Fall is upon us, which means changing the leaves, the smell of pumpkin spice in the air, and of course, an onslaught of holiday marketing campaigns. It can be hard to stand out in a sea of businesses rushing to take advantage of the holiday spirit. Creating effective holiday marketing campaigns requires cozying up to the customer and connecting with them on a more emotional level.
With US retail eCommerce sales projected to reach $236 billion in 2023, you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to take a piece of the pie, and getting a jump on the competition means starting your holiday marketing campaigns early.
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What to expect during the 2023 holiday season as far as sales
It is no question that the way people shop has changed. While holiday shopping once meant going to the mall and piling your car with gifts, the pandemic resulted in a dramatic shift to eCommerce. This, however, was not a permanent shift, with only 14% of customers reporting that they would stick to strictly shopping online for the holidays in 2021.
That being said, things have not returned to the fully in-person model of holiday shopping either. More than 70% of shoppers surveyed in 2021 reported that their holiday shopping experience would involve some form of digital.
As a result, holiday marketing trends for 2023 cater to the omnichannel shopper with a combination of online and offline strategies.
Social media will still play a major role in shaping buyer decisions, with 58% of consumers reporting that their holiday shopping is inspired and influenced by social media. In 2023, more than half of adults in the US will not only be influenced by social media but will make purchases via social media.
This means you should be prepared for increased activity on your social channels. Make any necessary changes to ensure that you have a system in place to effectively handle an influx of engagement, including customer service to ensure the customer experience is positive.
Start a holiday season campaign as soon as possible
You might feel like it is too soon to start you thinking about holiday campaigns, but waiting for the clocks to change is a mistake. As we said, the early bird gets the worm, especially when it comes to holiday marketing campaigns.
It seems that every year people are getting their holiday shopping out of the way earlier and earlier. While holiday shopping might be closely associated with Christmas, nowadays it starts long before. More than 51% of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving.
In the past few years, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have generated a huge amount of revenue. In fact, in 2020 on Cyber Monday businesses raked in a whopping $10.8 billion, making it the biggest eCommerce selling day of all time.
Let’s not forget about Halloween. This year, consumers are expected to spend $10.6 billion on the holiday, with participation rates post-pandemic higher than ever.
In other words, start cooking up holiday marketing ideas now before you miss the boat!
How to create a holiday content strategy
If this isn’t your first rodeo, you will have data on your side. Before you start building your holiday content strategy, review your past strategies to understand what worked and what didn’t in previous years.
If your business has undergone any major changes in the past year, make sure to take that into account. Has your customer base changed? If so, you will need to change the messaging of your holiday content strategy to fit the new demographic.
On that same note, understanding your target audience will reveal the best way to get their attention. A younger crowd will respond to social media marketing campaigns while sticking to email marketing is a safer bet for older customers.
Either way, a content-driven approach should focus on creating a personalized shopping experience. Consider holiday gift guides and discount codes that appeal to different segments of your customer base. Customers should have a real incentive to choose you over the competition, so make sure you aren’t luring them in and not delivering.
This is a chance for you to build lasting relationships with your customers and convert new customers, just remember holiday content strategies are not one-size-fits-all.
Marketing plans for major holidays
Having an arsenal of holiday marketing campaigns will prepare your business in advance, so you can avoid the stress of planning last minute and simply roll out each campaign as the holidays approach.
Mark your holiday marketing calendars with these major holidays so you can create an organized marketing plan.
1. Halloween marketing
First up on the holiday docket, we have Halloween. Don’t make the mistake of assuming Halloween is just for kids. 76% of American adults celebrate Halloween in many ways, from passing out candy to trick-or-treaters to dressing up.
Whether your business is brick-and-mortar or online, don’t be afraid to get spooky. You don’t have to be traditionally terrifying or sell candy to fit the bill. Halloween is a great opportunity to show off your creative side.
For example, Heinz gave their Ketchup bottles a creepy makeover in 2021.
They took their regular product and just changed the packaging to fit the Halloween theme. They also hosted a Halloween pop-up store in Los Angeles where they sold limited edition Tomato Blood costume kits, complete with makeup palettes and vampire fangs.
