Many marketers believe that simply creating and setting up a good holiday marketing campaign is enough to have a successful season.
The truth is that thorough planning, customization, ongoing monitoring, and adjustments are needed to ensure successful holiday marketing.
As a matter of fact, trends, customer behavior, and even market dynamics are apt to change during the holiday season—and keeping them all in check while creating a campaign can be overwhelming.
In this article, we’ll discuss 10 essential and actionable holiday marketing tips for 2023. These will help you create a successful campaign that can boost your revenue and retention.
Discover how to optimize email subject lines, leverage first-party data, and more. With the right holiday marketing strategy, your brand can end the year on a high note.
Why do you need a holiday marketing strategy?
Having a strategic holiday marketing plan is crucial for brands looking to maximize sales and engagement. Here are some key benefits of developing a solid strategy when marketing for the holidays:
- Maintain strategic focus: A well-crafted holiday marketing plan offers a clear roadmap, keeping your team aligned and focused on common goals.
- Boost sales: A thoughtful holiday marketing plan allows you to promote the right products to the right customers at the right time. This drives conversions.
- Enhance efficiency: With a defined strategy, you can create cohesive campaigns across channels like email, social media, and paid ads. This saves time and reduces redundancies.
- Ensure adaptability: A well-structured strategy allows you to adapt to unforeseen circumstances, including changes in consumer behavior or market trends. This allows you to tailor relevant and engaging content that resonates with clients.
- Track results: You can gauge the success of your campaigns against predefined goals. Track and analyze your results, identify what works and what doesn’t, and adjust accordingly.
- Nurture customer loyalty: A well-thought-out strategy builds trust and loyalty with your customers. It shows them you care about their satisfaction when you offer value and convenience, and reward their loyalty.
- Gain a competitive edge: Being prepared and proactive places you ahead of competitors who may be scrambling to catch up.
10 holiday marketing tips for 2023
Now that we’ve addressed the importance of strategizing when marketing for the holidays, let’s dive into the heart of the matter. Here are 10 essential holiday marketing ideas to help make this holiday season your most successful one yet.
#1: Start early
The holiday season is a busy and competitive time for both consumers and businesses. You need to be proactive and creative to stand out from the crowd. That’s why getting started early is one of the best holiday marketing ideas.
Here’s how to get ahead of the game:
- Plan ahead: Research and brainstorm holiday marketing tips that align with your brand, products, and target audience. You can also look for inspiration from other successful campaigns or industry trends.
- Outline timelines: Set up a detailed timeline and develop a content calendar for your holiday campaigns. This will help you allocate resources effectively and ensure a smooth execution.
- Test campaigns: Take advantage of the pre-holiday period to test your campaigns in advance. Collect feedback, data, and insights that can help you optimize your campaigns while building anticipation and customer loyalty.
- Use multiple channels: Embrace omnichannel holiday campaigns by reaching out to your audience through various platforms. These include email, social media, SMS, and more. This creates a cohesive brand experience.
- Leverage automation: Save time and effort with marketing automation tools. Schedule your campaigns in advance to reach your audience at the optimal time.
- Craft compelling content: Develop engaging content that resonates with your audience. Highlight the unique value your products or services offer during the holidays.
#2: Say thank you
Showing your appreciation and gratitude to customers is a simple yet meaningful gesture. It not only spreads goodwill but also boosts engagement and enhances your holiday sales.
Here are some holiday marketing ideas to make your thank you emails impactful:
- Personalize them: Tailor your thank you messages to each customer. Use their names and reference their past interactions with your brand to make the message feel genuine.
- Be proactive in timing: Don’t wait until after the holidays to say thank you. Send appreciation messages at strategic points throughout the season. This could be after a purchase or when they’ve been a loyal customer for some time.
- Segment and automate: Create thank you emails that match your customers’ preferences, behavior, and purchase history. Optimize your holiday email templates to ensure you’re providing maximum value to each segment.
- Surprise and delight: Add a little extra to your thank you messages. Exclusive discounts or early access to sales create a sense of delight and leave a lasting impression.
- Share user-generated content: Include a testimonial, review, or social proof from a satisfied customer. This shows the value and quality of your products or services and encourages referrals.
- Express sincerity: Your gratitude should be heartfelt. Avoid generic, automated responses. Instead, be intentional about letting your customers know how much you genuinely appreciate their support.
#3: Be explicit with holiday email subject lines
It’s essential to create holiday email subject lines and preheader text that clearly reveal the email’s content and grab attention. Brush up on subject line best practices.
