The success or failure of your holiday marketing ideas greatly influences revenue growth during the last quarter of each year. We’ve come up with ten reliable holiday marketing ideas that will transform a drab marketing approach into exciting campaigns that engage prospects and drive sales.
Holiday Marketing Ideas
There are two types of people when it comes to the holidays; the ones who can’t get enough—they quote Buddy the elf and triple their electric bill plugging in thousands of glittering Christmas lights—and those who brace for the worst.
Your job is to turn prospects and customers into brand advocates with the loyalty and excitement of Buddy the elf this holiday season. The happier you make your customers, the more your brand will thrive.
1. Deck the Digital Halls
If you’re trying to sell the holiday spirit, the best place to start is with your own brand. Design new images and graphics that celebrate both the season and your brand. Then distribute the new visuals across your digital channels.
Everything, from your social media cover photos and website header images to your email signatures and newsletter banners, can channel the holiday spirit. Coca-Cola is better than most brands at transforming their digital presence during the holidays. They produce visuals that evoke nostalgia, warmth, and joy. As one of the world’s most popular brands, it’s no surprise that their marketing team nails the holiday essence each year.
2. Use Hashtags
Aside from the obvious use of trending holiday hashtags—#HappyHolidays, #MerryChristmas, #NewYearsEve…—try creating a custom hashtag based on a unique campaign. In 2015, REI started the #OptOutside campaign. The concept was simple, but it made a powerful, lasting impression; REI even closed shop on Black Friday to encourage their employees to spend time outdoors with their loved ones.
Two years later, the #OptOutside campaign is going stronger than ever and REI’s hashtag is being used by other big name brands, such as the National Park Foundation and Outdoor Research.
The key to their success was backing the campaign with a mission that made a real difference in the lives of their employees and target audience. Use hashtags that are relevant to your campaigns by highlighting what resonates with your ideal customers.
3. Get Peer Endorsements
An opinion from a personal connection carries more weight than any type of marketing. Why? Because trust is compelling. If your best friend recommends one brand of car freshener and a celebrity on social media endorses a different brand, you’re going to choose the one your friend recommended. People know the celebrity is getting paid and probably doesn’t care about the product they’re promoting. A peer, on the other hand, cares for you and speaks from first-hand experience. For that reason, peer endorsements are a powerful marketing tool.
Facebook’s Bluetooth Beacon offers a great way to capitalize on peer endorsements. All you do is order a Beacon, place it in a central location at your business, and activate it. When someone enters your premises and visits Facebook, they’ll receive informational tips on your business. You can even create a custom welcome note, prompt them to check in, or show them posts on your Facebook page.
The Bluetooth Beacon is especially valuable for restaurants and service-based businesses because it makes recommendations to Facebook users based on visits to the same location by their Facebook friends.
4. Email Campaigns
Email campaigns are a holiday marketing staple. No matter what you’re promoting, email is a valuable tool that can generate huge amounts of engagement and sales during the holidays.
Here are a few holiday marketing ideas you can use in email campaigns:
- Product sales
- Discounts and coupons
- Special offers
- Free shipping
- Gift guides
- Yearly updates
- Holiday hours of operation
- Gift certificates
People tend to be more accepting of promotional emails during the holidays, so don’t shy away from branded content. If your website is based on e-commerce, you should also take advantage of abandoned cart emails. People that have abandoned online shopping carts are some of the easiest leads to convert into customers. Why? Because they were already prepared to purchase your products or services.
5. Focus on Emotional Reactions
Make people feel something through your marketing and you’ll be extremely successful. People tend to rely on emotion—more than they do facts and research—to make purchasing decisions. Creating ads, campaigns, and copy that produce emotional reactions is a powerful way to influence sales. Tell a story, use nostalgia, and focus on compelling subjects to produce feelings of happiness, sadness, shock, and anger.
Check out WestJet’s heartwarming 2015 campaign video, Christmas Miracle: 12,000 mini miracles.
Here are just a few ways you can spark an emotional response from people this holiday season:
- Partner with a local charity
- Make gift baskets
- Donate proceeds
- Match a percentage of donations
- Donate on behalf of clients/customers
- Send handwritten cards to clients
- Share heartwarming stories
6. Target Multiple Holidays
Don’t limit your holiday marketing ideas by focusing on just one holiday. There’s more to the season than Christmas and New Year.
Seasons and holidays to consider:
- End of fall
- Start of winter
- New Year’s
Using multiple holidays in your marketing is especially important when you have a diverse target audience. You want to create inclusive content, ads, and experiences that each member of your audience will connect with.
7. Target Multiple Events
Sometimes it’s the lead-up to the holidays that people love the most because it’s an experience that lasts more than one day. That means you should create highly-targeted campaigns for multiple events:
- Black Friday
- Small Business Saturday
- Cyber Monday
- 12 Days of Christmas
- Christmas Eve
- Christmas parties
The holidays are full of occasions you can incorporate into your seasonal marketing plans. Choose the ones that are most relevant to your target audience and start crafting unique campaigns that engage and convert.
8. Talk About Your Success This Year
This is a fun, low-key way to promote your brand’s successes from the past year. Tell your clients, customers, leads, and prospects how you’ve overcome specific problems this year and how you’ve helped customers overcome their own problems.
Annual company recap ideas:
- Important new hires
- Biggest company successes
- Customer success stories
- Testimonials and reviews
- Upcoming events and plans
Try keeping your yearly recap fun and lighthearted to establish goodwill between your brand and your target audience. You don’t need to try selling all the time.
9. Use Data from Last Year
If you’re not using data to back up your holiday marketing plans, you’re flying blind. What did you do last year and how did it perform? If you’re hitting “repeat” each year, chances are you’re missing out on some valuable opportunities.
Base your new performance metric goals on how your campaigns performed last year and how you were able to measure success. Also, make sure to review external data on consumer purchasing behaviors that will provide valuable insights for your campaign development.
Here are a few sources you should review from the previous year’s holiday campaigns:
- Social media performance
- Industry-specific research
- Campaign conversion data
- Website performance
Use the elements that performed the best and the ones that didn’t work at all to identify new marketing opportunities and room for improvement. For example, if a landing page generated below-average submissions, review your messaging and page elements. A/B testing a change in voice or a shift in copy focus could identify areas for improvement.
Reviewing data from previous years can also help pinpoint new tactics and ideas you haven’t tried yet.
10. Show Some Creativity
Holiday marketing is the perfect time to show off your brand’s personality by flaunting some creative marketing concepts.
Ways to bring creativity to the forefront of your holiday marketing:
- Get clever—if you’ve been relying on the same type of content for the past year, try switching it up by creating custom videos, running contests, or live streaming on Facebook and Instagram.
- Use humor—everyone loves to laugh during the holidays, you just need to tread the fine line between tacky and hilarious.
- Be interesting—what does your audience care about? BarkBox creates social video ads that target dog lovers and owners. The videos show BarkBoxes arriving in the mail with excited pups gleefully awaiting their packages full of toys, treats, and other surprises.
- Use Irony—irony allows you to combine all the previous elements into one. Remember when Nick Offerman sipped scotch and stared at the camera for 45 minutes during a Yule Log video?
For more outside-the-box inspiration, take a look at Budweiser’s extremely successful #HolidayBuds campaign that used vintage packaging and throwback labels to target millennials.
Be as creative as you want so long as the campaigns stay true to your brand identity and mission.
Coming up with great holiday marketing ideas that will successfully boost sales requires time to brainstorm and plan. Start developing your holiday marketing ideas well in advance of fall and you’ll be able to create exceptional campaigns your personas will love.