Everything Holiday

Guide to Marketing

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Is the thought of holiday planning making you feel less like Santa and more like Scrooge? It’s important to be prepared for this busy time of year, but it can be hard to know where to focus your limited time and energy.

Our 2015 Holiday Marketing Guide is here to help. Inside you’ll find information, strategies and tips to make this season merry and bright for your business.

Get Your Website Holiday Ready

Your website is the gateway to your online business. Make sure it’s ready for the season.

Review your branding, content and design

When potential customers visit your site, you want them to know who you are. Make sure your logo is clearly visible at all times, and make it clickable so people can use it to return to your home page quickly. If you don’t have a logo, there are services that can design one for you quickly. If you already have a logo, it’s always fun to create a holiday version of your logo to spruce up your site.

Make sure your site reflects how professional and reliable your business is. A clean design with updated, high quality images and easy navigation are essential. Link to reviews and social media profiles for added credibility.

Help your customers do business with you! Let them know what they can do on your site and how to make it happen. Whether you are selling products, accepting appointments, or collecting contact information, offer people a clear call to action.

Make sure people can find you

You may have the most well-branded, professional and easy to navigate site in the world, but it won’t do you any good if your customers don’t find you. A lot of people are searching for businesses over the holidays, and you want to be one of the places they discover.

In this day and age, your site must be mobile friendly. There are now more people in the world using mobile devices than people using desktop computers. You can test your site for mobile compatibility here. A mobile friendly site will have the same qualities we discussed above— professional design, easy navigation, clear call to action— when viewed on a smartphone or tablet. Responsive design is a great way to make sure your site looks right on any device. Also, Google requires websites to be mobile friendly in order to appear in search results.

Most of the people who find your business online will do so using a search engine. Search engines crawl the code on your website to figure out if someone’s search query is a good match with your business. There is a special piece of code called metadata that tells the search engine about the content of your site. Strong, accurate meta data will help you get found more often. It’s never a bad idea to get help from experts to make sure your site is set up for total search engine success.

Speaking of search engines, have you claimed your free Google Business listing yet? If not, do it now. We’ll wait!

Outside of search engines, there are lots of major online directories that act like the yellow pages of the internet. Sites like Yelp, Citysearch and Foursquare, to name but a few, are great ways to help customers find your business. A quick scan of your online listings is a great way to find out where you already have a presence, and where you need to add your business.

Holiday Stats

  • Holiday sales will grow 5.7% this year—the biggest jump since 2011.
  • Ecommerce will hit 9.0% of total retail sales this season, or $79.40 billion, up from 8.3% share last year.
  • The biggest growth will come in smartphone retail ecommerce sales as consumers become more comfortable buying on their phones.
  • Source - http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Happy-Holiday-Season-Expected-Retailers/1012898

Keep Your Customers Interested

There is a lot of noise over the holidays as businesses compete hard for attention. A strong communication plan will help you stay top of mind with your customers. Communication channels like email and social can be used to generate awareness and to get your audience to engage.

Set yourself up for email success

Email is one of the most powerful holiday marketing tools you have at your disposal.

Email Stats

  • 20% of marketers say their business' primary revenue source is directly linked to email operations.
  • 60% of marketers claim that email is a critical enabler of products and services.
  • 20% of marketers say their business' primary revenue source is directly linked to email operations.
  • Source - Salesforce 2015 State of Marketing Report

If you don’t already have an email program, you can set one up in minutes, for free.

Once you have committed to an email program, planning ahead is essential to get the most mileage out of the holidays.

Holiday emails in 5 Steps

  1. Build your email list. Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to grow an existing list, you’ll want to reach out to as many interested people as possible over the holidays. There are lots of ways to grow your list quickly.
  2. Write down your goals. What do you want to accomplish this holiday season? Are you looking to promote a new product? Do you want to see sales increase by a certain percent? Whatever you’re looking to get out of this holiday season, write it down.
  3. Evaluate past results. Make a quick list of any email campaigns you may have tried in the past. Which efforts were successful? Which campaigns lacked results? Make note of the most important things you’ve learned.
  4. Get creative. Start brainstorming holiday ideas as early as possible. You don’t need to have marketing experience to come up with great ideas. Just think about what gets your attention over the holidays, and why.
  5. Make a plan. Decide when you’re going to send email, who you will send it to, and when. Make sure your email program is equipped to meet your needs before the holiday rush sets in. If you need to upgrade to a more powerful program, do so.

There is much more information and advice available to help you get your holiday email off and running.

Important Dates in 2015

  • Canadian Thanksgiving - October 12
  • Veteran’s Day - November 11
  • Thanksgiving - November 26
  • Black Friday - November 27
  • Small Business Saturday - November 28
  • Cyber Monday - November 30
  • Hanukkah - December 6 - 14
  • Free Shipping Day - December 18
  • Christmas - December 25
  • Boxing Day - December 26
  • New Year’s Eve - December 31

Exercise your social skills

If you want to learn more about your customers, engage them on social media. Facebook is an ideal platform to listen to your audience and participate in conversations that are meaningful to them.

Make sure that your Facebook page is up to date and that you’re posting at least a few times a week about topics that are relevant to your audience. Share fun facts or helpful tidbits that relate to your business. Read the comments people make and when it’s appropriate, respond to them. Establish rapport with the people who follow you.

Generally speaking, it’s best not to think of social media as a platform for broadcasting how great your company is, or pitching your customers with a hard sell. That said, during the holidays, everyone likes a deal!

Offering a discount or perk like free shipping over the holidays can turn your Facebook followers into paying customers. Social coupons are a great tool for harnessing viral reach. You could also do something as simple as posting coupon codes on your page, or letting your followers know when you’re offering something special on your website.

Facebook Stats

  • Worldwide, there are over 1.44 billion monthly active Facebook users
  • 1.25 billion of those active users are on a mobile device
  • 936 million people log onto Facebook every day
  • Every 60 seconds on Facebook: 510 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded
  • Source - https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/

Now, start planning!

Now that you’ve reviewed the basics, you know what you need to do.

Holiday planning in 3 Steps

  1. Get your website looking great, listed online and discovered by customers
  2. Develop an email strategy for the holiday season
  3. Build a foundation for a rewarding social conversation

We have a handy dandy holiday calendar and checklist to help you on your way to your most successful holiday season ever.

Looking for even more holiday marketing inspiration? Check out the rest of our Everything Holiday Marketing Resource Center!