Posted by Kristine Jacobson

The holiday season is an exciting time for business: during the stretch of time between Black Friday and Christmas this year, retail stores are expected to rake in $1.1 trillion in the United States. eCommerce sites also enjoy a significant uptick in sales, which may climb to $135.3 billion before New Years’ 2020.

That being said – for businesses that don’t sell consumer products – the holidays can be notoriously sluggish. It’s the time of year when productivity winds down, performance dips, deals dry up and new prospects are hard to find. Depending on the industry, Q4 can be the worst time for business: and that’s why a great marketing strategy is so important.

The Holiday Marketing Spree

Once December rolls around, even brands with a stodgy reputation are known to join in on the festivity. During the mid-2000s, Office Max drew millions of visitors to its website thanks to the tremendously successful “Elf Yourself” campaign. While office accessories are not a popular choice of stocking-stuffer, Office Max managed to associate itself with Christmas thanks to its timely creativity.

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Holiday marketing campaigns can be difficult, but when executed properly they can leverage the season to retain customers and generate new business. To help you along the way, we’re sharing four competitive tips that will make December your favorite time of year:

  1. Festive Branding

Visual branding has a big impact on consumer behavior. Once a year, consider updating your website and social media pages to signal that the holidays are approaching and you know it:

  • Color scheme: Christmas is associated with red, green and white; for Thanksgiving and Black Friday, consider black, orange and brown
  • Typography: consider adopting ornate typography for banners and homepage elements
  • Seasonal imagery: adopt typical holiday motifs in your imagery from snowy landscapes to winter dress

On social media, branding is even easier: beyond updating your banner and other visual elements, look through tags to discover holiday-themed posts, images and articles to share with your audience. These will immediately impart a festive look to your profile and drive engagement with half the effort.

However you choose to update your branding, be careful to avoid clichés that strike your visitors as “tacky” and imagery that doesn’t truly reflect your business. Leave Santa Clause and reindeer to Hallmark and avoid animated snow like the plague.

  1. Capture the Rush Traffic

If you still have AdSpend left in your budget, never fear: the holiday season is one of the best times to spend it due to fluctuating but predictable surges in web traffic. Take advantage of AdTech with a holiday ad campaign targeting social media users, SERPs and web banners.

  • Seasonal copy – all the rest of the year, producing eye-catching copy can be difficult, but the holidays are writhe with inspiration: from one-time-only discounts to end-of-year projects, draw in clicks by connecting your brand with the holidays
  • Seize the moment – time your campaign to be live when a high number of people will be sure to see it. The traffic surge kicks off with Black Friday and repeats on Cyber Monday the following week. It fluctuates through the entire month of December, surging again during and after Christmas.
  • Retarget gift-shoppers – it goes without saying that much of the holiday surge traffic is concentrated on e-commerce sites. Consumers are researching products, click ads and abandoning their shopping carts. Retargeting will bring in a high CTA by specifically targeting those who haven’t found what they’re looking for yet.

It’s clear that retail businesses have the upper hand on holiday ad-clicks, but others can benefit too. For service-oriented brands and B2B organizations, end-of-year messaging works better than discounts or shopping-themed copy, which brings us directly to the next tip:

  1. End-of-Year Content

Holidays are a time of reflection approaching the end of the year, and that makes it the perfect time for retrospective content about your brand, industry and products. Looking backwards, compile interesting trends and events from the previous year; looking forward, publish content on future directions, and good things yet to come.

Likewise, the holidays are a great moment for open letters from the CEO, reports, progress updates and well-wishes from your company. Alternatively, consider tutorials, infographics and guides for common industry “chores” like upcoming audits or financial reviews.

Brands with a less “thoughtful” and more customer-oriented voice may opt for product-related tips, informal “listicles,” new year resolutions, personal finance, travel-destinations and many other topics that relate prospects to the next calendar year. 

  1. Seasonal Messaging and Offers

Everyone loves a Christmas card, and your customers are no different. Over the holidays, prepare special messages for your email list, social media users and mobile subscribers to wish them well.

  • Use the brand suggestions in Tip #1 to create themed templates in your email platform of choice. They can be re-used for future holiday campaigns and show subscribers that this is a special occasion.
  • Wherever possible, personalize your message and headers with the subscriber’s name; for a step further, create multiple messages tailored for different customer segments.
  • Include a limited time offer, discount or coupon code just for your subscribers with an expiration date. To raise the sense of urgency, forward them to a landing page with a timer.

Amazon’s 2017 holiday campaign

Above all, remember that the point of a seasonal message or discount is not primarily to drive traffic (although it can and will): the point is to build customer loyalty and recognition for your brand.

The Ghost of Christmas Future

A great holiday marketing campaign can produce results quickly. But if you don’t see them, don’t give up: brands with a solid track record for end-of-year performance didn’t get there overnight. In order for customers to remember a business, they must be exposed to it repeatedly, and seasonal associations are formed the same way.

A consistent, annual effort to participate will help your business to improve its performance over time. More importantly, it will pay future dividends when customers recall previous campaigns. Holiday marketing is both an immediate strategy and a long game: stick with it, and the future will reward you.

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Conveyance Marketing Group is a team of bright, innovative and talented veteran marketers dedicated to big ideas, fresh insights and measurable results. We pride ourselves on taking challenging marketing issues and turning them into opportunities for our clients, on pointing brands in the right direction, and on getting our customers noticed both online and off. From branding to websites to digital marketing, and public relations, we handle all your marketing communication needs! Web Design and Development | Brand Strategy | Inbound Marketing | Social Media | SEO | PR

Kristine Jacobson

Kristine Jacobson

Kristine Jacobson has more than 25 years of marketing and communications experience with notable corporate leaders as well as emerging market contenders. She offers expert marketing strategy with a touch of creative flair. Her extensive knowledge of strategic marketing, marketing plan execution, and branding illuminate the big picture without losing sight of the details.