The holidays are approaching fast, and for those of you in the marketing field, this is probably one of the most hectic parts of the year. Holiday marketing is extremely important for every business, as customers are spending more on average than they normally would throughout the year. According to the National Retail Federation, despite the pandemic’s economic toll, the Americans are going to spend, this holiday season, approximately $30billion. That’s some serious dough.

If all your research has got you here, reading this article, you’re most likely stuck in a rut with your holiday marketing strategy. But, please don’t panic. You still got time. And we’re here with some easy to implement holiday marketing ideas to help you get started easily. Also, we’ll be covering some of the best holiday marketing campaigns to inspire your next marketing and advertising endeavors. 

Let’s get started, here are the main topics we are going to cover in this article:

  1. Why is holiday marketing important?
  2. Most important holiday days for your marketing calendar 
  3. Holiday marketing strategies you can implement this year
  4. Steps for implementing holiday marketing campaigns 
  5. Holiday marketing examples. 

1. Why is holiday marketing important?

We all remember the famous Coca-Cola Santa Claus ads that are usually running during Christmas. It’s safe to say that Christmas and Coca-Cola are almost synonymous, mainly because the Santa Claus we all know today, didn’t always look that way. Santa has been featured in Christmas Coca-Cola ads since the 1920s and it’s only fair to say that Coca-Cola shaped the way we think about Santa today. 

Why am I mentioning all this? To highlight the importance of holiday marketing and to tell you that, especially today, after a pandemic year, having a solid holiday marketing plan can be a lifesaver for any brand. 

Do you want to conquer the busiest time of the year and increase your sales? Course you do! Well, then you must be aware of all the holiday marketing tactics out there. But before we get to that, we should probably start with the basics, which is…

2. Most important holiday days for your marketing calendar

  • Halloween, October 31
  • Thanksgiving, November 26
  • Small Business Saturday, November 28
  • Cyber Monday, November 30
  • Christmas Eve and Day, December 24–25

Halloween

In October, as summer fades and autumn comes, we can expect spooky masks, pumpkin-flavored treats, candles and superhero costumes: simply put, Halloween marketing at its best. Each year, big brands are trying to create impressive campaigns to trick competition and treat customers. Based on the National Retail Foundation’s research, 40% of active buyers tend to complete their shopping before Halloween hits the ground. So even though 31 October is the official date, you have the chance to prepare with Halloween discounts and deals for your customers and increase your income in the early bird sales fever. 

If you feel uninspired or you do not know how to get started, take as an example the M&Ms 2018 Ghosted Halloween marketing campaign. For a candy brand such as M&M, Halloween marketing is essential and for years, their Halloween commercials were impatiently awaited. In 2018 they created a new spot to continue that excitement around the holiday and surprise their fans in a colorful new way that brings humor to one of the scariest nights of the year by sharing a comedic, M&M’s take on the classic ghost story.

M&M Halloween Ad
Source

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is all about being grateful. And a proper and truthful Thanksgiving marketing campaign needs to integrate this theme. This is the perfect opportunity to get festive and share your best deals. Whether it’s through a social media contest, creative giveaway, or engaging video, make sure to start early. Even though we celebrate Thanksgiving at the end of November, plan your marketing strategy ahead. Be creative and include your audience, this holiday season is all about them. 

For example, start creating a challenge or competition to get people excited about your brand. That will help to boost your social media engagement and can be useful for building your email list.  For instance, you can encourage people to submit their Thanksgiving wish lists, then give the winner everything on their list as a prize. Or be more generous, as this Old Navy giveaway- that gave the first 500 shoppers in line at every store in North America a chance to win one million dollars on Thanksgiving, selecting the winner on Black Friday. 

Sure, that is a bit of a stretch. Not many brands have the economical power to host a contest like that. But at least you can take out the main idea from this, which is to give back to your customers in any way possible. You should do that and let us know how it goes. 

Old Navy giveaway part of their holiday marketing strategy
Source

Small Business Saturday

If you haven’t heard, Small Business Saturday is an American shopping holiday held during the Saturday after Thanksgiving in the United States during one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. This Saturday is always the last one in November, so it falls between November 24 and November 30. While Black Friday is typically a day that “big box” retail stores blossom and Cyber Monday is one of the most successful days for online retailers , Small Business Saturday is intended to help small businesses or local merchants within communities. The main purpose of this shopping event is to shift the focus from retail giants to local merchants on Thanksgiving weekend nationwide. 

What’s great about this holiday is that it comes as an opportunity for small businesses to be put into the spotlight in all the Black Friday, Cyber Monday noise. 

