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  • Writer's picturePrinceton North

Holiday Marketing 101

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

As we head into the fall, the traditional holiday season is right around the corner. In fact, if you shop in person at any of the big home improvement stores, you will not only see the expected Halloween decorating options but plenty of inflatable Santas and other Christmas decorations. It seems like everyone complains about holiday season creep each year, thinking the season starts earlier and earlier. While 2020 may be no different in that respect, it is very different when it comes to overall holiday marketing planning.

I think the term “unprecedented” gets tossed around a lot with regard to 2020, but sometimes the word really fits. In the case of holiday marketing in 2020, it seems pretty much spot on. So, how can marketers actually prepare and execute on their holiday marketing strategies this year? Here are just a few tips.

Rethink The Traditional Playbook

Marketers are creatures of habit. When it comes to holiday marketing, we like to look at what we did last year, evaluate what worked and what didn’t, and use that as a starting point for our planning. However, this assumes the world is mostly the same as the year before, or at least hasn’t changed in any fundamental ways. Here comes 2020 to just completely wreck that standard practice. Last year, most of your customers probably commuted to work, had kids attending school in person, went to stores in person and maybe even traveled regularly. Suddenly, your audience’s behavior has changed in dramatic ways. So, many of those plans you used in past years to connect with your audience may now be obsolete.

While you don’t need to start entirely from scratch, you do need to reassess virtually every part of your holiday marketing playbook to make sure it is still relevant in 2020. Are you trying to drive people to make purchases in stores or take any action in the real world? You may want to reconsider that.

The key here is to take a step back from your traditional holiday marketing planning and think about what strategies and tactics make sense in 2020. You may not always have good historical data to back up your decisions, which can be challenging for performance-focused marketers. You may want to think about most, if not all, of your campaigns as tests and be prepared to pivot quickly once you start getting initial performance data. 

It’s A Digital Holiday In 2020

One aspect of your marketing strategy that has likely already shifted in 2020 is a more serious focus on digital channels. This isn’t going to change during the holiday season. In fact, you may want to lean in even more heavily on digital marketing than you have been. Forecasts suggest that this will be a digital-first holiday as even more consumers shift their shopping to online channels.

However, shifting more of your marketing campaigns to digital channels isn’t the only thing you’ll need to consider. If your business involves a physical product, you need to take shipping into consideration. As companies continue to drive online purchases heading into the holiday season, it will stretch the shipping and delivery infrastructure even further. If you haven’t experienced any issues or delays with having packages shipped to your home, you’re probably in the minority. 

Your best strategy is to continue leveraging your digital channels, but also get those holiday promotions out even earlier than in previous years. The extra time will help address any potential delivery issues and help get your products delivered before the holidays. Based on what I’m seeing, many companies are taking this approach, kicking off the holiday season even earlier than in previous years. 

Make Sure Email Is In Your Plan

While I already mentioned that a focus on digital marketing channels is a must for the holiday season, email should play a prominent role in your lineup. We already know that email is a consistent top performer when it comes to driving return on investment (ROI), but the channel also lends itself well to the particular challenges and opportunities presented by the 2020 holiday season.

Email campaigns deliver near-instant performance feedback after launch, which allows you to quickly adjust strategy and optimize performance on each subsequent campaign. Email can also be very nimble, allowing you to create and send campaigns quickly so you can adapt and take advantage of opportunities. If you see a product or service driving orders from your audience, you can quickly create and send out dedicated email campaigns to capitalize on the trend and ride the wave of buyer interest.

Start by scheduling regular campaigns to drop at key intervals, but also block out tentative times in between the regular campaigns for impromptu initiatives. This will help keep you focused on identifying those real-time opportunities to create custom campaigns that take advantage of the performance trends you begin to identify in your regular campaigns.

The 2020 holiday season presents both a real challenge and a tremendous opportunity for marketers. Make sure you are prepared to take the best advantage of what the season sends your way.

Content courtesy of Forbes

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