Introduction

Did you know that, according to NRF, online holiday spending in 2017 will increase by 12.9% compared to last year? If you want to make the most of this trend, then you'd better get your holiday marketing campaigns ready.

In this guide, we're sharing 35 actionable tips that will make your holiday marketing campaigns a success. You'll learn how to reach your audience more effectively using different channels such as social media, paid advertising, marketing automation, and more.

Inside, you'll also find 9 workflow ideas you can use for individual holidays such as Halloween, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday. Don't wait up! Get ready to end the year on a high note!

November
December

Email and marketing automation

October 31 Halloween

Keep your lists engaged and clean!

Start the holiday season with some serious holiday cleaning. Scan your email list, identify contacts who have never opened any of your emails, and send them a reactivation campaign with an incentive to make a purchase (e.g. a limited-time discount).

Wait 3 days and remove everyone who didn’t open your email. No need to feel bad about it. In this case it’s counterintuitive to think that it’s better to keep the unengaged and have a bigger list.

Leave only the engaged subscribers – you’ll improve your email marketing statistics, increase email marketing ROI, and reduce the overall cost of email marketing.

Know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice – automatically.

Use web event tracking, tagging, and lead scoring to segment your contact list efficiently.

Set up automated workflows and:

  • Find your most loyal customers and send them an exclusive offer to help them get their shopping out of the way early.
  • Search for contacts who leave your site without placing an order. Offer them a special Christmas promo and win them back!
  • See who's engaging with your communication and visiting your site. Assess the likelihood of them eventually buying from you, then score them accordingly, and target them with appropriate offers!
Create customer referral programs (holidays are about sharing!)

Do you offer great products or services? Fantastic! That means that you can prepare a holiday referral program that rewards customers and allows them to share something with their friends.

A referral program is much more than a discount coupon or a promo code. It’s designed to reward the most engaged customers and encourage them to promote your business among your target audience – the more your refer the more you get.

It might become a substantial revenue source – a way to acquire new customers, incentivize repeated purchases, and turn loyal customers into brand ambassadors.

Say thanks with an end-of-year personal email.

The holiday season is a fantastic moment to get a little more personal and show that you really care about the people on your list. Use the data you’ve carefully collected and send a personalized email that will wow your subscribers.

For example, Spotify sends emails with personalized playlists based on your favorite artists, statistics like top 5 artists, tracks, and genres, or the exact number of minutes of music you listened to.

Decide what you can do with the gathered subscriber data in order to appreciate the fact that they are with you, help them to solve a problem, inspire to take some action, or simply entertain them.

Personalize your messages using dynamic content to increase impact.

Use dynamic content to create truly personalized customer experiences. Create multiple campaigns to targeted groups of customers and present content based on their interests and preferences, e.g. use different images to display relevant products, direct prospects and customers to different CTAs, generate unique promotional codes to increase conversion.

As always, the goal is to deliver relevant, highly personalized and valuable content that engages your contacts and drives results.

Relevance is key, especially during the holiday season when everyone is flooded with messages in every possible marketing channel.

Strike a balance between sales and marketing content.

Analyze information needs across the buyer’s journey. What information do your contacts need in order to make an informed decision to buy?

Recognizing the right questions at the right stage will help you create valuable content that leads your target audience towards the purchase. Step into your customer’s shoes: what’s in it for me? Why should I choose you over the competition? When is it the right moment to buy?

This approach might be a huge differentiator – other businesses often rely only on aggressive sales campaigns, while you’re offering valuable information that converts subscribers into loyal customers.

Nurture and qualify.

Meet with the sales team and establish the criteria for a sales qualified lead. Make sure both teams agree on the moment when a subscriber becomes a lead and is ready to talk to a Business Development Executive.

With marketing automation features like scoring and tagging you can track subscriber activity from the moment they enter the workflow. Based on their activity, you can determine when a subscriber becomes a hot lead.

Focus on revenue and cost – optimize your workflows in order to increase conversion and save your sales team's precious time.

Sync online and offline.

If you run a brick-and-mortar business, you can use online marketing to reach your target audience, build awareness around your brand, and drive online traffic to your physical location.

Use geo-location data, e.g. country, region, or city in order to provide geographically relevant content and attract potential customers. Promote special offers for subscrib- ers only: private sale, promotions, workshops, etc.