If you are a small business Heinz’s campaign might feel over the top. If so, you’ll probably find our guide to Halloween marketing ideas for small businesses to be helpful.
2. Thanksgiving marketing
Thanksgiving is all about being Thankful – duh. You can show your customers that you are thankful for them by building a marketing campaign around this concept. This is the perfect opportunity to show your appreciation by giving loyal customers a gift, or holiday-themed giveaway.
Thanksgiving is also a holiday focused on togetherness and an opportunity to appeal to the customers’ emotions. Postmates, a food delivery app, did just that with their “Friendsgiving” campaign.
They created a list of recipes from different moms, including ingredients that could be purchased via the app.
While it is important to have a Thanksgiving-focused marketing campaign, this is also a good time to start thinking of some creative Christmas marketing strategies. Thanksgiving really gets people in the holiday mood and kicks off the December holiday season.
3. Black Friday marketing
After Thanksgiving, the next biggest shopping day is Black Friday (and Cyber Monday). Black Friday marketing campaigns target shoppers looking to get a good deal. If done well, Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns can add up to 25% of a business’s yearly revenue.
While Black Friday used to just be one day of sales, it has now expanded into Cyber Monday and for some, even longer. Walmart offers a week of deals leading up to Black Friday.
Your Black Friday marketing campaign can include a mixture of social media, email, organic, and paid marketing. For a more detailed explanation of how to create irresistible campaigns, read our guide of 10 Black Friday promotion ideas.
Oh, and while we’re on the subject of a good deal, why not take advantage yourself? Black Friday also offers SaaS sales for businesses. In 2023, you can get up to 50% off on SaaS for B2B and B2C project and marketing management, sales, and support tools.
4. Christmas marketing
The moment we’ve all been waiting for, the big kahuna, Christmas marketing. With holiday spending set to jump 10.5% this year, people are spending more money than ever on winter holiday shopping. The thing is, this is no secret, and everyone is chasing a major sales boost which is why taking the time to build your Christmas marketing campaign is so important.
You can start by building anticipation early. Share teasers or clues about your Christmas offering before releasing the full details. Email is a great channel for this. We covered creative Christmas email strategies in our blog.
Besides starting early in order to be successful, another element of a successful Christmas marketing campaign is to go multi-channel. Every channel from email, to social media, to your website, should reflect your campaign to pull in as many customers as possible.
Remember, you want to make sure your Christmas marketing campaigns provide real value to your customers. Nothing will fall flat faster than a campaign you’ve been building up for two months only to offer a tiny discount.
Valuable doesn’t always mean complicated. Think of Cocacola’s tried and true Christmas packaging. It appeals to the nostalgia and cheer that people love to feel during Christmas.
5. New years’ eve marketing
Christmas may be the climax, but the holiday season isn’t over just yet. You still have a chance to ring in the new year with some New Year’s marketing campaigns. People also tend to spend less in the first few months after the holidays, so the New Year is a good chance to get those final sales to boost and tide you over.
You can start rolling out your New Year’s campaigns right after Christmas and let them run into the first few days of January.
After the holiday people are looking toward the future and everything it will bring. Many people make New Year’s resolutions with the hopes of achieving their goals and bettering themselves in the coming year.
Marketing ideas that reflect this mindset will appeal to customers who want a fresh start like rolling out new products or launching a campaign specifically for new customers.
Net-A-Porter created a perfect New Years’ marketing campaign that appeals to the idea of the New Years’ resolution and shows the customer exactly how they can help them better themselves.
12-holiday marketing strategies for 2023
With so much money to be made, and so many businesses launching holiday marketing campaigns at the same time, it can feel overwhelming to know where to begin. We’ve broken down 12 marketing strategies to help relieve the stress.
1. Create user-friendly content to convert buyers into loyal customers
The holiday season will almost certainly lead to spikes in sales, but converting these customers into return buyers can be a challenge. With 25% – 40% of the total revenue of many businesses coming from loyal customers, it is a challenge worth pursuing.
