September 17, 2020

Holiday Marketing: A Guide to Creating the Perfect Holiday Campaign

Reading time about 12 min

Each time the end of the year approaches, marketers face that age-old challenge — how can I make this year’s holiday marketing better than the last? This guide will take you through all the important steps for creating your holiday marketing campaign, as well as tips for ensuring its success. 

In the current pandemic context, the online shopping trend has skyrocketed with 50% of US adults saying they are now buying more online than before. To make the most of this surge as an ecommerce business, you’ll need to ensure you have a solid plan in place for your holiday marketing that harnesses the potential offered by digital channels.

But, with so many elements to consider in your holiday marketing, this is no easy task. So, we’ve put together all the information you need to create a holiday campaign that brings results.

How to Create a Winning Holiday Marketing Campaign

Before getting into the details of exactly how you should implement your campaign this year, we’ll first delve into some of the opportunities the holiday season has to offer, along with insights that will help inform your strategy.

Why is holiday marketing important for your business?

Whatever your product, industry, or target market, holiday marketing has the potential to reap rewards for your business.

As the above definition highlights, a central element of holiday marketing is campaigns that aim to capitalize on shoppers looking to make seasonal purchases.

Holiday marketing has the potential to drive sales for various reasons:

  • Demand and intent to buy are higher than normal. In the holiday season, more customers are actively looking to buy, making your job as a marketer a lot easier. 
  • Campaigns are time-limited. Holidays are centered around a defined period, creating a sense of urgency that will push customers to buy. 
  • Holidays create a sense of positivity. Capitalizing on these festive feelings among your customers through emotion-driven holiday marketing campaigns is a powerful sales technique. 

Holiday marketing email using urgency by New Look


However, with the focus on seasonal sales it’s easy to forget that this is not the only benefit holiday marketing can bring. Holidays also offer other important opportunities for your business, such as:

  • Acquiring new customers: As well as simply securing sales, holiday campaigns can raise brand awareness and attract people to your business who might be less interested outside of holiday season. 
  • Building relationships with customers: the end-of-year period is a prime time for relationship marketing. For example, you can reach out to your loyal customers and thank them for supporting your business over the past year, perhaps rewarding them with a free gift or exclusive discount. 
  • Humanizing your brand: By sharing some festive cheer with customers you can make your marketing feel more personal, which builds the trust that is essential to securing loyal fans. 

Key trends to inform your campaign this year

With all the uncertainty of 2020, you’d be forgiven for feeling more than a little anxious about the impending holiday season. So, here are some holiday marketing tips to bear in mind, based on current consumer and ecommerce trends.

Get started early

With the surge in online shopping, retailers concerned about the risk of shipping delays with this increased demand are likely to run sales earlier in the season.

On top of this, in a survey by Service Management Group, 42% of respondents said they plan to start their holiday shopping earlier this year. All this suggests that it’s a good idea to be ready to launch your holiday marketing early. 

Look beyond Black Friday

While Black Friday is still a key date in marketers’ holiday calendar, with the growing popularity of Cyber Monday, it should not be your sole focus. To maintain consumers’ engagement and build excitement, offer different deals throughout the five days following Thanksgiving. 

Use promotional discounts to entice shoppers

More than ever with the financial challenges many have faced this year people will be on the hunt for the best deal. Even in a survey conducted in January 2020 asking online shoppers how their habits had changed from the previous year, the most popular answer was purchasing from the website offering the lowest price.

However, slashing your prices isn’t the only way to attract customers looking for deals. Another option is to offer a discount on multiple items in the same category or complementary products. Alternatively you can offer a percentage off orders over a certain amount. 

Don’t forget about free shipping

According to a survey by Deloitte in 2019, when consumers were asked which holiday promotional offers appeal to them most, free shipping ranked a close second after price discounts. 

Consider planning a time-limited, flash sale on free shipping to create a sense of urgency. Just make sure you’re messaging is clear in terms of delivery times to avoid disgruntled customers.

Example holiday marketing campaign by Vans with flash free shipping


Further reading: 6 Knockout Holiday Marketing Ideas to Charm Your Customers & Increase Sales

Holiday days for your marketing calendar

Before planning out your campaign, first you’ll need to determine which events you want to focus on. Some are obvious such as Black Friday and Christmas, however you don’t have to stop there. There are other holiday days you may not have considered that could be relevant depending on your business. 

