Holiday Trends

Holiday Campaign Prep Starts Now!

Fall has finally arrived, kicking down Summer’s door with a pumpkin spice latte in either hand. Are you planning your holiday marketing campaign yet? You should be.

The best time to start thinking about your strategy is “as soon as possible.” We can take a tip from Walmart here: don’t be afraid to put the holiday stuff out now.

A well-executed holiday campaign can make a huge impact on a company’s bottom line. Whether it’s those loveable twins Black Friday and Cyber Monday, or Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Year, a clever and audience-focused holiday strategy is paramount.

We’ve talked to the experts in the field, veterans who’ve seen these campaigns from inception to retrospective. Today we’re examining what strategies work best, how to create them, and where and when to launch the most effective campaigns.

What Brands and Customers Want Out of the Holidays


Holiday marketing campaigns have a unique opportunity to capture a heightened consumer spending mindset during the season. A strong holiday campaign ensures top-of-mind presence, increased sales, and a competitive edge. Ideally, it maximizes ROI in a less competitive advertising landscape, too.

This piranha-like holiday shopping frenzy can be stoked by marketing campaigns that increase demand and purchase intent, use limited-time campaigns to increase urgency, and leverage the contagious spirit of the holidays to connect emotionally with consumers.

But how do we connect? The same way any two entities connect: by figuring out what both parties want.

During the holidays, customers crave two things, primarily:

  1. Gift-centric items
  2. Universal holiday experiences (shopping, family/friend time, traditional meals)

And, of course, brands are hoping to find these under the tree:

  1. New customers
  2. Increased brand awareness
  3. Better customer relationships
  4. Brand-humanizing messaging

But how do we combine these consumer and brand Christmas lists to actually create a holiday campaign that works?

The Message Makes the Marketing

We’ve already said it, but it bears repeating: step one is to plan ahead. Plan right now. Plan three months ago.

Plan ahead for success. Don’t skimp during the brainstorming and logistical processes. A well-thought-out, intentional campaign that targets your audience is never a waste of time.

Identify your target audience. Create detailed consumer personas out of all the data available to you. CRMs, sales, ads, and social media should all give you a strong picture of who is interested and/or buying your stuff. Focus on holiday dates in the past.

Find out where your persona is spending their time. A lot of brands have a persona in mind but need help to reach them organically. Are they on TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook? Knowing your demographic (with a little trend help from experts) will keep your holiday campaign dollars in the right place.

Get the message right. Call it story, messaging, or narrative, but for a holiday campaign it has to do double duty. You’ve got to make sure it aligns with your brand identity, yes, but it also has to be in theme with the holiday season. That doesn’t just mean pictures of Santas, it means it has to align with the gift-centric and “universal holiday experiences” needs we mentioned earlier.

The message must be consistent as well, aligning across every channel you have (organic, email, paid, etc).

In 2022, Smirnoff’s “Be Wildly Responislbe” holiday campaign succeeded because it was funny, memorable, and more importantly holiday-centric. It focused on promoting responsible consumption, and shared six key pieces of advice on how to do it through animation.

This campaign was so effective not only because it presented a united message across all channels (print ads, online animation, global pop-up bars, and more), but because it was extra relevant during the season of holiday parties.

Choosing Channels for Your Holiday Campaign


You know what you want, you know what consumers want, but where should you broadcast your holiday campaign?

Your audience is your guide. Your channels should align with where your target audience spends their time, attention, and money.

Email and SMS Strategies

Email and SMS are perfect channels for holiday campaigns. Your messaging should be deeply personalized and holiday-themed, connecting your brand to your audience in a personal way.

Your email and SMS messages should put your audience in the mindset of the holidays, reminding them of the cards, emails, family newsletters, and outreach they’re receiving in their personal life. This mirroring will help create an emotional connection with your brand.

Of course, you should (always) use the data from your year-round testing and campaigns. Segmenting your audience into the holiday messaging they may receive best is a great idea, too.

Organic Strategies for Holiday Campaigns

Harness the potential of organic social media marketing during your holiday campaign by engaging your audience with valuable holiday-themed content and influencer partnerships.

You should also be fostering community interactions, and encouraging user-generated content to amplify your brand’s reach and impact. People are in the spirit of giving, of being swept up in gift shopping: use this energy to really reach out in an authentic way.

Starbucks consistently kicks butt here. They’ve done a ton of campaigns throughout the years, like their mobile cup decorating contest and most notably their Red Cup.

“Starbucks’ organic social media success is rooted in a core strategy of establishing relatability and nurturing personal connections with their audience. They achieve this by highlighting customer experiences and leveraging user-generated content (UGC) to demonstrate how their products seamlessly integrate into customers’ lives. This strategy is consistently applied across various platforms (TikTok, Instagram, YouTube), contributing to their overall brand narrative.”Alexa Sorensen, Digital Marketing Specialist

On TikTok, Starbucks emphasizes authenticity by featuring real people and using campaign-specific hashtags. On Instagram, they encourage the use of UGC, but take it the extra step by putting user designs right on their actual cups.

Starbucks also creates a well-curated, well-designed, and aesthetically pleasing feed by incorporating chromatic themes to adapt to their campaigns. Just a simple holiday color (the Red Cup) is memorable and ties to strong consumer sentiment.

Paid Strategies for Holiday Campaigns


Similar to email marketing, don’t neglect the data from holidays past. Brands have to consider their best-performing audiences, copy, creative, call-to-actions, and the like when creating their paid campaigns.

With paid channels, more than any other, you have to start early. As early as humanly possible to make the biggest dent during the holidays. When implementing a full-funnel marketing strategy, one of the key objectives is to populate the top of the funnel with potential customers who will eventually move through the entire buying journey. If you initiate this strategy too late, you may not have a sufficient number of customers in the consideration and purchase stages by the time the holiday season arrives.

Starting early allows you to build a larger pool of prospects who can be effectively engaged and converted during the holidays. Basically, it’s a long journey so leave early.

For paid social media, identifying your target audience is like putting together pieces of a puzzle. Start by checking out your competitors’ audiences. Dive into their demographics, interests, and behaviors. Then, sift through your own data treasures–Google Analytics, CRM records, and past campaigns–to get a clearer picture of your audience.

Don’t forget to look through social media to understand your followers better. Once you’ve gathered these insights, combine them with your vision of the ideal customer. This will help you create a solid audience profile, ensuring your message hits the mark in your digital advertising campaigns.

Planning, Content, and a Little Holiday Cheer

Holiday campaigns are crucial for brands (no matter the channel), and early prep and strategic planning are the two key metrics for success. At the same time, engaging content and audience-centric strategies will connect you with your audience, making your brand part of their holiday experience.

If you’re feeling behind, or just looking for help on your holiday campaign this year, reach out to Inspira Marketing today.

Written by Alexa Sorensen, Client Engagement Executive

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