Most commercial enterprises consider October the official start of the holiday season. Both Halloween and Christmas offer great opportunities for businesses to start the wheels of industry turning on their marketing endeavors.
Digital marketing especially should already be in the pipeline from early to mid-fall. The planning stages for this period of increased sales is short, and businesses need to have their digital marketing materials on hand to take advantage of the situation.
For companies looking to go from spooky Halloween directly into jingle-bell hops without missing a beat, 12 Forbes Agency Council members share sage advice on ramping up digital marketing now to increase online presence heading into the busiest time of the year for business.
1. Be Anything You Want, Except Boring
Holiday marketing is exciting, but also so overplayed it becomes white noise. Tropes go a long way to get your audience to understand something very quickly, but they also help them forget it (even faster). Do not rely on spooky music, shots of family dinner, bad sweaters or classic Christmas imagery unless you have a solid plan. Do anything you want for the holidays, but don’t be boring. – Kirk Westwood, Glass River Media
2. Stay Ahead Of The Noise
September and October are crucial times for capturing interest ahead of the holiday noise. Launching a new product or service with special deals or offerings can be much more effective now than at the end of the year when your audience is spent. Write content that inspires your customers to get ahead and compliment them on their savvy for being ahead of the game. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications
3. Be Smart And Nimble
Be clear about audiences you’re looking to attract, build creative to capture attention and make sure you’re spending enough to make a dent in the noise of the season. While it’s imperative to trust your plan (too many changes result in bad data), be ready to shift when a new opportunity appears. – David Farinella, Farinella LLC
4. Have A Calendar For The Holiday
While there is always a content calendar, it may be very beneficial to have one that is just focused and related to the specific holiday that is coming up. The main reason for that is that when you do this, you make the transition easier for all parties and ensure that you have a happy and successful team working with you, as they will not notice that much of a strain with additional work. – Jon James, Ignited Results
5. Up The Budget
Heading into holiday, you’re going to need to allocate more paid budget than you do for the other quarters of the year — and not just for the obvious reasons. Cost per result increases around the holidays due to more companies running ads, which means you’ll want to bid higher than usual to get ahead of that. – Starr Million Baker, INK
6. Test Optimization Strategies Early
Use fall season to test optimization strategies. Test out different creative combinations and personalization tactics based on your key performance indicators. Consider placement level optimization, dynamic creative optimization (DCO), contextual targeting and retargeting, as well as ad types and devices. The holiday period will be your chance to reach far and wide — you don’t want to lose budget to error. – Lon Otremba, Bidtellect
7. Increase Your Email List With A Viral Contest
As we approach the holiday marketing season, building up your email database is imperative. Consider adopting a viral contest campaign with the goal of increasing your email database. If done properly, it can also increase your social media following and engagement. Having a strong database will set you up for a strong Q4. – Ryan Sprance, Kaihatsu Media
8. Get Social
Now is the time to really start analyzing the legacy messages of influencers to decide if their overall theme aligns with your corporate values. For budgets significantly less than the cost of a full casting, shoot and edits, influencers can boost awareness of a campaign. But nothing is more important than reviewing who that person is and what their agenda is. “Caveat emptor” truly applies. – Dian Griesel, Dian Griesel International & Silver Disobedience Inc.
9. Create Holiday-Specific Ads
I’d recommend creating new versions of existing pay-per-click and Facebook ads with holiday-specific deals and especially, ad copy. This can be a great way to market the same product or business in a different and newly relevant way. – JC Hite, Hite Digital
10. Use Direct Mail
Advertisers focus so much of their marketing dollars on driving consumers to their sites for holiday shopping. But a very small percentage of those visitors actually convert. Supplement your digital marketing with web-powered direct mail and turn those website visitors into holiday shoppers by sending them a timely and personalized postcard driving them to convert. – Lori Paikin, NaviStone®
11. Partner Up With Influencers
The holidays can be the busiest time of year for influencers and their calendars fill up quickly. The earlier you can get started with your influencer campaigns, the better your chance of not missing out on your top choices. Whether you’re working with an agency or on your own, now is the time to secure partnerships with creators who can cut through holiday ad noise with messaging that resonates. – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group
12. Think Of Online Retailers As Media Channels
Led by Amazon, many online retailers have started to leverage their real estate for media purposes, offering to brands a great opportunity to gain visibility along the shopper journey. Smart brands will invest in media within online retailers, often shifting investments from other, less performing and far away from the last click, platforms. Time to get up to speed with retail digital media. – Luigi Matrone, eBusiness Institute