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 holiday interactive marketing calendar gives you the tools to plan ahead, as well as ideas for interactive marketing campaigns and email marketing.
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
Collect leads & promote brand awareness via a photo contest
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
Increase brand awareness & drive sales
New Year’s Eve campaign:
Along 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 Agency 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, bit.ly 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.
Start Date: November 6 at 8:00 A.M. Eastern Time
End Date: November 15 at 12:00 P.M. Eastern Time
Begin discussing Thanksgiving contest concept
Finalize Thanksgiving contest concept
Build Thanksgiving campaign
Considerations: artwork, copy, etc
Develop Thanksgiving promotion plan
Halloween campaign ends
OCT 31 – NOV 1
Test Thanksgiving campaign
Analyze results from Halloween campaign
Considerations: lessons learned — e.g. advertising, social media posts
Final approval of Thanksgiving campaign
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
Analyze ad and social posting promotion efforts at least twice. Refine as needed.
Finalize Black Friday discount campaign concept
Build Black Friday campaign
Considerations: artwork, copy, etc
Develop Black Friday promotion plan
Send Thanksgiving contest entry email reminder @ 5:00 P.M. Eastern Time to list
Test Black Friday campaign
Create Black Friday promotion content
Final Black Friday campaign approval by EOD
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
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. bit.ly 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.
Plan your campaign(s)
Now that you have decided which holidays you want to create campaigns for, as well as the goals for each campaign, you need to decide the type of campaign to build to suit your needs. Listed below are four common goals — collect leads, promote brand awareness, increase engagement, drive sales — along with campaign and email marketing ideas that might help you reach those goals during the holiday season.
Goal 1: Collect Leads
Halloween Campaign Idea: What Type of Halloween Candy Are You? Personality Quiz
Create a personality quiz where people must answer questions about themselves in order to find out the “type of Halloween candy they are.” To reveal the answer, the quiz takers must submit their name and email address. This doesn’t need to be a candy-related quiz. You could help folks choose their Halloween costume, give them recommendations for Halloween movies, or reveal their level of “scaredy cat” all based on their answers to various quiz questions.
Email Marketing Bonus: Use the leads you collect to promote your next campaign or an upcoming sale.
Thanksgiving Campaign Idea: Be the Ultimate Thanksgiving Host Giveaway
Hosting Thanksgiving is a lot of pressure. Give folks the tools to pull off a flawless feast with a Thanksgiving-themed giveaway. Prizes could include cookware, cookbooks, table linens and centerpieces, fun family games, gift cards for groceries, the list goes on and on. Make sure entry to the contest is simple — only include the fields you need such as the entrant’s name and email address.
Email Marketing Bonus: After form submission, send entrants a discount for your store! After all, the day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year.
Black Friday Campaign Ideas: Black Friday Email Alerts Sign-Up
Want to be sure your store is on shoppers’ lists on Black Friday? Encourage customers to sign up for Black Friday Email Alerts from your business. You can encourage sign ups by providing subscriber-only deals and coupons, early access to sales, or special freebies.
Email Marketing Bonus: A day or two before Black Friday, send out an email with your special offers.
Christmas Campaign Idea: 12-Days of Christmas Giveaways
Multi-day giveaways are Christmastime classics. During December, folks are full of anticipation for the gifts they will find under the tree on Christmas Day. A multi-day giveaway calendar is a fun way to leverage this excitement, as a new prize is revealed each day. Folks must return to the campaign every day to submit an entry, which not only builds your list of leads, but also increases engagement.
Email Marketing Bonus: Send an email out each day to the previous day’s entrants announcing yesterday’s winner and revealing the prize for the current day.
New Year’s Eve Idea: Pick Your NYE VIP Experience
Not everyone shares the same opinion on what is considered the “perfect” New Year’s Eve. Some folks would give anything to be in Times Square to watch the ball drop live, while others wouldn’t miss dinner and champagne with their significant other. Create a contest with three very different NYE experiences, then allow people to enter to win their perfect NYE.
Email Marketing Bonus: Send an autoresponder to entrants thanking them for their entry and including some tips for making the next year their best year yet, along with ideas on products you sell or services you provide to help them implement those tips.
Goal 2: Promote Brand Awareness
Halloween Campaign: DIY Halloween Decoration Template Download
A great Halloween party always has awesome decorations. Provide your customers with the opportunity to download some fun DIY decorations for their Halloween bash. Include a Share Widget on your campaign so folks can share it with their friends.
Email Marketing Bonus: Be sure folks are providing valid email addresses by sending your download link in an email after form submission.
Thanksgiving Campaign: Five Mouth-watering Thanksgiving Recipes
Finding awesome Thanksgiving recipes is always a chore. Do you know some tried-and-true recipes, or do you have a new spin to everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving dishes? Share them with your audience! Try to keep the recipes Thanksgiving related — think pumpkin, turkey, green beans, cranberries, mashed potatoes and pie. Make sure to include an easy way for folks to download your recipes and share these recipes with their friends!
