Every new year seems to pass by quicker than the last – one minute you’re making new year’s resolutions and the next minute it’s time for the holidays! It’s already September and as the air is getting colder and the leaves are beginning to change colour, it’s time to start thinking about the holidays. As much as we may try to fight it, you will be reminded when you get a whiff of pumpkin-flavoured everything and Halloween pop-up stores are up and running. Oh and how about the stores that already have their Christmas aisle started?
The “Christmas Creep” is about to become full-fledged: 49% of marketers plan on starting a holiday sales campaign before Halloween! So, is your holiday digital marketing plan ready? Feeling overwhelmed even just thinking about it? Well don’t you worry because we are here to help you and your business get ready for the holidays and stay ahead of the game. This blog post covers a step-by-step approach to developing your holiday digital marketing plan.
STEP 1: Set Clear Objectives
Like every great plan, begin your holiday digital marketing plan by setting clear objectives. Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself:
- What is the primary objective we want to achieve through our holiday marketing initiatives? (For example, drive more online and/or in store sales.)
- What are the secondary objectives we want to achieve through our holiday marketing initiatives? (For example, drive traffic to the website, create brand awareness, and/or grow our social media audience.)
These are just a few examples to start you off, but be sure to think about you and your specific business goals, and set clear objectives with all of this in mind.
STEP 2: Map Out Your Overall Plan
Once you have set clear objectives, begin to map out your overall plan. This should include the following:
- Identify the key calendar dates that you want to target, such as Thanksgiving, Halloween, Black Friday, Christmas, etc.
- Map these dates out and determine the timeline you want to allocate for each in terms of business activities, marketing content creation, marketing period, etc. Keep in mind that a number of things may overlap, for example, you may begin advertising for Thanksgiving and part-way through this, Halloween advertising will need to be kicked off.
- Set an overall holiday marketing budget and then break this down based on the mapped out timeline and holidays. For instance, you may spend more on Christmas than on Halloween.
Mapping out your overall plan is very important in order to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible. The holidays are a busy time and there is so much happening all at once as well as continuously over several months. If you have objectives and a general strategy but you have not mapped everything out, you run the risk of getting overwhelmed or running into unplanned obstacles. Plus, wouldn’t you love to feel like you’re in control of your business, rather than the holidays taking over?
STEP 3: Determine Which Digital Marketing Channels to Use & Determine the Strategy for Each Channel
After you have mapped out your overall plan, you can begin to identify which digital marketing channels to use, as well as determine the strategy for each channel. 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 are, it often requires multiple interactions before they notice your efforts and keep your business top of mind. 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. Also, if you’re not sure where to start, be sure to understand your customer buyer personas, so that you have a better idea about what channels they use and therefore what channels you should focus on.
Here are four of the most important and commonly used digital marketing channels and some of the things you and your business should keep in mind when using them:
Your website is generally the most important component of your digital marketing plan. Promotions on every other digital channel should typically direct traffic back to your website, especially if you have an e-commerce site or require customers to take action online, such as by filling out an inquiry form. Here are 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. More people are buying on mobile devices and you don’t want them leaving your website because your mobile experience is not up to par.
- If you are expecting more website traffic, do you have the hosting in place to take on all the extra traffic? If not, it’s time to review your hosting and make a change sooner rather than later. You don’t want your website to go down during the holidays, and especially not during an event such as an online sale.
- Is your website secure? Cyber threats are on the rise so you want to make sure your website is secure. You don’t want to be a part of a security breach. That’s not good for business.
- If you are a retailer and you don’t have an e-commerce site, this might be a good time to consider doing so.
- 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.
More on Online Shopping
We know that a lot of people have moved their holiday shopping online. Especially after two years of the global pandemic, trends show that customers are purchasing online now more than ever before. According to Adobe, U.S. consumers spent $1.7 trillion online, $609 billion more than the two preceding years. As the digital economy shifts to more personalized customer experiences, Adobe expects the annual online spend in the U.S. to surpass $1 trillion for the first time in 2022. Whether it is more selection, cheaper prices, and lower delivery times than in the past, or it simply being more convenient and on trend, online shopping has become a staple for businesses to offer during the holiday season. While online shopping might be new for a lot of people and businesses, having e-commerce for your business, and especially a holiday e-commerce marketing strategy, comes with great benefits.
Like most digital marketing efforts, there are a lot of different platforms for your business to use including Shopify and WooCommerce. It is crucial that your business’ online store is optimized for any questions or needs of your customers. This can be accomplished by including detailed descriptions of your products, good quality product photos, frequently asked questions, and reviews from your customers. Learn more about how to develop a digital marketing strategy for your e-commerce store today.
Email is still a very relevant marketing channel that is continuing to grow. According to HubSpot, email marketing is used by 1 in 2 media planners, and it will continue to grow this year with 22% planning to leverage it for the first time. Also, email marketing revenue is estimated to reach almost 11 billion by the end of 2023.
- It is important for your holiday email campaigns to stand out in someone’s inbox, and draw people to read on once they have been opened. Think about catchy subject lines that are short and sweet, and perhaps add in a relevant emoji for a special touch. In terms of the actual email, design and flow is as important as the content itself. Use colours and design elements that complement your brand but also the relevant holiday – such as reds and greens for Christmas. Keep it simple but impactful. Create clear distinctions between sections, and have Call-To-Action buttons wherever necessary. Avoid long paragraphs of text and rely on photos and graphics.