Online and offline are two sides of the same coin. Both should help you achieve one goal – bring more revenue to your business.

Evaluate and collect the right data.

Ask yourself the following question: what data do I need in order to send highly relevant communication to my audience?

Sometimes it’s gender, size, and favorite fashion style. Sometimes it’s job title, size of the company, industry, and budget. The bottom line is that you need to know what information is important and what isn’t.

This way you won’t get lost in the avalanche of data available. It will be much easier to focus only on the information that allows you to establish meaningful communication with your subscribers and impacts your KPIs.

Social media

November 1-30 Movember

Use social media scheduling and monitoring tools to stay on top of everything.

Go where your audience is, no matter where that is, and engage with them there. Be part of the conversation, not just something that’s interrupting their day. You don’t even have to stay up late to have a chance to chat with them, scheduling tools will do that for you.

And how do you know where they are? Google Analytics acquisition and behavior reports are a good first step to finding them. Add social media monitoring tools and you’ll be exactly where you need to be.

Try the newest technologies.

Stay on top of the latest technologies. Chances are that your customers are already using them and that’s where you should engage them to make a true impact.

Just see how live streaming videos or Instagram Stories have quickly picked up! Maybe you could link a Facebook group to your Facebook page and engage with your audience there? There are just so many opportunities you could try out.

When doing so, remember to always use some kind of visual elements to help your content stand out from the crowd. Stunning images, videos, GIFs – they can all help you capture your customers’ attention and interest.

Don't forget about Pinterest!

Not using Pinterest for business? It doesn’t mean your customers aren’t!

Give it a try this holiday season. Pinterest pins have an incredibly long lifespan and can help you portray your products in a remarkably visual way. Whether you believe it or not, it’s also how most people buy these days – with their eyes!

When using Pinterest, remember to optimize your pin description with terms your customers would use to search for it. Not sure what these are? Check the hashtags your audience is using on Instagram or your results from Google Search Console. You’ll be surprised just how much intel you can get!

Use geo-social and push notifications.

Selling both offline and online? Then make them work together this holiday season!

Use social media to drive brick-and-mortar traffic. Understand that people buy and browse across multiple channels. Don’t treat them as competitive channels. Instead, let them reinforce your message.

Get people to check in and tweet, and incentivize them to do so. Make your customers brand advocates within their own personal networks and benefit from the most trusted type of advertising – word of mouth.

Get your team involved.

Take a look at viral marketing campaigns from Wistia or Westjet. They all involve staff members and customers! That’s why they’re likeable and memorable.

Create dedicated hashtags and run contests. Post pictures showing off your wonderful team that’s behind all the great products that you’re selling.

Highlight your company culture and others will see that you’re not there just for the profit!

Use landing pages with your paid campaigns.

Want your paid campaigns to be exceptionally effective this holiday season? Then skip the homepage and use landing pages instead!

Your homepage is probably cluttered and filled with information that may be taking people’s attention from the ultimate goal – conversion. If you want them to take an immediate action, just stick to what's most important at this particular moment.

Show them the key reasons why they should fill out your form. Then just deliver on that promise with your communication.

Use UTMs!

Do you know which traffic sources or campaigns deliver the highest return? If you don’t, then you’re probably not using UTM parameters to tag your links.

Mark all the links that are driving traffic to your page and use Google Analytics to evaluate your campaigns. Create your own, simple system, one that you’ll be using in every external campaign – except when you’re guest-blogging, you want your links to look natural.

But remember, you shouldn’t use UTMs on your own website and when running campaigns with Google AdWords – this can distort your data and make it more difficult to take good business decisions.

Don’t forget about remarketing campaigns.

Think for a second. Who would it be easier to convert – someone who’s never heard of your brand or someone who’s already been on your site, browsed through the products, and maybe even added something to their shopping cart?

That’s right. Past visitors who are familiar with your brand are more likely to convert than the ones you’ve just first met. That’s why you should try and win them back using retargeting ads.

But be aware – already converted visitors and those with high bounce rate/short time spent on the page will be a bad group to try and retarget. Exclude them and set a reasonable time for your retargeting campaigns.

Target similars!

Who do you think knows people just like your existing customers best? You guessed it – your customers. More often than not, they’ll have friends, family, or colleagues who share the same preferences and needs. Why not put that knowledge to use?

