We’re not here to instill panic, but the holidays are looming! Sure, it may not feel like it’s time to start decking the halls and making the season bright–but the most wonderful time of the year will be here before you know it.v
In fact, nearly 40% of people begin their holiday shopping before Halloween. That means now is the ideal time to start your holiday marketing planning. And what’s a plan without some ideas to test?
Get your sales sizzling with these holiday promotion ideas and marketing campaigns that you can start today.
Want the data on how consumers will search and shop this season? Download our free guide packed with data and tips to make your 2021 holiday marketing a success!
Holiday promotion ideas to make your customers merry
Try these holiday promotion ideas to bring in new customers, increase engagement, and set your business up for holiday success!
1. Give back to your customers
Giving is a huge part of the holiday season. Why not give back to your customers (and encourage them to keep coming back!) with a free gift, free guide, or fun holiday event?
Here are some other holiday promotions you can run as a part of your seasonal marketing efforts:
If you don’t have much to give, you can always give thanks! Send an email to thank current customers, and tell them about your holiday events, specials, or loyalty programs. (Check out these holiday email subject lines and December email subject lines to get inspired this season!)
While a fun time of year, the holiday season can also be very stressful and a strain on people’s pocketbooks – especially this year. Customers really appreciate it when a business goes out of its way to show a little love to the people who keep them running. Create deals, handouts, or swag designed to help the tired shopper on their journey. You can also run an Instagram holiday giveaway to give a little extra love to your customers.
You can create holiday-specific rewards or loyalty programs that run the length of the holiday season. There is a general influx of shoppers during the holiday season, and the added appeal of a loyalty or rewards program can be enough to get passersby to stop in, or to choose you over a competitor.
2. Offer free gift wrap or hold a gift-wrapping event
Raise your hand if wrapping gifts is your least favorite part of the holiday gift-giving season.
Consider providing free gift wrap or a gift-wrapping station for customers to make their shopping a little easier. Obviously, this holiday promotion idea works best if you have a retail location, but it can also be used for businesses like bakeries, flower shops, restaurants, and even gyms.
This not only encourages customers to come and shop at your store, but it also gives you the chance to interact with them on a personal, non-sales-oriented level. Getting to know your customers and building a sense of community will keep them coming back after the holiday season.
3. Put on a holiday referral contest
Another great holiday promotion idea is a referral contest. Even if you already have a referral program, a holiday-themed referral contest can bring yuletide glitz to your referral outreach. Offer an attractive prize to the person who refers the most customers to your business and supply a few smaller prizes for second and third place as well.
The holidays are a time when people are swapping insider tips on where to get the best deals and the coolest gifts. Take advantage by giving your customers an added incentive to spread the word about your business.
Zazzle held a holiday referral contest to get more referral links to their blog.
4. Host a themed get-together
While large gatherings aren’t encouraged this year, you can still spread some holiday cheer in the form of an open house or similar event. Invite regular customers to thank them for their loyalty and help put the celebration back into the holiday season. You can make it an exclusive “insiders” event so your customers feel like VIPs.
Offer free samples of your latest products or an event-specific promotion to sweeten the deal. This is also a great opportunity to get feedback from your customers on what they want to see from you in the coming year to prepare your marketing plan.
Not sure where to start? Thankfully, when it comes to the holidays, it’s easy. Throw together some tinsel, winter-themed decorations, or red and green ribbons, and you’re good to go!
Your event might even include some custom face masks, like these.
Lastly, be sure to encourage your customers to take pictures and post to social media! One clever way of doing so is introducing a special holiday hashtag for the event, such as #[businessname]VIP or something holiday-themed. Consider hiring a professional photographer who can take photos of guests and the event itself. This will provide you with ample material to spread across your social media platforms.
5. Offer pre-book specials
Certain industries have ebbs and flows throughout the year. But, just because winter might be your business’s off-season doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from offering holiday promotions as part of your seasonal marketing strategy.
Offer special discounts to customers who book now for spring.
