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How to Plan the Perfect Holiday Marketing Campaign (Free Checklist)

The holiday marketing season is just around the corner, so if you haven’t started to plan your holiday marketing campaign yet, NOW is the time!

Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, Black Friday, and the rest of the winter holidays, this is the busiest (and most important!) time of the whole year, especially if you work in retail or ecommerce.

In fact, according to TechRadar, online sales rose to a record-breaking $3.34 billion on Black Friday last year!

Want a piece of that action? You need to start planning early!

To help you stay organized and calm this year, we created a holiday marketing campaign checklist to guide you through every step of your holiday campaign!

holiday marketing campaign

Plus, to make things even easier, we’ve put together a downloadable PDF of our holiday marketing campaign checklist, so you can fill it out or print it off and follow your progress! Running a holiday campaign for a client? Impress them by handing in this checklist!


Holiday Marketing Step #1: Decide On Your Creative Concept

The first step to running a successful social media campaign over the holidays is coming up with a rock solid idea or concept!

Not sure where to start? Take a moment and answer these questions:

  • What is the idea or concept behind your holiday marketing campaign this year?
  • What is the focus of your holiday marketing efforts? What products or services will you be focused on marketing primarily?
  • Will you be working with influencers on your campaign? If so, which ones?

The idea here is to come up with the broad strokes vision of your holiday campaign, including its overall look and feel, so if you ever feel lost or unsure, you can come back to these questions to get back on track!

Need some inspiration? Check out these 7 Holiday Marketing Ideas!

Holiday Marketing Step #2: Create Your Photo and Video Assets

User-generated content (UGC) can be a powerful tool for engaging with customers and marketing your business, but when it comes to holiday marketing campaigns, it’s a good idea to invest in creating original content.

To start, create a Pinterest board that represents the aesthetic of your holiday marketing campaign. You can use this board to brief your team, photographers, and influencers about the aesthetic and visual qualities that you’re going for.

holiday marketing campaign

You may also want to hire a photographer and/or videographer to assist with content creation for your holiday campaign. If you’re handling content creation yourself, make sure you have all your gear beforehand, including memory cards, external hard drives, camera equipment, and more.

You also need to decide on a venue for your shoot. Will you be shooting inside our outside? Do you need to rent a venue, or can you use a space that you already have access to, such as a coworker’s house or cabin?

If you have to rent a venue, get it booked as early as possible for your shoot day!

Now it’s time gather your props for the shoot!

Remember that because you’re creating content for several different holidays (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Boxing Day, and more), you need to bring a variety of different props to the shoot.

If you need some help with prop inspiration, try referring back to the Pinterest board you created earlier!

holiday marketing campaign

Next, you need to create your shot list and storyboard for the whole holiday season.

Start by making a specific list of the products that you want to feature in each shot, and an overall description of the “scenes” you want to create, including venue, props, and shot selection.

If you’re shooting a holiday campaign video, it’s a good idea to create a shareable storyboard. Your storyboard doesn’t need to map out the entire video in intense detail, but make sure you have your beginning, middle, and end nailed down. Basically, you want to give your videographer a clear and cohesive story.

And don’t forget to shoot video content for Instagram Stories!

Each of the “big days” of your holiday marketing campaign should have a dedicated Instagram story to support and enhance your other Instagram content, whether it’s showing your products in action or promoting special “limited time” offers.

holiday marketing campaign

You can also tease your holiday campaign by sharing behind-the-scenes photos and videos on Instagram Stories!

Need help coming up with ideas for your Instagram Stories? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Instagram Stories for inspiration.

When shooting photos for your holiday campaign, try creating a healthy mix of promotional product shots and lifestyle imagery. For example, if your ecommerce store sells socks, you could shoot inspiration photos people wearing your socks, photos of your socks hanging by the fireplace, and even detailed close-up shots of your socks.

The more variety, the better!

Just make sure that all of your photos work with your holiday campaign idea or concept.

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 stock photo sites.

Finally, find some models for your shoot! They can be your colleagues, friends, or even professional models and actors.

Holiday Marketing Step #3: Reach Out to Your Ideal Influencers

Influencer marketing is quickly becoming one of the best strategies for businesses to reach new audiences and even drive ecommerce sales.

If you really want to run a successful social media campaign over the holidays, it makes sense to partner with niche influencers who fit your target market and have the right audience demographics for your brand.

So how do you do it?

To start, create a short list of influencers you’d like to work with on your holiday marketing campaign.