That means another great opportunity for business owners to increase their income and come up with new deals for their existing and potential customers. Are you looking for a useful holiday marketing strategy? Support a local charity! Customers love knowing where their money’s going — especially if it is for a good cause.

People donating food

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is an e-commerce term referring to the Monday following the Thanksgiving weekend. It is the second-biggest shopping day and, until 2019, the busiest day for online sales. In 2019, U.S. online holiday sales reached $135.35 billion and shopping events such as Cyber Monday continue to play a big role in holiday shopping success. So with Christmas around the corner, this is the perfect time for your business to take full advantage of the online shopping rush. But how to prepare for Cyber Monday? For a successful shopping event, make sure to follow these steps:

Christmas

Holiday templates banner

Sure, you probably don’t want to make something special for the entire holiday season, what’s most important is that you choose one or two and only focus all your holiday marketing efforts on that, especially if you own or represent a smaller business. Bigger brands have more resources and some millions of dollars to give as a prize, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from all these holiday marketing examples we’re going to give all throughout this article. 

The most important thing is to know what your audience responds to, what channel you can reach them and when. Content and context. Two very important concepts you need to master. 

When it comes to Christmas, we advise you to start simple, with the good old gift card. Gift cards are always a good way to sell. Not only that, the widespread offering of them will impress the customer, at first sight, they will motivate buyers to search for your other promotions and deals and so an increase of your customer loyalty will be possible. 

It just happens that you can create your own Christmas gift cards within minutes. Not to brag or anything, but you may want to click on the image below and see for yourself. 

Christmas Gift Card Template from Flipsnack
Click on the template to customize this Gift Card template

This printable Christmas gift card template will be the perfect idea for any gift giver. So, if you own a small boutique and you wish to get ready for the most hectic time of the year, or you have a well-established brand and you want to fully customize it, to make it your own, then this Christmas gift card template is ideal for you. Print it for selling it directly in your store but also make sure you share it with your social media audience. 

3.Holiday marketing strategies you can implement this year

This year is atypical, we can all agree on that. However, there are some easy to implement holiday marketing strategies that could work wonders, even for the busiest marketing teams, even when running low-budget campaigns. 

Holiday marketing ideas for 2020:

  1. Go beyond discounts
  2. Have a thematic product catalog
  3. Optimize your website for mobile
  4. Use social media to your advantage
  5. Engage with your audience by email. 

Let’s take them one by one:

1.Go beyond discounts

Let’s face it, we’re all used to having our inboxes full of discount codes on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. And there is nothing bad with that. But, step back for a second and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Chances are, you would probably only interact with those brands that have already established a connection with you. If Black Friday or Cyber Monday are the only days of the year when you’re interacting with your audience, you shouldn’t expect high e-mail open rates. Same goes for social media, ppc advertising or any other channel you’re using. 

Go beyond the traditional way of doing holiday marketing. Here’s a cool idea: plan a content strategy and make some valuable content you can share and interact with your audience, months before it’s time to offer those discount codes. How? 

Create some cool-looking gift guides, craft valuable newsletters and make use of your already existing audience. Interact with your social media following and so on. 

And speaking of gift guides, articles like “60+ gifts for men 2020”, or “55 gift ideas for your girlfriend” are always going to rank high on Google. Wrote an article like this one? Great! Make sure you SEO optimize it and distribute it everywhere. Don’t have a blog or don’t quite know how to get started? Do not worry! 

In case you didn’t know, Flipsnack is home to a multitude of cool-looking gift guides templates you can start from.  

Unique Holiday Gift Guide Template
Click on this image to edit a holiday gift guide

Customizing this holiday gift guide will give you plenty of space to add your products and build content around your brand. Grab it, make it yours and distribute it wherever your audience is. You can even embed it on your website. 

Content is a very important part of the holiday marketing season because people have a natural attraction to stories. They want something they can relate to. If you manage to capture that relationship in your words, then you have a new customer, my friend.

2. Have a thematic product catalog

Product catalogs are an incredibly important tool at any time of the year, but especially around the holidays. These are probably one of the simpler holiday marketing strategies out there. The idea is to set up a fast and easy way for your customers to see the products, prices, short descriptions, without having to visit the store. 

If you run a retailer that sells a lot of products, this is even more important. There’s no way someone will be able to walk through the isles of a store and look at every single product. It’s exhausting, and nobody has that kind of time.

