It’s that time of the year again when people are running around preparing for the holidays. And so are businesses; they are the driving force of the holiday season, especially their marketing teams. Without marketing, you wouldn’t know that your nephew wants the Vega 2-in-1 Scooter and not the box of Legos you were going to get him (you can thank us later).
The holidays are coming up quickly; what holiday marketing strategies will your team use? It’s okay if you’re not sure, it’s common. Planning a holiday strategy is fun because it’s the holidays, but you also have to be strategic about how you market your business. With the holidays right around the corner, it’s not too late to start planning. Getting ahead of the calendar and planning early is the best way to build a successful campaign. Whether you are planning Halloween, which is a month away, or Christmas, you should be starting to think about it now.
With each holiday, there needs to be a strategy for your campaign that aligns with each holiday. For instance, Halloween you think of spooky themes. Thanksgiving is in the fall season, so you think of leaves and fall colors. Black Friday, be prepared to have a sale. And Christmas, I’m warning you now, if you sell products, back stock!
Since the holidays are quickly approaching, it’s time to start planning! Cue me. I have put together a list of what you need to do to get your business ready for the holiday season.
1. Review last year’s holiday campaign
Before you jump into your planning, take a look at what you have done in the past. It’s always a good idea to review how your previous campaigns performed before you start creating future campaigns. This way, you can learn what marketing strategies worked and which ones didn’t. Whether you have created a holiday campaign before, or this is your first time, you need to start by thinking about your measures of success. What are your KPIs for your campaign? A KPI is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. You need to plan out your KPIs before you start planning your campaign to achieve your goals.
This step gives you the chance to reflect, gather insights, and regroup. Spend time going through your previous insights and breaking down the results. Stick with those channels and techniques and build upon what worked last year for this year.
- What worked and didn’t work in your campaign last year?
- Which channels drove the most traffic?
- What strategizes are you keeping from last year?
- Which strategies provided the best ROI?
- What are your KPIs for this campaign?
2. Make your plan
When creating a plan, the first thing to do is decide on which goals you want to achieve. Think about the Girl Scouts; for instance, their goal is to win a bike, and they reach their goal by selling the most cookies. They don’t just start selling, there is a strategic plan behind the process (aka sell to family and friends).
Once you have determined your goal, start strategizing. Some plans can be bottom-funnel focused, but the top-funnel goals should be sprinkled into your strategies as well. Yes, converting leads and gaining customers is important, but brand awareness and growing your email list will help get you there.
Now that you have set a goal and determined the end of the funnel, it is time to create a timeline. Timing is everything! When creating a campaign, especially a holiday one, you need to plan in advance. Here are some key dates for the 2019 holiday season that you may want to include in your campaign.
Halloween: Thursday, October 31
American Thanksgiving: Thursday, November 28
Black Friday: Friday, November 29
Cyber Monday: Monday, December 2
Giving Tuesday: Tuesday, December 3
Hanukkah: Sunday, December 22 – Monday, December 30
Christmas Eve: Tuesday, December 24
Christmas Day: Wednesday, December 25
Boxing Day: Thursday, December 26
Kwanzaa: Thursday, December 26 – Wednesday, January 1
New Year’s Eve: Tuesday, December 31
Yes, that is a lot of holidays, and I am not recommending that you build a campaign for every holiday! It all depends on your business – who is your target audience, where are you located, and what is the product or service that you offer. For instance, think about when your buyer is starting to think about purchasing for the holidays. You want to be on the top of their minds. So, don’t start promoting your product the week of Christmas, start a few months before then. For example, MeUndies starts sharing their Christmas line in early November, about two months before that holiday comes around. This holiday strategy is one to write down in permanent marker. Releasing posts early allows time for the campaign to circulate and inform your audience.
You will want to build a launch timeline to run the campaign. For instance, days 0-14 are focused primarily on the pre-launch hype. During these days, tease your audience with what specifically you are going to launch. After your pre-launch hype, it’s now launching day (aka day 15). It’s time to supply your audience with what they have been waiting for. Days 16-20 are held for your post-launch follow-up. Look at your stats. Was it a successful campaign? This is also a time to check in with the customers that interacted with your campaign. Did they like the product or service? If so, this would be the time to thank them for their purchase and encourage them to write a review.
Put these upcoming holidays and the timing of each one into your content calendar and relate each holiday back to the goal you selected in step 1. For example, how will this holiday and a marketing technique help you create brand awareness? That takes us into our next step; building out your campaign sequence.
3. Build your campaign sequence
Now that you have your goal and timing, it’s time to think about how you will execute your campaign.
Build your message
When planning a campaign, make sure to master one consistent message. This is where you tie in your goal and are clear with your audience. The messaging is what captures someone and attracts them to your company. If your goal is to increase sales of your product, be sure to include the benefits of the product and a way to purchase. Your message and CTA pull them in because you have hit their pain point. Next, what is the CTA leading them to do? Do you want them to click a link, visit the website, interact with your sales rep? Be sure to include what the next step is and keep that consistent throughout the campaign. The voice and the story you tell is representing your company. When putting together your campaign, that message (your tone, voice, and story) is so important.
Select your marketing channels
Once you have settled on the messaging, determine what channels you will use for marketing your product or service. For instance, you have the channels of social media – Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter – as well as email, landing pages, blogs, etc. All of these channels give you an opportunity to market your holiday campaign. If you don’t know what channels to use, look at your audience, and where they are shopping or searching for your product. By knowing this, you will have a better idea of which channels to target them through.
