#ChristmasMarketing

105 digital pros share their top Christmas marketing tips

Christmas is an incredibly competitive time of year for businesses. For SMEs in particular, getting things right over the festive period can be make or break.

To help you get the most out of the next few months, we've asked more than 100 marketing experts to share their top tips for standing out this Christmas. They cover almost everything, from what kind of content you should be creating to how you should be targeting your ads. Simply scroll down to learn more.

Samantha Charles
Samantha Charles
Director , Float Digital
Update your Google My Business page with your Christmas opening hours

Google allows business owners to add “special hours” to their local listings within their Google My Business page. Adding special hours lets local businesses communicate to their customers about longer or shorter store opening times around holidays or special events. This feature is perfect for advertising late night shopping, but is often neglected by local businesses, meaning a loss of customers during the most important shopping season of the year! Don’t forget to keep your opening hours updated and keep your customers informed.

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Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré
Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré
Community Growth , Zest.is
Address your customers' pain points

Sometimes I start to feel bah-humbug about the ‘buy! buy! buy!’ around the winter holidays. But, you know what? I’m not alone. As all of your competitors push Christmas sales and contribute to the cacophony of the holiday rush, the businesses that stand out for me are the ones that take a different tactic.

I would suggest thinking of the holidays as yet another problem you can solve for your customers. Their pain points are too much stress, not enough time, trying to be everything to everyone, and straining their budgets to do so. Speak to those pain points and alleviate them. Create a space for some peace and tranquillity, for genuine heart-felt moments. That’s what people crave around the holidays. Give them that when nobody else will, and you’ll really stand out.

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Tim Soulo
Tim Soulo
Head of Marketing and Product Strategy , Ahrefs
Focus on standing out via your products or services

Generally, I’m not a fan of “standing out” because of some occasion or trend. Here at Ahrefs, we’re big believers that you should focus all your efforts on standing out via your product (or whatever you do).

This quote by Ryan Holiday really resonates with me: “Promotion is not how things are made great — only how they’re heard about.” So, one of the ways you could use Christmas time in your favour is by reminding people that your product is great and that it could possibly be a perfect Christmas gift for someone they know. In a “growth hacking” sense, you might want to develop some kind of page that makes it easy for your customers to give your product as a Christmas gift. You might also incentivise them a bit, by giving them some kind of bonus in return.

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Dixon Jones
Dixon Jones
Marketing Director, Majestic | DixonJones.com
Provide the option to create a wishlist

Christmas presents are in fact one of the most inefficient ways of giving. It’s a lovely thought, but we rarely get people the things they really wanted.  Giving presents at Christmas is like marketing: the person giving needs to match their presents with the recipients’ wants and needs. So, one trick is not to sell ideas, but to encourage people to put together their own wishlists by selecting products from your shop. Then, they can share these wishlists with their friends and family.

Promoting a wishlist isn’t hard, and the person creating the wishlist has a real incentive to choose things they really want. By doing this, you’ll get the recipient’s email address and a list of what they want. From this, you could create a Facebook campaign to ‘Friends of xxx@yyyy.com’ saying ‘We asked XXX what she wanted for Christmas. Want to look at what they said?’ Maybe you could even ask the person setting up the wishlist to help fund your campaign if they are really greedy.

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Sam Hurley
Sam Hurley
Managing Director , OPTIM-EYEZ
Use video and be personal

To stand out, be personal and use video! 68% of customers who ‘leave’ brands do so because they feel the brand was indifferent toward them, according to Kapow. What’s more personal (and retention-focused) than a tailored ‘Christmas wishes’ video sent to your most engaged connections or customers? Not much!

Additionally, Insivia claims that 51% of marketing professionals have named video as the type of content with the highest ROI. So, last year, I sent 90+ Christmas videos to 90+ people via social media, and each one included a different name or message. You get out what you put in.

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Derric Haynie
Derric Haynie
Review the differences between you and competitors

One of the easiest things to do to really make a difference as a company is to sincerely review your industry and your competitors. Make a video or blog post titled “Top 10 X” in my industry, and review the 10 alternative or industry-related products people might consider before buying yours.

