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One Month to Go: Top Tips To ‘Sleigh’ Your Christmas Digital Campaign

Ah Christmas. The most wonderful – and often lucrative – time of the year for many brands. Pumpkin spiced lattes are out the window and ‘sweater weather’ is in full force. With the holiday season now spanning from Black Friday all the way through to the New Year, many businesses really step up their marketing game during December, while the Christmas shopping spirit is at its peak. The increase in buying intent and the busy Christmas period presents businesses with a whole host of opportunities to capitalise on. So how can you ensure you’ve got your Christmas campaign right?  

We’ve been chatting with our experts at WMG alongside specialists from our connected agencies, Wired Plus and Pinpoint, considering SEOPaid MediaContent, Digital PR and Social MediaEmail Marketing and Web Development. Throughout this blog, you will uncover the insight needed to ‘sleigh’ your Christmas digital campaigns this year! 

Ghosts of Christmas past    

The festive season encompasses a range of busy and profitable shopping events including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas shopping and Boxing Day sales. Amid this bustling period, shoppers can often be overwhelmed and disorientated with the sheer number of brands, products, discounts and promotions available. The rise of online shopping and advertisements has helped make the public increasingly savvy towards how and where they spend their money.  

Last year, well known brands including Tesco, Aldi, Next and Boohoo saw a massive increase in sales. Tesco enjoyed its best Christmas in nearly a decade, while Next saw a huge 15 percent rise in online sales! Not only is Christmas a time for fun, family and festivities, it’s also a brilliant opportunity for brands to invest in their digital marketing campaigns. The intense competition this time of year brings, means businesses must be on top of their game during the last few months of 2019.  

Aldi recently released their Christmas advert featuring the famous ‘Kevin the Carrot’ for the fourth year in a row, gaining coverage in major red top publications such as The Sun and The Independent. This ad campaign is a great example of effective digital marketing, creating new market opportunities with ‘Kevin The Carrot’ and his family now becoming a sought after toy that resulted in large queues and chaos in 2018.

Just as brick-and-mortar stores prepare for Christmas with seasonal products, deals and merchandising, the same should be considered within your digital marketing. With 91 percent of Brits celebrating Christmas and the average person spending over £550 every year, it’s imperative for brands to get their digital Christmas campaigns right. Read on to find out how you can optimise your festive marketing opportunities.

Christmas SEO

While direct channels such as PPC ads, social media and email marketing all play a vital role in the busy festive season, organic traffic can often be forgotten, with many brands missing opportunities to enhance profit through seasonal keywords. Seasonal keywords increase in demand around this time of year, bringing with them a higher purchase intent and search volume. Alongside fundamental SEO best practices, they should play a key role in your organic Christmas strategy.

The most common seasonal keywords often link to ‘gifting ideas’ and relationships such as ‘Christmas gift ideas for mum’ and may also mention ‘price’. However, keyword research is integral to understand the best opportunities for your brand. We gathered some helpful insight from our Technical Insights Manager, James, who explained this further:

“When you’re conducting keyword research at this time of year, you may only see a lower search volume of 20. That’s because Google provides a 12-month rolling average keyword volume, and for seasonal keywords, that volume will be in a very concentrated period. Using the ‘historical metrics’ tab in Keyword Planner, you will be able to see the true search volume throughout November and December.” – James Betts, Technical Insights Manager, WMG

The example below shows the search history for “Black Friday”. Google says it gets 246K searches per month, however, it actually receives 2.5million searches in November with the figure then being divided by 12. This tool will help you gain valuable insight into whether you’re targeting the correct keywords in your seasonal organic strategy.

