It’s never too early to start planning for the festive season. Christmas is a great opportunity to get creative with your marketing to maximise engagement and sales during one of the busiest times of the year.
In this article we cover:
- Planning your campaign and creating your content calendar
- Building momentum in the run-up to your Christmas marketing launch
- How to cut through the noise using interactive content and games
- Tips on visual content best-practise and ideas to stand out from the crowd
- Keeping the momentum going after Christmas and re-engaging your audience
There’s lots to think about when it comes to Christmas. So in this guide, we’ve tried to break it down and provide practical solutions to getting the most from your campaign. As with any marketing activity, you need to have clear-cut objectives from the outset to ensure maximum success and the best possible return on investment.
Your audience will be bombarded with Christmas marketing messages from other brands, including your competitors. It’s down to you to make sure you’re doing something different and standing out from the crowd.
If you’re looking for something a little more fun and interactive this year, check out our free playbook, Game Time! Your Guide to Christmas Game Success. Here we cover everything you need to know on delivering a successful, interactive and playful Christmas marketing game campaign (on a budget).
Setting your goals and getting your tactics right
We all know about goal setting for accurate success measurement, so we’ll not spend too much time explaining the basics of SMART goals! What what we’ll focus on here is the tactics and content formats that will help you smash these targets.
There are a few common goals across all industries when it comes to Christmas marketing goals:
- Boosting sales
- Generating leads
- Driving web traffic
- Increasing app engagement
- Building brand awareness
We’re guessing that your Christmas campaign has at least one of those common objectives, so you need to know what tactics to take to achieve them. We’ve put together some visual guides to give you a couple of ideas on where to start:
Research your audience and create your content calendar
Now that your strategy is outlined and you have an idea of what content you’re going to focus on, it’s time to get it all planned out and into an editorial calendar. The last thing you’ll want to be doing when the mad rush finally comes is writing content. Planning well ahead of time is key to ensuring your Christmas campaign runs smoothly.
If you’ve got budget, work with an external agency to carry out some primary research on your target audience personas to find out what content formats and distribution channels appeal to them the most. Find out what motivates them to buy at Christmas – things such as free shipping and discounts can usually motivate people to buy, but this might not necessarily be the case for your audience or industry.
Or, you could create a survey and send it to your mailing list – any data is better than none! You should also be taking a look at your web analytics data to find out your current top-performing content and what worked best last Christmas. Take the learnings from this and apply it to your campaign plan for this year. Also, don’t forget referral channels! If a specific domain or platform provided you with a great deal of traffic last Christmas, make sure you capitalise on it this year.
Christmas keyword and competitive research
If you’re keeping on top of keyword research, you’ll know which are the biggest opportunities for evergreen content, plus any new opportunities for Christmas specific terms. Take a look at who’s dominating the SERPs and consider how you can go one step further with a piece of content that appeals to user intent.
What are your competitors doing? Look back at their content and tactics used last Christmas to see if there’s anything you were lacking. What did they do better? Make a note of anything you spot and add it to your plan.
Researching your competitors and audience well in advance allows you to spot any opportunities for unique pieces of content that resonate well with your audience. Once you’ve spotted any potential content gaps and found out what appeals most to your audience, you’re well equipped to start building a content framework and schedule for your Christmas marketing campaign.
Use your keyword and audience research to plan out your top-level content pillars and allocate which topics would work for different content formats. You should then have enough data to work with to form an editorial calendar with key dates for research, writing and publishing alongside a column for distribution channels.
To help you plan out key dates for your campaign, we’ve created a visual editorial calendar starting from September – December 2020. Get the full-size Christmas Marketing Calendar here.
Think wider seasonal marketing – not just Christmas
You can build up a readily engaged audience by setting a few milestones in the run-up to your full Christmas campaign launch. Christmas conversions may be the end goal, but you want to build awareness beforehand, ensuring that you’re at the forefront of your audiences’ mind once the Christmas rush arrives.
Why not build up the momentum through mini-campaigns that test out your proposed Christmas content strategy and tactics – Halloween is a great time to test the waters – you also use it as an opportunity to collect data and then encourage those leads to shop with you at Christmas.
Recent research from Deloitte found that discounts are the top incentive to increase sales during the festive period, followed by coupons and deals on popular products. It’s a good idea to test any incentives with your audience to find out which performs best and meets your objectives.
If something didn’t quite resonate with your audience it saves you making the same mistake when it really matters! You can make any iterative tweaks and amends to your Christmas strategy using the data from your mini-campaigns. And obviously, any sales and leads you generate during your pre-Christmas campaigns are a bonus!
Black Friday & Cyber Monday
Piggybacking on events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday can help draw attention to your wider campaign. Thinking back to the main drivers of festive purchases – discounts, coupons and deals – these annual events offer a great opportunity to test how your audience responds to different incentives.
Another recent survey found that an overwhelming 85% of consumers say they’ve backed out of purchasing an item because it wasn’t on sale, even if they really wanted it – presenting a huge opportunity for B2C brands especially to try out different incentives.