A contractor, painter, or outdoor boot camp fitness program, for example, may expect a slow winter. However, in just a few months, customers will be ready to work with your business — so give them a little incentive now when they’re in the spending spirit.
6. Provide gift discounts
Obviously, the bulk of holiday spending is around gifts for loved ones. Think about how you can provide discounts for gift buyers — especially those who might be interested in buying multiple items or services from your business.
Our research also found that 45% of shoppers will buy items for themselves while buying gifts for loved ones. Take advantage of this by offering a buy-one-get-one half-off special so people can buy a gift for their loved ones and a gift for themselves!
Related: Get holiday spending stats to inform your marketing plan.
Service-based businesses can also take advantage of this by offering bundle pricing on services — a dance studio could run a gift special to buy 10 classes for the price of eight.
7. Run holiday specials with other businesses
Another great holiday promotion that encourages spending this season is to pair up with other small businesses. According to Google, 66% of people planning to shop more at local businesses this season. Make it easier for customers to support community businesses by partnering with others in your area.
This paper company partnered with another business on gift wrapping.
This works best with similar businesses or businesses that naturally go well together — like the paper shop and design studio above. For another example, if you own a spa, you could pair up with a local wine shop to offer a “spa day and bottle of wine” package. A package like that might just make someone buy one for a friend and one for themselves!
8. Host (virtual!) classes or tutorials
While people are still navigating changing closures or how to stay safe, now’s a great time for your business to offer virtual (or in-person if done safely) classes or tutorials as a holiday promotion. Your customers will love it, and it’ll be a great way to get them to engage with you!
Offer classes related to the products you sell. If you are a flower shop, host a flower arrangement class, for example. If you’re a bakery, you can host a series of classes, all with different themes — for example a pastry-making class, or a cake-decorating class.
This restaurant offered a virtual wine pairing event — guests picked up the materials from the restaurant and gathered at home on Zoom for a tutorial.
While you can host classes for free, don’t forget that they can be a great source of extra revenue as well. Outside the holidays, offer a free trial class, and provide additional frequent specials to encourage sign-ups.
Holiday marketing campaign ideas
Try these holiday marketing ideas to make sure your business is showing up where it counts and delivering the best experience for customers and potential customers.
9. Implement a holiday PPC campaign to increase website traffic
When you want a holiday marketing campaign that can get your business in front of searchers quickly, look no further than pay per click (PPC). It doesn’t matter whether they’re looking for the perfect gift or trying to educate themselves on home repair services, we know that people are utilizing search engines during the holiday season more than ever before. So, make sure you’re there with a search marketing campaign.
PPC campaigns can help your business get in front of customers searching for your goods or services. How, you might ask? With tailored search campaigns across Google, Bing, and Yahoo, of course! But, beware — one solution does not fit all in the world of search marketing.
Make sure you’re creating a custom strategy for each platform utilizing the keywords and phrases that resonate most with your business. (And, don’t worry if you don’t know what those are. A search marketing partner can help.)
Bonus: Make your campaigns holiday-specific by adding in verbiage specific to the season:
- Free shipping + specific holiday search trends, like: Best Gifts for Mom
- Any end of year sales: Book Now, Service Later
- Plus, a combination of broad, phrase, and exact (keyword) match to guarantee you’re reaching a wide audience.
- Broad Match keywords show your ads to people searching for things similar to their search, but not precisely the same phrase. This can include long-tail keywords, misspellings, synonyms, and other variations.
- Phrase Match shows your ads for searches that match a phrase or are a variation of a phrase. This is especially important as people search in long-tail sentences, more so than keywords.
10. Amplify your offers and events on your Google Business Profile
Here’s another way to get your holiday promotions to show up on Google: Post events and offers directly to your Google Business listing using the posts feature. Posts encourage more action from potential customers who find your business on Google search. Google Event and Offer posts are particularly useful for your holiday promotions, as they enable you to set time frames, provide redemption codes, and include terms and conditions.
Reminder: This is also a great time to update your holiday hours on your Google Business Profile to keep customers up-to-date on when you’ll be open during the holiday season.
