Digital Strategy | Guide

Your holiday marketing campaign checklist

Marketing Exec Desi Stoyanova, goes through a checklist to help make sure you're doing all you can to create a profitable Holiday Campaign this year.

24 November 2016 ( words)
Desislava Stoyanova Desislava Stoyanova

Retailers will spend £5.6 billion in the run up to Christmas 2016 and make this Christmas advertising the highest ever.

With Christmas approaching, customers are bombarded with advertisements, special pricing offers and coupons. All social channels become flooded with marketing campaigns and it can be really hard to capture attention. In this article we've put together some of the best practices that you should use to check your plan for this holiday season to help create and execute a campaign that takes advantage of all the marketing and business development opportunities that the Christmas season offers for your business.

The opportunities during the festive season are numerous. For instance, this year the total UK holiday spending is anticipated to reach £73 billion. That means a typical British family will spend more than £800 celebrating Christmas this season. Furthermore, shoppers are likely to spend £5 billion over the course of an extended five-day Black Friday weekend, predicts e-commerce consultancy Salmon.  

Needless to say, Christmas is a critical time for many advertisers and a huge profit opportunity for retailers. Spending on Christmas advertising will be at its highest ever with retailers spending £5.6 billion leading up to Christmas in 2016, £300 million more than in 2015.

It's common practice for many businesses, however, to focus all their attention on the pre-holiday season and miss out on all the opportunities that the post-holiday period has to offer. We have therefore added some useful tips on how to make the most of the post-Christmas period as well. Don't forget that this is the perfect time to retain those new cu you've worked so hard for.

Organising a creative and fun holiday campaign will most definitely significantly boost your profitability. The period before, during and after Christmas is the perfect time for increasing consumer acquisition and conversion, and reaching out to your target audience. Delivering a unique and memorable holiday campaign will allow you to build a stronger emotional connection with your users,thus increasing customer loyalty and brand affinity. This way, the holiday season could turn out to be one of the most profitable times of the year for you and for your business.  And remember, the following points are applicable to any seasonal marketing campaign. 

Planning is key

Before you choose techniques and tools, you need to first define your targets, objectives and benchmarks. It's essential that you think about your goals and what it is that you want to achieve with your marketing campaign before starting with the project. A great tool to use is the Digital Marketing & Measurement Model (DMMM). It is a very simple but yet hugely effective model that will help you run a much more successful campaign.  

Plan the timetable of your activities and create a day-by-day schedule. Approaching your calendar from several angles and having a plan B in case something goes wrong will help you save time later in the process and ensure the smooth execution of your holiday campaign. Christmas is a busy time and all your competitors will be sparing no effort reaching out to consumers. You don't want any last minute surprises to hold you back.  

Days with the highest engagement and conversion rates you need to prepare for are:

  • Days with increased consumer activity (the five hectic days of December 15-20) 
  • Peak sale days (the week before Christmas December 17-23)
  • Search of post-Christmas deal days (Boxing day / weekend and the day before New Year's Eve) 

Source: GetResponse.co.uk

Customise your offering

Be creative! Don't simply create a campaign; that is something everyone can do. Create an experience. Add emotion. The holidays are the perfect time to build an emotional bond with your customers. The positive feelings of family, giving and gratitude are all around us, and a smart, well-planned campaign that delivers a unique and fun experience will help you leverage these emotions and connect on a deeper level with your target audience.

Make sure your campaign is easy to share with OG data. Word of mouth advertising is something many users hugely rely on. Consumers are easily influenced by what other people say about your product or service. Recommendations made by friends are especially valuable for people when deciding on what to buy. In fact, a study in 2015 showed that eighty-three percent of online respondents in 60 countries say they trust the recommendations of friends and family and it reamains the most credible form of advertising. So it's imperative that it looks good on those platforms as people won't share something that 'looks' bad and has no visual element to it. Here's our basic OG markup for any page:

< meta property="og:site_name" content="Distinction" />
< meta property="og:type" content="website" />
< meta property="og:locale" content="en_GB" />
< meta property="og:url" content="PAGE URL" />
< meta property="og:title" content="PAGE TITLE" />
< meta property="og:description" content="PAGE SUMMARY" />
< meta property="og:image" content="URL OF IMAGE YOU WISH TO DISPLAY" />

< meta http-equiv="content-language" content="en-gb" />

< meta itemprop="name" content="PAGE TITLE" />
< meta itemprop="description" content="PAGE SUMMARY" />

< meta name="twitter:card" content="summary" />
< meta name="twitter:site" content="@distinctionuk" />
< meta name="twitter:title" content="PAGE TITLE" />
< meta name="twitter:description" content="PAGE SUMMARY/DESCRIPTION" />
< meta name="twitter:image" content="URL OF IMAGE YOU WISH TO DISPLAY" />