Lookalike or similar audiences are a really interesting opportunity to reach new prospects. You can target them using Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, or VK. Just have your contact list prepared and you’re ready to roll.

Test, measure, and repeat!

You rarely hit the bullseye, right from the start.

True results come with tests and experiments. You can read as many best-practice lists as you want, but what’s going to deliver the most value to your business and PPC campaigns is testing.

Test different content, images, or targeting. Try out new approaches and you’ll find your way to new conversions at a lower cost.

Don’t waste your time!

Especially in the holiday season, people can get impatient. They don’t want to queue up to buy presents, neither do they want to wait for their package to be delivered.

The same applies to the online world. If your pages are going to load for ages and by ages we mean seconds, it’s going to have a huge impact on your user experience.

Every additional second the page is taking to load will mean a drop in conversions. So don’t waste time and start slimming down your landing pages. Optimize the images, how the content’s distributed, what tracking scripts you have running in the background, and make sure everyone’s happy and not waiting too long.

Content marketing

November 23 Thanksgiving

Help solve common holiday problems.

Holidays are great but everyone knows that this time of year is also pretty stressful. Put your customers in the center of your email marketing program and help them out when they might get a little frantic. Help them choose the perfect gift, guarantee on time delivery, or offer gift wrapping – it’s the little things that make a huge difference.

Send the right content at every stage of the funnel.

A huge mistake made by marketers is to assume that everyone is ready to buy at the same time. The reality is that people will move through your sales funnel at their own pace, and marketers should be responsive to this. Split your funnel into three parts: top, middle, and bottom. Understand that those at the bottom of the funnel are ready to make a purchase decision, while those at the top of the funnel may just be starting to understand what their needs are.

Tailor your content to match the needs of the customer on every level, not just from a product perspective, but ensure your language and call to action are consistent.

Follow up post purchase.

Don’t assume that once a customer has purchased from you, they have completed the funnel. Studies have shown that companies have up to a 60% chance of getting a repeat purchase from an existing customer as opposed to only a 5-10% chance of getting a purchase from a new customer. The post purchase period is important because it is when your customers are deciding whether they are happy with what they have bought: making sure they are still motivated by their purchase is paramount in ensuring that you are leaving them feeling satisfied. Send content to keep them excited about your product but also your company: thank them for their business and wish them the happiest of holidays!

Set goals for every point in your sales funnel.

It’s wonderful to focus on your revenue generated in the holiday season, especially when you have goals for ROI that you need to analyze after the dust has settled, however, you should also have goals for every single stage a customer will reach in your funnel. How many people engage with your landing pages? From here, are they converting to web visitors? Are they adding items to the cart? Accurately tracking engagement on the user end will ensure you can send the most appropriate content for where they are in their buying journey, and push them closer to the purchase.

Use content as a holiday gift.

As a marketer you know your target audience like no other. You know your subscribers’ needs and wants – and that allows you to create content so valuable that it will serve as a perfect holiday gift.

Think of a common problem your contacts are faced with and create content (e.g. ebook, checklist, infographic, or a video) explaining how to solve it. Educate and inform your audience instead of interrupting and selling you products.

Use the quality first approach and offer valuable content as a gift.

Have a repurposing plan ready.

Put all your efforts into creating high quality content – quality always wins. Create a repurposing plan in order to maximize the results of your hard work.

Create a long, in-depth form of content and divide it into smaller chunks. You can easily turn an ebook into a series of articles (or the other way round), you can turn an article into an infographic, etc. You can also extract quotes from a content piece and use them as social media posts to reach your target audience and drive traffic to your website.

A repurposing plan together with a content calendar will help you maximize your content marketing ROI.

Omnichannel

November 24 Black Friday

Stay consistent!

Maintain brand consistency across all marketing channels. Consistency is crucial in brand success, that’s why your web forms, emails, online ads, and landing pages should look and feel exactly like your brand.

Prepare brand guidelines with clear directions on your brand’s editorial voice and explaining how to use graphic elements like logos, color, type, and icons.

Remember that each touch-point in the buyer’s journey is equally important – each one leads to the purchase.

Discover your target audience information needs.

Think: what do your customers really hope to find under the Christmas tree?

Before you even begin your holiday campaigns, ask yourself – What do my customers want to hear about? How do they want to find out about it?