11. Run a display campaign with retargeting to get more customers
The holidays are a great time to capture more leads for your business going into the new year. Getting people to your website is a great start, but sometimes, it’s not enough. On average, 96% of visitors to your website aren’t ready to buy anything.
Think of your own browsing behavior; how long do you stay in the research phase? How many websites do you visit? One of the best ways to convert website visitors is with a display remarketing campaign that follows people as they continue their search, motivating them to convert on your website.
Even better news: Targeted display advertising with LOCALiQ gets you the best of both worlds: coast-to-coast reach across the 155 million consumers that are part of the USA TODAY NETWORK, plus highly localized targeting. Plus: You can get started with a display campaign that includes retargeting today.
12. Create a social media campaign to spread good cheer (AKA brand awareness)
Speaking of social media…Social connections go far beyond parties and gatherings this time of year. Make social a priority with organic posts that build community and increase awareness for your business plus a paid campaign to drive conversions.
The duality of using organic social with paid social ads allows you to grow a community and then focus on converting those newfound fans.
First, grow your audience with Facebook ads that use high-level messaging to target potential customers and clients. Here are some ideas of content that you can share:
- Educational videos that explain your business differentiators.
- Posts highlighting sales, end-of-year deals, and anything else you’re offering.
- “Unboxing” content that allows people to see your products/business up close.
- Reviews praising your services, employees, and business.
Next, continue to engage with your audience with organic social posts. Use what you know about your audience to create content that will catch their attention, educate them about your offerings, and motivate them to click. Also, make sure you’re responding to any comments or engagements you’re getting on your page or on your ads to help build your online community.
13. Create holiday videos and promote them where it counts
We know that people love watching videos year-round. But did you know shoppers actually use videos as a resource around the holidays? We found that 50% of shoppers turn to YouTube to discover new products and businesses. So take advantage of this by creating holiday videos to engage your audience and entice new shoppers to your business. We put together holiday video ideas you can steal and test this season.
Once you’ve created your holiday video, you can amplify it as part of a cross-channel marketing strategy on YouTube, your website, your social media sites, and in emails.
Related: Get 12 free holiday marketing resources to make your campaigns a breeze.
Bonus: Advertise weather-related discounts
As businesses in four-season climates know, winter can often be a difficult few (or longer) months. When it’s cold, windy, and snowy out, not many people (understandably) want to endure the biting outdoors. However, after a while, people feeling bored, and even stir crazy. Help spark motivation to (safely) venture outside the house by offering weather-related promotional discounts.
Offer customers different specials based on temperature drops and weather forecasts. For example, if you run a small bar, offer an exclusive discounted drink or a few dollars off select popular drinks if the temperature drops below 32 degrees. Restaurants could also offer free hot chocolate or a free warm drink when the temperature drops below freezing.
If you’re not in an area that experiences a true winter (I’m writing this from Texas–my last winter holiday was spent sweating through my tacky Christmas sweater), you could offer specials when your city hits a record low–or a record high.
Bring extra cheer to your holiday season
Don’t miss out on the excitement of the holidays this year. By utilizing even just a few holiday marketing ideas and promotions above, you can increase your holiday sales by exponential amounts.
Let’s recap those 12+ holiday promotions and marketing campaign ideas:
- Give Back to Your Customers
- Offer Free Gift Wrap or Hold a Gift-Wrapping Event
- Put on a Holiday Referral Contest
- Host a Themed Get-Together
- Offer Pre-Book Specials
- Provide Gift Discounts
- Run Holiday Specials with Other Businesses
- Host (Virtual!) Classes or Tutorials
- Implement a Holiday PPC Campaign to Increase Website Traffic
- Amplify Your Offers & Events on Your Google My Business Profile
- Run a Display Campaign with Retargeting to Get More Customers
- Create a Social Media Campaign to Spread Good Cheer (AKA Brand Awareness)
- Advertise Weather-Related Discounts
With the magic of the season, you’ll find upward trends in your revenue. A very merry season indeed!
PS: Want to see how your online presence ranks ahead of the holidays? Try the LOCALiQ Grader!