Stop acting like your competition doesn’t exist and instead embrace them and honestly review the differences between you and them. Be sure not to include yourself on your own top 10 list, as that’s not how you build trust. Instead, just use a simple disclaimer line at the top of the article or beginning of the video that says “Since we’ve been in this industry for X years, we’ve really grown to understand our competition and the market. Aside from our products/services, which we obviously believe to be the best in the industry, here are the top 10 alternatives that you may consider instead, and various reasons why you would choose them instead of us. We know we aren’t for everyone and that you have a choice when shopping around.

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Matt Press
Matt Press
Use your copy to tap into customers' emotions

As with most marketing and digital strategies, the successful delivery of any Christmas campaign will hinge on the copy. At Christmas, there’s an enormous opportunity to tap into the range of emotions that we feel. From nostalgia to happiness, excitement to overwhelm, we experience a lot of things before and during the festive period. We can leverage emotions at the best of times, but Christmas affords us the chance to handpick words that will resonate with consumers. After all, there’s a reason that John Lewis’ festive ads are now a source of great interest in the UK.

So often these ads hit the mark in terms of how we act and what we love about this time of year. And of course, thanks to technology, these kinds of digital masterpieces are highly shareable, which means brands can get huge, sustained exposure. So, when you’re planning your Christmas campaign, take a step back and put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What things will your audience be feeling? What are their desires? What are their pain points? Once you’ve defined their Christmas situation, you’ll be better placed to create a campaign that leaves your audience touched, inspired, and maybe even motivated to become a brand advocate.

 

 

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Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich
Author, Spin Sucks
Give back to your customers, readers, or community

Every year on Spin Sucks, we celebrate the holidays with the 12 Days of Christmas. While we are aware the 12 Days technically begin on Christmas Day, we begin our celebration the first of December. This allows us to engage our readers — public relations pros — while they’re still working and in the office.

We do everything, from recommending podcasts and books, to highlighting up-and-coming PR pros and our favourite experts. You can find productivity tools, software, business gifts, and more, complete with discount codes or freebies.

We also engage our readers by asking for their recommendations, and those who won an award the previous year nominate winners for the current year. It’s a great way to give back to our readers and to our community. If you have a community of engaged customers or brand loyalists, doing something like this during the holidays allows you to thank them, and gives you content to produce consistently.

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Jacob McMillen
Jacob McMillen
Copywriter and Content Strategist , Conversion Sciences | JacobMcMillen.com
Don't feel like you have to focus solely on Christmas

In the B2B world, Christmas signals the end of the fiscal year for many businesses. This is the time when expenses and budgets are re-evaluated, objectives are reset, and strategies are re-configured. In other words, it is the perfect time for a B2B business to be top of mind.

While utilising Christmas themes can work for certain businesses, overall, we haven’t had much success with leaning into the Christmas angle. Instead, we’ve found that talking about end-of-year problems, considerations, and challenges is the best way to go. How do you get buy-in from management on your proposed changes for the new year? How can you finish the year strong? How can you identify the problems that limited your growth in the past year? These are the challenges every decision-maker wrestles with during the season leading up to Christmas, and it’s what we like to be talking about leading up to the new year.

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Chris Makara
Chris Makara
Founder, Bulkly
Give remarketing a try

My number one tip is to stalk… I mean remarket to your audience. Obviously, the holiday season is when people spend more money compared to the rest of the year, and you’ll want to be there when they’re ready.

It’s no secret that many consumers don’t buy the first time they come across a product. Instead they read up on the item and ultimately shop around for the best deal. This is where remarketing comes in. With remarketing (also called retargeting), you’ll be able advertise to visitors of your site and help nudge them to make that purchase. If you aren’t familiar with remarketing, it’s basically those ads you see for something you’ve previously looked at as you do your normal web browsing. You’ll eventually notice them, and they serve as a reminder for you to make the purchase – ideally from the website that is remarketing to you.

To get started, you need to be sure that you have the proper tracking pixels set up on your site to start building an audience to remarket to. Then, you’ll need to set up campaigns to remarket to users who have viewed specific product(s) but not made a purchase. As you get closer to the end of the holiday season, you’ll want to increase your spend and impressions per user to ensure you are getting the exposure you want. But, it’s important to note that you’ll want to dial this back as soon as the holidays are over.

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Mark Rushworth
Mark Rushworth
Technical SEO Manager, MarkRushworth.com
Make things as easy as possible for your customers

I would recommend making buying for friends and family easy with bulk buys. For many people, Christmas shopping may be a chore where gifts are bought out of a sense of duty, obligation or tradition, with an eye on cost rather than being based on pure generosity. Make things easy for this type of buyer by highlighting bulk-buy discounts. Do this by offering 3 for 2 promotions or similar at either the add to basket stage or within the checkout process. It’s also worth making sure you only target products where return rates are low and product profitability is good.