Alongside keyword research, there are a few other SEO considerations to maximise your online visibility during the Christmas period:

  • Create content that links to Christmas: On the build up to Christmas, content could be focused around seasonal topics that are relevant to your brand and industry. Using your keyword research and optimisation, these types of blogs have the ability to drive a substantial amount of targeted traffic to your site. To add further value, you could transform these blog posts into data capture devices as downloadable guides.
  • Create Christmas specific landing pages: Your keyword research will identify a whole host of new keywords to target, and landing pages can then be created from this. For example, our client, Just Miniatures, has recently launched new landing pages for Christmas gift ideas. Once these pages have been created, they can then be promoted and used as landing pages to help rank organically for seasonal search terms. They can also be used to support PPC and email marketing campaigns, helping to boost conversions further.
  • Build links and promote across social channels: Quality link building is integral to SEO and a major factor in how Google ranks web pages. Once you have created and published keyword optimised content, these pages need to be promoted to build relevant links and ensure your target market is aware of your content. Pinterest is great for this as people often use the platform to kickstart their shopping journey, gathering inspiration to assist them in buying presents.

Every business can optimise their SEO strategy to get the most out of Christmas. Visibility is important all year round but becomes even more so during the busiest time of year when competition is heightened. An effective strategy helps to ensure you’re ranking across search engines, sustaining your presence, and providing an effective base to push festive themed content out from.

Paid Media

Paid media can provide immediate impact which is ideal for Christmas. Encompassing PPC, remarketing, display, shopping and feed management, paid media provides a wealth of different options for your business to utilise and generate the best ROI.

During the Christmas period, it’s about really driving your brand’s visibility and getting it in front of your target audience. As the biggest shopping time of the year, there is a massive influx in both search and buying intent. As a result, it becomes the perfect time to optimise your ads and place them directly in front of an engaged audience. Follow our top tips from Head of PPC, Tom, and our Shopping guru, Matt, to get the most out of your paid media efforts this year:

  • Set up a seasonal holiday strategy: A paid media strategy is fundamental for success. There are plenty of things to consider including who you want to target and what kind of paid media channels you want to focus on. Having this in place before you begin helps increase the likeliness of your paid media efforts coming together and generating the highest ROI for your business. Setting up your paid media campaigns in advance gives your bidding strategies time to learn before peak season hits.
  • Collect data: Christmas provides a prime opportunity to collect heaps of data ready for the following year. Capitalise on this by providing incentives that require a sign up to capture relevant data. This could include discount codes, promotional offers and downloadable resources.
  • Set up remarketing: Be clever with your remarketing ads and put the data you’ve been collecting throughout the year to good use. Dynamic remarketing through Google Display Network or on Facebook is particularly relevant for this time of year. If you’ve managed to attract potential new customers to your brand through the keywords we discussed earlier, then make sure you’re targeting them again with the products, pages or services they have been viewing. Even better, if users don’t click on the ad, it won’t cost you anything!
  • Set up Responsive Search Ads: Responsive Search Ads allow you to create ads that adapt to show more relevant messaging to your customers. When creating this type of ad, you are given the ability to enter multiple headlines and descriptions. Over time, Google Ads will automatically test different combinations to learn which are performing best. By adapting content to match customer’s search intent, Responsive Search Ads can accelerate your campaign’s performance.
  • Tidy up your accounts: Take the time to clean up and optimise you old ad copy by removing low search volume and redundant keywords. Be sure to include three expanded text ads (ETAs) and change your extensions to make them more relevant for this period.
  • Optimise your Google Shopping: Deemed the ‘digital shopping shelf’, you should also pay close attention to your shopping and feed management on the run up to Christmas. These ads have the ability to unlock growth while increasing clicks and conversions.

It’s worthwhile keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing with their copy and promotions during this busy shopping period – after all, the early bird catches the worm!

Content, Digital PR and Social Media

Empathetic marketing has become a key player in Christmas campaigns with many leading brands tugging at the heartstrings of consumers to evoke a memorable response. John Lewis do this well, and have recently released another emotive advert for 2019 with the fiery fairy tale of #ExcitableEdgar. Each year, when November comes around, we eagerly anticipate their annual Christmas ad with last year’s Elton themed campaign racking up a whopping 11 million views in just 24 hours.

