What We’ll Cover:
- The Business of 2022: Holiday Marketing
- Why Your Business Needs a Holiday Marketing Strategy
- Examples of Successful Holiday Marketing Campaigns
- How to Create a Holiday Marketing Campaign
- Holiday Marketing Email Mistakes to Avoid
- Bonus: Holiday Marketing Tips from Ignite Experts
Despite recession fears, this year’s holiday sales will be a slam dunk for marketers. With COVID behind them, consumers are eager to make up for lost time with family and friends.
We’ll walk you through the top strategies to maximize this year’s holiday revenue and examples of successful campaigns. By the end, you’ll know how to plan for a prosperous holiday season.
The Business of 2022’s Holiday Marketing
Most brands rely heavily on revenue during the fall and winter months. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and December holidays massively spike travel and gift spending.
Early this year, Insider projected holiday revenue to hit $1.26 trillion—up 3% from last year. But economic pressures could dampen that outcome.
Shortages, price spikes, and consumer fear are this year’s realities. Consumer sentiment is at an all-time low, and 51% of people plan to spend less on gifts this year.
But it’s not all gloom and doom—an effective strategy can still make it a successful year. The key is forming the right approach to consumers’ concerns this year.
Watch this Video on Holiday Marketing
Why Your Business Needs a Holiday Marketing Strategy
Especially in hectic years like 2022, developing a marketing campaign plan is key to targeting consumers’ needs directly. The principle of creating value remains true even during excess spending.
People don’t just wake up and decide to buy your products. You need to convince them your product or service makes their lives (or, in this case, their loved ones’) better.
Without a marketing strategy, you don’t have a concrete approach to providing value to consumers on a mass scale. You’re mostly guessing, resulting in missed holiday revenue because of ineffective marketing.
Examples of Successful Holiday Campaigns
Below, we’ll recap the most successful holiday campaigns since 2019.
#1: Starbucks Reusable Christmas Cups
Starbucks is famous for transforming its entire brand during the holiday season. They feature seasonal drinks, cookies, and cups.
But on December 7th, 2019, they upped the ante. Every customer who ordered a holiday beverage would receive a reusable cup.
This campaign was successful by leveraging three things:
- Value: Customers got a free reusable cup for participating.
- Brand image: 83% of customers think it’s important for brands to design reusable products. By working towards this goal, Starbucks built credibility with customers.
- Urgency: The cups were only available for one day, prompting customers to act fast.
#2: Apple’s Make Someone’s Holiday
Apple’s 2021 holiday feature focused on relatability, then the sentiment.
The ad starts with parents handing their children an iPad to stop them from fighting, as many parents do. It then usurps expectations by having the children reveal a holiday collage they made for their grandfather.
While you may not be one of the largest companies in the world, there’s still much to learn here.
Apple’s ads usually focus on advertising a product’s features. But in this case, emotion was the story’s focus, with their product as a part of it.
This campaign built goodwill with customers and press buzz from the campaign’s popularity. It goes to show that it’s generally best to focus on sentiment when marketing family-centric holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah.
#3: Google’s Santa Tracker
Google’s Santa Tracker keeps kids in the holiday spirit by tracking the big guy as he makes his way around the world. They’ve added many features over the years, including games and an elf maker.
Santa Tracker works as an evergreen holiday campaign by constantly driving children’s imaginations to their site. This establishes Google as a creativity leader for countless children for years to come.
#4: Nordstrom’s Reusable Bags
In 2020, Nordstrom issued shopping bags designed for customers to reuse after carrying their presents home.
Customers could transform the bags into handbags, origami, or tree ornaments. Nordstrom also involved their customers by asking them to post their creations on Instagram.
This campaign worked because of:
- Creativity. Shopping bags that become ornaments is a fresh idea that captures consumers’ imaginations.
- Shareability. Nordstrom incentivized customers to share their creations on social media. This generated more buzz for the campaign and increased its reach.
- Value. Customers got something fun to do with their purchase at no additional cost. Imagine the countless Nordstrom bag ornaments still visible on trees this holiday season.
#5: Apple’s Saving Simon
Apple’s Saving Simon was a charming holiday ad with a twist—they shot it entirely on the iPhone 13.
Something crucial to note is the ad didn’t focus on Apple products at all, just on the sentiment of seeing your loved ones on Christmas. Like in their Make Someone’s Holiday ad, Apple chose to focus on the sentiment.
