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Your guide to holiday marketing campaigns

13 min read
Stacey Hartman

The holiday season is fast approaching and now is the time to plan your holiday marketing campaign. Competitors are already strategizing and starting their holiday marketing campaigns, shoppers are checking off the people on their lists — so it’s a good idea to be top-of-mind this holiday shopping season.

Why do you need a holiday marketing campaign?

As a small business owner, having a marketing strategy may feel like overkill. However, planning out your holiday marketing ideas can help you get ahead of the holiday rush and give you more time to spend with your loved ones.

By planning out your holiday campaign ahead of time, you can fully plan out both the content and the publishing dates and stay ahead of the usual holiday chaos.

Features of a successful holiday marketing campaign

Ready to get started on planning your marketing strategy for the holidays? Let’s go over what you’ll need to have a successful and merry holiday season:

1. Active social media accounts

The holidays are a time of year that people associate with friends, family and happy, warm feelings. Aligning your brand on social media with the positivity associated with the holiday season can help you connect with customers of all ages. Get personal and create and share social media content that will pull at your customers’ heartstrings.

If you use social media to connect with your customers on an emotional level, you’ll make them like and trust your brand. This trust will help encourage them to purchase with you instead of one of your competitors.

Here are some content ideas that will help you get ahead of the game:

  • Use Facebook to post and boost content about your team and what the holidays mean to them. That kind of content is shareable and your followers will love it.
  • Post 2-3x a day a mix of seasonal and sales-y content. Countdown to the holidays, share holiday-related tips and tricks, show off that perfect gift idea and post your deals or special holiday offerings. Be sure to use hashtags to boost visibility.
  • Use Instagram to post high-quality, holiday-themed (Bonus points for content that showcases photos of babies, families and pets!)
  • Utilize Instagram Stories or TikTok to show off behind-the-scenes content of your team getting ready for the holiday rush, decorating your shop or giving back to your community. Maybe even consider using influencers if you can swing it!

Related: Why you need to create a social media strategy now for the holidays

2. Engaging in email marketing

Social media tends to get the bulk of the attention of companies when planning a holiday campaign, but don’t neglect your email list. The holidays are a great time to get your company in front of potential customers.

So, plan to get ahead of Black Friday or Cyber Monday and send a sale email a few days early. More brands are sending out their deals ahead of the actual day to capture the attention of more holiday shoppers.

If you have several subscribers on your list who haven’t been opening your emails, you can start a re-engagement campaign with your holiday email marketing strategy. It’s a good idea to start a re-engagement campaign early and get those customers interested in your business again just in time for the holidays.

Keep providing your subscribers with promo codes, coupons and specials that they’ll want to engage with during the season. Then, assign expiration dates for those deals to create urgency.

Promotional content is great, but you can get more creative than that. Pepper in fun, engaging content to keep your subscribers’ interest throughout the season.

  • Show off your new products and services.
  • Give them early bird access to your holiday-themed events or sales.
  • Add value by providing educational resources like the best way to put lights on a tree or holiday drink recipes.
  • Be funny or sentimental. Thank them for all of their support throughout the year.
  • Send helpful to-do lists, educational resources or lists of holiday gift ideas.

Think about what you would want to receive from businesses over the holidays, then use that to inform your email marketing content.Related: Your definitive guide to holiday email marketing

3. Seamless ecommerce and in-person experience

The purpose of marketing your company and holiday advertising is to attract customers and close sales. To do that, you’ll need an attractive (and functional) website. If your company also does business in person, then you’ll want to be sure that your website and physical business are in sync. Make sure your local SEO is strong too — you want customers to find you when they search Google.

Don’t let an out-of-date website ruin your holiday marketing efforts.

It’s an almost forgone conclusion that retail stores will decorate for the holiday season, so you’ll want to make sure to also give your website some seasonal shine.

Add some festive graphics to your landing page, highlight your upcoming sales, feature a holiday gift guide, and prominently promote your seasonal wares. If you want your loyal customers to get into the holiday spirit, your website is a great place to build on that feeling.

How to plan a holiday marketing campaign

Now that you’ve got your marketing platforms active, let’s go over the steps you’ll need to take to plan your holiday marketing campaign.

Determine your promotional offers

First, you’ll want to get your promotions mapped out and solidified. Once that is set, you can then determine what type of content and imagery will work best for each. Select promotional offers that work best for your business personality and products.

Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas:

  • Promotional codes like $10 off, 10% off, or free shipping, are popular with customers, but you’ll need to determine what your offer(s) will be and how long they’ll last.
  • BOGO (buy one, get one) sales, encourage customers to buy that discounted second product that they may not have considered.
  • Bundling two or three products that have synergy at a discounted price is a great way to get customers to buy more than they may have planned. Who can resist a good deal, especially when it comes to gift-giving?
  • Contests are a great way to encourage participation and gain more visibility for your offerings. You can then have posts that include photo submissions with a holiday theme (throwback Thursday, funny mall Santa pics, childhood, favorite tree, a favorite recipe, favorite memory, etc.).
  • Giveaways are another way to gain subscribers to your lists for all your promotional activities. For example, “Sign up today to receive X” or “All orders placed on December 2 will also receive X.”
  • Charity donations offer a percentage of specific sales to your charity of choice, which can be popular among holiday shoppers in a charitable mood.

Once you have all your promotions and sales outlined, you can begin to create the content that you’ll include in these promos.

Start this process by establishing a framework for the content you are going to post and when. Then, note the associated promos and images that go along with each post.

With that information, you can begin to formulate your campaigns and their accompanying schedule.

