5-Steps to a Festive Holiday Content Marketing Plan

Tracy Ring on Sunday, November 10, 2019

holiday marketing planning

Holiday marketing starts earlier and earlier every year, leading consumers into the buying season well before it’s time to shop. With everyone looking for deals at Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and the lead up to the end-of-year holidays, like Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years, your marketing plan needs to make you stand out from your competition. 

For B2B businesses (and even some B2C) that have no natural connection to the holidays, you might assume it’s fine to skip over the season. Throw up a stock photo on social media for Thanksgiving and Christmas and call it a day. However, the holiday season is the perfect time for any company to take advantage of the increase in online search traffic and buying.  

Look at the National Retail Federation (NRF)’s overview of the average consumer, who spends more than $1,000 during the holidays. Yes, a large portion of that spend is on gifts, food, and decorations, but 15 percent is non-gift purchases.

What’s more, consumers also plan to shop in a variety of places, including specialty stores (13 percent), local small businesses (23 percent), even thrift and resale shops (10 percent). 

Finally, the NRF forecasts that holiday sales will grow 3.8 to 4.2 percent this year, which could total $730 billion, which means there’s plenty to go around if you nail your holiday marketing.

Bottom line, while your product or service might not easily relate to typical holiday shopping trends, you can still harness the heightened activity around the holidays. For example, a business insurance provider could partner with a local organization and donate a portion of profits for the holiday season. Tie this in with your content marketing, creating video and social content around the program, and you’ll drive awareness and give people something to connect with, potentially driving clients. 

Ultimately, a well-executed content marketing plan can help you stay front-of-mind with your target audience. If you’re not sure where to start, use this 5-step plan as you guide, complete with holiday marketing ideas and tips.

Check out our guide to blog strategy and seasonal content

Step 1: Develop Your Holiday Strategy

Planning, arguably the most important step of any campaign, is also the most time-consuming. However, as every marketer knows, a clear plan sets you up for success (and less stress), which is essential for any time of year, and especially around the holidays.

To develop your strategy, consider the following details: 

  • What is your business’s goal for the holidays? Drive more sales? Increase traffic to your website? Build brand awareness? Your goals will guide your strategy and help you understand what you need to create and promote. 
  • Establish KPIs. How will you measure success given your objectives? Set a few key performance indicators (KPIs) using your available data as a benchmark, like current organic traffic, social media engagement, or sales.
  • Decide what’s feasible for your team and resources. Can you create five blog posts to publish in the six weeks leading up to Christmas with daily social posts? Or is it more reasonable to write two? Look at past content marketing efforts, and don’t overextend yourself. 
  • Make a list of what you need to create. Include blog posts, social posts, videos, and any graphics needed. Then assign to appropriate stakeholders with due dates. Even if you’re a one-person show, due dates will hold you accountable. Contently found that setting deadlines improves content marketing efficiency by 2.5x.
  • Set a schedule. Create a timeline for all-holiday related content and integrate that into your existing marketing plan. Use the below calendar to understand retail and buying trends and plan accordingly.

Get your free Quarterly Content Calendar Bundle to organize your holiday marketing!

Step 2: Create Helpful Holiday Content 

Content creation should be your first step after planning because it tends to take the longest. Writing a blog post is a time-consuming task. But the good news is, you can also repurpose blog posts to create social media content, and drive traffic to your site. Become a pro at this with our content repurposing course, led by CEO, Jessica Thiefels. 

As you plan your content, remember that consumers are looking for value-driven advice, help, and information during the holiday buying season. Your content can provide just that, and in turn, increase traffic to your website or social profiles. Use the following holiday marketing ideas for inspiration. 

Holiday Marketing Ideas for Content 

Guides: Everyone looks for inspiration during the holiday season. Create helpful guides that are relevant to your brand and audience. Think last-minute gift guides, instructions on throwing a party, or decoration inspo. WeWork created a gift guide for professionals, highlighting presents with a personal touch. Their blog post is also a good example of a B2B company, that doesn’t necessarily relate to the holidays (a coworking space), but is using holiday content to capitalize on the season.

Get more ideas with our free download: 30 customizable blog headlines!

How-to articles: Develop valuable information that your target audience needs during the holidays, for example: “How to plan an office holiday party that doesn’t suck,” or “How to stay cyber-safe during holiday vacations.

Local information: Create blog posts that highlight local events or happenings, such as “Family-friendly holiday events in Burlington,” or “The best neighborhoods in Buffalo to go see Christmas lights.” As a bonus, this type of content can also help you target local keywords.

Trending topics: What topics are trending for your target audience? For example, many businesses look for local charitable organizations during the holidays (to both make contributions for holiday gifts, as well as meet their annual giving threshold for tax reasons). Consider creating a listicle of local charitable organizations or worthy campaigns.   

Step 3: Design Festive Marketing Collateral 

Whether you DIY your graphic design or outsource this side of your content marketing, batch creating your graphics and images, ensure that your visuals stay cohesive and on-brand. What’s more, once you design a few items, you can repurpose and translate for other graphics. For instance, use your website sliders for your Facebook cover image or your resize your blog header as a social media post.

Take a look at Zendesk’s blog post on preparing your customer support team for the holidays.

Image source: Zendesk

Not only is this a perfect topic for their B2B audience, but note how they repurposed their simple and well-branded image for their Twitter post as well.

Step 4: Boost Holiday Engagement 

No matter what your holiday marketing campaign goals are, engagement with your audience is invaluable. By using the engagement tactics below, you ensure that your audience sees and interacts with your holiday campaign, which is of course the point.

Contests: Give away a prize or gift on social media. Think of something people would want during the holidays. It doesn’t even have to be your own product or service; it could be a gift card or prize package.

For participation, customers have to give or do something, like sharing their email address or following your account and sharing a photo with a specific hashtag. Check out Sprout Social’s social media contest guide for help putting this together.

User-generated content: Collect UGC, like images, posts, or reviews from clients and customers. Repost them on your social profile, thanking your customers for their support. Remember always to ask permission first! 

Unique hashtags: Create a campaign-specific hashtag for the holidays and ask followers to participate. One of the most infamous examples is REI’s #OptOutside campaign.

In 2016, in an unprecedented move, the retailer closed their stores on Black Friday and asked people to go outdoors instead, and post their photos with the hashtag. The campaign became a movement and the hashtag is still used to this day. 

Step 5: Execute Your Plan and Use Data to Optimize

With your strategy is in place, blog posts published, website and social profiles ready, it’s time to schedule your social media posts and monitor progress. Keep your KPIs in mind as your campaigns go out and schedule a weekly check on your metrics so you can change or adapt messaging, if necessary. 

At the end of the holiday season, do your final reporting and use this when planning next year.

Create a Festive (And Revenue-Generating) Holiday Marketing Campaign

Remember that the average consumer is inundated with holiday marketing during this time of year. Don’t be more noise in an already-crowded digital space. Instead, stay true to your brand and provide value-driven and engaging seasonal content for a holiday campaign that stands out during this busy season.