That's right. You need to find out what your customers' information needs are. What they are interested in and how they like to consume information.

Dig into your analytics data, check out which channels, topics, and content formats drive the most conversions. Use this information to make your holiday campaigns even merrier.

Get your online marketing assets ready.

Let your customers feel the holiday spirit! Get them in the right mood and see your end-of-year sales go through the roof.

To make it work, you need to prepare your online marketing assets ahead of time. Your signup forms, landing pages, email templates, triggered messages, banners, and ads – all of them should reflect the season of joy, happiness, and giving.

So when the time's right, your marketing communication will invite them to spend this time with their family and friends exchanging gifts, singing carols, drinking hot chocolate, and watching the snow falling outside the window.

Set goals and measure your campaign ROI.

How can you know if your marketing campaigns are performing well, if you're not tracking them? This holiday season make sure you set goals, and then track and reflect upon your journey towards achieving them.

Choose the right KPIs – avoid focusing on numbers that are just nice to look at, and stick to the actionable metrics. They will tell you how close you are to achieving your business objectives, and help you measure your campaign ROI.

These can be total sales revenue, number of orders, average order value, number of new customers, cost per lead, and so on.

Once you're done, take a note of what's worked well and what hasn't. You'll have less work to do next time and will be able to prepare your campaign even quicker.

Get your online marketing assets ready.

SEO is important, you know that all too well. But does that mean you have to optimize all your pages to achieve high rankings in search engines? Well, not necessarily.

When running your holiday campaign, it's likely that you'll be publishing a number of landing pages that will serve you only till the season end. Afterwards, they'll be taken down and visitors will receive a 410 error.

Given that its content is no longer going to be there, you might be better off allocating your budget to other projects. And if you can't live without SEO, check out some of your old articles or pages that gain traction during the holiday season and update them to deliver more value to visitors who'll see them later this year.

Communication and design

December 25 Christmas Day

Use psychological triggers to make your communication more impactful.

It's not enough to write copy that's short and fun. Neither is designing a landing page that's just appealing to the eye. Your marketing assets have to do more than that. They have to motivate your customers to act!

When designing your assets and writing your copy, think about the rules of persuasion and motivation. Use principles such as scarcity, familiarity, authority, and others to make your campaigns ever more effective.

Just don't go overboard! Customers can become desensitized if they see similar tactics too frequently.

Keep the scent across all channels.

When preparing your online marketing assets, don't treat your channels individually. After all, they are meant to reinforce the same marketing message and get you closer to achieving the same business objective.

Take a look at your designs and copy. Are they repeating the same information all over again? Why not tell a story instead, one touch-point at a time?

Don't just keep repeating your headline across all the marketing channels. Make social media, paid ads, landing pages, and emails work together. While doing so, make sure you keep the scent, so your customers will always feel like they're in the right place.

Avoid confusion and don’t make your customers’ life harder.

If we haven't made it clear yet, we'll give it another try: you don't want to waste your customers’ time. Especially if you've just made them click on your ad and visit your page.

The one question you don’t want your audience to ask themselves is, “What do I do now?” The next step has to be obvious. They can’t spend their time wondering what you want them to do.

Point them to your desired action using both creative and clear CTA buttons. Use images and convincing copy to get your customers to "click" in just one short moment. You'll save them time, and let them enjoy more of it with their family and friends.

Holiday guide workflows

Marketing automation is based on an intuitive if-then-logic.

You can use conditions, actions, and filters in order to tailor your online marketing communication to the needs and preferences of your target audience.

Holiday guide workflows

Here are a few examples of how you can use marketing automation to bring the holiday season ideas to life.

Halloween
October 31

Halloween appeals to children and adults in the same way. It’s the time of cooking, arts and crafts, dressing up, and decorating. No matter what business you’re in, you can plan a great Halloween campaign to engage your subscribers.

Halloween
Drip campaign sharing ideas for Halloween Games:

Everyone who subscribes via a form receives a welcome email. It's the first message in the workflow. Subscribers will receive seven more emails every two days – each with an idea for a Halloween game.

The workflow consists of the following elements:
Workflow

Movember
November 1-30

The Movember Foundation is the only charity tackling men’s health on a global scale, year round. You can join in as a business and help them achieve their goal. You can also learn a lot about engaging an audience in promoting a noble cause.