Email Marketing Bonus: Include a form on your campaign where folks can submit their email address to receive an email version of the recipes featured on your campaign.
Black Friday Campaign: Black Friday Sale Preview
Flash sales and surprise discounts can be fun on Black Friday, but with so many places to shop, giving your customers a preview of the merchandise you will have on sale can be an effective strategy. You don’t need to tell folks what the sale will be, but showing the products you plan on promoting will help customers write their “Must Buy” lists. For example, a clothing store might display the sweaters they will have on sale, even if the actual discount isn’t posted.
Email Marketing Bonus: Include a form on your campaign for folks to sign up to receive an email announcing your Black Friday discounts on the products shown, then use a scheduled email to send the email on Thanksgiving.
Christmas Campaign: Win Your Christmas Wishlist
Wishlist campaigns are an awesome way to promote brand awareness because wishlist makers want to share their lists with folks who might be interested in purchasing them a gift. Create a campaign where folks can choose products from your store for their wishlist, which they can then submit for a chance to win it. Encourage entrants to share their wishlists with their friends and family.
Email Marketing Bonus: After someone submits their wishlist, send the items on the list to them via email. Include a link to your online store in the email for easy shopping.
New Year’s Eve Campaign: New Year’s Eve Bash Caption Contest
New Year’s Eve is all about fun. Ask folks to submit a caption for a silly NYE scene to be entered to win a prize. Better yet? Include your brand in the image somehow. Choose the winner based on the most votes, and encourage entrants to share their captions (and use your image as the Share Image that displays when they share) to gain more votes.
Email Marketing Bonus: In the new year, start a drip campaign to turn the leads you collected during the contest into customers.
Goal 3: Increase Engagement
Halloween Campaign: Haunted House Hashtag Contest
A hashtag contest is perfect for boosting engagement because they are so easy for folks to enter. For Halloween, try a contest where folks share their funny haunted house reactions, show off their costumes, or post their yard decorations. Just come up with a hashtag, then encourage people to enter your contest by posting their photos to Instagram or Twitter. It’s that simple.
Email Marketing Bonus: Hashtag contests aren’t great for collecting leads, but if you already have an email marketing list, use it announce your contest.
Thanksgiving Campaign: The Perfect Turkey Recipe Contest
Cooking competitions are all the rage. While a cooking competition might be hard to replicate in an online contest, you could create a recipe contest. Home cooks would submit their recipes to your contest, then they would invite their friends to vote for their entry. For Thanksgiving, perhaps a turkey or pie contest? Or, you could require people to include a specific ingredient — evaporated milk, canned pumpkin, cranberries — and submit a unique recipe with that ingredient.
Email Marketing Bonus: After the contest has finished, send out an email with the winning recipes!
Black Friday Campaign: Flash Sale — 100 People to Unlock Discount
Throughout the day on Black Friday, set up several flash sales. With these sales, enable a limited number of people to claim the discount code or freebie. This will encourage people to visit your campaign throughout the day in order to snatch up one of the sales.
Email Marketing Bonus: One week after Black Friday, schedule an email to all Black Friday entrants with a discount code.
Christmas Campaign: Christmas Decoration Photo Contest
For many people, one of the best things about Christmas is the decorations. Decorating the house fun, and some folks can get really competitive about their displays. Leverage that competitive spirit and host a Christmas Decoration Photo Contest, asking people to share their photos. You can even have a theme “Best mantle decoration,” or “Most festive front porch” or “Holiday inspired floral arrangement,” and so on. You can use voting to determine the top 10 entries, which will help drive engagement with your campaign, then have a panel of judges choose the overall winner.
Email Marketing Bonus: Require voters to submit their email address in order to vote! This will help build your list.
Goal 4: Drive Sales
Halloween Campaign: Halloween Haul Giveaway
Halloween just isn’t the same when you’re an adult: you don’t get to go trick-or-treating and you probably aren’t dressing up in a costume (unless you are going to a party). Create a Halloween giveaway for adults, which may include a gift card, as well as a bunch of candy and popcorn, an iTunes gift card to buy some scary movies, and other fun prizes. To sweeten the deal, give folks the ability to refer friends to the contest to gain extra entries. After form submission, display a “spooky” coupon code for a discount at your business, which needs to be used within two weeks of Halloween.
Email Marketing Bonus: Instead of displaying the coupon code after form submission, send it via email. This will encourage entrants to submit their real email addresses.
Thanksgiving Campaign: A Side of Savings Campaign
On Thanksgiving, there tends to be quite a bit of downtime after the feast has been cleared away. Give folks a reason to visit your campaign with a special coupon that can only be accessed on Thanksgiving! In exchange for an email address, display a coupon that can be redeemed the same day by purchasing something on your website.
