Christmas Marketing Strategy: Planning Your Campaigns

Oliver Clay, Paid Media Specialist at VERB talks about how to get on top of your Christmas campaigns before the last minute rush. Think of this article as a gift to yourself – the time to properly plan your seasonal campaigns.

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Christmas begins in… August and early Septmeber!

It’s hard to imagine putting up the tree when the Met Office is still speculating about an early September heatwave. But as all marketers will know, Christmas campaigns come around faster than expected every year. Events seem to jump from one to another, first the summer staycations, then the Autumn initiatives, and then Black Friday. All of a sudden, there’s a rush to sign-off the Christmas creatives and push live by the end of the week! 

Choosing your channel mix

It’s important to consider whether the channels you choose to push out a Christmas marketing campaign should be different to your business-as-usual setup. 

Competition peaks online during this period, and understanding your customers intentions can ensure you’re hitting them in the right places across the web.

Are you in a highly contested vertical such as fragrance? A large number of users will already be considering this as a gift, and will show intent by doing their research through search channels like Google. Be prepared to stand your ground and do everything you can to ensure a purchase happens through you, instead of a reseller or competitor.

Or perhaps your offering is more of an ‘alternative’ gift – consider that far fewer numbers of users will actively seek your brand out around this time, and maximum effort should go to getting ads in front of users wherever they are on the web, to spark an idea.

The right time to start

Most agree that we shouldn’t be hearing about Christmas from brands before November at the earliest. However, it’s clear that waiting until after Black Friday gives you too small of a window to influence new purchase decisions in time for Christmas.

Many of your target audience will begin their buying on Black Friday, but few talk about the discovery and decision-making process that takes place in the lead-up to the event. This can be as early as late October for ‘planners’, or those who are buying a lot of gifts. 

To be successful through late November and December, ensure you are present when these early-birds are doing their thinking and planning. It doesn’t need to be your core Christmas campaign, but allowing for extra budget in late October and early November will help you beat competitors to the punch, and sway customers your way when it comes to buying later.

Provide variety to your customers

Developing a varied customer experience to fit the objective of each channel whilst maintaining a common thread can be tricky.

It’s very easy to have a Christmas shoot, crop the best assets out into the right aspect ratios for each channel and leave it at that. This is an ineffective strategy, causing content for each campaign to blend and fail to fulfill their individual purpose in the customer journey.

Therefore plan ahead to create a handful of assets for each marketing initiative, aligned to the actual objective of each piece. 

For example, an early Instagram stories campaign may introduce new users to a selection of bestsellers and the broader brand ethos. This could be paired with a Facebook feed ad to capture the middle of the funnel, promoting unique gift collections, available with complimentary wrapping and a hand-written note.

Further down, conversion-focused search ads could detail your best-in-class shipping and extended returns policy, securing the final purchase in early December. Adding this level of detail to your plan helps create a cohesive customer journey, rather than a series of touchpoints that each tell the same story.

Stand out, and evolve from your old ways of working

Avoid generic language in your campaigns that doesn’t resonate with the modern consumer. Users are bombarded with outdated phrases like ‘the perfect gift’, which lack substance and the all important trust factor that has driven the influencer marketing industry.

Use your limited space for copy to proposition the brand in a way that inspires potential customers to take the plunge. 

What does your brand offer that is exceptional in the market? How do you hold onto this niche, and how can you provide a unique or exclusive gifting experience for the buyer and the receiver? 

Leverage third-party testimonials and press coverage wherever possible to encourage customers that spending their limited budgets with you is the right decision.

Ready yourself for increased costs

It’s no secret that competition for advertising space increases online through the festive season, but this year it’s expected to be even more dramatic. 

Many brands have shifted additional marketing budget to digital to compete with their record-breaking online sales in 2020, driven by the pandemic. 

This will be heightened over Q4 – prepare for double your normal CPCs, and potentially CPAs, but be confident that the lifetime value of these new customers will make this worthwhile and support growth into 2022.

We can help

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thought of Christmas season campaigns and would like to speak to one of our experts, drop us an email and get in touch

VERB Brands

Reaching Affluent & Aspirational Audiences through Data, Search, Creative & Media. VERB is a digital agency that drives strategy, growth, and revenue. The world’s only data-driven, creative media agency for luxury and premium brands. Based in London, Manchester, New York and Shanghai.