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23 September 2022 • Guides

Holiday marketing: Guide with tips, ideas, & examples of successful campaigns

Holiday marketing: Guide with tips, ideas, & examples of successful campaigns

Regardless of the size of your ecommerce business, the holiday season is likely going to demand your full attention. As internet shopping becomes increasingly popular, more and more consumers are heading to the internet for their holiday purchases. 

But with so much competition on the web, how can you be sure to catch the eye of shoppers to take advantage of this? Having a powerful marketing approach in place can encourage your current customers to return to buy presents for their loved ones and attract new visitors to your site. 

Whether you’re completely new to holiday marketing or are looking to develop your current strategy, this article will help guide you on the path to launching festive campaigns that convert!

Why is holiday marketing important?

christmas gifts shopping cart

Great holiday marketing requires a good deal of planning and effort. It’s the busiest time of year for many e-merchants, and many breathe a sigh of relief once the rush has dissipated. 

Despite the extra challenges that this period can bring, it’s definitely worth investing in a carefully crafted ecommerce marketing plan. Here are just a few reasons why it’s important for your business to engage in holiday marketing. 

More demand

Compared to other periods, the holiday season tends to see a significant increase in demand for goods and services, both online and offline. This is due to the fact that shoppers are on the lookout for items not just for themselves but also for others

Greater demand during the holiday season means that consumers may need a lot less convincing to click “Buy now” on your ecommerce site than during other periods. It’s therefore the perfect time to work on generating more sales from your current customers and new customers alike!

Greater sense of urgency 

While people enjoy celebrations and give gifts all throughout the year, the November–December period is definitely the most intense in terms of consumers’ buying activity. There’s more pressure to purchase by a certain date, leading to escalated urgency for many shoppers. 

Because buyers are more frequently in a rush during the holiday season, they’re more likely to buy items that they’d previously hesitated on earlier. Furthermore, there’s a better chance that they’ll make impulse purchases if your marketing campaign catches them at the right moment. 

Opportunity to upgrade your marketing efforts

It’s no secret that things get pretty hectic for most store owners when the holidays roll around, regardless of what they sell. Whether you’re completely new to ecommerce or a seasoned pro, you may very well find the holiday season to be one of the more challenging times of the year, in large part due to the boost in brand competition during this period.

With so many options available to them, consumers are becoming increasingly demanding in terms of which businesses they choose to buy from when doing any purchasing throughout the holiday period. They expect a stellar customer experience and want to be “wowed” by brands. For these reasons, this period is perfect for sharpening your marketing skills and perfecting your strategy! 

Holiday marketing tips

cyber monday sale

Although the exact path to success regarding holiday marketing can vary from store to store, there are a few tactics that should prove effective for any ecommerce entrepreneur, regardless of what they sell. Here is some helpful advice to consider implementing into your future campaigns!

1. When in doubt, keep things simple

As you brainstorm how to gain customers online, it can be tempting to attempt to craft the most elaborate, mind-blowing campaign the world has ever seen. Slow down, though…

If you’re just starting out in the exciting world of ecommerce, it’s best to take a simple approach when it comes to your holiday marketing efforts. In fact, even many of the more established companies tend to stick with tried-and-true methods during this season. 

You’ve probably already done quite a bit of research to determine the most effective promotion tactics and messaging for your business for previous marketing efforts. It would be a shame to throw all that out the window during what may likely be your most important sales period!

Your customers are going to be accustomed to a certain experience with your brand, and it’s a good idea to not stray too far from this strategy all of a sudden. However, don’t feel like you can’t experiment at all with your holiday marketing—just aim to allow plenty of time for testing to increase your chances of success.

2. Take advantage of personalization

With competition increasing for shoppers’ dollars during the holiday season, generic marketing messages just won’t cut it. You’ll need to find a way to connect with your ideal customer on a deeper level. Personalization can allow you to more easily draw the attention of consumers and boost engagement.

To optimize your personalization efforts, the best technique is to collect as much useful data on users as possible throughout the year. By the time the holidays arrive, you’ll be able to use this detailed info to your full advantage!

