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The holidays are a great time to give your audience a gift of interesting content. If you do it right, your gift won’t simply get the attention of your existing customers — it will also bring you some new prospects.

You can’t simply send out requests for customers to buy, buy, buy. Findings by Gleanster Research indicate that 50 percent of your leads — half of your audience — are not yet ready to buy.

This is a time when you need to engage your audience and put them into your sales funnel. First you to get leads; then you turn them into prospects and then customers. You do this by grabbing their attention, sparking their interest, stoking their desire and then allowing them to take action.

Forrester Research showed that companies that excel at lead nurturing — taking the time to use the sales funnel — generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads. Data from The Annuitas Group support this, reporting that nurtured leads make 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.

Take a look at your content strategy and make sure it aligns with your holiday season goals. Are you focused on new business? Repeat business? More subscriptions? Higher web traffic?

Once you are clear on your purpose, you can begin creating the content to support your campaign.

Make sure your tactics match your goals. For example, if you want to engage with your readers, you want to give them something to respond to — maybe a fun holiday graphic they can share on social media. If you are seeking higher click-through rates, you need enticing headlines, a special offer or eye-catching images.

What to promote

In the retail world, the holidays are critical for generating revenue. Twenty to 40 percent of yearly sales come from holiday shopping. According to the National Retail Institute, 23.8 percent of annual sales at jewelry stores occur during December. National chain department stores see 15.3 percent of annual revenue; discount department stores, 13.6 percent; electronics stores, 13.4 percent; and sporting goods and bicycle shops, 13.5 percent.

Some dates to target for your campaign include:

  • The two days before Thanksgiving
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Black Friday
  • Small Business Saturday
  • Cyber Monday
  • Christmas
  • Hanukkah
  • New Year’s Eve
  • New Year’s Day

So, what if your business is not retail? If you are hoping to gain business, be creative in your messaging. For example, plumbers might suggest readers have the guest bathroom ready before the in-laws visit. Security firms might consider a helpful newsletter with tips to stay safe during the holidays. Accounting offices can wish customers a Happy New Year and remind them of all you can offer for the upcoming tax season.

The holidays are also one of the best times to build brand awareness. For example, Thanksgiving is a national holiday. Consider sending an email to your customers and thanking them for their business. Post something on social media that indicates the same sincere thought.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be about selling — it should be about engaging. Send a holiday greeting, suggest contributing to charity or just remind them to be safe.

Make it mobile

Whatever message you send to your audience, be sure it is mobile-friendly. In 2015, Pew Research showed nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults own a smartphone. Seven percent of those smartphone owners are “smartphone-dependent” because they do not have Internet at home and must use their mobile device for Web access

The National Retail Federation’s Holiday Consumer Spending Survey predicts that this year 21.4 percent of smartphone owners will use their devices to purchase holiday merchandise, and 37.9 percent will use their smartphones to research products. When people are busy, they use their mobile devices more often. In fact, online marketing company Constant Contact reports that the very first thing 17 percent of Americans do in the morning is check their email.

Hit your target

During the holidays, social media should not be overlooked. It’s a great tool to continue to drive traffic to your website when you deliver your overall message. But don’t let social media be your only avenue.

Any good marketer knows you don’t want to send your message out to people who don’t care to receive it. This is why email marketing works so well at the holidays. Custora E-commerce Pulse found email marketing was the “No. 1 driver of online sales on Black Friday 2014.”

When you use email marketing, you can tap your CRM data and laser target your messages. According to Jupiter Research, relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails. Segment your lists and deliver information to those customers who want to hear from you.

While it may seem hard to believe, not every person in your audience is looking for a discount during the holiday season. Some are looking for helpful information. Be their expert source and solve their problem. For example, provide wine/food pairing ideas, recipes, gift wrapping or tree lighting tips. Additionally, remember that what you say to each individual may be different. For example, if you sell purses, women in your audience see purses as accessories. Men in your audience likely see purses as a gift item

Get them to share

Yes, sharing is part of the season. You want your customers to help you with your marketing efforts by becoming influencers. A good email is like a good joke: people want to share it. In fact, according to TopRank, there are several sources of motivation for sharing email. Among them:

  • Self-interest — Sharing because they think they will be rewarded (i.e., sweepstakes or discounts).
  • Altruism — Sharing makes them feel good.
  • Affinity — Sharing makes people feel more a part of the community.
  • Prurience — Sharing makes people feel less guilty for gawking.
  • Validation — Sharing juicy stuff makes them look good to their friends.

Keep your email messages short and sweet. Data from Baydin, the makers of email plug-in Boomerang, says that on average, people receive 147 emails a day and delete 71. You have approximately 8 seconds or less to impress a reader during the holidays. Do it with great visuals and provide a service, discount, tips, recipes or other item your target audience specifically wants.

Enhance your campaigns with videos (2 minutes or shorter) and engage your audience. Make your message unique. People have so many things to do during the holidays — you want your message to be one of the top things they do. Make it worth their while.

If you are featuring a product, service, coupon or special offer — something like free shipping or an online discount — you need to make that message recognizable within one second. With just a glance, the reader should be aware of your offering.

Include a call to action and make it clear. Keeping in mind mobile users, create a button that is at least 50 x 50 pixels. Make sure the fonts and colors align with your branding.

Remember, not every reader will want to buy, so don’t put “buy now” on your call to action. Instead, make it shorter than five words long, but begin with a verb, such as:

  • Look inside
  • Send me the link
  • Give as a gift
  • Share

Adding a sense of urgency helps in the subject line. Add something that indicates a deadline, time sensitivity or create demand with scarcity (i.e., only 15 chances available).

In 2012, award-winning entrepreneur and Venture Harbour founder Marcus Taylor spent four months researching promotions. He found that by creating a sense of urgency, he was able to increase sales by 332 percent. And while the word “today” at the end of the headline increased his click-through rate by 3.94 percent, experts such as Kathryn Aragon at Crazy Egg suggest cutting to the chase and using the word “now.”

Just in case

Finally, if your campaign works the way you hope it will, sometimes systems get overwhelmed. Make sure your website can handle the traffic you intend to drive from email and social media.

Be prepared with an apology email template. If an error occurs, you want to have quick communication with your leads, prospects and customers. During this busy time of year, you don’t want to be caught scrambling for something to send. Be sure to brand the apology and have clear information on how they can contact someone should they need assistance. Most customers are forgiving of problems if there is clear communication on how to resolve it.

Need help with your holiday content strategy? Get more information on what Tempesta Media can do for you.

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