Take, for instance, the John Lewis Christmas adverts which have been the undoubted winners of winter video advertising for the last several years. How are they so successful? The John Lewis adverts tell a story – and not just any story; they are created in a way that generates an emotional response. Because they play on people's emotions, these adverts are so powerful that people are driven to repeatedly share them on social media. Their 2015 Christmas Advert, Man On The Moon, was one of most shared videos on the planet, reaching over 26 million YouTube views. This year's campaign, Buster the Boxer, features CGI foxes, badgers, squirrels and hedgehogs. People can play around with Snapchat filters featuring Buster the dog, Twitter stickers and also watch behind the scenes footage. This is an example of a campaign that goes beyond the ordinary and truly takes advantage of all available channels, which brings us on to...

Create a consistent experience across all channels and devices

Don't focus only on direct channels such as PPC /AdWords, Display and Email Marketing but pay attention to your organic strategy as well. Make sure that your blog content or any landing pages you create can be indexed and ranked within search engines.

Create specific seasonal landing pages, that can be used for SEO, PPC and email campaigns to boost conversions for those key topical phrases you've chosen to focus on. Don't forget to include online deals with fun campaigns such as countdowns, social sharing, contests and gamification that will make your audience even more involved in your offering. Writing blog posts will help you add value and drive higher volume of in-market traffic to your website.

All of this new content (landing pages, blog posts, online deals) is something that your target audience needs to know about. Therefore, you should make sure to promote it well in advance through social media and email in order to reach out to as many people as possible.

As well as this, use mobile. More and more customers are browsing the Internet looking for presents on their smartphones and tablets. Mobile marketing is rapidly growing and gives you plenty of opportunities to become more interactive and reach out to more people. Try to think differently and make use of all on-the-go features mobile offers you, such as phone cameras and location-based services, in order to market your promotions to consumers that are nearby. Chat apps are becoming increasingly popular and are proven to be hugely effective in reaching out to customers; get ahead of the game and get yourself a chatbot for your seasonal strategy.

Don't overlook your post-holiday strategy

A campaign shouldn't stop on the 25th! Many retailers exhaust all their resources on the days leading up to a holiday, missing potentially lucrative strategies for the post-holiday period. With the inflow of customers you've had over the holidays, the days after Christmas are the best time for your business to retain these new customers. Be smart and keep up your outreach throughout January.  

Follow these post-holiday tips and make sure you are ready for the second round: 

  • Use your pre-holiday campaign data wisely in order to successfully implement your post-holiday remarketing tactics. Find out which products sold the most and which items received the best reviews. Closely monitor new contact to find out which ones are engaged and have made a purchase and are thus worth focusing on. Make follow-up offers across all channels to customers who've already shown an inclination to buy related products. Understanding your consumers' habits will help you more effectively generate a second sale from customers.
  • Track products that received the most interest and alert users when those items are back in stock. You could offer them at full price or on sale, or add January coupon codes to make up for when the product was unavailable. This way you can show your customers that you care and therefore increase loyalty and brand affinity.
  • Keep your content and landing pages live as they will be still very important for next year, or you can adapt them for other campaigns.
  • Christmas is the time for giving. Therefore, a great way to increase sales during the post-holiday period is by using the link-selling technique - ‘linking’ together items that match or could be used together. Send out themed emails that display matching products your customers might be interested in. If you play your cards right, the sales of complimentary goods might turn out to be more profitable than the sale of the initial product itself.  

Key points

For many of us, Christmas is the time to give and receive gifts, prepare special festive meals and be around our loved ones. For all those running a business however, Christmas is also the time to make use of all those marketing opportunities that holidays have to offer. There are many things marketers, retailers and sales people need to take into account in order to make the most of Christmas.  

Plan strategically. Your holiday and post-holiday campaign needs to be planned and integrated within your annual strategy. Your marketing activities need to be regular throughout the whole year and only slightly intensified during the holiday periods. When preparing your budget bear in mind that ads are generally a much higher price during December. More firms are competing and advertising gets more expensive across all social networks. 

Know your audience, and what social networks they like to use. Tailor your offering according to the social media channel and the group of people you are targeting.  

Stand out from the crowd. It's not good enough to just do whatever everyone else is doing. If you want people to distinguish you from everyone else, be different! Find a new angle and put a new twist on this year's holiday campaign.  

Delivering a shareable campaign, with personalised content, great perceived 'deals', and a consistent multi-channel experience will help you create a recipe for maximum holiday-season success.

Desislava Stoyanova

Author: Desislava Stoyanova