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Your 2016 Holiday Marketing Checklist: 5 Things You Need to Do Now

Updated on November 9, 2016
12 minute read

Holiday marketing season is here, and if you haven’t started to plan your holiday marketing campaign, now is the time to start! Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rest of the winter holidays, November and December is peak shopping season. In fact, these two months drive 30% more revenue for ecommerce businesses than the

Published November 9, 2016

Holiday marketing season is here, and if you haven’t started to plan your holiday marketing campaign, now is the time to start! Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rest of the winter holidays, November and December is peak shopping season. In fact, these two months drive 30% more revenue for ecommerce businesses than the rest of the year!

To help you keep calm and stay organized, we created a holiday marketing checklist to guide you through every step of your campaign, from creating a holiday hashtag to scheduling your holiday social media posts, and all the little details inbetween. Check out our 2016 holiday marketing checklist below:

  1.  ✅ Create a Promotion, Deal, Special Product, or Hashtag for your Holiday Marketing Campaign:

Before you can create a holiday marketing campaign, you have to have something to market! So, first things first: create an offer, deal, or promotion for Black Friday / Cyber Monday. Is everything 30% off, or are you trying to clear out your inventory with 70% off your sale items? Once you’ve decided what your promotion is, you’ll be able to create the content to promote it.

For the holiday gift-giving season, another idea is to create a special holiday line of products (or, if you’re running a little late to the holiday season, to just market an upcoming product line as your holiday collection!). Exclusivity works really well during the holiday season, which is why popular retails brands like lululemon and Sorel always offer a special holiday collection. Knowing that the product is only available during the holidays helps to create a sense of urgency to get your customers to buy now before it’s gone!

Glossier’s limited edition holiday collection

If you don’t have a physical product to sell, don’t worry: you can also create a special promotion for the holiday season, where you can either offer your services at a discount or create a new package, all under the theme of the holidays. For example, if you’re a personal trainer who uses Instagram to market yourself through work-out videos, you can offer a special holiday package to help people stay fit during eggnog season.

Finally, to tie your campaign offer, product, or promotion together, you’ll definitely want to create a special branded hashtag for the holidays. Think about your brand identity and what message you want to portray this season, and then come up with a creative hashtag to sum it all up! The more creative, the better. For example, REI’s Black Friday campaign last year was to close all their stores and encourage their employees and customers to #OptOutside and spend time outdoors instead. What REI didn’t make in Black Friday sales, they made up for in brand awareness, as their campaign went viral on social media, racking up over 1 million posts on their hashtag.

If you’re a yoga studio, maybe your holiday marketing campaign will be to provide a place of serenity and peace for your customers during this hectic season, instead of trying to promote yoga passes as gifts.

2) ✅ Brand Your Holiday Marketing Campaign

Considering that 92% of holiday shoppers will research or buy gifts online, now is the time to really focus on your online holiday marketing campaigns and get your social media feeds in tip-top shape!

The holidays are a fun time to get creative on social media, and branding your holiday marketing campaign is an easy way to tie your campaign together and stand out on social media. You can make this as simple or as detailed as you want! You don’t have to stick with red and green; instead you could choose a neutral palette with an emphasis on gold and silver, or a winter palette of blues and whites, or just go crazy with all the color and neon! 

Example of lululemon’s 2014 holiday marketing campaign

The key is to have consistent colors, fonts, and images across your website, social media channels, emails, and even your packaging! Don’t forget to include your holiday hashtag on all your branded materials too. 

3) ✅ Create a Social Media Content Calendar for Your Holiday Marketing Campaign

Content calendars are a saving grace all year round, but they’re especially important during the holidays. Hello, crazy busy season! Before December starts and you get wrapped up in both your business and personal life, set aside some time to fully plan out your social media content calendar using Later. This will not only help you stay calm when everything else is chaos, but it will also help you make your holiday marketing campaign more successful!

Step 1: Create your own holiday content

Spend a day (or a few days) taking photos for your holiday marketing campaign. You’ll need product photos, lifestyle photos of your product out in the wild, and you’ll probably want a decent amount of photos with your gift bags.

If you need holiday-specific imagery for your website, emails, or social media graphics that doesn’t include your products (think: gifts under the Christmas tree), you can save time by sourcing them from free stock photo sites or buying them on Stocksy, which we use here at Later and highly recommend.

Stocksy is a great source of holiday marketing photos

Now, here’s where things get a little crazy: now is also the time to start making any holiday-themed Instagram stories. Yes, that’s right, we’ve found a way to record Instagram stories and upload them later. All you have to do is record them as a video instead of recording them live, and then download the app Pixelgarde to edit the metadata of your videos. Sounds complicated, but it’s not! When it comes time to post your Instagram story, you just use the app to change the date of when the video was created to some time in the last 24 hours. The app is free, but if you want to remove their tiny logo, you can upgrade for $1.99 #worthit

Now that you know the trick to creating Instagram stories ahead of time, you can take the time to plan out some creative and festive stories for the holiday season before it gets too busy!

Step 2: Curate social media content

After you’ve taken all of your own photos (and edited them), you’ll want to fill in the gaps for everything else! You’ll want to curate your Instagram feed and fill it with beautiful, seasonal content that resonates with your audience and brand.

Later’s Search & Repost feature is awesome for curating Instagram content to repost on your own social channels – you just search for a hashtag or user, add the photo to your media library, and it’s ready for you to schedule! With photo credit, of course. Learn more about how to repost on Instagram.

If you’re wanting to schedule social media content for Thanksgiving, you can also download our free thanksgiving stock photos.

