A Quick Holiday Marketing Campaign Guide

Digital Marketing Strategy

Question: When should you start preparing your holiday marketing materials?

A.) July
B.) August
C.) The night before they’re to be published

Did you pick C? Know that you’re neither alone nor wise. The answer is the earlier the better. The holidays are upon us; Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are right around the corner. In a perfect world, you’ve already got your strategy identified and your production team prepared. But even if you don’t, it’s not too late. Act now and you can still be ready for the holiday rush.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

If last year’s sales were any indication of this year’s sales (hint: they were), the digitally-minded are due for an excellent holiday season. Holiday retail sales in 2015 increased 3 percent (to $626.1 billion), with non-store holiday sales spiking 9 percent (to $105 billion). Brick-and-click retailers saw the strongest year-over-year growth, and smartphones helped boost online sales.

Bottom line: Retailers that offered solid promotions, good mobile UX, and in-store offerings supplemented by online sales experienced the highest rates of success. And the most important thing to remember is that holiday searches start long before you’d expect; 25 percent of shoppers say they start holiday shopping before Halloween.

Learn from past marketing campaigns

2015 boasted some stellar marketing. Amazon was a powerhouse in sales, dominating Black Friday and Cyber Monday. REI played up its wholesome company values with #OptOutside. Stouffer’s did a feel-good, cross-channel campaign that emphasized the importance of bringing family to the table during the holidays.

The companies that fell flat were Macy’s, Sears, and Gap. All three featured recycled campaigns, paltry discounts, and poor buyer experience. All three saw a drop in sales. It’s easy — what with the busyness of the season — to fall back on old campaigns or sales goals, but your customers will notice and your bottom line will suffer the consequences. Think big, think new, and always think different.

Develop your holiday strategy today

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or how extensive your resources are: You need to develop a holiday playbook now. It doesn’t have to be finalized today, but at least start brainstorming. Here are five key things to remember along the way:

  • Personalize: The holidays are about relationships. Show your customer that you understand and value them.
  • Calendar: Timing is everything with holiday messaging. If you’re doing a Black Friday promo and you send out one email about it on Black Friday, you’re doing it wrong.
  • Modernize: Think digital, think mobile, but whatever you do, don’t rely on storefront signage. More money is spent online every year, so don’t ignore that.
  • Revamp: You can’t run the same sale or campaign year-over-year.
  • Be authentic: Your customers have a BS radar that grows hypersensitive during the holidays. Avoid it by keeping your messaging honest and story-driven.

We had a great conversation about all of this at our last Firestarter learning event. (If you’ve missed out on this series, check out the recaps for the first and second discussions.) Stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates on next month’s installment.

Until then, if you want to discuss holiday marketing strategies, feel free to find me on Twitter or comment below.

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