The festive season is a brilliant opportunity to expose the human side of your brand, so why not make the most of it by using emotions to drive engagement? Create and publish unique, themed content that will resonate with your target audience, appealing to their human nature and adding value to their lives. Alexa, Digital PR Campaign Manager says:

“No matter what your brand is – with a few exceptions – Christmas is a time to have a bit of fun with your Digital PR Campaigns. They don’t always have to be as on-brand as the campaigns you deliver throughout the rest of the year, but they should still reflect your values and be relevant to your target audience.” – Alexa Cobbold, Digital PR Campaign Manager, WMG

Themed content could include ’12 Days of Christmas’, ‘Gift Wish List’, ‘Top Wrapping Tips’ or could be advent calendar focused, such as a tip or graphic per day. Whatever you choose, be sure to avoid joining in for the sake of it and always keep it relevant to your brand. This content can be created in a range of formats including infographics, videos, blog posts, and downloadable resources before being promoted across social media platforms. We chatted with Tom, Content Writer at WMG, for his top tips when creating content for Christmas:

“I would advise creating content that can be updated and recycled year on year. This could include ‘Festive Marketing Tips’, ‘Preparing Your Home for Christmas’, ‘Festive Personal Finance’, ‘Christmas Holiday Ideas’, or ‘Industry Predictions for 2020’. It’s also important to think hard about distribution. There’s lots of noise to cut through at this time of the year so get in there first and spread it far and wide.” – Tom Mitchell, Content Writer, WMG

When you’re considering Christmas content, it’s fundamental to plan well in advance. Produce your assets, secure sign offs, create drafts and schedule your social content with plenty of time to spare. Once you have your optimised, festive-themed content in place, it’s time to start shouting about it! Tis’ the season to be jolly after all…

Social Media

Social media should be used to your advantage throughout the peak season. These platforms provide businesses with an opportunity to really engage with customers one-on-one and show their personality too. Take a read of our social Christmas tips collated by WMG’s Social Media connoisseur, Sophie Jackson:

  • Decorate your social media profiles: Make each platform shout Christmas! Get your users into the holiday spirit by updating your banner to something more festive, adding a Santa hat or snowflake to your profile picture and pinning your best performing Christmas content to the top of your page.
  • Share your Christmas events online: If your business is taking part in your own Christmas events this year that involves customers or the general public, be sure to share this in your own social media posts. Facebook allows you to set up your own events so make customers aware of what’s going on, when and where. Engage with customers on the run up and continue posting about the event when it happens. You could even generate a unique hashtag and encourage people to use it when tagging or sharing content around your brand.
  • Engage with the Christmas conversation: Christmas is a good chance to make new connections and cement existing ones. As well as engaging with your target audience or existing users, search for relevant hashtags and get involved with conversations to boost brand awareness in a new space.
  • Share your fundraising efforts: Does your business take part in regular charity work? Christmas is a time for giving so show your audience you care by including charitable activities and fundraising events in your social media calendar such as Christmas Jumper Day, which raises money for the Save The Children charity.
  • Share unfiltered moments: Give your followers a view of your unpolished business. Behind the scenes photos and videos perform extremely well, engaging with your users on a human level while giving real insight into your brand’s personality.
  • Share customer testimonials: People buy from people, not from businesses. Increase word of mouth during the Christmas period by sharing reviews with your followers to boost brand reputation, trust and loyalty.
  • Use empirical content: Did you know Instagram stories are used by over 500 million people every day? Take advantage of these features to promote your products, announcements and sales. If your business is service based, give people a real glimpse into the kind of services you offer. Also, if you have over 10,000 followers, don’t forget you can use the swipe up feature on Instagram! This can help drive increased traffic to your website.
  • Social influencers: WMG’s Outreach Manager, Vickie, highlighted the importance of identifying social influencers you would like to work with on a gifting basis well in advance of Christmas. Be sure to have all the details regarding the level of coverage ironed out so they are prepared when they receive your product.