Establish a schedule

The holiday season kicks in before Halloween, with the peak being between December 14 and 24. By starting early and posting consistently, you begin to draw your customers in with your content and promotions.

Your content can be more general at the beginning of the season, then become more specific and ramp up as there is less shopping time and a more urgent need. Also, don’t forget to schedule targeted posts for dates like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday.

When it comes to campaign content, we all know that sales hype is not as effective as content that serves the reader. Tips, how-to’s and storytelling will always convert more sales.

You may already know the perfect content to entice your audience. Just in case, though, here are a few ideas if you need help getting started:

  • Run a “Caption This” photo contest.
  • Offer product guides/tutorials.
  • Provide product safety tips.
  • Create gift guides for various audiences (men, women, children, techies, foodies, etc.).
  • Interview satisfied customers.
  • Create a printable helpful PDF checklist.
  • Create lists and “Top 10s” about your product or niche.
  • Have a photo contest that includes your products.
  • Present shopping challenges that you can solve.

Keep in mind that your customers are looking for solutions that make their life easier with a little entertainment along the way. During the holidays, we are all inundated with “buy this” and “you need that” hard sells everywhere. Put on your customer hat and think about how you can address their concerns, such as stress, time constraints, budget or gift ideas.

Don’t forget to be inclusive with your holiday visuals and messaging as well. While Christmas tends to be a heavy focus in America, it’s not the only winter holiday, so focusing on common values instead allows you to be inclusive to all.

Neutral messaging celebrates the holidays by focusing on themes like community, family, and giving back, without the use of religious messaging or symbols.

Use video as part of your holiday marketing campaign content

With platforms like TikTok looming large, video is increasingly being given higher priority by social media providers. So with video content booming, creating a series of videos is a great way to build excitement and keep customers engaged.

You can create short videos with daily themes (Customer of the Day, Product of the Day, Deal of the Day) or announcements that create anticipation build-up to a big announcement or sale. When coming up with video ideas, jot down your thoughts, what your goals are and how you are going to tackle each.

Once you have some ideas and goals, create an outline for each topic or series, so that you can remain on point. Then with your outline in hand, develop a script that you can practice within your targeted timeframe so that you don’t ramble on.

Showing your personality humanizes your content and helps customers get to know you.

People gravitate to those they like, can relate to, and feel that they can trust. Build that important trust factor and you can nurture that relationship.

Types of videos

Do you need some ideas on what types of videos will be effective?

Telling a story in a video is always a popular route and allows you to tell your visitors about your business, your passions and why you do what you do — and lets you ask them to share the same with you.

If you want to shake things up a bit, though, some other types of videos to consider include:

  • Endorsements/testimonials
  • Product how-to’s
  • Promotion-specific videos
  • Tips and tricks
  • Live Q&As
  • Whiteboard-centric videos
  • Thank-you messages
  • Facility or process tours

What if you don’t have expensive video equipment? Don’t stress about it. Your videos can be as simple as using your smartphone. There are an array of apps these days to enhance your videos and reflect your creativity.

The key here is to be genuine and to have a consistent look and feel, as this helps to solidify your brand.

Create effective visuals to support your marketing campaign

During the holidays, you’ll want to share holiday-themed graphics on social media throughout the season. Post fun quotes, announce sales or seasonal specials and share important information using your holiday visual campaign. The good news is they can be reused throughout social media posts, emails and online.

Being festive shows your customers you’re in the holiday spirit and it adds personality to your business. It’s also a smart way to humanize your brand, which will improve sales and the reputation of your brand in the long term.

Another rule of thumb for creating visuals is to develop a theme for your holiday campaign that will be woven into everything you do. A character, mascot, slogan, color scheme or style, for example.

Consistency in your holiday ad visuals will get you noticed quickly by fans and followers. This approach will allow you to build a solid, recognizable company brand as well.

Related: Designing a campaign for holiday sales with GoDaddy Studio

Keep your holiday marketing momentum in the new year

It can be tempting to ease off of the gas pedal once January hits. And, understandably, the holidays may leave small business owners feeling wiped out. However, with a bit of planning, you can keep your momentum moving your business forward through the new year.

Continue to schedule social media campaigns

Social media campaigns are another way that you can maintain momentum. Through social media, you can:

  • Highlight new products or services
  • Invite customers to events
  • Promote sales or special offers
  • Run giveaways or drawings
  • Answer questions about your products or services

On your website and in your email campaigns, you should include links to your social media channels.

Related: Planning ahead — How to create content calendars and why you need it

Retarget your customers

If you’d like to convert your holiday website traffic to repeat sales, you’ll definitely want to consider retargeting.

Retargeting allows you to reconnect with holiday visitors even if they don’t share their contact information with you. At a very simple level, retargeting works like this:

  1. You add a line of code to your website that puts a cookie on a user who visits your site. Most often, the code comes from Google, Meta, or other platforms that show ads to their users.
  2. The code creates a list of people who visit your website.
  3. You create an ad that will only show to the list of people who have visited your website.

You can implement retargeting campaigns with different services, including Meta Ads and Google Ads

Be sure to use lots of different ad formats and keep it interesting.

To build a successful retargeting campaign, you will want to follow these best practices:

  • Segment your audience by behavior, time and existing customers.
  • Set a frequency cap, so your audience doesn’t suffer from ad fatigue.
  • Rotate your ads to keep things interesting.
  • Split test to see which ad version works best.

Related: How to track user behavior with Google Analytics

Tie a bow on your holiday marketing campaign

It’s smart to plan ahead and start preparing for the holiday season as early as you can. As the holidays roll around, stock up on hot chocolate and take time to prepare your team and business. A strong holiday marketing campaign will help you stay on people’s radars before, during and after the holiday season.