Holiday marketing: Can you formalize your brand approach?

By Nick Papagiannis – VP, Search Director

Holidays are a great opportunity for brands to make gains with current and new customers. Today, it is almost expected to have a deal, giveaway, contest or celebration for every holiday. With summer quickly approaching and some of the biggest holidays around the corner, it’s a good time to look at the strategy behind how you are using holidays to elevate your brand messaging.

To help, we broke down the steps to successfully market a brand during a holiday season.

Step 1: Identify holidays that consumers will be searching online.

There are many mainstream holidays that come to mind first, but push your creativity to align with the more unique holidays, as these may present an opportunity to connect with niche audiences, especially on social media. It is advantageous for brands not to limit holiday marketing to a single holiday but to optimize the increased traffic opportunities throughout the year, so looking at non-traditional holidays is key. With that being said, make sure that every holiday you are marketing makes sense for your brand. For example, an ecommerce brand will fit perfectly with traditional holidays like Christmas, Mother’s Day, etc., but a brand like an office supply company could leverage a holiday like “Fun at Work Day.” These “weird” holidays offer great opportunities for brands to take ownership of the day and sustain brand recognition throughout the year. In some instances, larger companies, like Amazon, have the luxury of actually creating their own holiday, like Amazon Prime Day.

Step 2: Strategize a promotion, event, and/or content marketing idea.

Traditionally, marketers will create a basic discount promotion for a holiday. To make the biggest impact, work with the SEO and search marketing teams and analyze search volume metrics and identify the level of popularity of each holiday. For holidays with significant search volume, consider a more aggressive approach—perhaps robust content or events. Additionally, identify the terms that are searched most often around the holiday. For example, search terms around Mother’s Day could include “Mother’s Day gifts” or “top Mother’s Day gifts.” These data points will help develop the right content and web page ideas. Overstock’s Mother’s Day hub is a great example of a comprehensive content approach that offers a promotion, gift ideas, gift rankings and other information. Other brands promote memes and other entertaining social content, like Dos Toro’s for 420 Day.

Step 3: Apply SEO best practices to content and reference search volume data for holidays and ideas.

Quality brand websites will have a highly engaging and SEO-friendly landing page experience that speaks to the holiday and promotion. Consider including videos, infographics, and other assets to increase engagement, which can increase SEO performance of links, shares and mentions. These practices will help search engines associate the brand as an authority for the holiday and increase the site ranking for a broad holiday search.

Be sure to keep the page URL live yearlong, even if you remove it from navigation elements. This allows the brand to stay front and center on a year-round basis for relevant holiday online searches and continues to align the brand and holiday.

Step 4: Leverage paid media and media teams to build buzz.

Social media, paid search or other paid media tactics are essential for success, especially in the first few years of the campaign. Naturally, there is increased content around holidays so gaining organic traffic may be difficult. Therefore, it is critical to implement the aforementioned tactics in order to ensure enough visibility. Be sure to consider scheduling at least a few weeks out, to build buzz around your holiday promotion or event.

Step 5: Track performance and optimize.

There are many useful data sources to leverage. Some of the more basic tools are website analytics, Google’s search trend tool and any other engagement/sales data. Work with the analytics team to identify and track specific KPIs to determine which channels, content and promotions are working to encourage participation and other business benefits.

Step 6: Repeat next year to build awareness and holiday equity.

After the holiday, reflect on the campaign to determine ways that you can improve participation and engagement in the future. Be relentless and make sure your brand is associated with the holiday every year. The higher brand participation, the more holiday equity a brand can build as time goes on.

Today, there is almost a funny, unique holiday for anything you can imagine. It’s a great opportunity for brands to be creative and stake out moments to connect more deeply with consumers. Heck, if the right weird holiday isn’t out there already, you can probably create it. Just think: every Monday could be Edible Chocolate Tie Day.

Okay, that one might need some work, but you get the point.