Email Marketing

We know the holidays are a great time to communicate with customers and followers. Whether it be a special offer, a new product line or a simple Christmas message, it’s important that your efforts have a personal touch. Email marketing still stands as the most personal online space to reach individuals, delivering your message direct to their inbox. The experts from our connected agency, Wired Plus, have shared their thoughts on what you should consider for your Christmas email marketing campaigns:

  • Put automation and personalisation to good use: The holidays are a busy period for everyone. Put marketing automation to use by automating email campaigns and workflows including welcome emails, offers and reminders.Christmas is a great time for brands to build up suspense too. Why not treat your customers as VIPs with exclusive offers and earlier access to discounts? Implementing these processes helps support brand loyalty and creates a sense of urgency to encourage shoppers in their buying journey.

    Animations are also becoming popular in email campaigns and are a great way of showing personality and your brand’s festive spirit. Features such as flashing lights, snow and moving characters could be implemented where relevant into your Christmas email campaigns.
  • Christmas emojis: Emojis are an eye catching, personable way of adding some holiday flair to your emails. Did you know the snowman emoji drives the highest open rates?
    Brands using emojis in their email subject lines have seen a 45 percent increase in their unique open rates and they have even contributed to a 15 percent YoY increase in open rates.
  • Increase your email database: Use the holidays to grow your customer email database by encouraging referrals. Give your current subscribers a discount if they refer a friend or pay for a subscription. Beauty brand, Birchbox, give their subscribers deluxe samples when they buy a friend a one-year subscription.
  • Segment your email list: During the festive period, it can be a challenge to stand out in crowded inboxes so target the right customers with the right messages. Segment your data to provide value to all of your subscribers by dividing your audience by email activity, engagement levels and buying behaviour. Additionally, segmenting your emails allows you to create personalised messaging which on average, deliver six times higher transaction rates.
  • Design mobile-friendly campaigns: More than half of emails are now opened via a mobile device and shopping on mobile has increased significantly in recent years too. If you want your campaigns to perform, it’s important to design with mobile in mind.
  • Leverage social proof: Promote your customer’s reviews and their positive experiences throughout your email campaigns. This is a great way of starting a conversation, creating a buzz around your brand and increasing trust with your users.

Optimise Your Digital Storefront

As important as your Christmas digital marketing campaign is, there’s no point going to all this effort if your website doesn’t perform! Firstly, preparing your online infrastructure is fundamental to ensuring your website can cope with increased traffic surges. Once you’ve considered what’s going on behind the scenes, it’s also important to ensure the front-end of your website is optimised for a seamless shopping experience. Speaking with our connected web development agency, Pinpoint, their eCommerce Strategist, Rebecca, highlighted the importance of visual merchandising in preparation for peak:

“Visual merchandising is no longer something eCommerce stores can ignore. As internet shopping continues evolving, businesses need to remain competitive by leaving customers with a memorable and positive shopping experience. During the peak period when people want to browse and buy fast, the way your online store has been merchandised can have a real impact on your conversion rate.” – Rebecca Holmes, UX Strategist, Pinpoint.

To prepare for the future, we must consider the past. Don’t forget to collect and analyse your YOY data to generate a better picture of what to expect and where to focus your efforts. As the online world continues to evolve at an unrelenting pace, it’s becoming more and more important for business to prepare and plan their digital marketing campaigns well in advance of delivery. The busy Christmas shopping period brings with it an increase in shoppers and an opportunity to build memorable customer relationships that will continue into the New Year.

Are you struggling with your Christmas digital campaign? There’s still time to get it right and we can help! Get in touch with us today to discuss all things SEO, Paid Media, Content, Digital PR and Social, or contact our connected agencies for help on web development and email marketing. Our experienced teams are equipped with the knowledge and expertise to help you achieve success this festive season.