Movember
Engagement campaign:

On October 22 everyone on the list receives a reminder about Movember. On October 31 they receive another reminder that it’s time to shave. Every week in November they receive emails encouraging to keep growing their moustaches with the following CTA: Yes I proudly grow my moustache. Everyone who clicks the CTA is awarded 10 scoring points.

The workflow consists of the following elements:
Workflow

Thanksgiving
November 23

Thanksgiving is celebrated in Canada, the United States, some of the Caribbean islands, and Liberia. Traditionally, it’s about gratitude, giving thanks, and spending quality time with family and friends. These values might be the canvas for your marketing campaigns.

Thanksgiving

TIP
If you want to collect valuable feedback, prepare a survey and ask attendees to complete it during the webinar.

Say Thank You to Your Fans webinar:

Two weeks before Thanksgiving – on November 9 you start promoting a Thanksgiving webinar via a landing page. Subscribers are invited for an exclusive how-to webinar as a way of saying thanks for loyal following and being a part of the community. Everyone who signs up for the webinar receives a thank you email and two reminders before the event. After the webinar each participant receives an email with a surprise and people who registered but didn’t participate receive an email with a link to the recording.

The workflow consists of the following elements:
Workflow

Black Friday
November 24

Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day and is considered by many the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. It’s been the biggest festival of the year for bargain hunters as most brands offer the famous great Black Friday deals in-store and online.

Black Friday
Exclusive early bird campaign:

At midnight on November 24 subscribers receive an email kick-starting an exclusive sale that will last only 24 hours. Black Friday deals might be extended, but each day the discount rate will be reduced.

Optional: instead of offering a discount, you can donate the equivalent to charity. This way you offer your contacts an easy way to contribute to a good cause.

The workflow consists of the following elements:
Workflow

Cyber Monday
November 27

Cyber Monday is the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States and it's probably the biggest online shopping day of the year. In 2016 Cyber Monday was the biggest day in the history of US ecommerce.

Cyber Monday
A limited offer for the first new subscribers:

Prepare a Cyber Monday landing page with a subscription form. The first 50 subscribers receive a welcome email with a massive discount for any purchase made on Cyber Monday.

The workflow consists of the following elements:
Workflow

Free Shipping Day
December 15

Free Shipping Day is a one-day event held annually in mid-December – it’s on December 15 in 2017. On this day most online businesses offer free shipping with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve.

Free Shipping Day

FACT
According to the Walker Sands Future of Retail 2017 study, 80% of the survey participants said free shipping was the no. 1 incentive when asked what would make them shop online more often.

An upsell and cross-sell campaign:

Each subscriber who makes a purchase on Free Shipping Day receives an email suggesting adding one of the featured items to the cart before the order is processed.

The workflow consists of the following elements:
Workflow

Super Saturday
December 23

Super Saturday is the last Saturday before Christmas – it marks the end of the shopping season. According to the NRF’s 2016 Holiday Shopping Trends survey, 2 in 10 consumers plan to wait until the last minute before buying their last gift.

Super Saturday
Visited URL campaign:

All subscribers who visit a website on Super Saturday receive an email reminder that the orders placed on this day will be delivered before Christmas.

The workflow consists of the following elements:
Workflow

Christmas Day
December 25

Christmas is the most commonly celebrated holiday in America. According to the Hallmark’s Holiday Card-sending Statistics around 1.3 billion people in the United States send Christmas cards to their friends and loved ones. Certainly this trend is reflected in online marketing, where for a short period Christmas sales and greetings dominate the internet.

Christmas Day
An advent calendar:

Contacts receive emails that help them count the days of the Advent in anticipation of Christmas. Each day features something special like a promotion or exclusive content.

The workflow consists of the following elements:
Workflow

New Year’s Eve
December 31

The New Year’s Eve is one of the most commonly celebrated holidays on earth. People look back at the year gone by and welcome the new one. Use it as inspiration for your online marketing campaigns.

New Year’s Eve

NOTE
The level of personalization depends on the amount of relevant data collected.

A limited offer for the first new subscribers:

On New Year’s Eve each contact receives a personalized email with New Year’s wishes. If they open it, they are assigned 10 scoring points.

The workflow consists of the following elements:
Workflow