- Especially during the holidays, your email campaigns should promote specific offers like coupons, free shipping, layaway options, and customer service availability. Everyone loves a good promotion and including one adds an extra incentive for customers to take the next step.
- Consider sending out lists and gift guides to inspire shopping. According to Shopify, in 2020, over 45% of people said they would be looking for gift guides to inform their purchases during the holiday season. Keeping this in mind, look at your product and/or service offering, think about what would make good gifts for different occasions, and make curated lists and gift guides. Be sure to link these directly through to the products on your online store where possible, to ensure a smooth shopping experience.
- If you’re in the restaurant industry, you could send along holiday meal specials, including your special menus such as, New Year’s Eve dinner for two.
- 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. Customers always appreciate a feel-good note and reminders that there’s actual people behind the businesses they are interacting with each day.
- B2B? Maybe you have a free whitepaper or blog post to offer on a topic that would help your customers’ business.
If you’re still looking for inspiration, do a quick search for “Christmas” or “Holidays” in your email inbox! You’re guaranteed to find hundreds of examples.
While we could probably write a full blog post on holiday social media campaigns, 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, or to direct messages, depending on whether you are providing products or services.
Many social media platforms are becoming more and more visual, and in many cases, even moving more towards video than images. HubSpot found that more than half of marketers (51%) who use short-form video planned to increase their investment in 2022. What’s more? Short-form video has the highest ROI of any social media marketing strategy as 30% of social media marketers planned to invest in it more than any other trend in 2022. TikTok and Instagram Reels are two of the most popular platforms with short-form video offerings and these are great places to be especially during the holidays. Not sure where to get started? Here are some tips on using Instagram Reels for business.
Whether you are using short-form video content, images, or both, it is important to think about how to optimize your content for each social media platform. Though it is important to try and maintain a consistent look and feel throughout your platforms, you must not forget that each platform has a different audience as well as different capabilities. What works on Facebook may not necessarily work on Twitter or Instagram, so be sure to take some time to understand each platform and its capabilities as well as audience demographics.
You can also begin to explore paid social media advertising which allows you to create advertisements to promote your business or holiday sales. Your paid ads can link to a number of places like your webpage, form fills, direct messaging, and other useful places to send your customers. Paid social media advertising can be done through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube and so much more.
Facebook Ads, which also allows you to manage Instagram Ads for instance, allows you to fine-tune your targeting so you can pick your audience. For example, you can pick the age, gender, location, as well as interests and behaviours. Pro-tip: instead of using the “boost post” feature on Facebook, set up a simple ads campaign instead. More likely than not, you will see better results for the same budget.
Retargeting to Warm Audiences
We have all been there, where you are browsing through a website and are considering making a purchase, but then decide not to. 30 minutes later, you’re seeing ads for the products/services you were browsing, pop up on other websites and social media channels! You wonder how it works, and you feel a little thrown off, but you are suddenly thinking more and more about going back and making a purchase.
This scenario is an example of a remarketing campaign. Remarketing campaigns allow you to create a specific target audience consisting of people that have previously viewed a specific product/service or page on your website in an effort to stay on top of mind and eventually draw them back to making a purchase. Remarketing tactics can be very beneficial for holiday marketing campaigns because during these months, customers are viewing numerous products online and oftentimes a little reminder could be the gentle nudge they need to pick your product over that of a competitor.
If beginning to develop a Facebook Ads campaign for the holidays seems overwhelming, check out our beginners guide to Facebook Ads.
Organic & Paid Search
As we often say, Search is probably the first place you should start your active marketing efforts. Your prospects are often on Google Search, or a different search engine, more or less typing, “I want to buy ____.” With the holidays fast approaching, people will be searching online more and more for gift ideas and other products/services. The important thing is, you need to make sure your business ranks well in search results. Do you know if this will definitely be the case, or do you have some work to do?
In preparation for the holidays, your website must be optimized so that it is showing up on search engine results. New visits to your website that are naturally driven from a search engine (instead of a paid search ad) are referred to as organic search. In order for this to work, you need to make sure you are working on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Do you have meta-tags in the coding of your website? Do you have content on your site that has keywords specific to your products or services? These SEO techniques, among many others, can help your website appear higher in search results and therefore get more traffic. If you really think about it, most people do not go very far beyond the first page of search results, so it is important to rank as high as possible.
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 tactics! 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 clickable Call-to-Action, you are getting the message across at very small cost.
Banner advertisements, such as Google Display ads, should also include these special offers. You can specify which sites you want, or don’t want, your ads to show up on. Banner ads in particular are great for building awareness.
Similarly, you can post ads on mobile apps. Mobile app 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. Why? Because at the end of 2021, mobile devices generated 54.4% of global website traffic and 55.4% of internet users were known to use mobile phones to buy online. Imagine losing some or all of that traffic simply because your website is not mobile-optimized and therefore causing frustration for your customers?
STEP 4: Implement & Enjoy
Once you have Steps 1 to 3 nailed down, your business’ holiday digital marketing plan will be ready to be implemented. We hope this step-by-step approach has helped you feel a lot less overwhelmed and a lot more motivated and confident instead. So get planning and show the holidays who’s boss!
Stay tuned to our blog and social media channels for more insights and tips for the holiday season and beyond!