It’s also a good idea to help customers save time with top lists. Buying the perfect gift for someone who already has everything can be a difficult task. To help with this, create some curated top lists of products that are tipped to be popular this holiday season as part of your blogging and outreach process. Make sure these items are competitively priced, have low return rates and, above all else, have independent validation of their popularity with links to impartial reviews, and features in existing publications.

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Joseph Yaacoub
Joseph Yaacoub
Certified Digital Marketing Strategist & Trainer, JosephYaacoub.com
Take risks and remarket to Christmas buyers year-round

To really stand out, start planning now! Be the first in your industry to start using the latest tools available (live streaming, videos, animated GIFs, and images) to grab attention. Engage your audience by creating highly relatable, emotional, human-interest content, too — personalisation can really make a difference here. You should also take a risk and do something that no other company will do. That’s how your offer will stand out among the rest. The sooner you can test messages and strategies, the sooner you can make the adjustments necessary to significantly improve your results.

As a final note, even when the holidays have passed, don’t underestimate the value of remarketing to Christmas buyers year-round to convert them into loyal repeat purchasers. Here, you can use solutions provided by many platforms (custom and lookalike audiences, matched audiences, etc.). Merry Christmas from the Middle East!

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Andy Crestodina
Andy Crestodina
Co-founder and Strategic Director , Orbit Media
Use new formats and post at different times of the day

To stand out during the flood of holiday marketing, try combining tactics that are less common with the majority of marketers. For example, everyone shares a link to their latest piece on social media. So instead of just posting a link, make a short video of yourself introducing it, and post that on social media. Few marketers will spend the time to make a personal video invitation to visit their site, but it really doesn’t take that long.

Additionally, while everyone is posting things at the usual, high traffic times of day, try posting things off hours. The social streams aren’t nearly as busy after dinner, but a lot of people are still online. Post in the evening or even late at night. Your audience will be slowing down at that time and they may be more likely to engage.

Be different in a combination of ways. Go bigger with the format (video), and use counter-competitive timing (late evenings). You’ll be far more likely to get some holiday love!

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Adam Cox
Adam Cox
Harness the power of a spokesperson

Utilising a spokesperson is one of the most credible ways of leveraging your brand. A spokesperson works on multiple levels to build your brand in the eyes of clients, competitors, and consumers.

As a broadcast PR specialist, we know first-hand how pivotal a spokesperson can be — they really can make or break a campaign. We worked with Microsoft, who combined one of their experts with futurologist Steve Tooze, which meant they could talk about a range of topics, including where they believed technology would go in the next ten years. They had undertaken a study into ten hypothetical jobs that do not currently exist, but may do in the technological landscape of the future. This could not have been spoken about effectively without these spokespeople, who lent their credibility, expertise, and authority to the topic, which meant the media were far more interested in the story than they would have been otherwise. Their message was heard by 52.6 million people thanks to the power of the spokespeople involved, making it one of our most successful campaigns to date.

By doing a radio campaign, you can also generate content for your website or social media: sound or video clips can be produced and hosted through audioboom, which can in turn be used on your social media to increase interest. You can potentially generate as much content as you want from a spokesperson, you can take quotes and create images with your branding, spokesperson, and message on, to really maximise the effectiveness of your investment. Photos of your spokespeople can be posted on Twitter and Instagram, and further increase your traction from interaction from their followers. Just linking your brand to the spokesperson can be beneficial on its own, and can create a link in the mind of your target audience between you and them.

 

 

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Aaron Agius
Aaron Agius
Co-founder , Louder.Online
Make your Christmas promotions special

I’ve seen a lot of great tips floating around about effective holiday promotions, and I agree that there’s a lot of value in suggestions like offering free shipping, building email frequency, implementing a referral program (if you don’t offer one already), and focusing on capturing information for future promotions. But, one tip I don’t see mentioned all that often is actually making your holiday promotions special.

Remember all the flack Amazon got over the lacklustre deals on Prime Day? That’s the impression too many merchants create with their “always-on” sales. If you always have a 20% coupon code offered as part of your opt-in process, a 20% off holiday promotion isn’t going to turn heads. Make sure you’re not diluting your own effectiveness. Either scale back your other promotions in advance of the holidays or offer the kind of discount you wouldn’t normally run.