Create engaging campaigns based on customers’ interests and past purchases. Make sure that you’re also adding subscribers’ first names to your email newsletters, as this is an easy tactic to catch the reader’s eye.

3. Plan in advance and prioritize organization

In order to give your holiday marketing the greatest chance of success, planning ahead and staying organized throughout the process are essential. Because the holiday season isn’t until the end of the year, it can be hard to imagine strategizing for this period when the days are still warm (or cold for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere). Nevertheless, waiting until the last minute can leave your business far behind the competition!

It’s also a good idea to keep in mind that many people commence their holiday purchasing well before the actual celebrations come around. In a September 2021 study by Statista that surveyed consumers in the US, 43% of respondents stated that they’d probably begin buying holiday gifts before the end of October, while only 12% would start in December.

To ensure optimal results, allow yourself plenty of time to outline your plan. Start by determining the celebrations you’d like to concentrate your efforts on and then work on your timeline and the methods you want to incorporate. From there, you can develop the messaging that you’ll employ for each channel and create your schedule for when you aim to send your marketing emails, share posts on social platforms, and run ads.

Depending on your target audience, the biggest dates for holiday buying can vary. However, here are several that you may want to note for 2022, as they may be important for your store:

  • Thanksgiving (US): November 24
  • Black Friday: November 25
  • Small Business Saturday: November 26
  • Cyber Monday: November 28
  • Giving Tuesday: November 29
  • Green Monday: December 12

4. Use the channels most relevant to your target market

As an ecommerce entrepreneur, you probably stay quite busy with managing your web store, especially if you’re running a solo operation. As the holidays approach, however, this busyness is likely to only increase. Also keep in mind that the holiday season can be very hectic for your customers as well, so you may not have as many opportunities to catch their attention!

If your resources are limited when you begin planning your holiday marketing approach, you’ll want to be sure to leverage the channels that your ideal buyer is most likely to appreciate. By examining data from past campaigns and researching the behavior and preferences of your target market, you’ll be able to better understand which avenues are going to be the most effective for your holiday marketing.

For instance, if you have a lot of engagement with followers on TikTok or Instagram, you’ll definitely want to share festive posts on those networks. Perhaps your email newsletters tend to have great open rates; in this case, aim to focus your efforts on email marketing during the holiday season.

More than likely, though, your approach is going to entail a variety of tactics to encourage current and potential customers alike to shop on your ecommerce site. If your budget allows, consider also implementing paid marketing methods to reach an even larger audience.  

5. Stay reactive and adaptable

Even if your ecommerce business has yet to experience the excitement of the holiday season, you’ve probably gathered by now that this period can be a little crazy for retailers. It’s therefore essential that you and your team (if you have one) are ready to quickly fix any problem that may transpire. Delayed solutions for issues involving any aspect of your business, be it your website, Google Ads, or your social media pages, can rapidly frustrate shoppers and lead to lost sales.

In addition, it’s important to be adaptable when it comes to your holiday marketing. If you find, for example, that your Facebook ads aren’t doing as well as you’d hoped, don’t throw in the towel just yet! You might do some testing to see how to improve the specific ad or move your advertising to a different network that may be more frequented by your buyer persona.

6. Create compelling offers

Standing out from the competition is crucial to being able to get customers in ecommerce, regardless of the season. That being said, it’s even more important to catch the attention of consumers during the holidays, as competition is generally much higher. 

Creating compelling offers that shoppers just can’t resist is a stellar method for earning the business of new customers as well as new sales from current customers throughout the holiday season and beyond!

The trick is going to be providing amazing incentives for people to purchase from your store without discounting your products so low that they view your brand as one that lacks value. While they might very well buy the discounted item now, they may decide not to return for future purchases. 

7. Up your content marketing game

Although the popularity of shopping on the internet has significantly increased in recent years, holiday marketing is certainly nothing new. Consumers frequently see the same types of tactics and may get bored if you opt to only use traditional marketing methods.

