Your Ultimate Guide to Holiday Marketing

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The holidays are right around the corner, and marketers are getting ready to take advantage of the season’s greatest gift: a huge spike in online traffic and sales. With global online spending expected to hit $910 billion this season, it’s no wonder the holidays are considered the most wonderful time of the year. 

Ready to unwrap the holiday marketing secrets that will help your brand sleigh the competition? Keep reading to discover:

    • Why your company needs a holiday marketing strategy.
    • Three essential steps to take before, during, and after your holiday marketing campaign.
    • How your brand can use content marketing to turn holiday shoppers into loyal customers.

Does my brand really need a holiday marketing strategy?

For some brands, making the most of the holiday season is essential. Holiday sales alone generate more than 30% of annual revenue for retailers in key sectors such as games, jewelry, and electronics. But even if your brand isn’t selling the hottest item on everyone’s gift list, you can still take advantage of the biggest spending season of the year. 

During a time when shoppers are splurging more than usual, companies in every industry have an opportunity to grow their visibility and drive more sales. Limited-time holiday deals and events can entice shoppers to try out your product or service for the first time. In fact, 41% of holiday shoppers said they were motivated to engage with a new brand because of a discount or promotion. B2B brands also have an opportunity to capitalize on the spending season — while buyers might not be looking to cross items off of their gift list, many are looking for ways to spend their excess budget before the quarter ends. 

The holiday spending landscape is hectic, and brands without a dedicated marketing strategy risk falling behind competitors that have embraced the spirit of the season. Online holiday ad spending reached $1.8 billion last year alone, yielding major visibility gains for the brands willing to invest funds in festive initiatives. Adopting a holiday marketing strategy of your own can help your brand capitalize on the increased visibility the season brings and ensure your company remains competitive long after the turkeys have been carved and the snow has melted.

How to launch a holiday marketing campaign

The holiday season can be a magical time for brands and consumers alike, but you can’t expect to wake up one morning and discover a foolproof marketing strategy wrapped up in a big, shiny bow. The best holiday marketing plans begin well before the shopping season starts and include strategies for carrying their successes into the new year and beyond. Read on to discover three steps to take before, during, and after your holiday marketing campaign to get results worth celebrating.

3 things to do before launching your holiday marketing campaign

1. Learn from last year’s trends

When it comes to holiday marketing, it’s never too early to get started. Many brands begin analyzing holiday season search traffic as soon as the ball drops on New Year’s Day. Take a peek at your website’s Search Results Performance report in Google Search Console to find out which keywords and queries customers used last year to discover your holiday deals. Google Analytics can also help you identify your most successful holiday content based on the pages that generated the most traffic to your site. 

These performance metrics are more than just the ghosts of holidays past — they’re a blueprint for planning your marketing campaigns of holidays yet to come. Drill down a list of keywords and referral channels most likely to drive conversions for your brand, then design your content strategy around them. Mapping out this strategy in advance with a content calendar can help you capitalize on keyword seasonality and ensure you’ve gathered all necessary creative assets before the hectic nature of the holiday season sets in.

Related article: How To Create a Content Calendar

2. Tease upcoming promotions

Planning your holiday marketing efforts ahead of time enables you to generate buzz for your brand long before your customers’ social media feeds and inboxes become cluttered with messages from your competition. If you’re planning a holiday sale or promotion, teasing it in advance can help build momentum for the launch and ensure you remain at the top of customers’ minds. 

Research from Meta reveals the average American household’s holiday shopping timeline has evolved in recent years, with consumers planning and making purchases earlier than ever before. Last year, 41% of shoppers started making purchases in November, and 24% began crossing items off their list as early as October. Even if you’re saving your best deals for later in the season, launching your marketing campaign early can help you capture the attention of this growing demographic. 

3. Optimize your website and landing pages

When potential customers visit your website, you’ll want to make their experience as seamless as possible. Nearly half of all consumers will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load, and even a one-second page response delay can produce a 7% drop in conversions. Optimizing your site performance and on-page content ahead of time can help you limit the number of lost sales once the shopping season is in full swing. Ensure your website is ready to handle the holidays with these tips:

    • Reduce page load times by compressing and optimizing images, enabling browser caching, and eliminating unnecessary plugins.
    • Update landing page copy and product descriptions with high-intent seasonal keywords to boost your SEO. 
    • Test your website’s performance across devices with Google’s free mobile-friendly test tool.
    • Ensure your contact page is easy to navigate so customers can reach out with questions, comments, or concerns.

By The Numbers

According to a survey conducted by Meta, 62% of shoppers last year said they used a smartphone or tablet to make holiday purchases.

Related article: How To Use Your Website To Drive High-Quality Leads

3 things to do during your holiday marketing campaign 

1. Publish valuable content

During the holidays, every search engine results page, social media feed, and email inbox is oversaturated with advertisements encouraging shoppers to take action. With a clever content marketing strategy, your brand can rise above the noise by showing — not telling — customers what sets your brand apart from the competition.

The trick is to create helpful content that subtly showcases your brand’s own value. Consider these examples:

    • An organic food market sends a weekly email newsletter featuring healthy holiday recipes that can be made using its products.
    • A B2B SaaS brand hosts an educational webinar to demonstrate how its clients can use a new feature to optimize their own workflow during a busy holiday season. 
    • An e-commerce beauty retailer publishes holiday gift guides tailored to various segments of its target market.

The most successful holiday content marketing strategies instill trust in your audience by providing valuable information without any strings attached. Customers will choose to invest their hard-earned money in your brand not because you asked incessantly, but because you demonstrated how it will benefit them. 

