When talking about digital marketing strategy, not all months are created equal. The holiday season - from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day - can be the land of opportunities for marketers, whether they’re looking to increase brand awareness, drive sales, or strengthen the connection with their customers.
In the business-to-consumer world, the potential is unequivocal, with consumers relying more and more on digital channels to get them through the chaotic shopping season. However, in the business-to-business space, it may be more difficult to establish a meaningful connection and incorporate a holiday theme into your marketing activities.
Regardless if you are a seasoned “holiday marketer” or just starting out, this guide will help you to drive your digital marketing efforts and make sure you don’t miss out on the potential holiday goldmine.
Lay the foundation with lessons learned from last year, and assessing the marketing activities of both your online and offline competitors. From there, identify the marketing efforts and enhancements that best fit your business model and brand - you don’t have to do everything to drive results.
Delve into analytics data from past years to understand what drove the best results. Leverage as many different channels as possible, including social media networks such as Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram, to help gauge what’s popular and help plan your promotions.
Don’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to predicting your customers’ behaviors!
Design and visual cues make all the difference in holiday marketing. Ensure your websites, social profiles, emails and other digital channels are aligned and have a consistent, festive look and feel.
Theming a website for the holiday season is even more important if you have an ecommerce site. An engaging theme gets shoppers into the holiday spirit and ultimately helps turn casual browsers into buying customers.
Applying UX best practices such as combining the use of white space with a card-based design help users to quickly make sense of the information presented.
Regarding colors, striking contrasts naturally guide visitors’ eyes to what’s important on each page. The season’s color red is also known to grab attention and create a sense of urgency, so it can be especially effective for call to action buttons, special timed offers or last-minute deals announcements.
If you prefer to stick to a quick seasonal make-over, a themed background image or a top banner with a festive message might be just what you need for your website. Take advantage of your navigation menus to promote specific products you want to highlight. These are easy and safe ways to let your visitors clearly know you’re holiday-ready.
If you don’t want to splurge your budget, there are great and low cost image libraries available online. Find a set that matches your brand’s identity and personality, and have fun applying these tips to your website!
Adding a festive touch to your content can give your brand a friendly personality, but it can be tricky to capture the magic of the season without making people suspicious of its commercial nature.
The secret to customizing your content and making it memorable is finding a point of synergy between your business and the emotive aspects of the holidays. Strike the right balance of informative and entertaining elements, even with novelty formats such as gamification, and your festive content should produce merry results.
Video has already proven to be the most successful format for digital audiences, and holiday campaigns are no exception. With so many video editing apps, it’s easy to make and has a high potential to become viral - social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined.
If you’re lost for ideas, why not take the season of giving to enhance your brand reputation? Orchestrating a joint campaign with a charity can help spread your message of goodwill with engaging content.
If you thought last year was a ‘social Christmas’ you need to step it up even more this year. Start by updating your header and profile images with your season’s chosen theme. If you want to go beyond the basics, tailor your strategy to the different social media platforms.
Use high-quality images for Instagram and Pinterest, take advantage of native videos in Facebook, and share every bit of your company’s holiday initiatives on Twitter.
If you have a broad employee network on LinkedIn, don’t miss the opportunity to amplify your reach through their personal connections. With videos still being one of the most trending content marketing assets, it’s only natural that YouTube is included in the mix.
Keep in mind your social holiday marketing doesn’t have to be overly complex to succeed. Even simple initiatives such as creating your own holidays’ hashtags or hosting a giveaway can generate high results.
Remember to keep social sharing icons on all your webpages, landing pages, emails, etc., so people can share your content on their own social profiles.
Although SEO is the most inexpensive marketing tool around, it requires plenty of lead time, thus not easily compatible with a seasonal strategy.
A good alternative is advertising through search as it gives you the opportunity to easily target people who are already actively looking to buy your products or services. The difference during the holiday season is that rivalry becomes fiercer and all the competition is just one click away.
From a PPC perspective, focus on the correct planning and budget allocation. It’s worth doing some keyword research to find out what users are actually searching for in your language, as there are variants for holiday terms.
If you’re new to digital advertising (and even if you’re not), don’t forget you need to test everything by running multiple versions of ads and tweaking to continually improve them. Analyze your results and conversions against keywords, time of day, device and other criteria to perfect your targeting.
Email marketing is probably the most used communication channel by businesses during the holiday season. With your customers’ inboxes increasingly crowded, you need to find ways to cut through the noise.
Customers still expect to get deals and promotions from their favorite brands directly in their inbox. But you can try different topics to engage your audience and promote your brand.
For example, thank your customers for their support all through the year, invite them to a holiday event or encourage them to contribute to a fundraising campaign by matching their donation or donating a percentage of sales to the same cause.
If you want to enhance your emails, try introducing video content or interactive elements. You’ll not only increase your chances of making your email noticed, but also improve conversion rates. That said, be aware that not all email providers support all these file formats.
To bring the feel of the holiday season in your emails, keep the design in line with your overall holiday brand imagery. If you do add festive decorations to your brand logo or website, ensure everything loads effectively on all devices, particularly mobile.
54% of emails are opened on smartphones or tablets, so test your emails across multiple clients!
SMS or text messages might seem like an outdated communication tool, but according to research, the likelihood of an SMS being opened is more than four times greater than the likelihood of opening a marketing email.
The fact that only 49% of marketers are said to use SMS also means more than half of your competition might not be active on this channel, giving you the chance to stand out.
Carefully considered and well-timed SMS marketing could have a big impact on your results. Not only are 98% of marketing text messages opened by consumers, but most of them are read mere minutes after they are received. This means customers could potentially be buying from you within seconds if you adopt a subtle and inviting approach.
Personalization and all the other trending best practices already mentioned for other platforms are also applicable to SMS, so plan and target accordingly.
Mobile app downloads increase 150% on Christmas Day, the most popular day for app installs during the year. So from Christmas Day onward, mobile apps have a tremendous opportunity to acquire new users.
If your app has an offer suitable for Christmas such as a new update, then it’s especially well positioned to take advantage of the Christmas rush. But be careful with the potentially high Cost Per Install.
Bear in mind the Apple App Store freeze usually occurs between December 22 and 29, which means new apps and app updates will not be accepted during this period. The App Store rankings stays static for several days, providing the lucky ones at the top of downloads some great exposure over one of the busiest weeks of the year.
To promote your app update, plan a targeted advertising campaign with different keywords for your text or search ads. Remember, your audience will be staying at home more during the holidays, so design your ad campaign accordingly.
Incorporating some of the tips we’ve covered in this ebook will get you on your way to a successful holiday season.
If you correctly position your digital marketing efforts, odds are your website traffic will increase significantly. Make sure your servers are prepared to handle the spikes in traffic - you could even consider investing in server upgrades or cloud hosting services. If your servers cannot handle the extra traffic, expect to lose customers as they experience technical issues or are placed in queues to visit your site.
Remember, if you’re investing time and money into holiday marketing, it’s worth measuring your ROI. Track all marketing activities in one place, measure their success often and compare the results to your baseline, adjusting according to what’s not working.
This holiday season, the most important goal should be to provide your customers with the best possible online experience across all your digital channels.
Whether you're a seasoned “holiday marketer” or just starting out, our free guide will help you to drive your digital marketing efforts and make the most of the holiday season.