With a holiday-themed catalog, you eliminate any sort of issues someone might have when looking for a specific product. They don’t have to wander aimlessly down the aisles of a store, wondering what’s on sale and what isn’t. Right on the front cover, you can tell them what they should expect, and then continue through the catalog with the various items, and list each discount.

Having a well-crafted product catalog is just another way in which you can tell your brand story. And you probably guessed it by now, Flipsnack is here to help. Choose from a variety of catalog templates and customize them for your needs. 

Click on this template to edit

Not only you can tell your brand’s story through a catalog, but most importantly, you can sell products. Yes, you read that correctly, Flipsnack makes it easy for you to add shopping links and product tags. Not to mention you can add videos and GIFs. Great for showcasing your products in action! 

Make sure you have your catalog ready to be shared with your audience, just in time for any holiday. Because you can save it in your account and customize it for Christmas, Valentine’s day, and so on. 

3. Optimize your content for mobile

Optimizing your website for mobile is more important now than it’s ever been, especially for holiday marketing. So much so, that if you don’t have a way for users to interact with your brand on mobile, you need to get that started right now.

mobile phones photo

There are more than 3.5 billion people using smartphones in 2020. That is insane! So it’s no surprise at all that people not only want something that they can interact with on mobile but need it.

Think about all the times you’ve looked something up on your phone, but the website you went to was all out of whack because it wasn’t optimized for mobile. I’m sure that there’s probably not even a unit of measurement that can accurately measure how quickly you clicked away. 

If dealing with an unoptimized website on mobile isn’t enough to convince you to optimize your own website, then nothing is. After all, you won’t be spending that much money and effort with your holiday marketing plan, just to let it go to waste because visitors click away so easily. 

When considering optimizing your website for mobile, make sure you check these main points:

  1. Go to analytics to see how many visitors you have coming from mobile devices
  2. Think about the customer journey and see how to optimize it for mobile
  3. Responsive design or mobile friendly? 
  4. Can you solve the problem by optimizing for mobile? Consider building a custom app, if not. (Best practice in case of eCommerce).
  5. Last but not least, keep it simple and test it on multiple mobile devices. 

4. Use social media to your advantage

Just like most people are using their mobile devices, most people are also on social media. Social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest realized this and made it possible to promote your brand directly on their platforms. It’s honestly one of the most successful ways to advertise out there right now.

Facebook, for example, has a catalog-style promotion tool that allows you to display your products in a carousel. Customers can click to slide left or right and view your beautiful products. We all know that Facebook and Instagram reach is a whole other topic, nonetheless, if you worked on building a valuable audience here, make sure to engage with it. 

For example, if you’re planning on launching a new product or line of products for the holiday season, make sure to advertise this all over your social media feeds. Want all the attention? Organize a giveaway! Offer discount codes by working with the best influencers for your audience. Even better, make your audience, your influencers! Reach out to the people who are already interacting with your posts and who are frequently talking about your brand in a positive manner. They are your brand ambassadors!

kiehls holiday marketing instagram post example

 5. Engage with your audience on email. 

Holidays are always a great way to reach out to not only current subscribers, but to help generate even more leads for potential customers. When it comes to holiday marketing, ideally your promotional campaign should have been running for at least a week before the holiday festivity begins. Naturally, the closer to the big day, the more intensive your marketing efforts should be.  You can start your campaign with some good old welcome emails. For a higher open rate, use more attention-grabbing words, such as:

  • Order now
  • Free shipping
  • Today only
  • Last minute 
  • Open now
  • Big discount  
  • Hot deals

Just as there are various holidays to celebrate throughout the year, there are even more email examples out there to help guide your creative process. Like this one:

Taco Bell email marketing example

For their holiday campaign, Taco Bell came up with a great concept. Every time you bought a $15 gift card, they’d give you an extra $5 gift card for free. So the main idea is that by buying someone a gift, you’re also receiving one. This campaign reminds us all that holidays are all about giving, sharing, and being grateful and if you and your friend or a family member are big fans of Taco Bell, then it’s an experience you want to share. Whether you’re offering gift cards, store credit, or coupons, get inspired by this idea and increase your revenue.

Steps for implementing holiday marketing campaigns

Plan ahead

This is probably the most important tip for marketing in general. But a global pandemic strikes and then making plans seems like a funny joke. Knowing your business to the fullest, who your audience is, and reaching out to them can be a more effective way to start implementing an efficient holiday marketing campaign. Usually, planning ahead will help you narrow in on your goal for the season, and it will help you track your metrics a lot easier. This still applies to any marketing campaign, however, we should all learn something from a quite different year. The most important lesson being: ADAPT!

