With e-commerce holiday sales set to increase 16.6 percent this year, up from $61 billion in 2013, marketers everywhere are trying to make the most of the holiday season. As you craft your own holiday marketing strategy, here are five best practices to steal from some of the top holiday campaigns in recent memory:
1. Make It Personal: OfficeMax
Everyone remembers the first truly viral holiday meme: OfficeMax’s Elf Yourself. Although the campaign launched nearly a decade ago, the crux of its success remains relevant today. The campaign personalized the user experience, and armed every participant with a unique, fun piece of content to share. In its first season, the site generated 193 million visits. Like any strong campaign (think Dove Real Beauty), reinvention is key. Elf Yourself has evolved, from adding new dances and timely background settings to developing a variety of social media integrations. Naturally, Elf Yourself now exists as an app, turning a quirky promotion into a revenue generator for the brand.
Expert Tip: Give customers something shareable to take away after interacting with your brand – and help drive more customers back to it.
2. Use Your Human Resources: REI
So you don’t have a $1 million holiday marketing budget? No problem. Use one of the largest untapped resources your brand has to spread the word about your brand: your fellow employees. REI put its employees front and center with its #giftpicks campaign, in which employees responded to customers’ tweets requesting gift ideas with custom video recommendations. Consumers loved the personal touch, and the employees gave the brand an authentic voice.
Expert Tip: In an age where everyone’s a content producer, find ways to empower your fellow employees to help get the word out.
3. Go Mobile: Macy’s
Last year, mobile devices represented 16 percent of e-commerce holiday sales overall, according to eMarketer. Consumers are researching purchasing items on mobile and tablet devices more than ever, so make it easy for them to engage and buy across screens. Macy’s teamed with eBay two years ago to launch its Black Friday mobile app. Users receive push notifications of sales and special deals, can browse items in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, and create and share wish lists.
Expert Tip: Build excitement for your brand’s holiday deals and products with countdowns, previews, and exclusive content – then let customers purchase on any channel.
4. Make Your Customers’ Lives Easier: HubSpot
HubSpot’s campaign proves that great holiday marketing isn’t limited to retailers, or even to consumer brands. Last holiday season, HubSpot gave its clients and potential clients the gift of time – a free zip folder with 250 ready-for-Instagram holiday-themed stock photos. The photos have a $1,500 value, but for the marketers HubSpot hopes to engage, the photos are priceless for the time they save. The campaign is still live today, capturing leads straight through the holiday and beyond.
Expert Tip: What can you provide your potential clients with to make their lives easier? What work is your team already doing that could be shared with minimal added cost?
5. Don’t Shortchange Email
Every brand wants a flashy social-mobile-local campaign, but don’t underestimate the power of email. Shopping at work accounted for nearly half of all online spending last Cyber Monday, so email is a great way to engage potential customers while they’re in the shopping mindset. Over the years, and with the advent of Groupon and Gilt, consumers have also been conditioned to expect the best deals to go directly to their inbox. Consider offering free shipping or online-only discounts, which are the two greatest drivers for online purchases, according to Accenture. Target and Amazon, two of the industry’s best email marketers, keep the visuals bright and the copy simple in their effective holiday email campaigns.
Expert Tip: Use frequent email marketing to highlight deals and discounts, share coupons, or feature exclusive offerings. Minimize the number of clicks on the path to purchase.