Did somebody say Christmas in July? We did! And no, we don’t mean holiday shopping, family reunions and chestnuts roasting on an open fire— we mean holiday marketing prep! As a business owner, it’s crucial to begin planning and preparing your holiday marketing campaigns before the temperatures start to drop.
Why You Need to Prep Early: An Overview
Your preseason reason for early holiday shopping prep might differ depending on the marketing channels you use to reach your customers. No matter what your strategy includes, there is an abundance of work that goes into developing a plan for your holiday marketing campaigns, including writing copy, creating graphics/photography, and implementation.
A holiday marketing plan is needed to make the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two big consumer holidays that are less than a month apart. Putting off holiday marketing preparedness can lead to disjointed marketing campaigns that are not optimized for conversions and might ultimately confuse the consumer.
You don’t have to worry about the holiday schedule changing— black Friday will remain Black Friday and December holidays will remain on their same dates as well. We recommend getting started now on developing your holiday marketing plan that utilizes all of your marketing channels and is scheduled out through the end of December.
Prepping Your Brand + Building Your Audience
So we’ve covered the basics when it comes to reasons why procrastination is bad, but here is what is often forgotten when it comes to planning for the holidays: if you don’t have a solid bank of potential customers once the holidays roll around, your promotions and sales are more likely to flunk.
This brings us to the more technical side of holiday marketing prep, whether it’s building out your Facebook ad funnel, increasing your subscriber list and learning about their preferences or honing in on your PPC keyword strategy.
Here is a breakdown of the necessary pre-holiday steps for each channel to ensure a successful holiday season:
Holiday season aside, SEO is a long-term strategy at its core. It can take anywhere from 3-10 months for changes made on your site to be recognized by a search engine in such a way that you see a significant uptick in your organic traffic. That’s why when it comes to SEO and preparing your site for the holiday season, there is no such thing as “too early”.
There are too many examples to bring up in one post, so we’ll just leave you with this one:
Business A is planning on doing a big push for candles this holiday season; self-care is at an all-time high with families stuck at home (cabin fever is real). They’ve had internal discussion about this plan, but are waiting until a bit later to get started on actually implementing their campaigns for this promotion.
Business B has the same idea, and they’ve started planning and scheduling out what their campaigns will look like. They won’t actually go live with most of them until closer to October, however their content team has done a huge push for candle related content on their site starting in August. They’ve optimized product pages with keywords, creating blogs on why candles make great gifts, and optimized all of their candle product meta tags.
November rolls around and customer A is on the search for candles to send to family members as a way to keep them connected this holiday season. Customer A runs a Google search for “Candles for gifting”. At this point, Google has indexed all of the new content that Business B added to their site and the algorithm has determined that their site is highly relevant to candles and, more specifically, candles for gifting. They show up on page 1 of search results.
Meanwhile, Google is still trying to determine what kind of search queries Business A is most relevant to, as they only recently added new content onto their site for SEO purposes and the algorithm is still indexing and understanding it. The algorithm thinks that it may be relevant to candles for gifting, but isn’t sure and thus presents their site on page 4 of search results. Customer A never makes it to Business A’s site.
Bottom line, you can’t get started too early with holiday SEO. To learn more about getting your SEO ready for the holiday season, check out this Quick Guide.
When we consider preparing for the holiday season on social media, there are two different aspects to consider:
- Your advertising audience
- Your organic audience.
When preparing your social media advertising campaigns for the holiday season, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve done enough targeting to acquire a bank of potential customers through advertising – customers who are likely interested in your product, even if they haven’t purchased yet. Whether this means they watched more than 10 seconds of your video or clicked on your link, having a warm audience prepared for when you start your holiday ad campaigns will skyrocket your success.
An ineffective alternative would be broad demographic targeting users that are already being bombarded with holiday ads and may have never had contact with your site before. This is the equivalent of throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks. There is a place and time for this, and the holiday season is just not it.
As for your organic audience, making sure that you have grown your following and your reach as much as you can before beginning your holiday social media campaigns will set you up for success. The holiday pre-season is also a chance to get to know your followers so that you can understand how to best market to them when the holiday is here.
Paid search advertising is another example of a channel where experimentation is healthy, but not so much when the stakes are as high as they are during the holiday season.
Make sure that you’ve taken the time beforehand to test out different strategies to see which works best for your products. Know that you might need to slightly adapt your “best” strategy on the fly during the holiday season, but going in with an idea of what works will make it easier to make the adjustments if needed. Keep in mind that you might want to increase your budget temporarily during the holiday season, so budget accordingly starting now!
Similar to social media, growing and understanding your email audience is a crucial step in ensuring a successful holiday email marketing campaign.
The stakes are even higher in this channel, because your reach and your followers (or subscribers) are the same; there is no opportunity for your content to extend beyond your subscriber list if you are following email marketing best practices.
So, build, build, build that list during the holiday pre-season so that you’ve got a decent bank of subscribers to send those exclusive deals out to.
Because the inbox is a sacred space, email marketing can be a bit like building a relationship. There is lots to learn about the person on the receiving end of your emails, including what they like, what they don’t like, what resonated with them and ultimately, what content is most likely to get them to convert.
Spend the holiday pre-season testing out different styles of content to find out what works best for your email list, and how they can be further segmented for a highly targeted holiday email marketing campaign.
From someone who started too late before to you (who will hopefully not have that experience this year); good luck!