Step 3: Create social media graphics

Gorgeous photos are what Instagram is all about, so we can understand that you might not want to “ruin” a beautiful photo by putting text over top. But the truth is, if you’re really wanting to promote a sale, product, or promo, there’s no better way to get that across on Instagram than by adding “30% off sale!” on top of a photo. You may not get as many likes, but we can guarantee that every person that sees your photo knows about your promotion, instead of just the ones who stop to read your caption. 

Social media graphics don’t have to be ugly, and they don’t have to be hard to create either! Canva is a free tool that makes it super, super easy for you to create social media graphics on your computer. You can use their existing templates, or you can make your own. Here at Later, we really love “Canva for Work” which lets you choose your brand colours, fonts, and upload your logos and other photos into an easy-to-use library. Canva’s “magic resize” feature is perfect for quickly optimizing your graphic for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Once you’re done, export all your designs and then import them into Later’s media library to get ready to schedule Instagram posts and plan out your holiday Instagram feed.

Step 4: Schedule your social media posts for your holiday marketing campaign

Once you have all of your photos, videos, and regrams ready, its time to plan it out and get those posts scheduled! Upload all of your content to Later’s media library, drag and drop your content on our visual calendar, and then use our Instagram grid preview to plan your feed and make sure your Instagram feed is looking it’s holiday best. Trust us, spending a few hours to plan out all your content before the craziness of the holiday season begins will be the best gift you can give yourself.

And don’t forget about Pinterest, which is a super powerful visual search engine. People are going to be searching for the best gifts on Pinterest, so make sure that you create Pinterest-optimized images that link back to your website!

If you’re not using Pinterest for business yet, now is definitely the time to start! We recommend checking out Melyssa Griffin’s guide to growing your business with Pinterest here, and then scheduling your pins with Later! 😉

Free Pinterest Scheduler

Step 5: Snap up your Location for a Snapchat Geo-Filter

Snapchat geo-filters are a super effective and super cheap way for your business to get massive brand exposure. But you can’t wait until the last minute, especially during the holiday season when everyone is wanting to capitalize on them. Snapchat limits the number of geo-filters for a particular area, so it really does pay to be first. Create your Snapchat filter now (like right now), and upload it ASAP so you can beat out your competitors. 

Snapchat has it’s own geo-filter templates that you can use, but if you want more flexibility you can easily make your own Snapchat filter with Pepper Filters. It costs $5 per design, and it’s way easier than trying to learn Photoshop…plus, there’s cute emoji icons.

By the way, you don’t have to have a physical store to capitalize on Snapchat geo-filters! If you have an online store, you can still take advantage of the increased foot traffic of malls by implementing creative Snapchat filters for malls in your city, state, or even across the country. The same strategy applies to public spaces that will be full of people during this time of year, like outdoor ice rinks, holiday lights, or special events.

4) ✅ Optimize Your Sales Funnel

After you have your holiday marketing campaign down, you can’t forget about the actual shopping experience! Last year, 40% of holiday shopping was online, and that number is only expected to grow in 2016. Shipping is a major barrier for online stores, so now is the time to either offer free shipping, or figure out at which price point you should offer free shipping. A whopping 93% of shoppers will take action for free shipping! To figure out when you should offer free shipping, you can look at your abandoned carts and calculate the average price of your abandoned cart, and then consider lowering your free shipping minimum spend.

And of course – if you’re going to offer free shipping, you have to let people know! Add this to the top of your website, your social media graphics, promote it in your newsletter, etc.

This is also a good time to look at your shopping experience as a whole, and look for other areas you can improve on to make more sales this holiday season! For example, you might want to take a look at how your Instagram shopping experience and consider creating a shoppable Instagram feed, so you can connect your followers with the specific products they’re looking for. Later’s product is an easy and affordable way to get your Instagram feed set up to be more shoppable!

5) ✅ Create an Advertising & PR Plan

After all your hard work creating your holiday marketing campaign, you’re going to want to promote the life out of it! We’ve already covered how you can promote your holiday marketing campaign on your own social media channels, but in order for your campaign to be super effective you’ll want to get it in front of a brand new audience too.

Facebook and Instagram holiday ads are an amazing way to promote your holiday products. If you’re new to social advertising, you can start with boosting your Instagram or Facebook posts to your target audience. If you’re more experienced, Facebook lookalike audiences or remarketing campaigns for customers who visited your site but didn’t make a purchase may be the way to go for your business.

Instagram influencer marketing is another great strategy for the holiday season. In fact, when it comes to influencer marketing, Instagram is the best performing channel for social action, with an average 3.21% engagement rate (compared to 1.5% across all social networks). Working with Instagram influencers can help you promote your products as gifts, or promote your larger holiday marketing message.

You don’t have to have a huge budget to leverage the power of Instagram influencer marketing, as there are a lot of influencers that will trade product for promotion — it’s really about finding the right fit for both your brand and the influencer. You can learn more here: How to Grow Your Business with Instagram Influencer Marketing

Finally, you’ll want to flex your PR muscles when it comes to gift guides! Getting your product in gift guides is an effective way to make holiday sales, whether it’s on a huge list like Oprah’s Favorite Things or a more niche gift guide on popular blogs in your industry. Start pitching your favorite blogs or influencers, and see if you can send them product to consider for their holiday gift guides!

Feeling overwhelmed yet? Just take a deep breath, write out your own holiday marketing checklist, and start creating that content! 2017 will be here in no time, you got this. ????

Later helps you plan, manage, and schedule Instagram content. Best of all? It’s free!

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