Holiday Marketing Ideas 2017: 14 Examples for Black Friday & Christmas

Discover 14 holiday marketing campaign ideas to help you plan ahead and reduce stress during the holiday season.

By Jane Vance ・9 min read
Best Practices
Campaign & Contest Ideas

Are you someone who often waits until the last minute to do, well, everything? As a recovering procrastinator, I’ve been working hard over the last few years to plan ahead. Little things, like arriving at the airport early and packing my lunches the night before, have reduced my stress levels.

If you’re like me and you’re looking to change your ways, I have the perfect solution for you:Get started on your holiday marketing campaigns today! I'm here to help."

I chose six ShortStack templates to help you run successful holiday marketing campaigns and I explain in detail how to use them.I've also included multiple ideas for each template, so whether you need a Black Friday campaign, ideas for Thanksgiving promotions, or unique Christmas marketing campaign ideas, I have you covered.

Pick Your Discount Campaigns

Successful holiday marketing campaigns often focus on discounts. I like our Pick Your Discount template, because it allows people to choose the discount they really want. Why is this a good strategy? Maybe $10 off the entire purchase is a great deal for one person, but a BOGO coupon is better for someone else. Want to add a little fun to your Pick Your Discount campaign? Host a giveaway where folks can win one of your products or a shopping spree if they sign up for a discount. Below you'll find two marketing ideas - one for Black Friday and one for Christmas.

#1: Black Friday - "Choose Your Black Friday Discount"

Giving people the chance to choose their own discount will make your sale stand out among the thousands of Black Friday offerings! When customers have the power to pick the discount that appeals to them, they're more likely to put your store on their Black Friday shopping route. Plus, it enables you to collect useful information about popular promotions or products: If no one chooses your "2-for-1" sweater deal, but dozens opt for the coupon offering "20% off" their entire purchase, you've got data to inform future marketing.

#2: Christmas - "All I Want for Christmas Discount, Plus Sweepstakes"

The holidays are all about giving, so give your customers the chance to get a little something for themselves. With an All I Want for Christmas campaign, users can share their email address and then get a discount on a gift they really hope to receive. After a week or two of accepting entries, draw a winner from the people who have signed up for the discount. Be sure to choose a winner while your coupon is still valid, so those who didn’t win still have plenty of time to go out and purchase the item.TIP: Send an autoresponder email to all entrants after they submit your form with a thank-you message that also includes a coupon to be used later in the holiday season, or sometime in the new year.

"All I want for Christmas" Campaign

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Create Your Own Pick Your Discount Campaign

Recipe Submission and Voting Contests

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of holiday-season traditions? For most folks, I bet it's something food-related. Everyone can name their favorite dish for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas, so why not host some contests where folks can post their recipes, vote for their favorites and maybe even discover a new recipe to try this holiday season? Recipe contests blend nostalgia and engagement perfectly -- who wouldn’t return to your campaign each day to vote for their grandma’s famous pumpkin-spice cookies? Before you get too hungry for some holiday treats, take a peek at these delicious holiday campaign ideas featuring our Recipe Template.

"Great American Recipe Contest" Campaign

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Create Your Own Recipe Contest

#3: "Classic Thanksgiving Recipes with a Twist Contest"

This contest works best if your audience includes lots of foodies. You could feature several different categories, each with its own entry form, where people submit their twist on a green bean casserole, their favorite turkey-cooking tip, or their prize-winning pie recipe. After the recipe-submission period is over, use our Voting Widget to enable voting in each category. TIP: Require folks to submit their name and email address in order to vote. After the contest closes, use our Email Automation feature to announce the winner and send everyone the winning recipe.

#4: "Christmas-Cookie Recipe Swap"

This is a fun twist on a Christmas tradition: the Christmas Cookie Swap.  A Christmas cookie recipe swap is an engaging way for people to share special holiday recipes. Folks will submit their recipes just like they would for a contest, but you display the recipes within the Voting Widget -- if you don't want people to be able to vote, simply disable voting and the entries will be displayed. TIP: If you want people to be able to share the entries they find, enable sharing within the Voting Widget.

Instagram Hashtag Contests

Looking to build some buzz around your business? Well, an Instagram hashtag contest might be just what you need. Instagram hashtag contests require people to post on Instagram using a specific hashtag in the caption. News about your contest spreads when folks see their friends’ entry posts and click the hashtag on Instagram to see the associated posts. We have a few different Instagram hashtag contest templates, but the ideas below feature the template with our Feeds feature. TIP: When setting up a hashtag contest, be sure to include your company’s name in the hashtag. For example, if ShortStack were hosting a Black Friday shopping spree contest, the hashtag would look like this: #ShortStackShoppingSpree.

"Hashtag Charity Contest" Campaign

View Example and Create Your Own

#5: Black Friday "#ShoppingSpree Hashtag Contest"

Black Friday. Just writing the name brings images of shoppers rushing around the store to score the best deals. If you aren’t a retailer, or if you plan to hide out at home instead of opening your doors on Black Friday, consider an online shopping spree. Encourage entrants to post photos along with the hashtag #YOURCOMPANYShoppingSpree to win a prize or a shopping spree after Black Friday.