One way to do this is by creating user-friendly content to increase brand engagement both before and after the holidays. This can be done via follow-up communication with holiday buyers. Utilize email, social media, chat, whatever, as long as you’re communicating.
Review customer data to understand upselling opportunities amongst holiday shoppers and send them emails throughout the year to try and regenerate interest. You should also send up updates about new products or sales to customers regularly so that they feel included and engaged beyond the holiday season.
2. Send out holiday newsletters
People almost always have their phones on them and they don’t only use them to check social media, which is why email marketing is a great tool for businesses to utilize for holiday marketing campaigns.
A simple and effective holiday marketing strategy is to send out holiday newsletters via email. A newsletter can be sent to multiple segments of customers and doesn’t need to be overly personal to be effective.
Use your newsletter to announce holiday promotions or share gift guides. Sending your customers a seasonal greeting is another great idea. You can play with the content so long as it is in line with your brand identity and voice.
3. Use hashtags
Hashtags are your friend, bestie! How else do you expect to gain visibility on social media platforms? Hashtags allow you to reach an audience beyond those that already follow you.
Hashtags also allow for a great source of user-generated content. For the holidays, host a giveaway in which users upload photos and use a predetermined hashtag. This is one of the best ways to spread the word about holiday promotions while expanding brand visibility on social media.
You can also follow existing hashtags to figure out what your customers are interested in this holiday season.
Hashtags are an amazing resource, and they’re free!
4. Offer free rewards and discounts
Freebies and discounts are a tried and true marketing campaign, after all, who doesn’t love a good deal?
Incentivize customers by offering free shipping or a gift with their purchase. Even if customers are shopping for their loved ones during the holiday season, they will appreciate a little something for themselves. 30% of customers make a purchase just to gain something.
72% of customers look for discounts and sales from brands when making their purchasing decisions. Holiday shopping can break the bank for a lot of customers which is why they appreciate a discounted price.
You can also show loyal customers that you appreciate them by offering a holiday gift or special discount.
5. Make your holiday campaigns branded and unique
You don’t want your marketing campaigns to blend in with the countless others that customers will see during the holidays. When building your campaigns think about what makes your company unique and use this as a focal point. You want your marketing campaigns to be in line with your brand identity and show consumers that you bring something special to the table.
Try to think of something that will get customers’ attention like catchy subject lines for your email marketing campaigns and use email signatures as part of your branding strategy. This will give a personal yet professional feeling to your holiday email campaigns.
6. Use social media to promote your brand
Once again, rolling out your holiday marketing campaigns on multiple channels is a great way to reach a wide audience. Your target audience might be different on social media than with email marketing, so while your brand’s voice should stay consistent you might want to tweak your content to best appeal to your social media followers.
Also depending on the social media channel your campaign might be more image-focused, like with Instagram, or text-heavy like with Twitter. Social media allows you to not only connect with current customers but also expand your reach to new ones.
7. Start a video marketing campaign for the holidays
Many companies turn to video marketing campaigns during the holidays, this might be because videos tend to appeal to consumers’ emotions more than an email or regular post on social media.
While video marketing campaigns might sound complicated, 92% of marketers make videos with assets they already have. There is also a lot of room for creativity when it comes to video marketing campaigns.
You don’t have to be the next Steven Spielberg! Simply wishing your customers happy holidays with a video marketing campaign will help set you apart from the competition.
8. Offer top customer experience
Customer experience can make or break a relationship between a customer and a business. No matter how good the product is, if the customer experience is negative it could mean the end of the sale and any future sales at that.
To ensure a top customer experience, make sure you have a strategy in place that guides the customer from first engagement to long after the sale has been completed. The fewer friction points, the better.
Consider including an FAQ page on your website so customers have information readily available. Responsive and adequate customer service is another important element, especially when there is potential for issues with an influx of holiday sales.
Follow up with your customers after a sale, ask for feedback, and keep them in the loop about any new products or changes that may be of interest to them. Communication is key!
9. Use retargeting
Retargeting is a marketing strategy that involves utilizing the client information already available to you. By reviewing existing data, you will be better able to understand the motivation of different segments of your customer list and market to them accordingly.