Lightning Lesson

Positive reviews and client testimonials can also help brands earn a customer’s trust. Reach out to your clients and ask them to write a review for your business or encourage customers to share their own experiences with your product or service using a branded hashtag on social media.

Related article: How to Decide What Content to Create

2. Take advantage of seasonal events

The holiday season is hectic for a reason: last year alone, 179.8 million unique shoppers made purchases during the four-day stretch between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Aligning your holiday promotions with the season’s biggest shopping days can give your brand a major visibility boost, as many consumers are already planning to make purchases during this time. Here are the four biggest dates to keep in mind: 

    • Black Friday: The day after Thanksgiving, when most stores give their greatest discounts of the year to in-person and online shoppers. More than half of surveyed consumers said they made a Black Friday purchase last year.
    • Small Business Saturday: The Saturday after Thanksgiving, when shoppers are encouraged to support local and national small businesses. More than 70% of consumers said they specifically sought out opportunities to support small B2C and B2B brands when making purchasing decisions last year.
    • Cyber Monday: Online retailers give their biggest discounts the Monday after Thanksgiving. For companies with an e-commerce presence, these sales are often an extension of Black Friday promotions. Research from Adobe predicts $12 million will be spent every minute during the peak hours of Cyber Monday this year.
    • Giving Tuesday: The Tuesday after Thanksgiving, when individuals and brands alike are encouraged to set aside money for the social causes they care about. Many brands choose to donate part of their holiday profits to charities on Giving Tuesday. 

By The Numbers

84% of Americans say they are more likely to buy products or services from brands that support the social causes they care about.

3. Offer promotional deals

Everybody loves a freebie. An enticing discount, reward, or other incentives may be the factor that convinces customers to buy from your brand instead of another company. In fact, 36% of consumers surveyed by Google said they have purchased from a brand other than their preferred brand in order to take advantage of a better holiday price or deal. By embracing the tradition of holiday discounts, you’re not just nurturing brand loyalty with existing customers — you’re also expanding your reach and convincing new audiences to try your product or service for the very first time.  

Sales and promotions may also encourage buyers to splurge more than they originally intended. One study found that when presented with a coupon code or discount, consumers buy 37% more than they normally would. Another determined that two-thirds of shoppers would make a purchase if presented with a discount — even if they had not initially planned on buying anything.

To get the most mileage out of your holiday promotion, consider which incentives will offer the most value to your customers. For example, e-commerce companies benefit from offering direct savings to their customers through discounts or free shipping. B2B brands, on the other hand, may find their clients get more value out of other incentives, such as service bundling or deferred payment plans. Assess your unique target audience to pinpoint the promotions that will yield the greatest payoff for your company and your customers.

3 things to do after your holiday marketing campaign has ended

1. Nurture your new leads

A Shopify study found that for 64% of brands, customers acquired during the holiday shopping season have a lower lifetime value than customers acquired during any other time of the year. To ensure the audience you attract during the holidays continues to remain loyal to your brand, you need to give them a reason to keep coming back. 

Take steps to start building long-term relationships with the customers you’ve acquired. Here are a few strategies to consider:

    • Use sales data to upsell to a customer based on their past purchases. For example, you might recommend products that other customers who made the same purchase enjoyed or showcase premium features they could gain by upgrading to a new tier of their subscription service.
    • Personalize the shopping experience by sending buyers a custom thank you email. Behavior-based automation tools such as and Intercom can be used to send trigger-based emails, SMS messages, or push notifications, making it easier to add a personal touch to your marketing efforts.
    • Reward new and returning customers with a loyalty program. Offering discounts or free gifts with repeat purchases incentivizes your customer to come back and helps develop an affinity for your brand community.

2. Review campaign analytics

 Once the holiday hype has died down, how can you be sure your seasonal marketing efforts have paid off? Revenue may be the greatest indicator that your holiday marketing campaign was a success, but it’s only one of several key metrics worth tracking. 

Dig into Google Analytics to identify the most common customer journeys that led to a win or loss for your brand. Which touchpoints along the way led more customers to complete a purchase? Which ones were associated with higher rates of page bounces or abandoned shopping carts? Use these insights to find and fix any bumps in the road so you can exceed these benchmarks next year.

Don’t forget to also investigate the traffic that led customers to your website in the first place. Evaluate the reach and conversion rate of each unique referral source to determine which channels generated the greatest ROI. This data can help you decide where to prioritize your spending next year, especially if your budget is tight.

Related article: How to Measure the Success of Your Content Marketing

3. Repurpose your best content

The holiday shopping season may be short-lived, but that doesn’t mean you need to throw out your best content the second the snow melts. Instead of creating new landing pages every time the holidays roll back around, stash your existing content away until you need it again. You may want to update a page or product description based on new keyword research or give a gift guide a refresh to reflect your latest offerings, but there’s no need to start from scratch. In fact, you’ll earn an SEO boost for optimizing your existing assets instead of trying to rank brand-new pages each year.

This year’s user-generated content can also become next year’s campaign assets. Monitor customer reviews, testimonials, and branded hashtags and flag any content that could be used to spotlight your offerings next season. Once you’ve compiled your most promising branded and user-generated assets, you can update your calendar with fresh content and gear up for your most magical holiday marketing campaign to date.

Give your editorial team the ultimate gift this holiday season with a content marketing package from Lightning Media Partners. Each piece of content we deliver includes seasonal keyword research, a thorough quality assurance review, and a big, shiny bow on top. Book a discovery call today to learn more.

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