Email Marketing Bonus: Before Thanksgiving, give folks the chance to sign up and receive their discount via email. Then, schedule an email to send at the same time the discount becomes available on your campaign.
Black Friday Campaign: Black Friday Sale Countdown
Black Friday is an event. Some shoppers prepare their lists well in advance. Create a countdown campaign where folks can submit their email addresses to be the first to know about your Black Friday sales. Plus, tease products and services that you will be offering discounts on come Black Friday.
Email Marketing Bonus: A week or two before Black Friday, send out some sneak peek emails featuring the products you will have on sale.
Christmas Campaign: Santa’s Choice Discount Campaign
Give your customers some options when it comes to discounts. Some people will take advantage of a Buy One/Get One offer, others will prefer a 20% off a single item or some will redeem a $25 off of a $100 purchase or a free gift with purchase. Think about the most successful promotions you’ve done in the past and give a couple of options.
Email Marketing Bonus: In January, after all of the holiday shopping madness has come to an end, send out an email to folks who signed up for you discounts. Include information on any new products, along with a discount to get folks back in the store.
New Year’s Eve Campaign: New Year’s Eve VIP access
Make your customers feel special on New Year’s Eve with a discount or VIP access that is only available to people who sign up via your campaign.
Email Marketing Bonus: Send an email to entrants after they submit their information, then require them to present the email to receive their VIP perks.
Not finding a campaign idea that “speaks” to you and your goals? Don’t worry! Our blog is full of campaign ideas that are sure to inspire you for the holiday season.
In addition to deciding on the type of campaigns you wish to run, you need to choose where your campaigns will “live.” Will you be using standalone landing pages, or would you prefer to embed the campaign on your website? Our post, Facebook, Landing Page or Website? Picking the Best Platform for Your Marketing Campaigns, breaks down the pros and cons of each platform.
Build your campaign(s)
Now that planning is over, it’s time to get cracking on your campaigns! My number one piece of advice: Start building early. You want to give yourself time to build your campaign, have your team review it, make any necessary changes, and test the final version. You don’t want to be running around like a chicken with your head cut off; the holiday season is stressful enough. We offer plenty of resources to help you in the process.
Before you start your first campaign, check out both our Getting Started video and our Getting Started Guide. Both are fantastic resources that will introduce you to the platform and answer many of the questions beginners have. Even long-time ShortStack users can check out the Getting Started guides to “refresh” their skills, or learn about new features they may have missed.
As you saw in the Plan your campaign(s) section, we offer a bunch of templates to jumpstart your build. These templates, along with our documentation and YouTube channel will help you gain a better understanding of ShortStack’s capabilities and how you can leverage the features needed to meet your goals. Plus, any questions you have along the way can be sent over to our amazing support team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t forget: Campaigns that you create with ShortStack are fully customizable, so you’ll need to have your logo ready; create header images, share images and whatever other images you want to use; come up with copy for your campaign; etc.
IMPORTANT: Always test your campaign in the environment where you plan to display the live campaign! For example, if you are embedding the live campaign on your site, embed it before launch day and test. This will allow you to work out any kinks in your campaign. Once testing is over, you can use our time-based visibility settings to stop the content from showing until the date and time you indicate.
Create your promotion materials
Do you need an image for your Instagram post? What about some copy for your Facebook Ad? Or maybe you need to create bit.ly URLs to track clicks. Whatever you decide to do to promote your campaign, be sure you have the copy, images, URLs and whatever else you need ready.
We offer a guide to help you determine some of the necessary dimensions for various social media platforms. The guide is chock full of the information you need for creating header images, profile images, advertising specs, etc, and it even posting tips you can implement.
Launch your campaigns
It’s go time! Once you publish your campaign, be sure to test to make sure everything is working as you expect it to. After things check out, sing it from the hilltops — your campaign is live!
Monitor your campaign. It’s possible you might need to make some adjustments. For example, if you are seeing a lot of views, but few entries, you might need to re-think the placement of your contest entry form on your campaign.
Measure your success
Yes, your campaign might be over, but you’re not done yet! Did you meet your goals? To determine this, you will need to look at the KPIs you chose to measure your success. Some questions to ask:
- Was there a meaningful change in the KPIs during your campaign?
- What types of campaigns appeared to work best for your goals?
- Were some promotion methods better than others?
- What can you improve upon for future online marketing efforts?
If you aren’t sure how to analyze the data you collected with your campaign, I have a couple of ShortStack resources to suggest:
How to Measure Your Instagram Marketing Performance (this can be applied to non-Instagram campaigns)
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.
If you run into any troubles while creating your ShortStack campaigns, don’t panic! Instead, just get in touch with our support team by emailing email@example.com.