The result touched viewers’ hearts rather than making them feel like a commodity and a revenue vehicle.
You’re probably not selling phones this holiday, but you are selling to human beings. A campaign rooted in the holiday spirit (whether it be Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Hanukkah) makes a more profound impact than just another holiday promotion.
How to Create a Holiday Marketing Campaign Plan
The above examples offer an idea of what successful holiday marketing looks like.
But you only saw the final product. Behind each successful campaign is tons of research, planning, and skillful execution.
So next, we’ll break down each step of creating a winning marketing campaign plan.
Step 1: Set Goals
You need to decide what you’re trying to accomplish before you create a campaign. What’s the ideal result you’re looking for?
Your goals need to be SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. For example:
- Create 500 leads for our Black Friday sale by November 24th
- Make $25,000 in sales during December
- Get 2,200 email list sign-ups by December 20th
When you have a specific and measurable goal, you know what to focus on. But without a goal, your marketing has no direction.
Step 2: Identify Your Target Audience
With your goals in place, determine who you want to reach specifically. The most effective way of doing this is by creating a buyer persona.
A buyer persona is a detailed profile of someone who accurately represents your target audience.
The persona comes from detailed research into your existing audience. For example, if you’re selling baseball bats, your persona might be American teenagers (though more specific).
The more information you can gather about your target audience, the more accurate your persona will be. Think about:
- Hobbies & interests
- Preferred social media platforms (ex. Teenagers on TikTok, Baby Boomers on Facebook)
- And any other information relating to their consumer habits
Maybe you already have personas, but they have to be specific to your holiday marketing planning. Eliminate target audiences you don’t want to include in this campaign.
But remember, a persona should scratch more than surface level. Find out what deeper emotional problems or values are driving someone to your product, and you’ll be in a better position to choose the messaging and strategies most likely to resonate with them.
Step 3: Choose a Campaign Theme
Launching a campaign isn’t the same as producing regular content. Instead of creating one-off content, you align all marketing channels around a specific message.
You might have a specific message, like:
- 50% on Black Friday
- Free shipping all December
- Reusable bags free until December 25th
- Join our email list for a 25% off discount
- Free holiday cookie with sandwich purchase
This message persists throughout your entire campaign. For example, all over your content from October 15th-31st might orient around Halloween sales.
Your message might come wrapped in a more general holiday theme, such as:
- Spend time with family this holiday season
- Stay safe this Halloween
- Put kindness first this Christmas
- Do something different this Thanksgiving
Step 4: Design an Offer
Your holiday campaign is ultimately about your unique offer. This is the main driver for achieving the goal you set earlier.
Your offer might be:
- Free item with purchase
- Free service to build publicity (ex. Google’s Santa Tracker)
- Free delivery
Whatever your offer is, it’s crucial to orient it towards accomplishing your goal.
For example, Starbucks’ offer in 2019 was a free reusable cup in return for placing an order online. Their goal was most likely to get downloads for their app.
Step 5: Choose Promotion Channels
Your campaign is worthless if nobody sees it. In this next section, we’ll explore different channels for promoting your campaign—with the best strategies for each.
A holiday campaign should start on your company’s blog. Here, you can describe the exact message of your campaign and promote your offer.
Create a post introducing your offer, explaining its value, and featuring a persuasive CTA.
Keep it customer-centric, focusing on how your offer improves their holiday experience. Think back to the campaigns featured above and their customer-centric approach.
And aside from targeting your blog’s followers directly, articles are resources to use throughout your campaign. For example, you might link to it in emails and social posts for further reading of your offer.
During the holidays, email lists represent countless potential customers eager to spend on loved ones. This drives email marketing returns higher than ever, so getting your offer out effectively is crucial.
Here are the parts of an enticing holiday email:
- Eye-catching subject line. Write a short, specific subject line teasing your offer. For instance, “Free Delivery Through 12/31”
- Brief, engaging copy. Your email text should be brief, focusing on the offer. If it’s worthwhile, the value will speak for itself.
- Vivid imagery. Visuals make your email’s content stand out. Email marketing software like Mailchimp offers templates with engaging images, as shown below.
- Sharing buttons. These let viewers forward your offer to their friends and family quickly.
74% of marketers remain committed to social media marketing. It’s one of the best ways to generate organic leads, especially during the holiday season.
Push your offer across your favorite channels, mixing up the message across each. Also, adapt your content to the platform it’s posted on.
