The Essential Interactive Marketing Guide for the Holidays: Part One

Our two-part holiday interactive marketing calendar helps you plan ahead and execute successful marketing campaigns during the busy holiday season.

By Jane Vance ・6 min read
Best Practices
Campaign & Contest Ideas

For many businesses, strong sales during the holidays are imperative to a successful year. You know what else the holidays are? Insanely busy for both you and your customers. Waiting until the last-minute to execute your interactive marketing campaigns can prevent your business from reaching the largest returns from your holiday-marketing efforts.Our two-part holiday interactive marketing calendar gives you the tools to plan ahead, as well as ideas for interactive marketing campaigns and email marketing. In part one, we’ll cover the planning portion of your online holiday marketing. Part two offers campaign ideas, as well as helpful resources for building your campaigns, creating your promotion plan and the supporting content,  and measuring your success.

Waiting until the last-minute to execute your interactive marketing campaigns can prevent your business from reaching the largest returns from your holiday-marketing efforts.

Planning your online holiday marketing:

In general, we recommend you start planning your campaign at least a couple of weeks before you launch. Why? It will give you and your team adequate time to nail down your concept, build your campaign, test the campaign and create the promotion materials.  This is even more true during the holidays. After all, every other marketer is out there competing for “your” customers’ attention -- you want to be sure your holiday campaign is the best.Something else to consider: What if all of your holiday marketing efforts need to “flow” together? For example, your Black Friday offer needs to tie into your Thanksgiving promotion, which is the basis for your Christmas campaign. This can take a bit more thought, so it’s important to make time to map out all of the components at one time, even if the pieces come together later.What exactly goes into planning your online holiday marketing? There are eight main steps:

  • Establish your goals
  • Construct a calendar
  • Develop a promotion plan
  • Plan your campaign(s)
  • Build your campaign(s)
  • Create your promotion materials
  • Launch your campaigns
  • Measure your success

Establish your Goals:

Typical goals of online marketing campaigns are to collect leads (i.e., build email lists), increase engagement, expand brand awareness, and drive sales. You might have more than one goal over the course of the holiday season. The example below illustrates how you can have an overall goal, in this case, driving sales, which is achieved through the use of several online marketing campaigns during the holiday season:

Overall Goal: Drive Sales

Halloween campaign:Collect leads & promote brand awareness via a photo contest

Thanksgiving campaign:Collect leads & increase engagement through an online quiz

Black Friday campaign:Encourage in-store and online visits through top-of-mind and drive sales through an online coupon delivered via email

Christmas campaign:Increase brand awareness & drive sales

New Year’s Eve campaign:Drive salesAlong with your goals, you should determine the key performance indicators (KPIs) for your campaign. These KPIs help you determine the success of your campaign in meeting your goals when all is said and done. Your KPIs might include:

  • Page views and unique views;
  • Landing page conversion rates;
  • Traffic-to-lead ratio;
  • Cost per lead;
  • Sales revenue; and
  • Email marketing list growth.

It’s also essential to decide how you will track your KPIs. ShortStack offers Advanced Analytics on our Pro Plan and higher plans. Our Advanced Analytics tracks both campaign-specific analytics and email marketing data. You can also include a Google Analytics Widget, Facebook conversion-tracking pixels, links, or other types of tracking on your campaigns.

Construct an execution calendar

An execution calendar will help you with meeting deadlines internally. Elements of an execution calendar include:

  • Campaign start and end dates;
  • Content scheduling -- e.g. ads and emails;
  • Campaign build timelines;
  • Internal review processes; and
  • Coordination with other campaign initiatives.

Check out an example calendar for a Thanksgiving contest, which was preceded by a Halloween campaign and followed by a Black Friday discount. This will show you show your holiday marketing initiatives might overlap.

Thanksgiving contest

Start Date: November 7th at 8:00 A.M. Eastern TimeEnd Date: November 16 at 12:00 P.M. Eastern Time

OCT 22

Begin discussing Thanksgiving contest concept

OCT 25

Finalize Thanksgiving contest concept

OCT 26-31

Build Thanksgiving campaignConsiderations: artwork, copy, etcDevelop Thanksgiving promotion plan

OCT 31

Halloween campaign ends

OCT 31 – NOV 1

Test Thanksgiving campaign


Analyze results from Halloween campaignConsiderations: lessons learned -- e.g. advertising, social media postsFinal approval of Thanksgiving campaign

NOV 1-6

Create Thanksgiving promotion content

  • Write social media posts to be published during the campaign
  • Write ads to be published during the campaign
  • Write email messages to be shared at several points before, during and after the campaign

Publish Thanksgiving campaign

  • Send Campaign URL for published campaign for use in contest promotion — ads, emails, etc.

Begin discussing Black Friday discount campaign concept


Thanksgiving contests starts @ 8:00 A.M Eastern Time

  • Time-based visibility settings will automatically start showing content at 8:00 A.M.
  • Publish first posts on social media @ 8:00 A.M. Eastern Time
  • Send list an email announcing contest on November 7 @ 1:00 P.M. Eastern Time
NOV 7-15

Analyze ad and social posting promotion efforts at least twice. Refine as needed.


Finalize Black Friday discount campaign concept

NOV 9-13

Build Black Friday campaignConsiderations: artwork, copy, etcDevelop Black Friday promotion plan

NOV 12

Send Thanksgiving contest entry email reminder @ 5:00 P.M. Eastern Time to list

NOV 14-15

Test Black Friday campaign

NOV 14-16

Create Black Friday promotion content

NOV 15

Final Black Friday campaign approval by EOD

NOV 16

Thanksgiving contest ends @ 12:00 P.M. Eastern Time

  • Select random winner @ 12:30 P.M. Eastern Time
  • Contact winner via email @ 12:45 P.M. Eastern Time
  • Contact non-winners via email @ 2:00 P.M. Eastern Time
  • Announce Winner @ 2:00 P.M. Eastern Time
NOV 19

Analyze results from Halloween campaign

  • Considerations: lessons learned -- e.g. advertising, social media posts

Publish Black Friday campaign

Develop a promotion plan

Nobody will know about your campaign if you don’t promote it. Think about where your target market is most likely to see your promotions. We wrote a blog post, 40 Ways to Get the Word Out About Your Campaign, with ideas for promoting your campaign. The post will help you learn some of the best places to get the attention of your customers.Your promotion plan might include:

  • Where you will be promoting your campaign(s) (e.g., email marketing, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram posts and profile links);
  • The dates and times you plan to send emails to your list, run your advertisement(s) will run, and post something about your campaign on social media;
  • How you will measure the success of each promotion (ex. link clicks, conversions); and
  • Your advertising budget.

Planning on sending email marketing to promote your campaigns? Don’t forget about taking the time to test! Be sure you send test emails to your team so they can test the links and to make sure the content displays as expected.


Remember, planning is key during the holiday season. It’s important to create a strong interactive marketing strategy for your holiday campaigns. Being prepared will reduce your stress during the holiday season and allow you to focus on what is truly important to your business: sales.Check out The Essential Interactive Marketing Guide for the Holidays: Part Two, for ideas on interactive marketing campaigns you can build to help you meet your goals, as well as resources for creating your promotion materials and measuring the success of your campaigns.

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About the author

By Jane Vance ・6 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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