#6: Thanksgiving "#Thankful Hashtag Contest"

I love it when marketers step back and encourage folks to remember what is truly important during the holiday season. A hashtag contest where people post what they are thankful for has the potential to be both fun and rewarding. Ask people to use the hashtag #YOURCOMPANYThankful to post pictures of what they are thankful for, with the winner receiving a donation to a charity of their choice. TIP: If you intend to use some of the entries you collect for future marketing, be sure to request permission from your users, and post terms and conditions on a landing page. Click here to create your own landing page.

#7: Christmas "#SpreadCheer Hashtag Contest"

Don’t make the people who enter your Christmas giveaway decide between giving away their prize or keeping it for themselves. Instead, run a contest where they win two identical prizes -- one to give and one to keep! Ask entrants to post photos on Instagram featuring the person they would give the second prize to, along with the hashtag #YOURCOMPANYSpreadCheer, and then watch the entries roll in.

Multi-Day Giveaway Calendar

The best holiday social media campaigns keep people coming back day after day. Why?

Repeat visits keep your brand at the top of the user’s mind throughout the duration of your campaign."

Our Multi-Day Giveaway Calendar template encourages repeat visits because each day, a door is unlocked with a new prize. Visitors can submit their information to win that day’s prize, but they can’t enter all of the days at once. Do you think creating a multi-day giveaway calendar might work for you? Then check out the Christmas and Black Friday ideas I have for you!

#8: Black Friday "7 Days of Deals"

We all know about Black Friday, but what about the additional shopping days that come after it, like Cyber Monday and Super Saturday? Don’t let the fun stop after 24 hours. Instead, post a different discount each day for seven days following Black Friday. Give folks just one day to access each deal, but allow them a couple of days to redeem the coupon, especially if you run a brick-and-mortar store or a restaurant.

#9: Christmas "Countdown to Christmas"

Looking to build your email list to use for some post-holiday marketing? A “Countdown to Christmas” campaign is just the ticket. Offering a different prize each day, with some urgency to submit entries, may appeal to a wider audience of potential customers. Plus, if people are returning to your campaign again and again, they are more likely to think of your business when they are out shopping for gifts, or looking for a place to enjoy their evening.Suggestion: If you don’t want to hold a giveaway each day, don’t worry! Instead, display a coupon, show a fun holiday-related tip or tease a giveaway that will be popping up later in the week.

"Multi-Day Calendar Promotion" Campaign

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Create Your Own Holiday Calendar Campaign

Personality Quiz

BuzzFeed-style quizzes can be used for so much more than finding out which "Friends" character you are or the Harry Potter house you'd be assigned to. They can also be great marketing tools, especially during the holiday season. Why? Well, this might surprise you, but people can be a bit indecisive. If you give them a tool to choose a great recipe or the perfect gift, then you might just help them make up their minds. You know, come to think of it, my team should come up with a quiz for Christmas marketing campaign ideas! But since we haven’t done this yet, there are some examples below.

"Find Your Next Potluck" Campaign

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#10: Thanksgiving "A Recipe for your 'Tastes' Recipe Selector"

Everyone has their favorite Thanksgiving recipes, but sometimes it’s fun to bring a new dish to the table. The problem is, how to choose one? That’s where a Thanksgiving recipe selector using our Personality Quiz comes into play. Ask your fans questions about their food preferences and other “tastes,” then show them a recipe idea based on their answers.

#11: Christmas "The Great Gift Generator"

Do you have great holiday gifts on your store shelves? Show off your products with a gift generator! Simply ask the users a few questions about the person they're buying for, then display the perfect gift based on those answers. A gift generator is a fun way for people to discover gifts they want to give and gifts they want to receive. Suggestion:Are you requiring people to submit their name and email address to see their quiz results? Put that information to good use after the holidays! Once the holidays are over, use our our Email Automation features to set up an email to be delivered to folks who took your quiz. The email could be announcing your next contest or your after-holiday sale.

Event RSVP Form

Did you plan a killer sale you want to get people excited for, or will you host some great holiday parties? From restaurants to clothing stores, toy shops to skating rinks, everyone hosts some sort of a special event around the holidays. Create an RSVP form to enable folks to sign up to receive more information about the event, or to allow them to reserve a coveted ticket. RSVP forms also grow your email marketing lists for after the holidays. I’ve shared three ideas below.

"Black Friday Coupon" Campaign

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#12: Black Friday "VIP Sale RSVP Form"

For Black Friday, create an RSVP form for your sale that sends users an email after form submission which allows them to enter the store during special “invite-only” hours. Be sure to tell customers they need to show the invite on their mobile device or print it out in order to have access to the special sale.

#13: Christmas "Pictures with Santa Express Lane Pass Form"

"Pictures with Santa" events bring both kids and their parents into your store, but there can be a long wait for that perfect photo. Give people the chance to access an Express Lane to the North Pole if they submit their information to your form.

#14: New Year’s Eve "Party RSVP Form"

Restaurant, club and bar owners know that New Year’s Eve is a big day for business. Create a New Year’s Eve RSVP form with a limited number of spots to help gauge your expected turnout.Suggestion: Schedule an email to send a reminder email a week or a few days before your event with our Email Automation tool.

There you have it! Fourteen ideas you can implement starting now, and prevent stress related to holiday marketing. Of course if you need other ideas, or help in executing any of the ideas covered here, we're standing by to help.

About the author

By Jane Vance ・9 min read

Jane has over a decade of martech experience, with an emphasis in content marketing, UX, and customer success. Her combined skillset and years of hands-on experience make her a valuable player in the industry. In her free time, Jane loves quiet family dinners at home and a good book.

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