Your Ultimate Guide to Holiday Marketing

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With holidays right around the corner, marketers remain ready to pounce on the increase in organic search traffic. Holiday marketing isn’t just for content marketing, though. There are dozens of marketing channels you can focus on before and during the holiday season to optimize reach and engagement. 

Don’t know where to start? Here’s your ultimate guide to holiday marketing.

What is holiday marketing?

Holiday marketing typically entails increasing your marketing efforts before and during the holiday season to reach a wider audience and communicate exclusive deals and valuable offers. Many businesses will launch holiday-specific campaigns and utilize various channels to push their products and put them on the radar of potential customers. Since the holiday season is a hectic one, many businesses up their marketing game to keep up with their competitors and cultivate brand awareness. 

During a time when many are looking for gifts and splurging more than usual, companies have more of an opportunity to increase their revenue and drive more sales. Additionally, it’s a great time to test your company’s ability to grow and adjust; and should you run into any issues, you can identify your areas of weakness and improve your efforts in the new year.

Because many begin their holiday shopping early in the season, and there’s a sense of urgency to make purchases, it’s important for businesses to think seriously about their holiday marketing strategies months in advance and launch them before the holidays approach. Even a simple newsletter prefacing your holiday sales or a social media post announcing upcoming offers can attract eyes on your brand. 

Holiday marketing strategies to consider

Now that you know why holiday marketing is so important, here are the best holiday marketing strategies for both B2B and B2C businesses and the steps and strategies to launching a holiday marketing campaign.

Optimize your check out/contact us pages

When customers go to check out, you’ll want to make their experience as seamless as possible. 50% of e-commerce sales take place on mobile devices, so be sure to have your website equipped for mobile traffic. If you don’t have an app or page that allows for seamless purchasing, you might find many customers abandoning their carts. 

Additionally, your “contact us” page should be easy to navigate so customers can reach out should they have any questions, comments, or concerns. They should be able to clearly input their information and know when they can expect a response. To properly optimize your contact us page, you might consider testing your website’s performance using Google’s free mobile-friendly test tool

Offer rewards or free gifts

Consumers love free incentives — especially during the holiday season when they’re doing the bulk of their annual shopping. Offering rewards or free gifts for spending money will encourage customers to do business with you over other brands, which can lead to lasting relationships. Additionally, it might push buyers to splurge more than they originally intended. For instance, if you offer a free item with every $50 purchase, customers will feel more inclined to spend that $50. 

Some other rewards include free shipping, customized packaging, free memberships, and partnerships with other businesses.  Assess your client base to see what type of incentives they’d be most interested in.

Publish helpful (actionable), educational content — or relevant client testimonials

Depending on your business, you have an area of expertise you can use to your advantage when launching holiday marketing campaigns. For instance, if you’re a health foods company, you can share tips on your blog for staying healthy during the holidays, closing with a CTA for purchasing some of your products. Offering valuable information for free can be a huge attraction to customers, as they’ll begin to view you as a credible resource in your industry.

Another way to gain your customers’ trust is by publishing relevant client testimonials. Since you’ll be met with even more competition during the holiday season, sharing success stories can convince consumers you are a brand worth investing in. Reach out to your clients and ask for them to share their experiences with your business and any pictures they may have with your products.

Invest in paid advertising on search and social platforms

Good marketing involves both paid and organic advertising. By paying for ads on search and social platforms, you’ll increase your reach yet allow your efforts to show for themselves. For instance, you might not need help writing that educational blog post or publishing that informative Instagram photo and caption, but you might need assistance with getting them in front of the right audience.

If you plan on investing in paid ads, be sure you plan them in advance so your efforts and resources aren’t wasted. Additionally, make certain you offer some sort of value so customers want to stay on your page, give you a follow, or share your content with their network. 

Nurture leads and customers with custom email campaigns

Cold leads are prospective consumers who have never expressed an interest in your business before, while warm leads are those who have shown some interest. Nurturing such leads can be intimidating, as these customers typically know nothing about your products and services. However, this can be an advantage if approached the right way.

One way to reach out to leads is through custom email campaigns. Typically, you’ll want to send these campaigns only to those who have given you permission to email them, so your first step should be pushing the subscribe option through social media and other campaigns to gain as many email subscribers as possible. From there, you can create personalized campaigns geared towards your audience’s specific demographics. For instance, you can segment your email list based on age, location, interests, etc. and create customized emails for each, mentioning any exclusive deals and promotions, pushing educational content, and encouraging them to “act now” by making a purchase.

Take advantage of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday all happen within the same seven-day timeframe — the perfect time to run sales and push your advertising. Here’s a quick recap of each:

    • Black Friday: The day after Thanksgiving when most stores give their greatest discounts of the year to in-person shoppers.
    • Small Business Saturday: The Saturday after Thanksgiving encourages shoppers to support local and national small businesses for their holiday shopping. These businesses typically have discounts on this day.
    • Cyber Monday: Online realtors, such as Amazon and Walmart, give their biggest discounts the Monday after Thanksgiving.

While these deals fall on specific days, realtors usually carry out their promotions for the entire holiday weekend. Be sure to communicate your promotions and deals in advance, however, so your customers know what to expect and can shop accordingly. 