Here are some key dates to get in the diary for 2020:

  • Halloween, October 31. Kick off your end-of-year holiday marketing with a fun, attention-grabbing Halloween campaign. For inspiration check out our Halloween email marketing tips.
  • Thanksgiving, November 26. This is a good time to promote early-bird sales, ahead of your main event. 
  • Black Friday, November 27. For many businesses, Black Friday is the focal point — and for consumers it’s the day where they expect the biggest and best deals. To make sure you maximize on this sales potential, check out our Black Friday marketing ideas
  • Small Business Saturday, November 28. This is a newer holiday dedicated to supporting small local businesses. It offers the opportunity not only to increase sales through promotions but also to gain new customers and hopefully future loyal supporters. 
  • Cyber Monday, November 30. For ecommerce businesses, this is not a holiday to miss. In 2019 the day saw record online sales in the US, topping Black Friday, according to a report by Adobe. Take a look at these Cyber Monday email examples for inspiration and best practices.
  • Giving Tuesday, December 1. This is a day dedicated to giving back, be it by donating to a cause or volunteering your time. While non-profits can drive donations with a Giving Tuesday campaign, businesses can get involved too. For example, you could help customers do good by donating a portion of your sales to a charitable cause.
  • Christmas Day, December 25. Following on from the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, your next priority as a retailer will be to capitalize on the run-up to Christmas by getting shoppers to purchase their gifts from your business. Take a look at these sales-focused Christmas newsletter ideas as a starting point.
  • New Year’s Eve, December 31. This is a chance to share in the festivities and celebrate the closing of the year with your audience! 

End-of-year email with voucher by PlayStation


6 Steps for creating your campaign

Now you know the what and the why, you’re ready to start planning, designing, and ultimately launching your campaign.

But first, you’ll need a marketing platform with the tools to engage shoppers this holiday period.

Create your holiday marketing campaign with Sendinblue

Sendinblue offers an all-in-one marketing toolbox to reach customers and boost sales, including email and SMS marketing, customizable sign-up forms, and advanced segmentation and automations.

Open my free Sendinblue account now >>

Step 1: Analyze previous campaigns

While it’s true the context this year means there is more uncertainty around how shoppers will behave this holiday season, it’s still important to examine last year’s trends for your business.

For example, take a look at when there were peaks in traffic and sales throughout the period to help inform the timeline for your campaign. You can also look at which channels were most successful in driving traffic and conversions.

Step 2: Define your goals 

Once you’ve done some digging into your existing data, as with any campaign you’ll need to work out what you’re aiming to achieve. By looking at your previous performance you’ll ensure the goals you set are realistic. 

Of course, your goals will most likely focus on getting as many sales as possible from holiday shoppers. But this doesn’t have to be the sole purpose of your campaign. As you saw above, holiday marketing presents many other opportunities for your business, particularly in terms of building customer relationships and raising brand awareness.

Step 3: Decide on your channels

The most effective holiday marketing takes a holistic, cross-channel approach. 

Holiday email marketing is particularly effective for sending targeted campaigns to customers who have already shown an interest in your brand. Meanwhile, SMS marketing allows you to quickly get customers’ attention, for example with a time-sensitive offer. Social media channels, on the other hand, offer a way of reaching a wider audience. 

And, if budget allows, don’t forget about paid marketing like Facebook ads to increase your visibility and cut through the noise.  

Step 4: Plan your timeline

Before you jump straight into creating your campaign, it’s important to map out what you want to do and when. 

Here are some key stages for your holiday campaign:

  • Building your list

Before launching your campaign you can pave the way for success by gaining subscribers to target once your campaign is live. Create signup forms that persuade individuals to give their details so they can be the first to hear about your upcoming sales and offers. 

Example of a pop-up email signup form by Madewell


  • Raising awareness

While you don’t want to launch your seasonal sales before your audience has even begun thinking about their holiday shopping, you can still start drumming up excitement in advance of your planned promotions. Creating a teaser campaign will help build buzz around your brand and products. 

  • Promote your offers

Once the holiday season is in full swing, it’s time to push your offers through targeted campaigns on your chosen channels.

  • Follow-up with customers 

Once your sales are over don’t be tempted to put your feet up! Holiday promotions are great for attracting new customers but in order to see the true benefit, retention is crucial. This means you need to show your new customers some love and persuade them to buy from you again. You could do this, for example, by offering them a percentage off their next purchase in the new year. 

Step 5: Segment your audience

With the ever-increasing competition in the ecommerce space, your campaign needs to stand out. One way to get subscribers’ attention is to tailor your messaging for different groups through contact segmentation

Factors to consider when segmenting subscribers for your holiday campaign include their current level of engagement and their preferences based on previous purchase behavior. 

Step 6: Plan your messaging and create your content

Now it’s time for the fun part – designing the messaging and content for your campaign. Build your content around the timeline you have prepared and your chosen channels, and adapt messaging to customer segments and the different stages of your campaign. 

As well as designing content like promotional emails, ads, and social media posts, create a central landing page for all the information related to your seasonal offers. With Sendinblue, you can easily create beautiful landing pages thanks to our drag & drop editor and customizable templates. 

And once you have your content finalized, you’ll be all set for the holiday shopping season. ?

Ready to Take on This Year’s Holiday Marketing Season?

A key takeaway from this guide is that planning is crucial to your holiday campaign’s success. By dedicating enough time to this, you can ensure that your business makes the most out of the holiday shopping season. 

For more tips on how to maximize your marketing success check us out on Twitter or sign up for our newsletter below.

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