For example, segment your one-time buyers and send them a marketing campaign informing them of new products related to what they purchased in the past, or bringing a discount to their attention with the hopes of re-engaging them.
10. Partner with influencers
Partnering with influencers around the holidays can help expand brand awareness and engagement with new customers. Many younger people look to influencers when deciding what products to purchase and often have large audiences. By working with influencers, their audience will be exposed to your brand.
11. Boost your SEO campaigns
SEO campaigns help to drive organic traffic to your website when customers search via keywords related to your product. To boost your SEO campaigns for the holidays, make sure your content strategy reflects your holiday marketing strategy. This way when customers search for holiday gifts, they will be more likely to find your brand even if they have never shopped with you before.
12. Boost your PPC campaigns
On a similar note, you want to make sure your PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns reflect your holiday marketing campaigns. People are more likely to engage with ads for a product or brand that represents what they are looking for around the holidays.
If you already have PPC ads, make sure they are updated to match the holiday spirit. If you don’t usually use PPC campaigns, it might be worth implementing them to drive traffic during the holiday shopping season.
Best B2B holiday marketing examples
B2B holiday marketing campaigns will differ slightly from B2C campaigns. However, the general principles remain the same. Here are 5 successful B2B marketing campaigns to give you an idea of what works.
NeverBounce offered a significant price cut for a limited time with their Black Friday campaign. B2B marketing is less about emotional purchasing and more about data-driven purchases.
Their campaign is straight to the point, shows the customer how much money they will save, and creates urgency. The design is clean, yet eye-catching and there is a CTA allowing recipients easy access.
Canva’s Black Friday email campaign also stuck to the basics of B2B marketing, showing the consumer what their business will gain from using your product.
3. Google My Business
Google My Business also stuck with the no-frills approach to their holiday marketing campaign.
Their email marketing campaign opsimply reminded their customers not to forget to update their business hours to reflect the holiday calendar.
Opensense kept things simple by adding a holiday banner to its website. Banner ads are useful for spreading holiday cheer, without getting too complicated.
Another effective B2B marketing campaign for Black Friday is BullGuard. What sets this campaign apart is the countdown timer in the bottom left corner, urging a purchase before time runs out on this 70% off deal.
Best B2C holiday marketing examples
B2C holiday marketing campaigns are all about the warm and fuzzy. Unlike B2B, B2C campaigns appeal to the emotions of the customer. Check out these examples of B2C holiday marketing campaigns that never fail to spread holiday cheer.
When the red Starbucks cups come out, everyone knows that the holidays are just around the corner. This means the addition of special holiday drinks to the menu, including the beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte.
These relatively small changes to the Starbucks packaging and menu are extremely effective for marketing, and not too complicated to achieve.
Etsy created holiday gift guides to help give their customers different ideas for gifts. This helps narrow down the search. With such a vast inventory, choosing a gift on Etsy can be overwhelming. These guides make it fun and easy to decide on a gift.
HBO came up with a creative holiday campaign that was sure to boost sales. They allowed their current subscribers the option to gift 12 episodes of any show to non-subscribers.
Not only does this allow their current customers to get a little something extra out of the platform, but they know that many viewers will be hooked after 12 episodes and subscribe to HBO themselves.
Brand your holiday email campaigns with a festive signature template
The little things also count when it comes to holiday marketing campaigns! Seasonal messaging and email templates have been shown to help build customer relationships and boost sales.
Think of a festive signature template as the proverbial cherry on top of a perfect holiday email campaign.
Email signatures are the last thing that readers see and taking the time to customize your email signature will leave a lasting impression.
A wise man once said, don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.
This can be applied to almost any scenario, including, believe it or not, holiday marketing campaigns. Sure, there will be a ton of competition, but there is also a huge potential to boost profits during the holiday season.
One of the best ways to ensure successful holiday marketing campaigns is by being prepared. Do your research, get to know your customers, and build campaigns to fit their needs.
Hopefully, our guide can serve as a beacon of light guiding you along your marketing campaign journey this holiday season.