Plan a Christmas marketing campaign

1. Set a marketing objective by considering whether you want to raise awareness, build engagement, or generate new sales.

Your objective may vary based on your business. For example, an ecommerce store like eBay tends to focus on building brand awareness during the Christmas season versus promoting a specific product, but a local small business might be more focused on re-engaging its existing clientele.

2. Segment your Christmas audience based on user behavior.

User behavior changes dramatically during the holidays. Pair your analytics of customer buying patterns during the past holidays with your marketing objective to segment your audience appropriately. For example: General browsers and curious new customers who may be in the shopping spirit early, but not sure what they want to buy yet. Last-minute shoppers who forgot to pick up a gift for a loved one or friend. Specific demographics-based segments, such as young male shoppers, parents shopping for their children, and grandparents shopping for their grandkids.

3. Create a campaign plan based on past holiday sales data and user behavior.

Don’t rely on assumptions to understand consumer behavior during the holidays. Instead, review past sales data and user behavior to identify: Past sales benchmarks: This helps you set a sales goal for the coming holiday season. Past customer buying patterns: Is your core audience proactive, or do you see a spike in sales on Christmas Eve? Past customer journey patterns: Look at patterns like mobile usage, time of day, etc., to see when and where your customers do their holiday shopping.

4. Create a specific Christmas offer for each audience segment that addresses their needs and behaviors.

Don’t fall for the trap of doing a one-size-fits-all holiday campaign. With your target audience, their habits, and your marketing objectives in hand, create a tailored offer for each audience segment. For example, use a time-based plan like: Late November: Offer a quiz or gift guide to help shoppers find gift ideas for a friend or loved one. Early December: Send a targeted promotional email blast, letting each audience segment what’s new in your store that matches their needs and interests. Mid December: Provide a free shipping promotion with a reminder of when orders need to be placed in order to arrive in time for Christmas. Late December: Send a final reminder about Christmas and an offer on last-minute rushed shipping options. Make your offer stand out in a crowded promotional season by ensuring your offer is competitive, unique and timely. You aren’t the only brand that’s promoting itself this holiday season. Stand out from the crowd by: Being competitive on pricing, value, experiences, or customer service, especially if the products or services you offer are similar to your competitors’ products. How can you go above and beyond? Great examples include Zappos’ no-questions-asked customer service, or free furniture delivery and installation from a local furniture store. Being unique: Anyone can easily offer a 10% storewide discount. Make your promotion memorable by offering something that’s distinct to your brand. For instance, you could give away a value-added gift that’s only available from your company, or curate a branded experience similar to Starbucks’ annual red cup tradition. Being timely: How can you tailor your offer to trends your customer service team is seeing in your audience, or trends occurring in the general marketplace specific to the year’s events?

5. Build a production timeline and workback schedule for all the marketing collateral you’ll need, like landing pages, social media posts, email campaigns, and in-store signage.

Discuss your plans with your writers, designers, and other stakeholders to determine a workback schedule for: Strategy setting. Content creation. Content approvals. Design. Design approvals. Set up and scheduling specific assets by your respective social media team, email team, and web developers Start production early to ensure you aren’t hitting roadblocks close to your launch date. Many companies begin prepping their holiday promotions no later than October.

6. Launch each phase of your marketing campaign based on when historical data shows your audience is most receptive.

For example, you may want to create and release your holiday gift guide before Black Friday to capture the highly profitable new-customer segment, but you might hold off on announcing a free shipping offer until closer to the middle of December.