January-calendar

Simple things like creating a content plan, preparing your marketing materials ahead of time, and starting ad campaigns early are just a few examples of how you can get ahead of this holiday frenzy.

Believe it or not, a lot of those Christmas and Black Friday ads you see are prepared well in advance. Some of them are prepared while most of us are still getting our sun-tan on in the summer.

Yes, that is right. If you wish to stand out with your Christmas campaign, you must plan it ahead. Not only the ad but, probably just as important, everything that leads to it. Let’s face it, if you’re not Coca Cola or John Lewis, people probably don’t wait impatiently to watch your Christmas ad. This is why you need to build tension and create a marketing plan. Being organized is key! 

 It can be very, I repeat, VERY easy to get lost in all the confusion of the holiday season. Being organized will help cut back that confusion and allow you to focus more on the important stuff. 

Analyze your previous campaigns (and mistakes)

Aside from being generic on the topic, planning ahead also means analyzing your past campaigns. We highly recommend you do that before even starting to work on even the smallest holiday marketing idea. That means getting your hands deep in Google Analytics metrics, thoroughly analyzing the past 2 years and on top of that, make sure you get into some customer data. Read reports from customer service, see how your social media profiles are doing, what people are talking about your business, products and/or services and so on. 

Maybe last year you messed it up with logistics or customer service. Make sure you go beyond marketing and fix all the other issues you may encounter with your holiday marketing plan. 

Sometimes even if your marketing is on point, you planned every little thing about your ads, social media posts and you have it all figured out, things can go wrong easily. 

What makes a winning holiday marketing strategy? Our simple answer to this question is: go beyond marketing. Analyze more than your previous marketing efforts and review who your customers are today. This should be the starting point for any holiday marketing plan.

Also, the basis of any marketing campaign is to sort out your goals. The first step in setting realistic goals is to analyze data from previous campaigns. If you didn’t run any, think about what you wish to accomplish by running holiday marketing campaigns. 

Do you want to increase loyalty? Increase sales by 25%? Or maybe you want to promote your newly launched eCommerce. 

Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Specific) goals. 

Think about what you wish to achieve and only afterward about the actions that need to be taken to reach them. I can’t stress enough the importance of really knowing your audience. 

Start early 

We hinted at this in a previous section, but let’s dissect it a little further. If you’re planning any marketing campaign, everything, from concept to the final version of the marketing plan must be planned early. We all know how it is with all the back and forth, so you need to have it all sorted out in time. All your social media posts, videos, graphics, holiday flyers and brochures, e-mail newsletters and all other marketing materials that you are planning to use, must be completed on time for the big launch. 

holiday templates banner

For us at Flipsnack, we see a pretty big influx of Christmas holiday marketing materials as early as September. The earlier you can get your big sales and promotions in front of your customers, the earlier they can anticipate those sales.

black_friday_ad example for your next holiday marketing campaign

But, as a side note, some people do get very annoyed with Christmas advertising if it’s too early. Plus, you don’t want to advertise so early that whoever sees the promotion will forget about it when it comes time to buy. So balance is key and most importantly, knowing your customers.

Make a schedule

Having a defined schedule is very important. The momentum leading up to the actual big event should build slowly, but not too slowly. You want to tease the customers, but you don’t want to irritate them. This may take a little practice, but there should be a very clear schedule for when ads are placed and items go on sale. Let’s give an example.

Let’s say that you’re building up your business that sells video games for a massive Black Friday blowout sale. Well, that industry has a lot of competition. You’ll want to define your schedule very carefully so that your customers have enough time to think about the sale, but not so long that they forget. How can you do this?

Black Friday is always the day after Thanksgiving. Most retailers will advertise about two weeks in advance. But the real trick here is to be ready ahead of time. You may want to start prepping ads as early as summer. A well-defined schedule is essentially a map with landmarks (deadlines), leading you to the treasure (sale day).

holiday marketing schedule example

Be sure to sharpen this schedule over time. You will not get it right on the first go. Heck, you probably won’t even get it right on the 20th try. But, you will definitely benefit from a nice and organized schedule.

That being said, you can always prepare your materials early, and choose to release them at the most ideal time. 

Choose your words wisely

Let’s be real here, you’re going to have a lot of competition during the holidays. I don’t say that to discourage you, but to sort of keep you focused instead.