Because the online world is so heavily saturated with Black Friday and Cyber Monday content when it comes to launching these campaigns, like Christmas, you need to make sure you’re standing out from the crowd.
Everybody will have discounts, so you need something to capture the attention of your audience and bring them to your site over your competitors.
Say hello to interactive content!
Go interactive with your Christmas content marketing
Go beyond just talking at your audience through static content and hoping they take action on your messaging. Make them part of your campaign by providing an interactive experience.
There are multiple benefits to using interactive content within your campaign:
- Higher engagement rates than static counterparts (DemandGen found that 81% of marketers believe interactive content is more attention-grabbing than static content, while 70% agreed that interactive content is successful at converting visitors.)
- Generate leads and capture GDPR complaint data
- Boost brand loyalty by standing out from competitors
- Increase time on site and repeat visits
It comes as no surprise that its popularity is on the rise – over half (53%) of marketers report using some form of interactive content. If your brand isn’t providing interactive experiences, you’re sure to be missing out – 88% of marketers say that interactive content is effective in differentiating their brand from their competitors and 66% say they have experienced greater audience engagement as a result.
Types of interactive content
There are many types of interactive content, and what you use will depend on your audience and your goals. These could be:
- Interactive infographics
- Interactive video
- User-generated content
- Experiential marketing
- Branded games
Each have their benefits, but for all interactive content, the same principle applies – it should be used tactfully as part of your wider content, not just as a standalone piece. High-quality content supported by interactivity, with a fully thought-out distribution plan to ensure people find your interactive content is key to success.
For maximum engagement, you need to go a step further than just sparking discussions on social media through polls and surveys or encouraging user-generated content. Yes, an interactive infographic or video on your site might catch the attention of your audience for a short while, but how about something that on average, delivers over 20 minutes engagement time, per player?!
Branded games provide your audience with some fun, that also subtly weaves in your marketing messages and helps you deliver on your objectives.
Branded games as a Christmas marketing tool
Whether you’re a B2B or B2C organisation, it’s always difficult to separate yourself from the Christmas noise and stand out from your competitors.
Brands have been using gamification for years – and there’s a reason it’s so popular – because it works! Ford Motors increased sales by more than $8 million and boosted Facebook likes by 600% with gamified content.
With so many offers and deals available at Christmas, people aren’t interested in a hard-sell – they’re either looking for the best deal or a way to provide their audience with some festive fun to increase engagement with their brand.
Branded Christmas games offer just that. With 2.5 billion active gamers around the world, chances are your audience is amongst them. People love to compete and they love to win – by applying these basic game mechanics to your marketing, you can appeal to basic human instincts and drive powerful interactions. Here are a few examples:
- Drive sales by adding in voucher functionality, where players can unlock discount codes as in-game collectables or for achieving a certain score.
- Planning on running some app-exclusive campaigns? Increase app engagement by launching a game within your app.
- Send traffic to a specific area of your website. You can include a strong CTA at the end of your game to send traffic to a specific landing page. This could be where winners go to collect their prize or enter a draw.
- Generate leads by offering a leaderboard – players need to submit their details to feature on the board as they compete for the top spot.
Branded games can also help you stand out in email inboxes, especially as Christmas, and is often more cost effective than the postage on physical cards. Check out our top 5 Christmas game campaign ideas for some further inspo!
Update your imagery to reflect your Christmas marketing
It’s all about the visuals. Cutting through the noise is tough so your visuals need to be eye-catching and memorable. Inboxes and social media feeds will soon be filled with red and green – ask yourself, do you want to be just another brand using generic Christmas colours and typical imagery? Can you add a Christmassy twist to your visuals in other ways?
Think about using your brand colours, the ones your audience are already familiar with, and how you can add in a festive splash. Implement your festive campaign-related elements across all your visuals, including social media, email, ads, offline content and any other mediums used. You might even want to consider setting up a separate Christmasified landing page for an ultra-seamless campaign.
The important thing is that, once you’ve chosen a theme and colour scheme, stick to it. Your customers will start to become familiar with the way your campaign looks, so make sure it’s consistent across all channels.
Don’t forget after Christmas
Keep that momentum going! Don’t drop the ball once your campaign has finished. That blurry period between Christmas, New Year and returning to work is a time to recharge your marketing.
If you’re planning discounts and giveaways during the run-up to Christmas, why not add another incentive by offering a competitive prize draw to be done after Christmas? This gives you a reason to reach out to entrants after all the hustle and bustle, remaining at the forefront of their minds.
If you’re having a boxing day sale, make sure you have a campaign plan ready for this too. If you’ve used a branded game at Christmas, get even more engagement from it by using it post-Christmas too.
Top tip: If you’re planning on contacting people in January, wait until at least the second week – people generally have a lot of catching up to do on emails after the festive period, and you don’t want your communications to get lost!
Hopefully, we’ve given you enough information to start putting together a solid Christmas content plan!
If you’re interested in a branded game to boost your Christmas marketing and set you apart from your competition, we’re here to help! Check out our top tips for commissioning a Christmas game or get in touch with our friendly team.
We can talk you through the process, understand more about what you’re trying to achieve and suggest the best options for your campaign.