Ultimate digital marketing holiday guide

7 min read
Ashliegh Gehl

You know it’s holiday time when the bells on the door of your brick-and-mortar shop keep ringing and traffic to your website is on the rise. Only after the dust settles do you realize that sales could have been better, more product could’ve been ordered and that the marketing ideas you thought about over the summer could’ve been implemented. But it doesn’t have to be this way. This handy digital marketing checklist will guide you in the right direction.

Prepare for the holidays in 6 steps

Like most retailers, you want to enter the holiday season strong and see a steady growth in sales. You want to gain new customers as you strengthen the relationships you have with your regulars.

  1. Fill up!

  2. Create a website.

  3. Refresh for the holidays.

  4. Plan your promotions.

  5. Spread the word.

  6. Make your customer service memorable.

Use our six-step guide to make this holiday season the best one yet.

Step 1: Fill up!

You wouldn’t embark on a road trip with an empty tank, so why would you enter the holiday season with low stock? Make sure you have everything you need and then some.

Electronics, home décor, entertainment, toys and holiday hosting are just some of the areas where Canadians spend a considerable amount of money during the holidays.

Order your stock early (very early). Unless you have a unique, custom-designed product that is manufactured locally, you’re going to be competing with other retailers to have the same (or similar) product in-store. If your shipment comes from overseas, it can be delayed due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances that are beyond your control. Get ahead of it, and plan your order before the end of the summer.

If this is your first time experiencing the magic of the holiday season as a business owner, here’s a checklist to help you prepare:

Do product research

Google is a wealth of knowledge for telling us what’s hot and what’s not. Your customers might be looking at trends in fashion and hot, hard-to-find toy items for the season. If you have what they want, it’ll sell. Search “top-sellers for Christmas [year]” for clues on what to order.

Real-time inventory

When your supply gets low or is out-of-stock, inventory management tools like the one built into GoDaddy Online Store will automatically alert your customers. By including a ‘notify me if/when this product becomes available’ prompt, you can keep tabs on consumer demand and reorder as necessary.

Free shipping

Holiday shoppers want to stretch their dollar, so shipping fees can make or break a purchase. Offer free shipping to stay competitive.

Market research

The best results come when you tailor your digital marketing campaign to the right people. How to find out what they want? PwC’s 2018 Canadian holiday outlook is a forecast that breaks down spending and browsing habits. Google’s report about Canadians’ holiday shopping habits is another valuable resource. Did you know boomers plan ahead and millennials hold off? These insights will inform your business marketing strategy.

Step 2: Create a website (jump to step 3 if you’ve got this)

With GoDaddy’s Website Builder, you can create a website that search engines can easily find and include in search results. You’re going to want to launch one well before the holiday season begins so Google and others have a chance to find it and start sending customers your way.

Launching a website less than six months before the holidays? Use Facebook or Google ads to help shoppers find it.

As mentioned earlier, those boomers plan their shopping. If you wait until the last minute to build your website, you’re missing out on that demographic.

Here are a few things you’ll need to do:

Not sure where to start? You can give this a read and learn how to make a website in five steps.

Step 3: Refresh for the holidays

Just as your wardrobe changes with the season, so must your website. The following touches will spruce up your site and put visitors in the mood to shop:

New descriptions

Cozy cashmere sweaters. Soft toques. Plush blankets. Keep the season in mind when writing product descriptions. Get tips here.

Jazz up your storefront

If you have a physical store, add some ornaments and greenery. In the spirit of the season, you can be minimal or over the top. The choice is yours. And then apply holiday stylings to your website.

Be responsive

We’re making purchases on our phones and tablets. You can use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test tool to make sure your main business marketing platform is easy to use on mobile devices.

Step 4: Plan your promotions

An hour spent planning now will pay off in less stress when the busy season hits.

Get your messaging ready

Boxing Day sales, special promo codes for those tardy Christmas Eve shoppers and new product teasers are just a few of the elements you’re going to need messaging for. Write your marketing and social media messages in advance.

Dashboards like Hootsuite help you schedule your posts.

Use the messaging you’ve created and incorporate it into your automated email blasts. As you’re busy serving customers, your deals and product reveals will be rolling out on their own.

Order advertising materials

Maybe it’s a big poster for the front of your store, a magnet for your car or a special online marketing campaign that involves working with a design company. Either way, factor in how much time it’ll take to create and launch your new materials. Then put it on the calendar.

Step 5. Spread the word

The key to boosting holiday sales is letting people know who you are and what you offer. These tips should help.


Use the Google Keyword Planner to find your keywords, then add them to your website in all the right places. It’ll help get your website ranked higher by search engines. Read this post to learn how to do it.

Digital ads

Launch ads on Facebook or Instagram to bring the right customers to your store.


Marketers always talk about increasing engagement with customers via social media. But communication is a two-way street. Reflect on your social practices and ask yourself: how often am I engaging with my clients? Commenting on a customer’s post, acknowledging a review and answering questions within 24-hours goes a long way.

Step 6. Make your customer service memorable

Holiday sales are competitive so you need to do everything you can to set your store apart.

Whatever you do, do it with care

Fast, speedy service is what holiday customers are looking for. From social media engagement to product purchases through your website, your customers want a consistent experience. Channel that in store charisma throughout your digital marketing. Thank your customers profusely. Show them how much it matters. This can either be done through an automated email or as a pop-up screen post-payment.

Be transparent

Let your customers know what your return policies are. If you’re in the toy business, you know how one child can receive the same gift from multiple people. Returns are inevitable. Be honest and transparent. If there are hurdles, people will complain by down-rating your service on Google or posting negative comments on your Facebook page.

Make this holiday season matter

If yours is like many small businesses, your holiday sales cushion your business during its dry spells. By focusing on business marketing and planning ahead for the holiday season, you’ll sell more and position your business for success in the year to come.