Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated in November 2022 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
The holidays are a season of giving, and it’s also a season of spending! If there was any time of the year when consumers are in a frenzy to spend, it’s now. According to forecasts, U.S. holiday retail sales in 2022 are expected to reach $1.3 trillion, so it’s not surprising that the season is a blur with holiday marketing strategies designed to get customers’ attention.
Getting your business to stand out from all the holiday promos isn’t easy. The biggest question among marketers is how to outdo last year’s campaign and stand out from all the other stores.
In this article, we have 9 Holiday marketing strategies to give your store that much-needed advantage this holiday season.
1. Create Holiday Themed Videos
Holiday-themed videos are always a hit with customers when the season starts. You can post them on your website, social media pages, and in customer emails. The important thing to remember is to create a fun and lighthearted tone. This is not the time for hard selling; rather, your goal is to become memorable to your audience.
Here are some holiday video marketing ideas you can use for the holidays:
- Gift ideas videos. People are always looking for that perfect gift for a loved one, so if you’re a retailer, a video showing great gift ideas from your store is bound to get a lot of views. Choose the right holiday background music, and make sure to have a strong CTA at the end to encourage a purchase.
- Videos referencing holiday events. If you can, tie your products or services to office holiday parties, family gatherings, or other holiday events. That will keep your business top of mind throughout the season.
- “Year in review” videos. People love to reminisce about the past year during the holidays. If you can reference popular events from the year and tie in your products and services, that’s a great way to get people thinking about your business heading into the New Year.
- Informative holiday videos. For instance, if your business is a school and office supplies store, your videos can be about creative gift-wrapping ideas. Here is a holiday-themed video from Pottery Barn on how to decorate your front door for the holidays.
2. Leverage Your Yelp Presence
The holiday season is a special time for family, friends, and co-workers, which is why everyone tries to find the best places to hold events, purchase gifts, and create memories with loved ones. Yelp’s factsheet as of September 2022, indicated shopping is in the top 3 most reviewed business categories at 16% of its total reviews. Many people go to Yelp to find stores that offer what they are looking for and check customer reviews. As a business owner, you should take advantage of your Yelp profile to help stand out during the holidays.
Make sure that you have “claimed” and authenticated your business, and have responded to reviews that you have received. You should also make sure your holiday hours are accurate. People who search Yelp spend more time on listings with photos.
So, update your profile for the holidays with holiday-themed photos that feature your stores such as your store displays, a Christmas event you’ve held, and even photos that your customers have shared on your social media feeds.
There are also Yelp Deals, where you can offer your visitors incentives for visiting your profile. These are consumer discounts in the form of prepaid vouchers that visitors can purchase on your Yelp listing and use at your store.
3. Spread the Holiday Cheer on Social Media
When not shopping around for gifts this holiday season, customers are on their social media accounts going through updates and looking for entertaining posts to read. As a business owner, your job is to create entertaining posts that will stand out to your target customers.
You can start by creating festive images on your social media, sharing photos of your seasonal products, or even running a holiday giveaway. Whatever it is that you choose, the objective is not to hard sell, but to be memorable, informative, and engaging so customers will remember your brand when they go out and begin their holiday shopping. You also want people to share your postings with their connections so you can reach a wider market base and have a better chance of getting more people into your store.
A few years ago, Krispy Kreme got customers in the holiday spirit with special doughnuts:
4. Launch a Seasonal Adwords Campaign
Digital campaigns affect both online and offline sales, so it’s a good idea to concentrate on getting an effective and timely Google Adwords campaign for the holidays. Google Adwords lets you bid on keywords (pay per click) you would like to use to advertise your business and whoever wins the bidding gets a space at the top of the search engine results page.
You can target holiday keywords such as “holiday gift ideas for teens” or “Christmas gifts for new moms.” The broader the phrase, the more expensive it is usually to bind on, so try to narrow down the keywords as much as possible.
The average cost per click for 2020 was $1.03, but prices can increase by 140 % each year during the holidays. It’s important that you maximize your opportunity considering the costs involved so make sure that your landing page is as festive and generous as the season. Go all out on Christmas specials and countdown incentives to increase conversion rates because your competitors will be doing the same.