- What is the focus of the holiday marketing efforts?
- How will the campaign help us reach our business goals?
- What message is your campaign highlighting?
- What channels does your audience use to shop for your product or service?
- What channels will you utilize to promote your campaign?
4. Determine your assets
Great, you have your strategy down! Now it is time to create a list of assets you will need for your campaign. Whether you need to create content or find content from the past, it’s time to get creative. This may include things like photos, videos, products, GIFs, etc. that you can share on your channels. Don’t forget, it’s a different process for all companies. Depending on the size of your company, what your company does, and who you are trying to reach, you have to be strategic about the content you create. For small businesses, understand what your audience wants and create content based on that. Content should be different on each channel and not constantly reposting the same thing. Instagram is visual, so you need compelling visuals. Video performs better on Facebook, so think about using video there. And Twitter is better for informative content with related images.
Having your assets collected and content ready early is important because throwing posts, ads, or videos together last minute, and expecting it to do well, is not reality. Start this process now, so you are ready when it is time to run your campaign!
5. Audit your website
Without a doubt, this step is important whether you are creating a campaign, or it is just a regular Tuesday in the office. Making sure your website is user and mobile-friendly is huge, especially when you are driving people to your site. People are unattracted to companies that have unorganized, hard to maneuver websites. 75% of consumers admit to making judgments on a company’s credibility based on the company’s website design. A responsive, attractive web design makes for a streamlined experience, positive ranking, more flexibility, and so much more.
Not only does your website need to be user-friendly, but it needs to be prepared for the holiday campaign. Do you need to add new products or services to your website? Do you have a promo code, and does it work? Have you created landing pages to drive your visitors? Landing pages may not seem important, but they help drive visitors to your website, or a certain page that you want your visitors to land on. With your holiday campaign, you can send an email campaign promoting specific products and create a landing page with just the products you are promoting. For example, a customer clicks on the product within the email, and it brings them to the landing page, which hosts the product and the check-out process.
6. Create your Content Calendar
Content Calendars are my absolute favorite! To provide your mind with peace (well, at least mine), have all the details needed with the already created content in the calendar a month ahead of time. Content calendars allow for organization, working ahead, and living without stress. Since the holidays are so crazy, it’s better to schedule ahead of time to not miss a day so you can execute your campaign strategy perfectly. Relating back to my previous example of MeUndies, they publish posts about a particular holiday just over a month before that holiday happens. Your content calendar will help you get ahead of the holiday. It provides a sense of relief when the holidays come around the corner, and you already have your campaign ready to go.
You may ask, can I have separate calendars for different types of content? The answer is yes, but hear me out first. The purpose of having social media, emails, and launch days all in one content calendar is to know when everything is going out for the whole company. You can have everything separately in different calendars but having one that includes everything is extremely important. For example, DirectLync shows you which emails and social posts you have scheduled on your calendar.
A unified calendar keeps all employees in the loop about what is happening on each team. Schedule your posts, emails, etc. for their appropriate dates, but add in teasers before the actual content is released.
7. Add Tracking and Insights
Insights, Insights, Insights. Tracking your content, learning, and analyzing how it performs is important, especially when it comes to campaigns. Having reports on what works and what doesn’t within your 2019 campaign is important for your future campaigns of 2020. We have a few ways to get your reports organized and start tracking your campaign for this year.
- UTM Tagging – “Urchin Tracking Module” is a unique code you’ll add on to the end of your URL and can track how your visitors interact with your posts in Google Analytics. A UTM code can track a campaign, source, medium, piece of content, or a term. For example, it would look like utm_source, utm_medium, and utm_campaign. For your holiday campaign, this is important because it tells you where visitors come from and what specific content drove them to you. You can learn more about UTM tagging here.
- Social Analytics – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube all allow for insights on how your campaign is performing – engagements, reach, website clicks, etc. When you set up your professional social profile, you will be provided with the opportunity to view insights on all pieces of content within that channel. It’s important to keep track of what content gets more engagement and to create more content similar to that.
- Email Analytics – Tracking clicks, opens, and unsubscribes is extremely important. Who is receiving and engaging with the email campaign connected? You can do this through your email marketing platform. For instance, in DirectLync, you can see how many recipients received the email, how many emails bounced, the open rate, click rate, and unsubscribe rate. Also, if you are testing A/B emails, you can determine which one performed better. For your holiday campaign, email analytics is essential to completely understand who is opening, clicking, unsubscribing from your emails. It gives you a better view of who is interested and who is not.
- Sales Reports – Record and report your analytics and metrics of the campaign. Sales can record all interactions, communications, demos, and engagements with leads and contacts through CRM. Your CRM is going to be your best friend through a campaign because you will be able to see which people came from your campaign and purchased.
These analytic tools allow you to track and gather insights and reports on how your campaign is going. It sounds like a lot that needs to be done, but with DirectLync you get all of these in one. DirectLync allows you to generate reports on website, social, email, and contact activity. The reports give you quick insights into recent marketing activities to provide you with in-depth and historical reporting. Get organized, plan your holiday campaign, and report on how the campaign performed to reach your business goal.
And that’s a wrap!
With the holidays just around the corner, gather your marketing team, and strategize new ways on how to create a holiday campaign and reach your audience. It doesn’t have to be stressful or cause a headache; it’s all about making your brand look good.