Marketing Tips To Increase Your Holiday Sales

One of my clients sells personalized christmas wrapping paper online for consumers and businesses. While they do see sales year round, the holidays are by far their largest revenue generating time of the year.

That being said, holiday marketing can be extremely stressful for business models (like retail) that make the bulk of their yearly revenue during the holidays. This statement is even more relevant when talking about small businesses – where a small holiday marketing error or oversight could lead down the path bankruptcy. Luckily there are some tried and true methods to incorporate into your holiday marketing strategies that remain relevant year after year. Here are five tips that every online (or offline) business can utilize to capitalize on the holiday marketing cycle.

1) SEO and CRO are the acronyms for success

The first thing you should do to optimize holiday sales is rev up your SEO or search engine optimization campaign – both on and offsite. It often takes months to achieve desired rankings for specific keywords, so start early. Take keyword data (search volume, performance, conversions, etc) from the previous year and begin to create a plan to optimize your site for those optimal search terms by the time the next holiday season rolls around. Some things to do: update your page titles, meta tags, product decriptions, and anything else to reflect changes in search volume and to capitalize on optimal keywords. Start building links with varied anchor text that match these terms (don’t focus solely on exact match or the search engines might slap you down). Make sure links are working properly and pages are operational and speedy on all browsers and devices. Simplify the buying process by making it easier for customers to “add to wish list” or “share” products – or even take advantage of extra payment options or “bill me later”. If you have extra time, bookmark your products on sites like Kaboodle and Wists. Set up Google Alerts for holiday terms (and competition) you wish to target so that you can 1) know where to look when building links 2) contribute early in the comments section and see which forums might be worth participating in 3) keep an eye on competition. Lastly make sure all product feeds are optimized and current (and submitted to all of the free shopping sites).

*Extra tip – While not technically marketing, make sure you update your “about us” & “faq” pages to help improve conversion rates. Tell a story if you can but you at least need to give your business some relatabilty and personality – especially during the holiday season!

2) Get some press right now

Try to make a PR plan months in advance. Narrow down television & radio shows, blogs, and magazines that you could pitch your products to. Then compile contact information and create a specific pitch for products you wish to promote. Just make sure you spend a good deal of time on your pitch and that each one is tailor-made to the outlet you are pitching to. The media loves a good story, so make sure yours is well crafted and stands out. If appropriate you can even add a holiday targeted media kit to your site. Are your products generic and not very exciting? Sponsor local events, create promotions to help charities, and use other philanthropic gestures to not only create goodwill, but earn some press. Here’s an actionable tip – search for gift buying guides that are related to the products you offer, then track down the author who wrote them (either on social media sites or by directly contacting the site the guide was featured on) and suggest your product for this year’s edition. Another simple way to get good press for the holidays is to give something away. For example, we contact bloggers and offer product reviews and giveaways in the months leading up to the holiday season. If your products are inexpensive enough you can even create and avertise a review program with specific directions and qualifications. This helps to scale and speed this process up. Reviews and giveaways are great for earning new social media fans, backlinks, and generating buzz about your products.

*Extra tip – Make sure all customer service reps are aware of discounts, giveaways, contest rules and PR placements. Then they know if there’s going to be a spike in phone calls or emails and they have time to figure out how to cope and craft the perfect responses.

3) Market to your current customers

Send holiday emails to your past customers – and not just in December (ie Christmas in July works great). Though the frequency should definitely increase the closer the holidays get. Offer a discount or chance to win something with every email to encourage sharing. However don’t forget to add some interesting, useful, or unique content once in a while, or you could find yourself with a quickly shrinking database of emails and decreasing open rates. Nobody likes to be bombarded with special offers 24/7. You could feature contests, giveaways or holiday tips with your promotions to keep the content fresh and interesting. Spend time on the subject line to help differentiate your communications from all other holiday emails that your list will undoubtedly be receiving. Make sure you segment your database and run a test with every email you send – which not only helps you improve your messages this year, but also for years to come.

*Extra tip – Do not forget to send a happy holidays contact to your customers. Anything from a simple (yet genuinely written) email to a printed holiday card or promotional gift will be well appreciated. Showing appreciation is key to customer retention and businesses often overlook this tiny but meaningful gesture. Plus consumers love “after-holiday” sales and you will have gained some brownie points by showing them some love.