5. Create Exclusive Gift Items
One of Starbucks’ best marketing ideas (in some locations) is their limited edition, annual planner. Even with smartphones that can do almost anything to manage your day, the Starbucks planner is still considered a special gift. It’s well made and can only be redeemed by collecting promotional stickers from each coffee purchase, creating a sense of exclusivity.
You can do something similar for your own store. Have your marketing team come up with a special item, a plan, and a budget. For example, you can find a supplier that will allow you to order a customized pen that doubles as a stylus, or an elegant-looking wallet engraved with your logo.
These kinds of holiday marketing strategies will have to be planned ahead of time, and you may have to spend a considerable amount of money for the initial design, launch, and advertising. But if done right, this is a marketing idea you can repeat every year that your customers will look forward to. It will not only increase your sales, but it will also improve brand awareness and reputation.
6. Start a Charitable Campaign
There’s no better time to campaign for a worthy cause than the Christmas holidays. Being the season of giving, consumers are in the mood to give to charitable causes. Partner with a charitable organization, and pledge a donation in kind for every donation a customer makes. Ideally, this should be relevant to your product or brand to make it memorable to your customers.
For example, if you have an office supply store, offer your customers a chance to donate a set of notebooks and pens to schools in need. If your store sells clothing and linens, ask customers if they would be interested in donating winter clothes or a blanket to the homeless.
Have the items already prepared and wrapped in eco-friendly gift wrapping and let your customers write their names on the cards. Before the charitable campaign comes to a close, take photos of when you turn over your gifts to the charitable foundation and make sure to put them on your website.
7. Host a Store Event
Physical store events are always fun, but they’re so much better when done during the Christmas holidays when everyone is in a festive mood.
There is always the meet and greet with Santa event, but why limit your event to that? If you run a bookstore, you can hold a Christmas storytelling event for children. If your business is involved in electrical supplies, invite your target customers to a demo on Christmas lighting hacks. Grocery stores can hold a gingerbread house-making contest where families can join.
Make sure that you advertise these events online through your website and social media platforms. You can offer special discount vouchers valid for the day of the event. If possible, have a blogger or a local journalist cover your event to get maximum visibility for your store.
Take a look at this Christmas-themed Pop-Up museum in Los Angeles.
8. Send Holiday Email Promotions
Last year, emails were responsible for 20% of online holiday site visits, and that is expected to rise this year. In order for your emails to stand out, make sure your subject lines are eye-catching. Add Christmas-themed emojis and imply a sense of urgency on them (e.g. Christmas discount valid for 24 hours only!). As for the content, make your holiday marketing emails worth your target market’s time by adding value to your offers.
Some examples of holiday-themed marketing emails are:
- Announcing extended holiday shopping hours with special discounts beyond the normal operating hours
- Invite your customers to participate in a “naughty or nice” reward after minimum purchase.
- Send an “end-of-year” update email to your customers with special discounts for your most loyal patrons.
- Holiday gift catalog or list of gift ideas
- For online shops, send discount coupons or free shipping vouchers for their next purchase.
9. Make Your Marketing & Promotions Mobile Friendly
The latest statistics on retail e-commerce show 2021 holiday sales from online stores amounted to nearly $4.9 trillion, and that is expected to increase in 2022. Aside from making sure that your website is responsive, there are other mobile-friendly marketing campaigns you can adapt for the holidays. For example, you can offer your customers “mobile-app-only” offers and discounts. Ask customers to provide both email and mobile phone numbers for special discounts when they are shopping in-store and checking out with a purchase.
Here are additional tips for making your holiday marketing strategies work well on mobile:
- Make sure that your marketing messages are short and sweet. Too much text on a mobile message can end up losing your target customer’s interest.
- Don’t require mobile users to provide too much information in order to sign up for a promotion or create an account on your website.
- When marketing on your social media account, make sure to use large call-to-actions and font to make them easier to see on a mobile device. Use memes and other eye-catching images to stand out and attract attention.
Remember that you have only a tiny window of opportunity before a mobile user scrolls down to other posts.
Over To You
The holiday season is an excellent opportunity for marketers and small businesses to aggressively campaign and increase their sales. The only limit to your options is your creativity and how prepared you are to make your store stand out in a sea of holiday marketing strategies.
Krista Fabregas is a staff writer and eCommerce analyst for Fit Small Business, specializing in eCommerce. Krista spent 16 years building two specialty eCommerce sites up to more than $1.5 M in gross annual sales.