Everyone will be online looking for gifts this holiday season. Here’s how to craft an excellent holiday marketing plan so you can be ready when the time comes.

Nine in ten Americans buy gifts during the holidays.

With so many folks splurging on presents for their loved ones, it is a great time to develop an innovative marketing strategy to reach your customers.

Many holiday promotional tools, such as signage and sales, have become outdated. Yet today’s marketplace offers a myriad of new opportunities for holiday marketing.

How can you make the holiday rush work for you? Let’s take a look.

1. Games

Many of today’s marketing strategies encourage folks to engage with each other in a unique way during the holiday season. For example, REI’s “Will You Go Out With Us?” invites customers to take photos of themselves enjoying the outdoors on Black Friday. Office Depot’s “Elf Yourself” invites customers to star in their own elf videos with funny dances and features.

In today’s world of social media photo sharing, shoppers are excited about the chance to get creative and show their friends what they’ve been up to. The novelty of offering games during a particular season gives them something to look forward to all year long.

2. Email Marketing

Start sending out emails early to maximize customer impact. In fact, Over 35% of customers start shopping for holiday gifts before Thanksgiving.

Special promotions and free shipping will make customers eager to complete their purchases before they miss out. Be sure that buyers are aware that the deals are time-sensitive. Direct any call-to-action clicks to a page where customers can purchase the item advertised in the email right away. 

“Buy now” buttons on your e-mail invite customers to immediate action. It can also support other social media initiatives, such as social media sales, contests, and reward promotions.

Consider using words in your email subject lines that invite customer attention. Use of words that let customers know there is free shipping, a limited time, or holiday cheer will make them more likely to click on your email.

Be sure to give options for lazy shoppers or procrastinators to purchase right before the holidays. Consider offering a last-minute sale of holiday products right before Christmas. Some busy professionals will not get what they need until they are almost ready to make a holiday visit, and you will not want to miss their business.

You may also wish to send out emails advertising promotional deals in January. Many customers will have gotten gift cards for Christmas, or they may be looking to use coupons they acquired while holiday shopping. 

3. Holiday SEO

A year-long landing page dedicated to a certain holiday, such as Black Friday or Christmas, is a great way to improve your SEO. 

Update your keywords by integrating holiday-related terms that fit with your content. Review what is trending in topics related to the holidays, as well as what is popular in products and services.

Review your analytics to see what products performed well last year, and what drew people to those landing pages. Check out sites like seoexplode.com for more great tips.

4. Social Listening

Social listening is a tool that allows you to monitor social media channels for mentions of your product, brand, competitors, or any keywords related to your business.

Social listening can allow you to collect data and connect with customers. Something as simple as a response to a happy consumer may bring you repeated business for years to come. 

During the holidays, you can see if your customers are looking for Thanksgiving recipes or discount snow boots. You can also view any negative trends before you pour valuable time and research into new initiatives.

5. Let Them Know The Limits

You want to create a sense of urgency when customers are considering buying your products. A banner across the top of a page on coats letting purchasers know that they can only get free shipping until Monday will increase the chances that they will buy the coats on Saturday.

A “countdown” in the shopping cart phase of the purchase will show your customers that there are a limited number of items available. They will want to beat the holiday rush and get their treasures right away.

Consider sending emails advertising your promotion just as it is about to end. They work best when sent to customers who have clicked on products on your site but haven’t yet made a purchase.

6. Create Gift Guides

Create gift guides for audiences within your target demographics. Many busy professionals would love to be creative with their holiday gift-giving, but lack the time to shop extensively. 

Do a little research before creating your gift guide. Consider which styles and activities are popular among your target audience. 

Your customers can get involved in the process. Consider posting a social media update asking your customers which products they would like to receive for the holiday season. Try posting an image of a new product on social and see how your customers react.

Talk with your vendors directly and see which products are trending. Put your products in categories that would be helpful to customers, such as “for him,” or “for teens.” Customers with a long list of folks to shop for will appreciate the suggestions.

7. Create A Unique Holiday Image

Create a holiday image that is unique to your brand or products. If for example, you have a gift shop, you may want to use a rustic theme with birch branches and faux fireplaces. If you own a modern furniture store, consider off-beat and festive color schemes like silver and yellow. 

When marketing online, infuse images of your products with lots of spirited holiday photos and pictures of cuisine. Show customers how your kitchen gadgets, beauty products, or books can enhance the twinkle in their holiday glow.

Think about what holiday stressors your customers might be overwhelmed by, and how you can make their experiences easier. If for example, you are own a local grocery store, consider offering free food delivery or pre-cooked meals. A hardware store may provide decorating services to local patrons.

8. Use Paid Social Media Ads

Social media ads are relatively inexpensive, and they can help you advertise directly to your targeted demographic. Social media outlets have lots of data regarding their users’ shopping preferences, interests, and other behaviors. 

Social media is also a great way to re-engage customers once they have already visited your site. Someone who is considering buying a book, for example, will be more likely to return to your website and make a purchase once they get information on their newsfeed about a 25% off sale.

Social media advertising can enable potential customers to sign up for your newsletter, request a free trial, or ask for a quote. It is a great way to get leads to pass along to your sales team or build your online sales funnel. 

9. Use Contests

Holiday contests meet your customers where they are without advertising. They will generate buzz around your products. Contests also lead to email leads, which can drive your holiday sales up.

A sweepstake that is easy to enter with a valuable prize will drive valuable buyers to your site. Potential customers will be eager to enter for a chance to win a free gift card if all you are looking for is their name and email address.

Photo contests allow customers to share their artistic ability and give them a reason to check out your site. Your contest can have a holiday theme and design.

Refer-a-friend contests give customers big discounts for supplying the email addresses of potential new customers. You can offer deeper discounts for more referrals. You will get lots of new emails for holiday marketing, and keep your loyal patrons happy.

10. Holiday Packaging

Great holiday packaging includes holiday-colored boxes with special ribbons and thank-yous. Offer unique, classy gift wrap colors to those customers purchasing your products as gifts. 

Anything your customers purchase during the holidays should also include coupons, product samples, or announcements about upcoming sales. They will be more likely to return to your site if they know they can get some money off their purchase.

Holiday packaging is a great way to associate your brand with positivity and happiness. The things that are most important to your customer base should be conveyed in your holiday brand image.

A Successful Holiday Marketing Plan

The best holiday marketing plans are cheerful extensions of your brand that use colors, innovative promotions, and social media to reach the hearts of your customers. Games, contests, and emails can all be used to spread the holiday cheer.

For more great marketing strategies, read our blog today.

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