The holidays seem to be coming earlier and earlier each year. We know you don’t want to think about it yet, but soon your customers will be preparing for the holidays, and your business needs to be ready. The “Christmas Creep” is about to become full-fledged: 49% of marketers plan on starting a holiday campaign before Halloween! Is your marketing plan holiday-ready?
This blog post will give you some guidelines on creating your own holiday digital marketing plan.
Every marketing campaign starts with strategy, and digital marketing campaigns are no different. Be sure to integrate your digital and traditional marketing with an overall holiday strategy. With your objectives clear in your mind and your strategy set, you are ready to begin taking the necessary steps to implement your holiday marketing plan.
Choosing Which Digital Marketing Channels are Right for Your Holiday Campaign
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of reaching your customers through multiple channels. Not all of your customers are using one medium, and even if they were, it often requires multiple interactions before they notice your efforts. Your customers or prospects may also use different channels at different stages of the buying process. Connect with your customers through multiple avenues to ensure your marketing efforts accomplish your objectives.
1. Your Website
Your website is generally the most important component of your digital marketing plan. Promotions on every other digital channel should direct traffic back to your website, especially if you have an e-commerce site. Some important considerations:
- Consider whether your promotions will be front and center, or whether they’ll be tucked away below the fold or on a page other than the homepage.
- Make sure that your website is optimized for search engines, mobile-friendly, and secure.
- If you are a retailer and you don’t have an e-commerce site, this might be a good time to consider doing so. Trends show that more and more customers are purchasing online; in 2011, 33% of total Black Friday weekend sales were online.
- If you already have an e-commerce site, you may want to promote your wishlist capabilities and also set up automatic abandoned-cart reminders. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for customers to purchase.
- You could also offer a buy online, pick-up in store option.
Email is still a very relevant marketing channel. 7 in 10 people say they had made use of a coupon or discount they had learned about through a marketing email in the prior week (35%) or month (33%).
- Your email campaigns should promote specific offers like coupons, free shipping, layaway options, and customer service availability.
- You could send out lists to inspire shopping, such as the top 10 gifts for mothers or a recipe guide similar to what’s featured below.
- If you’re in the restaurant industry, you could send along holiday meal specials.
- Send a Happy Holidays email to your customers and thank them for their business. If you’re feeling really creative (and spirited!) you could send a YouTube Christmas greeting from your company, like this one.
- B2B? Maybe you have a free whitepaper to offer on a topic that would help your customers’ business.
Here’s an example from Kraft Foods that I received last year, right before New Years. While this isn’t the most revolutionary email campaign, it demonstrates a very important principle: offer your customers something of value. This email provided some free recipes for entertaining a group, and there was also a call to action to download a booklet of coupons. While the promotions aren’t in your face, it can inspire a customer to purchase your product.
If you’re still looking for inspiration, do a quick search of “Christmas” in your email inbox! You’re guaranteed to find hundreds of examples.
3. Social Media
While we could probably write a full blog post on holiday campaigns through social media, we’ll try to keep it short and simple here. Keeping consistent with your other channels, social media should also be promoting your holiday offers and driving traffic to your website. Many social media sites are becoming more and more visual, with networks like Instagram and Pinterest, and images are becoming more popular on Facebook as well. Take advantage of this by posting photos of your decorated store or office, or the perfect New Years’ dress. You can also use your Facebook cover photo to promote special offers.
Here’s a great example of a holiday cover photo on HubSpot’s Facebook page.
4. Organic & Paid Search
As we often say, search is probably the first place you should start your marketing efforts. Your prospects are typing into Google or another search engine, more or less saying “I want to buy ____.” With the holidays approaching, people will be searching online more and more to research gift ideas. Will your company come up in search queries? Last year, our good friends at Google did a study that showed 31% of consumers say search is their go-to source for gift ideas, and 51% plan to research online but buy in-store.
In preparation for the holidays, your website must be optimized so that you are being found. New visits on your website that come naturally from a search engine (not through a paid ad) is referred to as organic search. Do you have meta-tags in the coding of your website? Do you have content on your site specific to your products or services? These SEO techniques, among many others, can help your website to appear higher in search results and thus get more traffic.
Paid search is also important; you only pay for the clicks your ad receives, so you can change your budget at any time. You don’t get that kind of control with traditional marketing mediums! To keep costs low, you can also promote offers in your ads that don’t require customers to click on it; for example, your ad could simply promote that you offer free shipping on orders over $50. If you don’t have a call to action to click, you can get that message across for very little cost.
Banner advertisements should also include these special offers. You can specify which sites your ads show up on, and banner ads in particular are great for building awareness. Last, you can post ads on mobile apps. Mobile advertisements often have lower competition and therefore lower cost, but you’re still reaching a large audience.
However, if you are promoting on mobile, you have to make sure your site or at least the page you’re driving traffic to is mobile-optimized! Google says that 4 out of 5 mobile or tablet owners will use their device for holiday shopping. Customers can easily get frustrated and get a bad perception of your brand if your ad is driving them to a page that does not appear correctly on their mobile device.
We hope these quick tips help you to prepare your digital marketing strategy for the holidays. Stay tuned to our blog for more insights and advice on the holiday season and beyond!