Consider instead taking advantage of a different kind of strategy that’s beginning to become increasingly popular with e-merchants everywhere: content marketing, a must-have on any ecommerce marketing checklist! With this marketing approach, you’ll concentrate on supplying your audience with high-quality content that serves to assist them by solving a problem or providing new knowledge. This differs from more traditional techniques that tend to be more aimed toward product promotion.

Using different types of content marketing, such as blog posts, social media posts, infographics, ebooks, etc., you’ll be able to boost consumers’ trust in your brand, which makes them more likely to turn to your store when they need to buy a product you sell. What’s more, optimizing your content for SEO can help to improve your rankings on Google and therefore attract more visitors to your website!

8. Expand your strategy to include other festivities

While it’s true that most of your efforts concerning holiday marketing will likely involve end-of-the-year events, there’s nothing stopping you from utilizing other holidays too!

You might, for instance, design a campaign for a well-known celebration like Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, April Fool’s Day, Easter, Halloween, etc. Another option is to focus on special dates that shoppers may not be as aware of, such as International Thank-You Day (January 11), World Penguin Day (April 25), or International Yoga Day (June 21). This approach can work especially well if the holiday relates to the products that you sell.

Your ideal customer is surely going to appreciate the creativity you put into incorporating unique festivities that may not get as much attention as some of the biggies. Furthermore, you probably won’t have as much competition for these lesser known celebrations, which means that your campaigns can more easily take center stage in the eyes of consumers!

Effective holiday marketing ideas 

It’s never too early to start brainstorming for your future holiday marketing efforts. Here are several campaign ideas to inspire you.

Launch a giveaway on social media

Most people love a good giveaway, and your followers on social platforms are likely to be no exception!

Launching a giveaway or contest on social media is an excellent way to expand your reach and delight your followers at the same time. Consider giving your event a holiday twist by, for example, gifting winners with a holiday-themed product, having participants answer holiday-related trivia, or giving away two items, as in one for the winner and one for their friend to help spread the holiday cheer.

As with any giveaway or contest you host on social networks or elsewhere throughout the year, you’ll want to be sure that you clearly state the rules of the event, including what entrants must do to participate, the prize, how the winner(s) will be chosen, and the deadlines for entry. You should also detail how the winner(s) will be notified, e.g., via DM or tagged in your Stories, as well as the date that you’ll announce the winner(s).

Holiday giveaway by Briogeo and Herbivore Botanicals on Instagram 

Host a webinar or online course

Connect with your audience on a more personal level during seasonal festivities by hosting a webinar or online course that’s pertinent to what you offer on your ecommerce site. For instance, if you sell hiking backpacks, you might conduct a tutorial on how to care for your products or what to pack for winter camping trips. 

With this type of promotion, you’ll be able to teach consumers and increase their knowledge about a specific topic, simultaneously boosting their trust in your brand in the process. This can often then naturally lead to more sales for your business!

Keep in mind that even when webinars or online courses are offered free of charge, it can sometimes be difficult to get people to sign up for them. By stating that attendees will receive a gift, such as a special discount code, at the end of the event, you can make your educational offering all the more tempting.

Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating webinar by Foodsmart

Preview enticing promotions

Consumers are well aware that the holidays provide many opportunities to take advantage of amazing deals from their favorite companies. In fact, many even hold off on making purchases until major events like Black Friday arrive. Build anticipation for your own sales extravaganza by giving shoppers a preview of the event in advance.

This encourages people to begin planning their shopping early on and possibly even prioritize your business above others! Announce your sale via social networks, email, and/or your site, and if possible make it easy for users to add items to their wish lists to facilitate the buying process. 

sephora black friday preview

Sephora Black Friday preview

Send holiday-themed emails

Hopefully you already have a good email marketing plan in place, but if not, the holiday season is a great time to start! When determining what content to include in your emails, remember that it should always involve what will be most appreciated by your subscribers

Say that you sell pet supplies. Your seasonal emails sent to an animal-loving audience might then include gift guides for different kinds of pets, recipes for tasty treats, advice on how to keep a Christmas tree safe from cats whose only obsession seems to be to climb it at 2 AM every night, a photo of your company’s team members’ pets wearing Christmas sweaters, etc. 

