For most businesses, 2020 has been a challenging year. If the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted your business and you’re feeling discouraged about hitting your year-end targets, I want to let you know that there’s still hope.
The holiday season is coming in just a few weeks. As a time when consumers become extra enthusiastic about shopping, it is a great opportunity to boost your sales and revenue. In fact, in 2019, consumers spent around $7.4 billion online on Black Friday alone, and 55% of consumers plan to spend the same, if not more, than last year.
So, you can imagine the potential of not only the entire holiday season—but the unique 2020 holiday season that will be more digital than ever due to the pandemic. In this guide, I’m going to share 17 proven tips that will help you to plan out and execute successful holiday promotions so you can give your revenue a boost. I will cover:
- General holiday sale best practices to give you an edge over your competitors and maximize your results.
- Tried-and-true tactics that never fail to attract holiday shoppers to any business.
- Channel-specific strategies for holiday campaigns (paid and unpaid) with pro tips for each.
General holiday tips/best practices
Before we dive into specific tactics and campaigns to run, let's first cover some general guidelines that will help you stand out above your competitors and boost the success of your efforts.
1. Start preparation now
While July to September is the ideal time for businesses to start preparations for holiday season sales, it is certainly not too late to start now. As a smaller business and equipped with the tips in this post, you still have plenty of time to come up with a campaign or program to boost your revenue.
Here’s what to consider when preparing your business for the holiday season:
- Product inventory: Will you need to stock up on particularly popular items? Bring new items onboard for gift-wrapping or seasonality?
- Marketing strategy: What channels will be most effective in communicating with your audience, and what is the overall message you want your holiday promotions to convey?
- Promotional materials: How will you get the word out? Online ads and social media posts? Print ads or in-store flyers?
- Sales and offers: What can you offer to customers that will appeal to their current desires and needs?
- Budget: Do you have any advertising budget you can use? Will you need to cut back on some tactics from last year? What can you afford to offer discounts on?
- Your customers: What is different about your post-COVID-19 customers? How can you appeal to their adjusted wants and needs?
2. Be COVID-19-conscious
This goes without saying, but it's still worth noting.
This year, you will more than likely need to make adjustments to your marketing copy, preferred channels, and offers in order to keep your customers safe and to appeal to their new pandemic priorities. Also, while it can be helpful to check your reports and holiday stats from last year to see top-performing products and channels, popular discounts, product return rates, and more, keep in mind that this year is very different from last, of course.
3. Choose the right marketing channels
Choosing the right marketing channels to promote your holiday campaigns will help you to ensure the time, money, and energy spent are all worth it. It will also help you to better target your audience and cater your messaging, ensuring more success and sales. There are a number of channels to chose from, including (but not limited to):
- Social media: both organic posting and paid ads, such as on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and more.
- Search engines: Google and Bing Ads, SEO for organic visibility, and don't forget your Google business listing where you can post deals and offers.
- Email marketing: you can run a holiday email series, or include holiday deals in your regular newsletters.
- Offline marketing: there's local newspaper ads, in-store flyers, radio and TV ads, and more.
Every marketing platform is unique and has a different kind of audience, and not all of them are going to be the best fit for your business. Take a look at your marketing metrics from this past year and see if you can pinpoint your top-performing channels. This can help you prioritize the implementation of the holiday marketing tips in this guide.
4. Create unique and seasonal landing pages
Many businesses make the mistake of not creating separate landing pages for their product and service offerings. Not only are campaign-specific landing pages a must (for any time of the year), but it can also be helpful to give your landing pages a holiday theme or flare. Make it clear that you're offering something special for this specific time.
With a landing page for each product or service, you can provide customers with a clear picture of each of your special offers, and since they will have all of the details and a single call to action on one page, your holiday conversion rates are likely to increase.
There are many landing page builder tools that you can use to create beautiful landing pages for your website. Use a reliable and feature-rich landing page builder tool that is pocket-friendly and provides you with everything to create landing pages for your sale.
Here are some important tips to create high-converting landing pages for your sales:
- Don’t include too much text on your page; just provide the essential details.
- Make the page scannable so your customers can easily identify what’s in it for them.
- Use a suitable call to action, strategically placed on the page.
- Make it crystal clear as to how users can buy & apply discounts.
- Clear the path for your customers so they can complete the desired action in a few simple steps.
- Use countdown timers to add excitement and a bit of a scarcity effect.
- Ensure the landing page is mobile-optimized. Most people use their smartphones to shop online, so this can play an important role in achieving success with your holiday sales.
5. Start early but end later
People go crazy to shop for the holidays and are eagerly looking for discounts and offers, so, you can easily win the match if you start your holiday marketing before the competition does, and even extending your promotions to go on longer than that of your competition. I have used this strategy myself in previous years and it has helped me to generate six-figure results before the official “arrival” of the holiday season. You can use the same strategy to boost your revenue too!