4) Holiday content marketing is crucial

Create holiday specific content (articles, guest blog posts, videos, and other link bait) well ahead of time and put together a list of the best sites to submit to. This creates awareness and earns relevant links to your site from the right demographic. Aside from boosting conversion rates, videos are a great way to capitalize on the ever changing SERPs which have been favoring video results at a continually increasing rate. Searches and interest for this type of content tends to spike after Thanksgiving and having a well prepared content marketing plan ahead of time can help you take advantage of this opportunity. Create on-site holiday content as well. Adding holiday decorations to your home page, altering your navigation to make it easier to shop for others (gift ideas), or something *as stupid as* adding a countdown to Christmas can all positively affect conversion rates during the holiday season.

*Extra tip – Keep affiliates informed of all holiday promotions (and even interesting content in some cases) – make sure to send holiday bonuses to the best affiliates. Because just like real people, affiliates need love too.

5) Definitely pay for your clicks

Since all of this previously mentioned exposure is “free” (more importantly not guaranteed) you should also create campaigns in Google Adwords and Microsoft Adcenter geared towards the holidays. This guarantees you at least some traffic/sales & also helps to perfect your marketing message based on the performance of different ads & landing pages (which can then be applied to future holiday emails and website landing pages). Take advantage of late shoppers by creating an ad group based on something like “free 2nd day shipping” or “free rush service”. Already running a holiday campaign? Then try setting up a remarketing campaign as well. Remarketing is important during the holidays because it allows you to stay relevant to your past visitors who often shop around (consumers research early and purchase late). It also allows you to narrow down your marketing message to a specific product or category that you know your visitor was interested in. This can help increase your chances of conversions and help you stand out from the all of the other holiday advertisements that are bombarding your potential customers. Running a holiday PPC campaign of course ties back into your keyword research for the next year – so everything goes full circle!

*Extra tip – Keep an extra close eye on PPC budgets during the holidays. Search volume almost always tends to increase dramatically around the holidays and having an under or overfunded budget is a recipe for disaster.

Got any unique holiday marketing ideas or tips of your own? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Chris Wise heads online marketing for the Expressionables.com family of personalized product sites – specializing in everything from personalized wrapping paper to corporate holiday gifts.


63 thoughts on “Marketing Tips To Increase Your Holiday Sales”

    1. PPC Ian says:

      I hope we all make a ton of money in the upcoming holiday season. I’m certainly planning on it. πŸ™‚ And, working hard to prepare for such success.

      1. Yes Ian, i also have a big project slated out for 10k let’s see how it goes, getting 150% ROI is my plan. Hope will succeed.

        1. PPC Ian says:

          That is awesome! Best of luck to you, here’s to a big holiday season. πŸ™‚

      2. Erwin Miradi says:

        Oh yes dude. If you start your efforts from now, I bet you could make a lot in the upcoming holidays. Good luck buddy.

    2. Erwin Miradi says:

      Yeah it’s a really nice post about holiday marketing. But anyway Rabbi, the post was written by Chris Wise. He’s the one who deserves the credit.

  1. beyey says:

    I do not know what to say, this is something extraordinary … thank’s jhon

    1. Erwin Miradi says:

      Yeah the post is extraordinary indeed. But it’s a guest post by Chris Wise anyway, just so you know.

  2. true… holiday season is best to earn… it can in fact give rise to your business. particularly year end holiday when people are having lots to enjoy and lots to spend, become very crucial for business.

    1. PPC Ian says:

      I agree. Holidays are critical to many businesses hitting their overall goals for the year. The holiday shopping season can make or break a business.

      1. It is difficult for many to survive by having only a few sales weeks each year.

        1. hey… I am not saying to enjoy 11 months and do business in 1 month only. I am saying that this festival / holiday season can give you a good profit and your graph can be made good if you plan smartly during this season.

          1. That is very true. Do business all 12 months and get as much out of the holiday months as you can. That’s when people are on a shopping spree and looking for products and services to spend their money on.

    2. Erwin Miradi says:

      Yeah I agree. It is really the time for the improvement of business. But every business are well prepared for Holiday season. So I don’t think the competition is going to be much easier.

  3. Johnny Chan says:

    That is good tips for whoever get ready for the coming holiday seasons.

    1. It sure is. Looking forward to when the season starts. Time to put on the marketing glowes πŸ™‚

    2. Erwin Miradi says:

      Talking about Holiday season, everybody is getting reading for that. I mean the holiday season is not the right time for a marketer to have his holiday.

  4. Wow John,
    Outstanding I really like that idea I am going to try that…
    Thanks for the tip buddy…

  5. Goa Carnival says:

    No doubt about it, many business depends on holiday season to make some huge earnings that’s why they offer special offers/discounts to leverage potential customers.

  6. best time for doing our business is holiday season

    1. PPC Ian says:

      That’s for sure. It is that way for most people selling products online. Holiday shopping period is where a lot of money is made.