You know the saying “The pen is mightier than the sword”? It’s incredibly true. Words (even though we usually type them nowadays) are such powerful tools. Very few things in the universe can build something so elaborate, and tear it right down just as easily. Translating that into marketing terms: your words, depending on how accurate and compelling they are, can either attract customers or push them away. Choosing the right thing to say, whether it be in a brochure, an online catalog, or anything along those lines is absolutely dire. Whatever you choose to say not only needs to sell your product, but it needs to showcase customer empathy. It needs to show them that your product or service fits into their lives.

Keep it simple

Simplicity is a very important aspect of holiday marketing. Potential customers can get very confused if you’re not straightforward. Confuse them too much, and they’ll go right to the competition.

Nobody wants that, right? Simple and powerful ads that point customers directly to what they want with straightforward calls to action are the best approach any brand could take. 

But the trick here is to remain simple and keep your brand’s voice unique. So without trying to be ironic, it’s not so simple being simple. But, with the right amount of preparation, and clean execution, it’s perfectly possible.

Be sure to sharpen this schedule over time. You will not get it right on the first go. Heck, you probably won’t even get it right on the 20th try. But, you will definitely benefit from a nice and organized schedule.

That being said, you can always prepare your materials early, and choose to release them at the most ideal time. For example, in our editor, you can create whatever you need, keep it safe within your account, and then set it to the public or distribute it at any time. It doesn’t have to be right away.

Starbucks holiday marketing campaign example
Source

Be genuine

This kind of plays along with the points above, but it deserves a separate section here. Being genuine is incredibly important. Customers aren’t dumb. They know when they’re being tricked.

What does this mean for you? It means that you should be bringing something to the table that the customers can be excited about. Shoppers wait all year for certain items to go on sale. Let them know what the wait was worth it.

merry-christmas-ad example

Creating great deals is the perfect way to retain existing customers and attract new ones. It really is as simple as that.

Holiday marketing examples

One of my favorite clothing brands, H&M, is a mastermind when it comes to holiday marketing. They bring an element to the table that really nobody else can, all while maintaining their brand story. Just check out this video ad they created with Wes Anderson:

In fact, they have a long history of creating meaningful advertisements with the help of celebrity influencers, and not just for holidays.

H&M are considered titans when it comes to holiday marketing. It would almost be an understatement to say that they know what they’re doing. They create trends, and others follow. For example, they launch a completely new and unique Christmas collection each year.

On the social media front, H&M rock the show, too. They create visually pleasing yet fairly simple ads that get the message out there without overwhelming the viewer.

H&M-christmas-sweaters

Outside of the holiday season, they remain customer focused with their social media campaigns and brand apps, constantly updating them on sales and special promotions. 

To summarize all of this, H&M absolutely crushes it year-round, but especially during the holiday season when it comes to marketing.

Video campaigns 

Speaking of H&Ms festive ad created by Wes Anderson and the much anticipated John Lewis video ad, video campaigns are a must if you can afford to take your brand’s storytelling to the next level. 

Video campaigns are a great way to generate sales and increase brand engagement. In an increasingly busy online world, you must work hard to grab attention. A video advert should use the first 3 precious seconds to draw your audience in with something inherently eye-catching. Take for example the John Lewis & Partners Christmas advert released by British department store chain John Lewis & Partners. 

John Lewis & Partners launched their first Christmas advert in 2007. It has since become one aspect of the holidays that can always be relied on to spread some cheer, so much so that it has become a hallmark of the festive season, signifying that Christmas time is upon us. For example, the John Lewis 2020 Christmas advert, titled “Give a Little Love”, is inspired by the sense of community spirit shown by the British public during the coronavirus pandemic.

John Lewis 2020 ad
Source

Unlike previous years, when the advert was focused on a single protagonist, this one is filled with a number of different characters who each perform touching acts of kindness.

The two-minute film begins with a boy looking up at a football which has become stuck in a tree. In a bid to help, a young girl opens her umbrella, which turns into an enormous red heart that she throws at the tree, nudging the football loose. 

The heart emblem is then carried through a series of animated scenes, featuring an array of characters and animals depicted in different forms of moving art, such as claymation, CGI and cinematography. The storyline illustrates how acts of kindness, large and small, can multiply and positively impact the world in which we live as we pass them on to others. 

Don’t be afraid to break the mold      

As important as it is to follow in the footsteps of the successful ones in front of you, it’s also important to make a name for yourself, too. Sure, all of these tips above work great, but there’s no way possible to explain every holiday marketing strategy, simply because there is an infinite number of them.     

There are a few things that we could suggest. For example, starting early is always a great idea. But, only you know your audience. You know what they respond well to. If that means breaking out of the mold to appeal to them, then by all means, shatter it.