6. Ensure your business can handle increases in demand
Before launching your holiday marketing and advertising campaigns, do a final check to ensure that everything is ready according to the plan and that you can handle a boost in orders and sales. This includes making sure that:
- You have enough inventory so there is no shortage of products, or a backup plan for if you do run out.
- Your staff is prepared and trained for higher demands than normal (packaging, shipping, support, etc.)
- Your website is able to manage sudden high-spikes in traffic. You may need to contact your website host to confirm this.
Must-try holiday tactics
7. Run time-limited sales
Running popup online sales is another way to boost your sales during holiday shopping time. With this method, you increase your discount or offer an exclusive deal just for a few hours, such as by increasing a 45% off discount to 50% off for one hour only. You can even do this 2-3 times in a day and multiple times during the sale. Hostgator uses this strategy to generate millions of revenues during its Black Friday sales. Here are some more tips for using hourly or time-limited sales:
- Use pop-ups and countdown timers to alert users about your limited-time sales.
- Use different discount coupons for each sale to track particularly popular deals or time slots.
- Promote the sale on your website and through social media and email.
8. Create gift guides
To come up with the best gifts for their significant others, children, parents, friends, and relatives, people search on the internet—Google especially. By creating gift guides, you can help your audience members, attract more customers, and boost your SEO.
Here are some examples of gift guides:
- The Best 15 Christmas Gifts to Get for Your Girlfriend in 2020
- 10 Gifts a Seven-Year-Old Girl Will Love
- 5 Black Friday Laptop Deals You Won’t Want to Miss
- 20 Thoughtful but Useful Gift Ideas for Christmas
Here are some more tips for using gift guides to boost your holiday sales:
- The more specific the guide, the better. Think about age, gender, personality type, hobbies, marital status, and more.
- Use keyword research tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to identify popular gift guide queries.
- Include your own products or services in the list. Include all of the details and use compelling copy to convey why it would make a great gift.
- Use carousels on social media platforms to showcase the products or services you offer that would make great gifts; or do the same for gifts that come from other sources
9. Offer freebies
Offering something free is a great strategy to boost sales because customers love to get things for free. During the holiday season, people are in shopping/money-spending mode, so offering something free will be like a breath of fresh air to them, and may even encourage them to buy from you! You can give free gift cards, free products, or free shipping to your customers.
Free shipping is almost a must for holiday sales. Consumers are attracted to that kind of offer and chances are, your competitors are offering it, so don’t give them a chance to steal your customers!
If you’re budget-conscious, just make sure you do the math so that your offers are valuable to your customers as well as ultimately profitable for you. You’ll need to calculate your product cost and profit margins to create offers like “Buy 3 and Get 1 Free” or “Spend $100 and get $15 Off.”
10. Run referral discounts
Referral marketing is always a successful strategy but it works really well during the holidays. Encourage your customers to refer your products to someone else (their friends, relatives, etc.) by offering a discount. For example, you can give 10% extra or $20 extra discount if the customer refers you to someone.
This will help you to grow your sales and revenue without costing much, and best of all, your customers are promoting your business for you.
11. Try out virtual reality
As you know, the world is showing unprecedented online behavior due to social distancing. So, if you’re an ecommerce business looking for holiday success, you may want to lean on virtual reality features to enable consumers to tour and browse your products from the safety of their homes. This is a new technology, but being an early adopter can ensure long-term gains.
Channel-specific holiday tips
The above tactics can help you to increase sales during the holidays and give your 2020 revenue a lift, but how will you get the word out about them? As mentioned in the first section of this guide, there are many channels to choose from, and the best channel will vary from business to business. In this section, I'll cover tips for the channels that tend to perform well across industries.
12. Create organic Facebook posts
With more than 2.7 billion active users worldwide, Facebook can offer a targeted audience for just about any business. It is great for both finding new and reengaging existing customers.
Facebook offers a variety of sub-channels to reach out to your target audience during the holidays:
- Posts to your Facebook Business Page (you may want to schedule these ahead of time so you can focus on real-time marketing when things get chaotic).
- Facebook Messenger
- Facebook Stories
- Facebook Marketplace
- Facebook Groups
- Facebook Ads (we'll get to those next)
Pro tip: Start engaging and building your Facebook audience now so you can get the most out of your holiday marketing ideas and efforts. The best way to do this is by being proactive (liking, sharing, commenting on others’ posts and comments) and consistent (regularly engaging to build predictability, trust, and your brand voice).
13. Advertise your products on Facebook
Follow these tips to run effective Facebook ads:
- Install the Facebook Pixel on your website now, so you can retarget visitors during the holiday rush.