Step 6: Establish a Budget for Every Channel
You must set a strict budget before launching your campaign. This will help you:
- Allocate funds wisely. A budget ensures each part of your campaign gets the funding it needs.
- Keep spending sustainable. Without a budget, you can spend excessively without realizing.
- Meet your goals. Planning your budget ensures each part of your campaign gets the resources it needs to succeed.
As a rule, Q4 sees a massive spike in revenue because of the holidays. It’s common for people to save money just for November and December.
This means you can spend more on holiday marketing than the rest of the year. But only if you spend rationally, based on hard data.
To plan your budget wisely, first know what your channels are. Channels like PPC, social media and email marketing have different expenses.
Your spending will vary widely depending on your scale and the channels you use. But no matter what, be comprehensive—plan every dollar spent on marketing.
Think about things like:
- Hiring creatives
- PPC spending
- Social advertising
- Ordering prints
- And everything else involved in your marketing campaign plan
As companies of all sizes rush to buy ad space during the holidays, prices rise. But with a comprehensive, strictly-followed budget for each channel, you can succeed.
Step 7: Launch Your Campaign
Your campaign is ready, and it’s time to launch.
But this doesn’t mean going 0-60 right away. Instead, test your campaign on a smaller audience before going full scale.
This lets you review all your channels and ensure everything’s going smoothly. Make sure:
- Forms work
- Emails send (and get opened)
- Ads run
- Websites are stable
Soft launching helps avoid any nasty surprises that could ruin your campaign. After you make sure everything is working, it’s time to launch.
Step 8: Measure KPIs
Measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) is the most crucial aspect of running holiday marketing campaigns. They tell you if your campaign is working and what you can learn from the results.
Your KPIs derive from the goals you set at the beginning of your campaign. Examples of KPIs include:
- Number of leads generated
- Gross and net revenue
- Inventory turnover
- Average cost of conversion
And if you need help creating them, check out our graphic:
Each KPI paints a picture of your campaign’s success. You know your holiday marketing is working if you’re consistently beating your metrics.
Holiday Marketing Email Mistakes
1. Misunderstanding Your Buyer Personas
One of the biggest marketing mistakes is messing up your buyer persona. If it’s inaccurate, your whole strategy rests on a lie.
Ensure your persona derives from reliable data—both qualitative and quantitative. You’ll get the best returns from your marketing with accurate personas.
2. Focusing on a Single Marketing Tactic
While it’s good to avoid overextending yourself, limiting yourself is damaging too. Find several strategies to focus on to maximize your holiday revenue.
For example, don’t only send marketing messages. Balance your promotion with goodwill to the consumer—a cheerful holiday message can go a long way (see Apple’s examples above).
3. Last Minute Emails With Lack of Planning
Putting out rushed, last-minute emails will end in disaster. Effective holiday marketing emails require thorough research and planning.
4. Overcrowding the Inbox
Don’t spam your customers with offers—no matter how great they are. Consumers will unsubscribe from your email list if you flood their inboxes with emails.
Avoid emailing your customers more than 1-2 times a week during the holidays. Focus on putting out quality rather than quantity.
Bonus: Holiday Marketing Tips from Ignite’s Experts
At Ignite, we have years of experience in holiday marketing. Here are our most crucial insights from what we’ve learned:
Keep It Emotional and Content-Driven
Always keep emotion present in your holiday marketing. Last-minute pressure, anticipation, and pure joy make powerful marketing tools.
Add customer information to marketing materials as much as possible. For example, during email campaigns, address recipients by their names. Personalization makes your content directly relevant to the reader, catching their interest in it.
Don’t Be Annoying
Do your best to raise awareness, but don’t overwhelm your audience. Spamming your email lists and social profiles with low-effort content ruins your brand image and nets you lost followers.
Leverage Influencer Partnerships
Use influencers’ authority to propel your product into the lives of their loyal followers. Have them review your product, show it in action, or raise awareness about your offer.
View this post on Instagram
If you’re worried you can’t afford big names, don’t be—people with smaller followings can get better engagement.
Mobile devices make up almost 60% of all web traffic. So if your landing pages, forms, and emails don’t work on mobile, you’re wasting over half of your marketing.
Start Planning Your Campaign Now
Holiday marketing works like regular marketing but with different themes and offers. It comes down to providing tangible value to consumers without being pushy.
Valuable offers wrapped in engaging messages deliver that value. Scale that value across all your channels, and you have a successful holiday campaign.