Try sticking to influencers who are relevant to your audience and brand. A good way to do this is by doing a quick audit of their followers. Do they match your target audience? Do they seem like people who would be interested in your products but don’t know your business yet?

A post shared by jordyn jones (@jordynjones) on

You can also use the Pinterest board you created earlier to ensure the influencer matches the aesthetic you’re going for. This is especially important if the influencer themselves are shooting photos or videos for your holiday campaign!

Once you’ve created a short list of influencers, you need to create an influencer brief using your brand guidelines and holiday campaign Pinterest board.  

Here, you need to clearly outline your campaign dates, delivery dates, and content expectations, and payment details. You should also make sure to get permission to post your influencer-created assets wherever you need to, be it on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or your website.

With your brief ready, you can begin reaching out to the influencers on your shortlist.

The best way to do this? Send them an email!

If you have a great product, a friendly attitude, and the right influencer, you’re sure to find something that works for both of you.

Holiday Marketing Step #4: Collect and Schedule Your Social Content

Once the content for your holiday marketing campaign is ready to go, set aside some time to fully plan out your social media content calendar using Later!

Taking the time to schedule your posts will not only make your life less stressful during the holiday season, but it will also leave you more time to actually engage with your community, which is so important if your goal is to make sales or generate leads.

Start by organizing your photos and videos for your holiday marketing campaign.

Once you sign up for a free Later account, you can immediately start uploading, storing, and managing all your photos and videos in your Later Media Library.

All you have to do is drag and drop all your photos and videos from your desktop, Dropbox, or Google Drive directly onto your Media Library and voilà, you can now schedule your social content with Later!

You can also plan the look of your Instagram feed with your holiday content with Later’s Visual Instagram Planner on mobile and desktop.

Simply drag and drop your content onto your calendar and click “Preview” to access the Visual Instagram Planner. Here, you can easily rearrange or swap out photos to find the perfect balance for your feed!

Finally, you may want to share your social calendar with your colleagues and influencers.

If you’re on a Later business plan, you can use our Share Calendar feature to easily send a snapshot of your social media calendar, including a preview of your Instagram feed, a larger view of your scheduled posts with the caption, time, and date, and weekly and monthly calendar view.

That way, you can quickly get feedback and approval for your holiday marketing campaign!



Holiday Marketing Step #5: Prepare Your Social Media Ads

Not so long ago, the idea of paying for ads on a social media network seemed pretty absurd. Why pay for something when you can get it for free?

But with so many businesses using social media for marketing, if you really want to stand out during the holiday season, you need create a strategy for your paid social media content!

But how?

Well, to start, you need to set a budget, campaign objective, and target audience for your paid social content. In most cases, your campaign objective and target audience will mirror that of your overall holiday marketing campaign.

Once you have these nailed down, you can start reviewing the visual content you created for your campaign, and customize your photos, videos, slogans, and call-to-actions for each platform.

Remember to create about 5 to 7 variations of each ad in your ad group so that can determine which is better for conversion and then adjust to show those ads more frequently!

The best performing ads also tend to be short and catchy, so try to keep your call-to-actions under 140 characters.

If you’ve created Instagram Stories for your campaign, you can actually turn those Stories into ads as well with the new Instagram Stories ad unit!

If you want to learn more about running a successful ad campaign on Instagram, check out our complete guide to Instagram ads. We cover everything from targeting the right audience to optimizing your campaign as it runs.

Holiday Marketing Step #6: Drive Engagement and Sales on Instagram

With your holiday content scheduled and your social ads ready to go, it’s a good time to start working on your Instagram-specific marketing campaigns!

The first step is to create a branded hashtag for your holiday campaign.

The key here is to think about your brand identity and what message you want to convey this season, and then come up with a creative hashtag that sums all of it up. The more creative, the better!

A great example is REI’s #optoutside branded hashtag, which they’ve promoted for the past two years to encourage people to spend Black Friday outdoors rather than shopping.

And while it might seem counterintuitive to tell people not to shop at your store on Black Friday, what REI doesn’t make in Black Friday sales, they more than make up for in brand awareness!

The next step is to run a user-generated content (UGC) campaign around your branded hashtag.  

Never heard of an Instagram UGC campaign? It’s basically an ongoing contest where participants (aka your followers) share posts on Instagram, and then tag them with your branded hashtag.

Users who share posts with the hashtag are then entered to win prizes, or even featured on your page!

