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Holiday Marketing 101: 8 Knockout Ideas For Small Businesses

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The holiday season is around the corner. The nights are drawing in, the temperature is beginning to drop and marketers are snowed under with work figuring out a winning holiday marketing strategy to drive customers into sales funnels.

>>> Hottest Holiday Marketing Ideas:

For small business owners, it might be a hurdle to effectively market and scale with a tight budget. But fret not, by implementing our curated list of holiday marketing ideas for small businesses, you can send off 2021 with a big bang.

Without further ado, let’s get this show on the road!


I. Why Is Holiday Marketing Important For Your Business?

The global COVID-19 pandemic has sent a shockwave affecting all aspects of life and business is no exception. Despite all the doom and gloom, there is still a bright spot. In fact, in the U.S, holiday season spending hit an all-time high and exceeded $789,4 billion in 2020. Moreover, according to a survey conducted recently by Deloitte, consumers are expected to spend 5% more in 2021

Therefore, to get a slice of the copious consumer spending pie throughout the festive season, you need a decent, well-designed holiday marketing campaign. When executed effectively, holiday marketing strategies can do wonders for your small business, from capturing customers' attention, building up their excitement around your brand to enticing them to make purchases. In addition, holiday marketing helps to enhance customer loyalty and brand prestige as well. 

Now, you’ve had a better idea of how crucial holiday marketing is to your business. You’d better invest time and efforts to ramp up your holiday marketing before we edge closer to the holidays.

Learn more about how to boost your holiday sales with the best proven tips in this video

II. 8 Holiday Marketing Ideas To Yield A Successful Sales Harvest

#1 Run Seasonal Targeted Email Marketing Campaigns

According to a Shopify's research, email marketing is responsible for 24% of sales during holiday season, meaning that it’s a top-secret to the seasonal sales boom. By segmenting your audience lists and then emailing them with the proper content and offers, you can successfully influence their purchase decision with no added impact to your holiday marketing budget.

Of course, so many brands, if not all, are going to make use of this festive period to send out promotional emails. That’s why you need to employ some tactics to enable you to shine bright in the sea of holiday messaging. Or else, your brand’s email is likely to be floating meaninglessly in recipients’ overflowing inboxes.

Email Marketing Campaigns

Here are some tips and tricks you can implement for a lucrative holiday email marketing campaign:

  • Segment audience list: Bydividing your contacts into smaller groups based on demographics, purchase history and email engagement level, you can send more targeted and personalized emails.
  • Adapt subject lines for festive frivolity: Whether your creative streak extends to festive puns, themed wordplays or season emojis, these subtle boost to your visibility can help your emails stand a higher chance of being clicked on.
  • Optimize for mobile devices: You can break up text, avoid large image files and use CTA buttons instead of long links to ensure that your email marketing is compatible with all screen sizes.

As Black Friday 2021 is one-month away, it’s time you started preparing for Black Friday. And if you’re not ready to compete with other players to make your voice heard and leverage sales, we’ve come to rescue with the best Black Friday email templates ever! Let’s put your creative hat on and see where it's gonna take you in this holiday season!

Recommended article: Shopify Email Marketing: A Complete Beginner's Guide

#2 Share Useful & Interactive Holiday Content

It goes without saying that creating helpful content for your customers is one of the most effective customer engagement strategies for small businesses. With high-quality, consistent content, you can build brand credibility, improve conversions, connect with customers and generate leads.share useful and interactive holiday content

During the holiday period, you should focus your content on holiday-related topics, which will be of particular interest to your customers. If you’re selling beauty products, for instance, you can write about Halloween makeup layouts and then move toward recommending associated makeup items.

Besides, to further engage your audience, you can also try out multiple interactive content such as quizzes, polls and mini-games (more on this below). Whatever types of content you’re about to publish, it should evoke emotion and encourage your audience to interact with your brand.

#3 Hold A Contest or Give-away

With the bloom of online shopping, consumers are more familiar with holiday marketing campaigns than ever before. They often see the same thing year by year, so their eyes may glaze over at the traditional sales and holiday marketing tactics. This year, online merchants can make a bold move by holding a mini-game or giveaway.

But first things first, be clear about your goal. Looking to build up brand awareness? Or your goal is simply to increase follower count or spark social media engagement - there’s just no wrong answer!

Then, make sure that the contest prize is something related to your business. Don’t give the winner an Iphone 13 Pro Max just to get traffic. This is surely a burden on your holiday marketing budget and will not bring in quality participants who will actually benefit your brand. 

Besides, you’ll need to determine how clients participate in your mini-game/give-away. Some possibilities are to ask people to react to your post, share your post with a branded hashtag, tag one or more friends, visit your website and so on. The key is to make it as easy as possible for participants so you’d better limit the entry requirements to three or four steps.

