations have unused budgets to spend by year’s end so they could be more likely to need to buy a new product or two.
Let’s say you have a software solution for time management. You could craft a B2B holiday marketing campaign around the idea that the holidays are a busy time and decision makers deserve getting some of that time back.
Many B2B clients continually work through the holiday period, while most typical B2C clients are on vacation for a few days. This makes B2Bs highly receptive to messaging and outreach efforts from B2B holiday marketing campaigns. They will be far more likely to watch a webinar you’re putting on during the week of Christmas, especially if they think you can benefit their business in the new year.
Holiday Marketing Examples and Inspiration
Need inspiration this holiday season? Here are a few of the most popular holiday marketing examples around.
Google’s Santa Tracker
The famous “Santa Tracker” has been around for roughly a decade, and it has come a long way since its inception. In addition to including several interactive games like “Santa Selfie,” it now has a B2B component so brands can share the tracker on their own websites.
Krispy Kremes’ 12 Days of Donuts
The donut maker placed its own twist on the 12 Days of Christmas, with a new special donut for each day. They came complete with unique packaging and coupons to encourage Krispy Kreme lovers to celebrate the season with them.
Target’s My Kind of Holiday
In an effort to personalize the shopping experience, Target crafted a holiday shopping campaign that offered special discounts on products that certain customers wanted. This campaign was launched across the brand’s social channels to make it easy for people to find and be a part of.
Small Business Saturday by American Express
As we said earlier, American Express started the tradition of Small Business Saturday back in 2010 when the credit card company aimed to launch a small business version of Black Friday. What started as a creative holiday marketing idea aimed at an underserved audience turned into a nationwide annual ritual.
BarkPost’s Yappy Thanksgiving Eve
For people who love their dogs, BarkPost delivered. The brand released a holiday marketing campaign in the form of a Thanksgiving-themed guide, detailing how owners can better include their puppies in day-to-day activities. The guide came with holiday-specific videos and illustrations to entice their email list and make them want to click through to product offers.
HBO NOW’s 12 Days
Similar to Krispy Kreme’s campaign, HBO NOW took a similar strategy by allowing customers to gift 12 episodes to their non-subscriber friends. The 12 Days of HBO NOW encouraged more people to sign up for the service and share it with even more friends.
Macy’s “Wishes Across America”
The most famous retailer in America ran a collaboration with the Make-A-Wish foundation in 2016 to grant wishes to kids across the nation. This campaign urged children to write letters to Santa, bringing the brand back to its Miracle on 34th Street roots.
Barbour UK’s Paddington Bear
The UK brand released a holiday campaign celebrating 100 years of giving the “gift of kindness,” with the famous Paddington Bear. In their Twitter post they encouraged people to “share our Christmas film and discover all things Paddington.”
Holiday Marketing Tips for a Successful Season
There’s no better feeling than closing the year strong with a successful holiday marketing campaign. With the right planning, your brand can capitalize on the season and deliver some amazing Q4 numbers.
Start your holiday marketing strategy off right by picking your best digital channels, then set your creativity free.
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