Not only are UGC campaigns great for collecting content from your followers, but they’re also super effective at driving up your engagement!

And they’re super easy to run. All you have to do is ask your followers to post with your branded hashtag for the chance to win products or prizes, and voilà!

Don’t forget to enter our back to school contest (or back to daycare) 🍎 You could win a $300 shopping spree by sharing pics of your back-to-school-ready kids in their Hatley outfits – like @crohler did here (❤)! . TO ENTER* . 1. Follow @Hatley . 2. Post your photo or video to your PUBLIC Instagram account (no Stories please) . 3. Use the hashtag #HatleyBackToSchool . 4. To qualify, the child or children in your post(s) must be wearing at least one (1) Hatley item, i.e.: top, bottom, sweater, romper, dress, raincoat, rain boots (no sleepwear) – from the current or previous collections . 5. Multiple entries are allowed provided the above steps are respected, for EACH entry (you must always include the #HatleyBackToSchool hashtag in your captions) . . *This contest is open to worldwide Instagram users, who have a public account, and runs until 11:59 PM ET, September 10, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly among all the qualifying posts bearing the #HatleyBackToSchool hashtag . . This contest is neither endorsed nor sponsored by Instagram . . . . . . #instagramcontest #piccontest #hashtagcontest #contestalert #hatleycontest #hatleygirls #hatleyboys #hatleykids #autumn #backtoschool #backtoschoolstyle #classroomstyle #preschool #kindergarten #firstdayofschool #littleandbrave #livecolorfully #fallfashion #mommylife #momsofinstagram #kidsfashion #kidzootd #repost

A post shared by Hatley (@hatley) on

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 review your Instagram shopping experience and consider

building a shoppable Instagram feed or landing page for your campaign. That way, you can connect your followers with the specific products they’re looking for.

With Later’s Linkin.bio feature you can easily add links to any of the Instagram posts you’ve published through Later, which helps direct your Instagram audience to the right content or products on your site.

You can also link to multiple websites and pages, all without changing the link in your bio.

The best part? Linkin.Bio starts at just $16/month.  

Wondering how your business can use Linkin.bio to make sales on Instagram? Learn from these 3 ecommerce brands that are selling on Instagram!


Remember that list of influencers you reached out to earlier? Now’s the time to put them to work!

One of the best ways to drive sales with Instagram influencer marketing is to invest in awesome sponsored content. Of course, not just any sponsored post will do.

Influencer marketing works best when businesses and influencers develop content that’s based on mutual benefit. In other words, the influencer’s community benefits because they’re exposed to something they’ll likely be interested in, and the business benefits because they get exposure to their target audience in an authentic and creative way.

That’s the attitude you need to have to take when developing sponsored content for your influencer marketing campaign, whether it’s to promote your products or your overall holiday marketing message.

And you don’t have to have a huge budget to leverage the power of Instagram influencer marketing! There are a ton of influencers who will trade product for promotion.

Just be careful about following the FTC’s guide on sponsored posts and always remember to disclose your Instagram partnerships!

Holiday Marketing Step #7: Measure Your Results

As we mentioned earlier, in order to run a successful social media campaign over the holidays, you have to have a clear idea of what success means, as well as a way of measuring it!

The best way to do this? By using Google UTM parameters to track your success on social.  

UTM parameters are simply tags you add to a URL. When your link is clicked, the tags are sent back to Google Analytics and tracked.

Basically, UTM parameters help you answer some basic questions about your web traffic, including where it’s coming from, how it’s getting to you, and why it’s getting to you.

By adding UTM parameters to your social links, you can quickly measure how effective your holiday marketing campaign is and even attribute your sales to specific social media posts.

Need help tracking your social media campaign using UTM parameters? Check out our guide on tracking ecommerce sales with Google Analytics!

It’s also a good idea to create a report on the overall success of your holiday campaign strategy and execution.

Set up your campaign report by circling back to your creative concept. What were your goals? What were you trying to market or sell specifically? How effective was your content and CTAs? Did you campaign generate a return on investment? What can you improve next year?

Include data and analytics wherever possible so that you can set an appropriate budget and measurable objectives for next year.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? Take a deep breath and download our free holiday marketing campaign checklist! That way you can get started on creating all of your awesome holiday content!

Download our free holiday marketing campaign checklist to keep track of your holiday campaign this year!

Written By


Lizzie is the PR + Social Media Specialist at Later. She loves talking tech & social media trends over a tall glass of coffee. Follow her adventures @lizziemacneill.

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