Hold a contest or giveaway

SoapandGlory’s giveaway program on Instagram (September, 2021)

In the above example from SoapandGlory - a British beauty brand, entrants are required to like the post, follow two Instagram accounts - one is their partner, mention a friend or re-post to Instagram story for a bonus entry.

You can also see that SoapandGlory has partnered up with @luskinco in this give-away. Undoubtedly, it's always a good idea to collaborate with another brand with a similar target market and audience to get more traction.

Related article: How eCommerce Create Effective Retargeting Campaigns For Seasonal Holiday Promotions

#4 Offer Holiday Combos

You may have heard of cross-selling - a strategy that sellers perform to persuade prospective shoppers to buy supplementary items. Cross-selling is a great way to take advantage of selling more and eventually bump up average order value. 

Hence, if you’re not offering appealing product bundles in your holiday marketing campaign this year, you’re surely missing out on extra sales you could be making on every single order. 

Below are some creative ideas to delight your customers with holiday combos:

  • Pair your best selling items with complementary products to get a better deal.
  • Recommend matching accessories and add-ons with original products.
  • Suggest you-might-also-like items based on what customers recently viewed
offer holiday combos

    Cross-selling example by ASOS brand

    • Give shoppers freedom to customize their own product deals.
    Sephora lets shoppers create customized packages

      Sephora lets shoppers create customized packages

      • Name your holiday combos or use branded hashtags to attract more people across social media channels.

      #5 Produce A Holiday Video Marketing

      It’s no secret that video marketing is an important strategy at any time of the year but can be especially impactful during the festive time. Holiday videos give you a way to stay connected with your customers - which can help you increase brand awareness and revenue at a crucial time.

      As a small business owner, you might feel pressured that only enterprise-level businesses can create high-quality, entertaining holiday videos. But in fact, you too can produce great videos that customers will eat up on social media. No fancy. No video photographers and professional filmmaking equipment needed. All you need is some simple yet creative ideas and a smartphone.

      Now, let’s get your creative juices flowing with these best holiday video marketing ideas!

      • Highlight your holiday promotions: Holiday shoppers love sales. Thus, you can shoot a short video introducing your deals. It can be as short as 15 seconds and still be effective.
      • Share your gift guides: A holiday video featuring items you recommend as ideal holiday gifts is a great idea. All you need is a smartphone, good lighting, products you’re suggesting and a spokesperson. Showcase and talk through those items, what makes them great holiday gifts and who they would be perfect for.
      • Educate your audience with a holiday twist: Educational videos are always a nice touch. You can provide valuable information for your recipients during this special time by tying your tips to the season. For example, a jewelry store can share about what necklace ladies should choose for Christmas so they always look effortlessly polished.
      • Thank your clients: Holiday season is an ideal time to show some appreciation for your customers. We love the idea of filming a short but sweet video to let your clients know that you’re grateful for their companionship through the year and that you look forward to the new year together.
      • Review the year 2021: As the new year 2022 draws near, many of us have the habit of looking back on the prior year 2021 to determine what went well and what we resolve to do better the next year. You can produce a year-in-review video to highlight some milestones of your business through 2021 and share your excitement for 2022. Inviting some of your loyal customers to join your video is also a great idea.

      #6 Spruce Up Your Holiday Packaging Design

      During this special time of the year, if you’re not leveraging your brand’s unboxing experience to the fullest, you’re missing out on a golden opportunity to express yourself and delight your customers. There are several ways you customize your holiday packaging design without adding up too much to your holiday marketing costs.

      • Holiday-themed packing tape: While a box is an expensive custom packaging element, holiday-themed packing tape is a creative yet low-cost way to dial the festivities up a notch. 
      holiday theme
        • Custom stickers: You could add some holiday pizazz to your branding elements such as logo, brand new. Snowflakes, string lights, Christmas trees will let customers know that you’re really in the spirit. 
        customize sticker for holiday season
          • Printed paper: Printed tissue and butcher paper are easy updates to your year-round packaging. Use paper to wrap items and add an extra finishing touch with a custom sticker or a bit of ribbon.
          printed paper for holiday season
            • Cloth bag: What’s great about cloth bags is that they are like a bonus gift. And for eco-minded customers, these cloth bags can be reused as mesh laundry bags.
            Cloth bag

              • Handwritten notes: Remember the last time you opened a parcel and you saw a well-handwritten thank you note from the brand? We bet you read that note till the very end. This can be quite a time investment but it's truly worth your efforts. It gives your clients the feeling of being valued and cared about even at such a hectic time of the year.

              Handwritten notes

              Additionally, you can maximize your investment in holiday packaging by politely asking your customers to share photos of the packaging or videos of the unboxing experience on their social channels.

              #7 Launch A Customer Loyalty Program

              A customer loyalty program is an eCommerce marketing strategy that rewards loyal clients that frequently purchase from your brand. According to Harvard Business Review, depending on which industry you’re in, acquiring new customers can be 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones. Therefore, loyal customers are your besties if you’re working on a tight budget. 

