Every year, marketers and business owners begin looking down the pipeline at the holiday season. For most businesses, this is crunch time — that big game at the end of a long year that decides the championship team.
There’s a lot that goes into the planning and execution of holiday season strategies. In this discussion, we’ll look at ways that you can inject some holiday spirit into your traditional SEO and digital marketing strategies to better guarantee that your end of the year ends up on the nice list.
1.) Plan Ahead!
If you’ve ever saved your holiday shopping until the last day, you know the absolute nightmare that’s created when you don’t get started on your holiday preparations early. The same can be said of your SEO and digital marketing efforts. You need to start now, otherwise you’ll miss out on a lot of potential value and even revenue. This is especially true of SEO, which can take time to fully implement to be successful.
We all roll our eyes when we see Christmas decorations hitting store shelves in late August, but it’s that level of preparation that creates big wins in this crucial time of the year. According to data shared by Digital Current, organizations need to begin posting content specific to a holiday season at least 45 days in advance.
This is just posting; there’s substantially more time that has to be spent prior to this 45-day mark to perform the necessary planning, researching and implementation. Thus, you should really begin your holiday seasonal strategizing at least two or three months prior.
Some organizations even suggest planning as far as six months ahead of time!
2.) Look At What You Did Last Year
The first place to start is last year.
- What were your holiday-inspired campaigns?
- Which new keywords did you target?
- How did these strategies pay off?
- What was your biggest downfall?
The answers to these questions (and many more) can help you craft a more successful holiday season this year.
It’s important to readdress your end-of-last-year efforts again, after the upcoming holiday season. This will provide you with important benchmark insights to understand how much more (or less) successful your holiday strategies were this year, compared to last.
3.) Do Everything, Even More
Remember, the holiday season is the crunch time for businesses. All of your SEO tactics and marketing strategies that you’ve been conducting all year long are of even greater importance now.
The holiday season is like playoff baseball, it doesn’t matter how much progress you’ve made during the regular season, if you aren’t ready to deliver during the holiday season, you might as well hang up your stockings on the door and take your hot cocoa to go.
All of your day-to-day SEO tasks and strategies need to get elevated to the next level.
4.) Measure Constantly; Don’t Be Afraid Of Making Snap Decisions
One of the most important tactics that you must perform more often than normal in the holiday season is measurement. This strategy is key to success year-round, as it allows you to gain a firm understanding of what is working, what isn’t, where adjustments need to be made and so on.
Businesses will routinely measure their strategies throughout the year, especially if they are new and unproven. Some digital marketers spend months testing tactics and waiting for the data to mature before making any decisions.
Unfortunately, the winter season doesn’t provide us with this luxury. We only have a few weeks or months to measure our holiday tactics and determine their impact. Thus, we not only have to study our metrics and analytics more often in the holiday season, but we also have to make quicker decisions about what adjustments need to be made.
5.) Don’t Do Too Much
In your quest to make the most out of the holiday season, it’s important not to do too much. Yes, you want to be paying more attention to measurement and the day-to-day SEO of your holiday tactics, but this can quickly evolve into an almost obsession.
I’ve seen this a lot with businesses that have a big e-commerce side to their business. Instead of simply creating holiday-themed landing pages that point to existing, evergreen pages and products, they spend an incredible amount of time re-creating these pages with seasonal themes and keywords.
This is a great example of doing too much with your holiday SEO and digital marketing.
6.) Tease What’s Coming And Build The Buzz
If you set enough time ahead of the holidays to begin your social media and digital marketing campaigns, you also give yourself a lot more time to build buzz and tease out what’s in store for your audiences during the ultra-busy season. And, you can start generating buzz even before your content or campaigns are entirely complete —just tease a few early details out.
Starting to generate some buzz does more than just create interest in your holiday digital marketing efforts; there’s also some potential SEO benefit as well.
As you begin preparing your website and social media accounts with holiday content, you can gain some powerful SEO potential by teasing out early pages. Even if the content on the page isn’t fully completed, you can share a small snippet with any links or keywords, followed by a “Coming Soon” tease.
This gives you a headstart on ranking for holiday keywords and alerts crawl bots that this is a space that you will be updating soon, which may even help your rankings further.
7.) Detect Holiday Keywords With Google Trends
I’ve been pretty candid about why I love Google Trends. It’s a valuable (and fun) tool to use all year round, but I particularly find it helpful for finding seasonal terms for the holiday season. After all, the holiday season is staggered with major shopping holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and then the lead up to Christmas.
Google Trends is really insightful in giving businesses an opportunity to see exactly when the Black Friday and Cyber Monday buzz starts and ends and when shoppers’ minds shift to the Christmas and holiday season.
From a strategy standpoint, this is really critical information. It gives you a great sense of not only what keywords are valuable in the holiday season, but also when to begin leveraging what holiday-specific terms.
8.) Create A Compelling, Creative Campaign For The Holidays
There’s no secret recipe that delivers a successful, creative, holiday campaign. It’s an always-changing concoction of creativity, timing, value and a little bit of luck. You have to find a creative avenue to connect the holidays to your brand and products. Don’t lose that brand voice you’ve established just because it’s the holidays!
Here’s a few successful digital marketing campaigns launched for the holiday season:
REI’s #OptOutside Campaign:
In 2015, the outdoor company, REI, decided that it wasn’t going to participate in the hoopla that is Black Friday. Instead, they announced that their stores would be closed on the busy shopping holiday, in order to give their employees the opportunity to spend time outside. They attached the #OptOutside hashtag to this strategy and encouraged their customers to forget about Black Friday and go explore outdoors. The response was overwhelmingly positive and helped catapult REI’s brand reputation to new heights. They’ve run the campaign yearly since because of its incredible success.
Take Away: Consumers get bombarded by shopping deals and holiday messages; sometimes, the biggest win is found by going against the grain.
WeWork Gift Guide:
WeWork focuses on finding businesses coworking and office spaces. They are a rare example of a B2B company that was able to hit the holiday season on the nose so bright. Through their own magazine, Creator, they published a series of Gift Giving Guides, each focusing on a particular type of person or gift-giving situation, like “Gifts for the Digital Nomad.” They created the #WWGiftGuide tag to help promote the content on social media. And, the gift ideas were largely products from the brands using WeWork office spaces. Thus, the campaign allowed their entire community of creators and clients to thrive.
Take Away: Just because you’re a B2B company doesn’t mean you can forget about holiday SEO or digital marketing!
Coca-Cola Canada & HotelTonight:
These are two separate campaigns that both use the same principle to achieve success. Coca-Cola Canada produced a video of two people fighting over a coat in the mall, before sharing a coke and getting over their differences. HotelTonight ran a number of social media posts and ads with the slogan “Visit, don’t stay.”
They also encouraged others to comment and share stories of their worst holiday stays with family. The core behind each of these campaigns is taking something we hate about the holidays (busy shopping malls, staying with certain family members) and offering a solution.
Take Away: There’s a lot to love about the holidays, but there’s also plenty to hate. Finding a creative way to exploit the negatives of the holiday season can be a light, fun way to deliver a great holiday campaign.
Need more inspiration? This is a great infographic that details the best holiday marketing campaigns over the last 150 years!
The best advice I can give you about winning the holiday season through your SEO and digital marketing is to start early!!
The more time, preparation and planning you put into your holiday efforts, the better they’ll pay off. We’re in that crucial pocket of time right now for companies to begin these initial stages. So, if you haven’t started yet, now is the time to begin strategizing and making marketing plans for the holidays.