      1. Agreed increasing total sales would be huge!

    2. fully agree. People save money thought the year only to spend from mid Dec to mid Jan. So if you are in business, be ready… your days are very near now.

  7. PPC Ian says:

    I like this post. All great points. It’s definitely time to get moving if you want a big holiday season. Now is the time to prepare.

    1. Yep, prepare and work out a killer strategy.

  8. Party Ideas says:

    Agreed & it’s time to get moving if you want a big holiday season.I like the SEO point & i’m writing some about SEO,SEO is a long term, slow moving process based on rules that are constantly changing.

    1. Many people just bombard with links few days before the holiday starts and they show up suddenly on the search engines and disappear in a flash, Got to take slow on SEO

  9. Excellent post Chris with some valuable information. Good reading and greatly appreciated.

  10. A good SEO work in conjunction with PPC is the only thing that works if you work with something that is right for a special season.

    1. PPC Ian says:

      I could not agree more. Many people forget that PPC is a huge lever and should be used in addition to SEO.

  11. Holiday is the best time but we can’t target the right people

    1. And why is that? You can target whoever you want.

  12. Thanks John, all great tips and advice!

  13. for increasing sale communication is very important

  14. Pam Britton says:

    As always your post is chock-full of very valuable and ultra-specific advice!

  15. Really great tips and i think it will help me.
    Thank you

  16. Awesome post! These are some very useful tips that’ll come in use for me during the holiday season. Thanks πŸ™‚

  17. Faizan says:

    Nice post with great tips. I will definitely keep these tips in my mind for the future !

  18. panax says:

    yes very true. holiday season is the period earned the most money.

  19. Good tips! Right around the middle of October is when I start prepping my SEO campaigns for the holiday season, so this post turned out to be extremely timely!

    1. perfect… SEO at the right time matters the most.

      1. Erwin Miradi says:

        Yeah I agree. It takes time until your SEO efforts are showing the impact. So better start at the right time.

  20. Love your ideas in this post. I recently posted some tips for retailers to get their social media marketing ready for the holidays that could be helpful as well! http://venpop.com/2011/what-retailers-social-media-should-look-like-for-the-holidays-with-michael-kivland/

  21. Gaza says:

    I got hold of our local newspaper about prices. I can get a 80 word print for just $15 that reaches 400,000 readers. Thanks for the tips.

    1. yes… good way to advertise in a local market.

      1. Erwin Miradi says:

        Yeah. Local market is not bad at all. Just make sure you targeted the right audience. That would be much more efficient.

  22. fazal mayar says:

    goood stuff, holidays are coming, its time for strategies πŸ˜€

    1. Erwin Miradi says:

      Yeah buddy. You better do it fast. Because everybody is getting ready now.

  23. fas says:

    These can be used anytime, not specially HOlidays

    1. That is so true, however during the holidays, the competition will be fierce.

  24. Many are building a full year of sales throughout one big weekend, partyweek, monthly, etc. But there are so many things that can go wrong; rain, storm, problems with the vendor, suporters, etc. “so do not put all eggs in one basket.”

  25. Divya says:

    yeah i agree with this. it will be good to increase the sales in the competitive market.

  26. Party Ideas says:

    Above all tips worth appreciated indeed..!

  27. Party Ideas says:

    Fantastic article & i’m writing one more thing that if your business falls into one of these industries, post your content on days when user engagement is already naturally high..!

  28. really some useful tips, thank’s.

  29. Waiting time for vacation. thank you

  30. Lalit says:

    John thanks for the excellent post. We may get some boost and probably higher sales in coming holidays.

  31. re point 3 – we are considering not doing client gifts this year, it all becomes a bit same-same at that time of year so I don’t think people really appreciate it. Instead we will be donating on their behalf to our favourite charity and encouraging them to do so also.

  32. Erwin Miradi says:

    The article is really well written. The content is solid. But I needed to take a break after reading half of the article. That’s one long content, don’t you think so?

    But I generally agree that if you are about to compete in holiday season marketing competition, you better start now. It takes time for the SEO efforts you do to make an impact on your site.

  33. Eugene says:

    Start EARLY to get a start on the competition, make sure you also focus on the SEO aspect because this will be your main source of traffic.

  34. if we start early as will get the job done in holiday’s

  35. I’m SEO targeting as we speak for Christmas. But only for a couple of websites. For very specific products, I can’t wait to get the results. πŸ˜‰

  36. maerket says:

    really nice post. i really appreciate your work on detox. I would like to share your post with my friends and community of my website here. http://www.fortunamarketing.com thanks for your post and for also information you shared.

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