              Before delving in, let’s first take a look at some stats that we have collected!

              launch a sustomer loyalty program

              • An existing customer is 9 times more likely to make a purchase than a new customer. Source: Adobe
              • Whilst the likelihood of selling to a prospective client is 5-20%, the likelihood of selling to an existing client is about 60-70%. Source: Altfeld Inc
              • Existing customers spend 31% more on average than new ones. Source: Sailthru

              With that in mind, during this holiday season, you’d better run a fruitful customer loyalty program to retain your loyal customers and nudge them to spend more.

              There are plenty of ways to show your customers that you care about them during the festive period. For instance, you can offer your year-round customers some special offers. Depending on your business, a loyal program on holiday can consist of:

              • An exclusive holiday deal
              • Free upgrades or buy-one-get-one
              • A free downloadable resource

              Another great way to show your appreciation is to give your year-around shoppers freebies. Of course, you should only give freebies to impress your customers if this holiday marketing strategy fits within your budget. 

              Or what’s a better way to get into the giving spirit is to team up with a non-profit organization. For many, this means giving back and doing good deeds. You can work with local organizations by donating needed items, lending your expertise or volunteering your time. Besides the “feel good” benefits, small businesses can be more visible in the community and enhance positive brand exposure.

              And of course, don’t forget to give them a sincere thank for sticking with you through the year 2021 and wishing them a joyous and prosperous new year. Either a branded postcard or a handwritten note is fine.

              Get access to a huge reservoir of helpful tips and resources for a thriving Black Friday - Cyber Monday with a click away. 

              #8 Have A Clear Return Policy

              If you wish to improve customer experience when they shop with you, the advice here is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Or in other words, never stop thinking about the world from your customers’ perspective.

              As an online shopper, what will you worry about? Perhaps, you won’t be certain about which sizes, features or even products are the best fit for you. That’s why a return policy is of utmost importance, making it easier for your customers to shop with the peace of mind that they won’t get stuck with something not suitable for them. 

              Remember it’s the festive season when almost all brands are selling items at discount prices and consumers are shopping in a hurry. The sales cycles are shortened and shoppers don’t have enough time to do a bit of research before moving to the payment process. Moreover, as it’s the traditional gift-giving season, customers may not only buy for themselves but also for family members and friends whose sizes or preferences often come as question marks.  

              Therefore, during the holiday season, you can offer a generous return policy for your customers. Once you’re clear about your return policy, you need to make sure it is transparent and easy to find on product pages and the checkout process. This way, you’re showing confidence in your products and service, moving your site visitors from interest to action.

              Related article:

              III. Holiday Marketing Mistakes To Avoid

              The holiday period is such a frantic time for business owners. There are so many things on the plate: managing inventory, planning holiday marketing campaigns, designing holiday-themed products - you name it. There are bound to be errors along the way.

              Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to be that way if you’re fully aware of bonehead holiday marketing mistakes to avoid and implement the right tactics for your small business.

              #1 Focus on only one marketing tactic

              Your business is small-scale and thus you’re dismissing multiple marketing tactics. Then, it’s high time you rethought that stance as you might be getting left behind!

              Using only one marketing tactic not only limits your potential customer reach but also the creativity of your holiday marketing campaign. In fact, there are still lots of marketing strategies you can apply in holiday season 2021 without overspending your budget such as launching email marketing, holding minigames, redesigning holiday packaging and so on.

              #2 Campaign not launching on time

              If your holiday marketing campaign is pushed back for whatever reasons, that means results and revenue will be, too. But how can you get around this? The answer is by proper planning and setting clear milestones for every process of the campaign. These might include:

              • Brainstorming holiday marketing ideas
              • Creating bite-sized goals
              • Determining the target audience
              • Setting budget requirements
              • Choosing marketing channels

              #3 Send emails in bulk

              As mentioned above, email marketing is a powerful marketing channel that can’t be overlooked whether your business is small-scale, medium-sized or enterprise-level. However, email marketing can only do wonders for your brand if you follow a well-planned strategy - one that doesn’t include bombarding your customers’ inbox with deals after deals. Hence, be mindful of how many emails are in your stream and what’s the purpose of each email sent to different clienteles.

              Wrapping Things Up

              We know it’s been quite a long read for you. But hopefully, you’ve found something helpful, something inspirational for your holiday marketing strategy. Remember that even with a modest budget, there are still plenty of options available for you to craft a solid holiday marketing campaign as a small business. 

              Happy selling, my dear friends!

              Author Bio: Ginny Tran is a forward-thinking and meticulous marketing executive at LitExtension - the world #1 shopping cart migration expert. She has a good command of the eCommerce industry and she keeps updating herself with innovations in this field.

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