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The Key to Running a Successful Holiday Marketing Campaign

As important as the Christmas holiday season is to the vast majority of consumer retailers, it is baffling that the biggest mistake marketers make is waiting too long to initiate holiday-related marketing campaigns. Preparation is a key element in being successful in any endeavor, but failing to plan and prepare holiday marketing campaigns in a timely manner can not only ensure costly inefficiencies but will likely give the competition a head start. The evolution of the traditional “Black Friday” kick-off of the official holiday shopping season is motivating retailers to move the start of campaigns into the early days of November.

Nearly 75 percent of holiday marketing budgets are finalized in September, according to a Comscore industry survey, and 97 percent report that they are completed by September. Only 3 percent of respondents said they would wait until November to finalize holiday campaign budgets. Despite the negative implications of inflation on the economy, 83 percent of holiday marketers will spend at least as much in 2023 as in the previous year.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is projecting an optimistic $966.6 billion in consumer spending this Christmas season, up 3 to 4 percent over 2022 levels. “It is not surprising to see holiday sales growth returning to pre-pandemic levels,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Overall household finances remain in good shape and will continue to support the consumer’s ability to spend.” While Mr. Shay’s perspective on the health of overall household finances may be vigorously debated, the 2023 Deloitte holiday survey indicates that consumers are planning on staying the holiday spending course for this year. Consumers indicate they will spend an average of $1,652 this season.

The best strategy for holiday campaigns is to focus on identifying key consumer prospects and creating messages that are personal, authentic, and relative. Research the intended audience in advance and create content that speaks to consumers’ interests. Identify the digital channels where the audience is listening and broadcast the campaign across multiple, relevant channels. In a crowded and increasingly noisy digital space, getting the attention of a targeted audience is becoming increasingly difficult. Differentiation is an important goal in an effort to set apart one brand’s holiday campaign over another. Be creative, take advantage of tactics that are free or inexpensive, and commit to doing those things that the competition cannot do or is unwilling to do.

Tis the season to recognize and reward the most loyal customers with customized promotions and special offers. Merchandise discounts, free delivery, gift wrapping, and special gift guides will help keep the best customers coming back. Support local charitable efforts that communicate the brand’s values. It is a season that is based on giving, so embracing the emotions of the time will send a signal to consumers that the brand values more than just a purchase. Look beyond the close of the official holiday shopping season and develop tie-ins and incentives for shoppers to return in the new year.

Constructing a comprehensive social media strategy is a top priority for businesses, but evaluating and measuring campaign performance is critical to optimizing marketing spend. Understanding what social media metrics to evaluate and how the metrics reflect user sentiment and conversion can identify key opportunities to reconstruct and edit a campaign to improve its efficiency and its impact on achieving a strategy’s goals and objectives.

Resolve to plan early, identify key potential consumers, and connect with them through appropriate digital channels with content that is personal and authentic. Focus on building trust and delivering a customer-centric experience throughout the process from acquisition to conversion.