Insight | Marketing | Strategy

Preparing your holiday marketing strategy

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 average UK consumer is expected to spend £2046, a 5% jump on 2017 estimates. 

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 £6.4 billion leading up to Christmas in 2018.

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 customers 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) 


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 on social with open graph (OG) data to take advantage of what has been identified as the most valuable form of advertising: word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM). Consumers are easily influenced by what other people say about your product or service. In fact, according to Nielson, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. As a result, it’s not only smart to master the ability to generate word of mouth, it’s essential to fuel your seasonal sales. Ensure that your content is optimised for social sharing with OG data so it’s visually appealing and entices your ideal customer to promote your brand. 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, The Boy and the Piano, features Sir Elton John and depicts his rise to fame. The ad highlights the milestones of Elton’s career, but at its core tells the story of how one Christmas gift – a piano belonging to Elton’s grandmother – inspired and influenced the course of a little boy’s life. The ad’s conclusion that some gifts are “more than just a gift” serves to remind customers of the special moment of giving a Christmas gift that will be treasured forever. By looking to create an emotional connection with your target buyers, you are more likely to influence their intent to talk about your brand and decide to buy. 

Create a consistent experience across all channels and devices

Don't focus only on direct channels such as PPC, 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.

Maximise the potential of the holiday season

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. 

Focus on longevity. The biggest mistake that retailers make when executing a Christmas marketing campaign is focusing solely on the number of customers that will visit their website over the season alone. It’s vital that you take advantage of the opportunity to turn these new customers into repeat buyers and give them a reason to return to your website and your brand, time and time again. There are a number of ways you might go about ensuring customer retention: for example, you could encourage sign ups to a customer rewards program, offer discount codes to Christmas shoppers during the January sales period, or nurture these customers through email marketing campaigns. Focus on the lifetime value of your customers and you’ll get a better ROI this holiday season. 



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.