- Start creating your promotional collateral now, like physical banners and signs, promotional videos, and ad copy. You may even want to start testing out ad copy so you can ensure you’re running the highest performing ad when it matters most.
- Create and submit your Facebook ads a few days to a week in advance, since Facebook may take more time to review & approve ads as we get closer to the holidays.
14. Leverage Instagram posts and ads
Instagram also has great potential to boost your sales revenue this holiday season. Instagram users are highly engaged, and the platform has been shown to generate ten times more engagement than other social media platforms.
With a proper Instagram holiday strategy, you can see success. Here are a few tips to do that:
- Make sure your Instagram account is a business account. Business accounts come with analytics that will help you to make the right decisions.
- Find influencers with the same target audience to collaborate with. They will help you to get more exposure and sales during the sale.
- Share customer success stories, positive reviews, and pictures of happy customers. The trust factor plays an important role in the purchasing journey.
- Use hashtags to boost your organic reach, spark engagement, join conversations, and show your authority. This includes location-based hashtags, industry-specific hashtags, trending hashtags, and custom hashtags. For your custom hashtag, go for something inspiring and authentic. For example, Redbull uses #ItGivesYouWings, and Coca-Cola uses #ShareACoke for their campaigns and there are thousands of posts on Insta with these hashtags.
- Don’t forget about Instagram Stories, Reels, Instagram Story Highlights, and IGTV. These features can help you to express your brand personality and connect with your audience through the power of video.
- Run Instagram ads. You can run the same ads for both Facebook and Instagram, or create separate ads for each platform. Just be sure to target the right audience and use attractive offers that will incentivize users to engage with your ads.
15. Run a Google Ads campaign
Running Google Ads during the holidays can help you get discovered by and win over new customers. Think about the terms consumers in your target audience are searching for when they go onto Google during this season. For example:
- “best christmas gifts for dads in 2020”
- “carpet cleaning specials”
- “best black friday laptop sales”
…and many others.
Bid on the queries your customers are typing into the Google search box as they look to prepare for, shop for, and celebrate the holiday season. This may include products, services, brand names, and roundups. So ensure that you’re targeting all keywords. Keep in minda also that consumers aren't only thinking about the holidays during the holidays, but also about more logisitcal needs for the upcoming year, such as health insurance.
Make sure your ads have landing pages to help them to easily find details about your product or offer, and also that you have conversion tracking set up in your Google Ads account.
Also, give Google Shopping ads a try—a product-oriented means of boosting your holiday sales and 2020 revenue.
16. Improve your SEO for targeted traffic
SEO is one of the best ways to get free and targeted traffic to your website—and by targeted, we mean visitors most likely to buy your products. Just like with Google Ads, you'll want to target queries revelant to your audience during this time of year. To boost your ecommerce SEO, you'll want to target product-oriented keywords, like:
- best cyber monday tablet sales
- holiday sweaters for kids
- hannukkah decor
If you're a local or service-oriented business, you can target keywords like
- home cleaning tips for the holidays
- DIY christmas decorations
- healthy holiday dish recipes
Create separate pages (or posts) on your website containing high-quality content that targets these keywords. Make sure to implement SEO best practices to help these pages rank higher on Google. It takes time to get results with SEO, so the earlier you can publish these posts, the better. But you can also make them evergreen so that they can continue to collect traffic during future holiday season.
17. Send out marketing emails
Email marketing is among the best channels to nurture leads into customers and maintain loyal customer relationships. If you've been building your email list throughout the year, this will be an asset during your holiday email marketing campaigns. You can announce your holiday promotions and events, and include links to your SEO posts. Just be sure to follow best practices such as segementing and personalizing to get the most success, and to write effective holiday email subject lines so that the emails get opened.
Increase your sales and revenue during the 2020 holidays [recap]
Holiday season sales are your last chance to generate revenue this year. There is a plethora of holiday marketing strategy ideas for 2020, but regardless of which ones you implement, make sure you prepare, plan out, test, and track everything from spendings to sales and profit to return rate. It will help you to take the right steps at the right times—both during the campaign and in years to come.
- Start preparing now
- Be COVID-19-conscious
- Choose the right channels
- Start early, end later
- Be ready for increased demand
- Create unique and seasonal landing pages
- Run time-limited sales
- Create gift guides
- Offer freebies
- Get referrals
- Try virtual reality
- Create organic Facebook posts
- Advertise your products on Facebok
- Leverage Instagram posts and ads
- Run Google Ads campaigns
- Implement SEO strategies
- Send email marketing campaigns
About the author
This post was written by Harpreet Munjal and edited by Kristen McCormick. Harpreet is a digital marketer and founder of a digital marketing company named LoudGrowth. Munjal has worked with leading brands including Godaddy and 3dcart, and has been featured in such publications as Forbes, Business.com, Shopify, Hubspot, SearchEngineWatch and more.