Although you won’t want to use your holiday newsletters strictly as advertising space to promote your business, they’re perfect for highlighting special discounts or seasonal goods and services that your subscribers may want to take advantage of!

asos holiday email

Holiday email by ASOS

Make a holiday video

Videos are becoming increasingly preferred over images by consumers around the world. A quick glance at social platforms proves this, with TikTok’s popularity skyrocketing and platforms like Instagram beginning to prioritize Reels over images. It’s no surprise then that videos can be used as effective marketing tools at any point, but you definitely won’t want to miss out on their power for your next festive campaign!

For many people, watching videos on YouTube is a great way to discover new brands and products to purchase for themselves or for others. In addition, you can also use your videos on social networks, on your website, or even in your emails.

Of course, before you craft your holiday video, you’ll need to determine what you hope to achieve with it. Do you want to educate customers? Highlight a product? Boost engagement? Increase brand awareness? You may very well have several goals in mind for your project.

Next, you’ll decide what type of video you’d like to make. For instance, you could tell viewers all about your latest products, demo a product’s use around the holidays, show support for your local community or a non-profit organization, wish your customers a happy holiday season, etc. Feel free to have fun and let your creativity go crazy!

Holiday video by Chewy

Create a holiday gift guide

Shopping during the holidays isn’t always filled with joy and merriment—many consumers can find this period stressful, especially when they’re having trouble deciding what to buy for their loved ones. Ease their stress by creating a gift guide that details a variety of gift ideas for shoppers to consider for their purchases throughout the season.

Note that when well crafted, this type of guide can be a powerful form of content marketing. You’ll be assisting users with gift inspiration while also promoting your business. Although you’ll of course want to include your own company’s products in the guide, don’t forget to add goods from other businesses as well. You might even opt to collaborate with other brands when creating the guide, as they’ll be able to share it with their customers and therefore expand your reach even further!    

Gift guides can be supplied in various formats. You could, for instance, offer a PDF that shoppers can download for free on your site either automatically or by providing their contact details as a way to help build your email list. 

Other brands opt to offer gift suggestions via video, as done by REI:

Video gift guide by REI on Instagram

Another option is to create a landing page or a special category on your website to provide gift ideas, as shown in the image below by LUSH.

lush holiday gift guide

Holiday gift guide on the LUSH website

Collaborate with a nonprofit organization

Although it’s of course wonderful to give back at any moment, many people feel even more inspired to do so during the holiday season. By collaborating with a nonprofit, you’ll be helping others and simultaneously demonstrate to your customers that you care about more than just your bottom line. 

When deciding which nonprofit to partner with, aim to find one that best matches up with your values as well as those of your target market. This can aid in strengthening your brand and show that your actions align with your messaging. If you have no idea where to begin, try searching for a local nonprofit group in your community or checking with your followers on social media to discover the groups that mean the most to them.  

Then, there are various ways that your business can collaborate with the organization. You might, for example, sponsor an event to raise awareness and money for the organization, donate a percentage of your profits from the sale of a specific product, or donate a percentage of your profits from the sale of anything available from your store when purchased on a certain date.

HOKA spotlighting a nonprofit on Instagram

Keep the momentum going with post-holiday marketing!

While the holiday season can certainly get a bit chaotic for e-retailers, it also provides a wonderful opportunity to boost awareness of your business, increase engagement, and earn more revenue. After the hecticness of this period is over, you may be tempted to let your marketing efforts fall by the wayside…

Keep in mind, though, that many consumers may have recently received gift cards and money as presents and may be looking for ways to utilize their new funds through online shopping. Others may have discovered your shop when buying gifts for their loved ones and want to return to purchase items for themselves.

Maintain the momentum you’d created with your holiday marketing by working on campaigns for the new year and beyond. This can be achieved by methods such as creating special end-of-the-year sales, utilizing the data you collected to improve your future marketing messages with segmentation, and continuing to provide high-quality content in any of your marketing strategies.

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