Be proactive by A/B testing variations of subject lines. Test core automations, campaigns or both. Send one email to half of the group, and the other email with a different subject line to the rest.
Some ideas for test variations include:
- % vs. $ signs
- Emojis vs. no emojis
- Subscriber’s name vs. no name
- Limited time offer vs. no immediacy
#4: Promote value-adds in all emails
Ecommerce is a cluttered and intensely competitive field, especially during the holidays. Stand out by highlighting your primary value-adds in each email message, whether automated or promotional.
We’re talking features like free shipping thresholds, curbside pickup, extended and hassle-free return policies, live chat or 24/7 customer support, and gift wrapping. All of these perks help to build consumer confidence.
A “buy online, pick up in store” option might be someone’s deciding factor. Or, contemplate some value-add stats that might hold sway:
- 68% of consumers want free delivery
- Half want free returns
- Half want package tracking
Post-purchase, instill greater trust and reduce support inquiries by communicating shipping, fulfillment and returns policy information.
Loyal customers are more likely to buy from you again, refer you to their friends, and leave positive reviews. They are also less sensitive to price changes and more forgiving of mistakes.
Here are some holiday newsletter ideas you could use to reward customer loyalty:
- Offer free shipping, early access to sales, or special coupons only to repeat buyers
- Announce holiday VIP programs with exclusive perks like members-only products or sales
- Suggest complementary products or upgrades to loyal customers, increasing their average order value
- Spotlight loyal customers in your newsletters and social media and highlight their positive experiences so they feel valued
- Feature their favorite products, helpfully suggest complementary items, or remind them of their abandoned carts
- Segment your list and provide special offers to high-value customers first
- Send surprise discounts or gifts to your most engaged subscribers
#6: Incorporate SMS and push notifications into holiday marketing
Email should not serve as the be-all and end-all to your holiday marketing strategy. While it’s the meat and potatoes, combining it with other messaging channels boosts sales.
Ecommerce merchants using omnichannel campaigns are rewarded with a 494% higher order rate than those that stick to a single channel. SMS and web push notifications can take you further than email alone, especially with the abundance of messages hitting subscribers’ email accounts from November to December.
While not holiday specific, INGLOT Cosmetics Canada is testament that it works. The company takes an email-SMS-push notification approach with its cart abandonment workflows. Combined, the rate of conversion is 117% over email-only promotions. The automation drives 8% of its yearly email revenue.
If you’re not collecting phone numbers, we urge you to start ASAP.
There are many reasons. First, mobile users are an attentive audience, with 78% of consumers saying they use their phones primarily for texting.
Omnisend customers sent over 54 million campaign SMS and more than 8 million automated SMS in the first half of 2023. Consequently, the number of SMS-driven orders increased by 16.9% compared to the same period in 2022.
Here’s a brief look at how SMS fared for ecommerce merchants during the 2022 holiday season:
- SMS messages sent during Cyber 10 generated 64.9% of November orders
- Black Friday accounted for 23.2% of November orders
- Conversion rates were higher than the average rate for the year:
- November: +28.8%
- Black Friday: +57.4%
- Cyber 10: +19.8%
- Thanksgiving: +40.8%
SMS is versatile. For example, it’s a great avenue for reaching VIP shoppers. Grant your most engaged users first dibs on buying a limited-stock product.
Send time-sensitive texts, like one-off flash sales or notifications about inventory running low. Or, candidly communicate the reasons for a shipping delay. Proactively addressing issues bodes well—34% of consumers say brand loyalty is damaged when they forget about a purchase because it arrived so late.
Texts are also a great addition to automated lifecycle messages. Omnichannel campaigns that incorporate them are about 429% more likely to result in conversion.
Unlike email or SMS marketing, push notifications don’t require registering personal information. These small popup messages appear within a browser or on a mobile phone, reaching opted-in users within a very short time. They’re effective at grabbing immediate attention.
Holiday season is ripe for taking advantage of the push notification’s unique features. Dabble with offering incentives on the tentpole days—it’s a great Black Friday marketing strategy, and ideal for Cyber Monday promotions, too. A customer doesn’t have to be on your site to receive them.
Our pro tip: Target. Create a pop-up about free shipping for visitors who examine your shipping and returns policy. In fact, you can use the same incentive in a notification for those browsing a popular product; just adjust the language and visuals.
Push notifications deliver. November 2022 saw 24% of those who clicked on push messages make a purchase. This percentage increased to 25% during Cyber 10, and nearly 28% over the Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend.
#7: Use first-party data to retarget
If you have subscribers who don’t respond to automations (and who doesn’t?), go where they are. Of course, that place is online, social media sites in particular. The average internet user spends about 2.5 hours on different social channels.