Launching your holiday marketing campaign

Here are some step-by-step instructions to launching your holiday marketing campaign:

    1. Start brainstorming early. When it comes to holiday marketing, it’s never too early to get started. In fact, you’ll want to begin identifying your goals for your campaign, defining your target audience, brainstorming different theme ideas, and planning your special deals and promotions far in advance (as early as late summer/early autumn), so you’re fully prepared when your launch date approaches.
    2. Map out your content calendar. Once you understand what you’d like to achieve via your holiday marketing campaign, and when you would like to get started, you should create a content calendar to record deadlines for drafting, writing, editing, and — finally — launching your content (this includes teaser posts as well). Since a holiday marketing campaign typically entails multiple channels, from your website blog to your Instagram page, you might find yourself working on multiple projects at once (like an email newsletter with exclusive content and deals, social media posts announcing flash sales, etc.). It’s important to map out the entire planning process (from start to launch) in your calendar for reference — especially if you have various teams working on various projects.
    3. Outline your offers. Be sure to get specific about your offers, as these incentives are what will drive your audience to invest in your business above others. Brainstorm different ideas with your team, like exclusive rewards or sales (BOGO deals, free shipping, etc.) so you can properly communicate them to potential buyers. 
    4. Take the campaign live. Once all the pieces are in place, and every channel is ready for publishing, it’s time to take your campaign live. This can include publishing blog posts, sending out your email newsletters, posting social content, and more. 
    5. Nurture your leads. Your holiday marketing campaign might benefit you during the holiday season, but it can also attract loyal customers to your business. To nurture the leads you get from your campaign, you’ll want to continue engaging them with additional marketing efforts and content, and provide reasons for them to keep coming back. 

Holiday marketing mistakes to avoid

Reusing old content

During the holidays, your followers are looking forward to fresh, fun content centered around the spirit of the season. It’s easy to get lost in the busyness of the holidays and throw in the towel by reusing old content from last year or neglecting to update your content to be more holiday friendly. To mitigate this, get your marketing plan together early on and set publishing dates to fall right on time. If you’re looking for inspiration, take a look at holiday motifs and other businesses’ holiday campaigns to get ideas. These motifs will be utilized relentlessly during the holiday season, however, the key is to find your business’s unique spin without simply recycling the same sayings and themes.

Ignoring every marketing channel but one

Many businesses have a main platform where they share their content and tend to avoid or only sparsely post to other channels. Whether it’s social media, emails, or in-person advertising, each marketing channel has its own benefits for the holiday season. For example, email newsletters are a great way to spread the holiday cheer and advertise your business’s products or services. In fact, a HubSpot study shows that in the last 12 months, 78% of marketers have noticed an increase in email engagement. Explore all the options your team has to utilize and leverage each of your business’s platforms to see where your followers will be the most engaged. 

Not optimizing your site for a good user experience

Mobile devices are one of the main ways that customers will be consuming their holiday marketing this season. One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is neglecting to optimize their website to work functionally with mobile devices. Additionally, there may be bugs on your website or lagging functionality that users will notice. This incompatibility could cause potential customers to take their business elsewhere to avoid wrestling with your website. Work with your website developer to ensure your site is ready for those holiday orders and a potential influx of users as the season ramps up. 

Planning late

There’s nothing worse than planning a killer holiday marketing campaign and falling just short of getting it all finished in time. If you decide to plan your email content the day before it’s launched, for example, your customers may have already decided they’re taking their business elsewhere before your email finds its way in their inboxes. As mentioned above, make sure you’re planning your holiday marketing campaign at least by the end of October to give you plenty of wiggle room. 

Trying to push sales

Centering your holiday marketing campaign all around making sales comes down to not being genuinely interested in solving your customers’ holiday needs. In fact, customers do notice when your efforts aren’t authentic, especially during the holiday season. Many consumers are focused on holiday discounts and it’s not the time to overdo it on the insistent sales pitches during the season of giving. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes this holiday season and think about what you would like to have from your business that can make their lives easier.

Unique holiday marketing ideas

Need some inspiration to get you started? Here are some unique holiday marketing ideas to try this year.

Give back to your customers

Have some loyal customers who deserve some recognition? Find ways to reward them during the holiday season by offering them exclusive deals or creating a customer loyalty program that keeps them coming back. You can gift them with free items, run promotions specifically for them, or even just send a quick “thank you!” with early access to your holiday specials.

Host holiday-themed events

While it might not seem like a marketing strategy, hosting an event can be a great way to attract new and existing customers to your business. Get your audience in the spirit by planning a themed event, offering free samples of some of your products or gift bags including your most popular items.

Some examples of holiday-themed events include Christmas movie night, a gift-wrapping party or a “Friendsgiving” with festive dishes. When thinking up some ideas, get as creative and in-tune with your industry as possible. 

Run a holiday giveaway on social media

Social media is a great place to gain exposure, and running a giveaway will certainly award you more attention. Create a holiday-themed giveaway on a social platform like Instagram that requires participants to follow your page and share your post, so you can reach a wider audience and get even more people involved. Make sure the giveaway features your best products, so winners will want to come back to purchase more!

Publish themed content throughout the season

One of the best ways to engage with your audience throughout the holiday season is by posting content that gets them in the spirit. For instance, you can share your team’s best Halloween costumes on Instagram, create a Thanksgiving recipe blog post, or write segment-specific email newsletters with gift guides. Be sure to also incorporate CTAs for your business’s products and services!

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