It used to be just one massive push for Christmas. However, the game has totally changed. You can blame it on Hallmark, consumerism, or American’s love of a good time, but whatever the cause, we now actively celebrate a crazy number of holidays.
While we dipped our toe into holiday readiness by prepping holiday email campaigns, it’s now time to put on our game faces. The marketers’ Super Bowl (aka holiday season) is upon us, and as the old adage goes, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
So how can you proactively prepare your digital marketing strategy and get the most returns during the holiday season? Let’s break it down.
Pre-Load Your Social Media
During the holidays, you should have an incredible amount of content cannon fodder ready to go. You know which holidays are coming up, so you already have an idea of when and what to post, making content calendars a breeze.
Plus, the holidays are a great time to really connect with your target demographic on social media. With a nearly unlimited well of topical holiday cheer to post about, you have the rare opportunity to break out of your normal content, humanize your company and post some non-promotional, brand-conscious content.
To take your holiday social media to the next level, here are a few things you can do.
- Preplan your content for Q4 and automate. Create your content and load it into your automation platform of choice. (Don’t have one? Ask us and we’ll give you a rundown) You’re going to be too busy overseeing the higher-level marketing campaigns to think about whether you’ve posted to your social media accounts.
- Think about the timing. You may have to stray from your typical posting times during the holidays. Think about when people are most likely to engage on the days that they might be out of the office.
- Plan your social media ads thoughtfully. The competition is stiff during this period, so your copy, timing, and demographic targeting need to all be laser-focused. Doing so will ensure that you don’t overextend your budget and miss out on the return potential. Take this time to deep dive into your social media ad campaigns and find what worked, what didn’t, and get granular with who and how you’re targeting before the holiday season starts. (We’ll dive deeper into paid media, below).
When it comes to social media for the holidays, the absolute best thing you can do is write and pre-schedule as much content as you can right now. Once that is locked and loaded, you can focus on some of the higher-level strategies.
Fine-Tune Your Paid Media
It’s easy to get into the habit of doing what works. In order to grab ahold of the highest returns this holiday season, you’re going to have to crack open those analytics, hunker down, and think smarter with your paid media.
Everyone pulls out all the stops during the holiday season. Bid rates get higher on PPC campaigns, influencers start upping their rates and ad space costs skyrocket. It’s important to have a stronghold on your target demo and goals before upping your budget to compete.
Branding aside, there are many things you can do to spruce up your paid media strategy before and during Q4.
- Look at your past. Take a look back at what performed well last year.
- What creative worked well?
- Which campaigns should be revisited?
- Which audiences performed well?
- Which promotions drove the most revenue?
If it worked well last year, do it again!
- Test new methods. Stick to the methods that are tried and true, but also dedicate a small amount (5-10%) of your overall paid media budget to test new channels, strategies, promotions and more.
- Build and segment your audiences. All audiences are not equal. Fine tune your holiday marketing campaigns by segmenting your audiences into groups and customize your ads to meet buyers where they are in the buying cycle. For example, ads targeted to past purchasers vs. prospective buyers will look very different.
- Target Gift Buyers. Expand your keyword bids to include terms that people searching for gifts might use to find your product. In addition, use social advertising to target users who are friends of someone who likes or follows your page.
- Be proactive. Unlike the social media content strategy of “automate as much as possible”, with paid media, especially pay-per-click ads, you can’t set it and forget it. During the season, bids and impressions radically shift throughout the day, so you need to keep a close eye on it, and be ready to react in the moment. Be sure to set up some automated rules and limits, so that you don’t accidentally exceed your budget.
Remember, people are more poised to spend during this season, so capitalize on the energy and potential of the season by fine-tuning your paid media strategy to what prospective buyers may want to see.
Get Your Website Traffic Ready
You know how busy the mall gets during the holidays? And how frustrating the whole shopping experience is from parking alongside holiday-crazed drivers, to navigating the mall shops, to standing in forever long lines to check out?
Don’t let that be your users’ experience on your website. Prepare for an influx of potential holiday traffic and ensure your site will deliver an exceptional user experience.
- Run a speed test, and make sure your site is loading quickly. Nothing kills a potential customer like a laggy website. Beyond that, high load times can also hurt your rankings.
- Talk to your web host about capacity. Discuss your current server’s capacity and the estimated holiday traffic. Request an increase if necessary.
- Consider using a CDN. Using a CDN (Content Delivery Network) can improve load times and deliver a more seamless customer experience. Some CDNs will also continue to load your site even if your server crashed behind the scene. We use Cloudflare for our agency and it’s continued to work great for us.
- Enhance UX. Is your site easy to use and navigate? Are calls-to-action and forms readily available? Is the checkout process seamless, easy and bug-free? Make sure everything is intuitive and straight-forward before the holiday rush.
- Optimize product descriptions and titles (if you have them). Refresh your keyword research and incorporate any keywords that could help put your products in front of potential shoppers. For example, ‘gifts for kids’. Stick to changes that you plan to have live for a month or two and use paid media for any promotions you want to highlight for shorter time frames.
Plan and Plan Some More
Ultimately, the best thing you can do to ensure a killer holiday season marketing strategy is to tighten up your holiday strategy, know your customers, and plan. Be sure to:
- Create everything you can beforehand
- Automate what you can
- Understand your paid media analytics and get specific about your number goals
- Be proactive and involved in your paid media campaigns
- Capitalize on the holiday copy opportunities
- Get your site ready to handle potentially larger volumes of traffic, especially if you have an ecommerce site
If you have any questions about getting holiday ready, we’d love to strategize with you. We wish you a very merry marketing season!