Paid digital advertising might be the megaphone that prompts a purchase. When we say advertising, we mean retargeting to your own subscribers, not random users with certain characteristics who may or may not be familiar with your brand.
With Omnisend, you can sync specific subscriber segments directly into Facebook and Google ad accounts. And there’s no need to stress about ongoing changes in the ad tracking landscape that impact targeted ads. The audience sync feature harnesses your own cache of subscriber emails, so you can stay adaptable as the industry evolves.
Want to reach new subscribers who have yet to open their wallets and make a purchase? Flash a special holiday discount on Instagram. Do you have repeat customers you want to reward for their loyalty? Sneak them a peek at a forthcoming flash sale with a Google display ad.
Retargeting on social will cost some money, but hyper-targeting ads based on customers’ actual shopping behaviors is a smart way to maximize the investment.
#8: Be active on social media
The holidays are a time when people flock to their favorite social media platforms to connect, shop, and share experiences. They’re also looking for inspiration, deals, and recommendations from their friends and influencers.
Here are some tips for social media to engage customers and drive awareness:
- Join in trending holiday hashtags and challenges
- Run holiday giveaways and contests to boost engagement
- Share behind-the-scenes sneak peeks of new products or gift guides
- Post deals and offers on Facebook and Instagram to maximize visibility
- Collaborate with influencers to expand your holiday reach and credibility
- Respond quickly to comments and questions to provide good customer service
- Use holiday-themed content and decorations in your product images and videos
- Engage with your customers actively and in real-time to keep your business on the radar
- Encourage customers to share their holiday purchases using your hashtag for free advertising
- Leverage shoppable Instagram posts and Stories so customers can easily purchase featured products
Ramping up your brand’s social media activity creates buzz and converts shoppers during the high-spending holiday season.
#9: Provide gift suggestions
People often look for ideas on what to buy for their loved ones, especially during busy shopping seasons. By offering curated gift guides, bundles, or recommendations, you can help customers find the perfect products while increasing your average order value.
Here’s how to effectively provide gift suggestions that boost your holiday marketing:
- Understand your audience: Tailor your gift suggestions to the interests, preferences, and purchase history of your target audience. Personalization is key to driving conversions.
- Create gift guides: Craft engaging and informative gift guides that cater to different segments of your customer base. Consider categories such as “Gifts for Him,” “Gifts for Her,” “Gifts for Kids,” or “Stocking Stuffers.”
- Cross-sell and upsell: Suggest complementary products or higher-end options to maximize the value of each sale. You could also offer bundled products at discounted prices.
- Match shoppers to personalized recommendations: Retarget site visitors with ads for items they viewed but didn’t purchase. Also, consider using quizzes and surveys to pair customers with relevant offers and incentives.
- Use captivating subject lines: Maximize results around major sales days like Black Friday with compelling subject lines that highlight deals. The best-performing subject lines for Black Friday is a good place to get inspiration.
- Highlight bestsellers: Showcase your most popular products or those with the highest reviews. These are likely to be well-received gift choices.
#10: Offer free shipping
Free shipping is a hugely effective tactic for boosting holiday sales. It can reduce cart abandonment, create a sense of urgency, and increase customer loyalty. In fact, customers have come to expect this enticing perk during the holiday season.
Here’s how to leverage free shipping when marketing for the holidays:
- Provide free standard shipping on all orders over a minimum purchase amount like $50
- Offer free expedited shipping for customers who spend over a higher threshold or enroll in your loyalty program
- Run free shipping promotions like “Free Shipping Fridays” or “Free Shipping Weekends” to incentivize purchases
- Highlight your free shipping policy prominently in ads, emails, product pages and cart abandonment messages
- Partner with a shipping carrier to provide customers with a discounted or free shipping offer
- Limit the free shipping to a specific time period to create a sense of scarcity and encourage impulse purchases
Gear up for holiday promotions now
It’s tempting to slip into summer mode, brush aside thoughts of the holiday crush, and say, “We’ve got time.” But we live in an age when snowmen and Christmas trees pop up alongside ghost and witch decor.
You want to be on your holiday marketing game this year. With the ever-changing ecommerce environment, it’s wise to get your ducks in a row early so you can adapt and succeed.
Plan for an early start, be direct with your subject lines, broadcast your value-adds, lean on automations, embrace SMS and push notifications, and retarget.
Source from Omnisend
Disclaimer: The information set forth above is provided by Omnisend independently of Alibaba.com. Alibaba.com makes no representation and warranties as to the quality and reliability of the seller and products.