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Adam Morrell
Adam Morrell
UX & CRO Director , Banc Media
Make sure you have your analytics setup nailed

Analytics is the foundation of digital performance, so make sure you’ve got your setup nailed. It might surprise you if you knew how many of your competitors aren’t doing the basics.

So, have a view that filters out your office IP and those of your suppliers. Set up click tracking so you can see the impact in-page interactions like video plays are having on your conversion rate. Make sure you’re excluding self-referrals, tracking site search activity, using UTM tags correctly, and so on.

It all means that, when you look at your website data moving forward, you’ll have the cleanest, most accurate view of what your real users are doing and where you can make life easier for them. This is great for getting an edge on the competition.

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Emma Humbey
Emma Humbey
Marketing Manager, Sonin
Optimise your website for mobile

Today mobile sits at the core of our lives, so making sure your mobile experience is the best it can be for this coming Christmas has never been more important. Generally, we use laptops to browse and our mobiles to complete tasks, so it’s key to create an experience that supports your users’ behaviour.

Optimise your mobile site — or app if you have one — for the latest phones and operating systems. Ensure the journey from initial browsing to purchase is as easy and seamless as possible, removing barriers such as unnecessary welcome screens, long sign-up forms, and complex navigation menus. Your users are a tap away from your competitors on mobile, so creating a flawless mobile experience is the key to success.

 

 

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Katherine Espinoza
Katherine Espinoza
Growth & Partnership Manager , Rebrandly
Consider using festive URLs

Brands can definitely stand out by using branded links to showcase their products. A branded link will allow them to include the brand name and/or the product name, as well as use a relevant TLD (the .”something”) that can hook people in.

We actually have a .Christmas TLD, so you could share links on social media and more that look like: Glass.Christmas or GlassDigital.Christmas, rather than using a generic link shortener like t.co or goo.gl. These links can be used offline too, but they could add that extra bit of “pop” for holiday shoppers. Oh, and Rebrandly also has the ability to add a Santa emojis to the links you create and share.

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Donna Duncan
Donna Duncan
SEO & Content Marketing Consultant, B-SeenOnTop
Create content to capture and sustain your customers' interest

Create a 12 Days Of Christmas series of blog posts, social media updates and/or email blasts, starting Christmas Day. Each day, share increasingly helpful, little-known tips to help your best prospects and customers do what they need to do.

Many find the lead up to Christmas Day exhausting, and the days following a bit of a let-down. Capture and sustain their interest with a promise to solve one of their most pressing problems using a series of incremental, interconnected tips that peak on the 12th day with a final eye-opener and cheat sheet that brings everything together. All of your content should also be easy to link to, bookmark, and share.

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Prabhat Shah
Prabhat Shah
Digital Marketing Consultant, DayToDayEbay
Give the Fulfilment by Amazon service a try

If you’ve never used the Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) service, this is a great time to try it out. Just remember to send your stock to Amazon sooner rather than later, because they will stop accepting your goods as it gets closer to Christmas.

It’s a good idea to create promotions, so people are likely to add more things to their baskets. This will give value to your customers, and also increase your sales. You could even create bundles or gift boxes if you’re specifically looking to target holiday shoppers. You should include popular search terms, such as Christmas gifts for mums, dads, him, her, etc. in your product copy where it will seem natural, too.

And, finally, I would recommend increasing your sponsored ads budget around the holidays, as other retailers will be doing the same. Additionally, it’s wise to increase your bid when it comes to converting products.

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James Richardson
James Richardson
Sales & Marketing Director, Optimising
Start early and account for different kinds of customers

Start early, strong, and don’t stop.

I have several e-commerce customers who sell products and services that can really peak around the holiday time. It’s important that we start any campaign we are doing nice and early – around August/September is the sweet spot. You want to ensure that you capture the super organised that start thinking about Christmas early, as well as those who have left things till the last minute and are desperate.

Incorporating remarketing into this mix is also very important as many times, especially for B2B sales, the decision on what to buy is not made by one person, or at least without some kind of authorisation.

The other key, which only relates to last minute purchases in the days before Christmas, is to ensure you make it VERY clear which shipping options, if any, will ensure that the item is delivered before Christmas. This will have a big increase on conversion rates around this time.

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Jono Alderson
Jono Alderson
Principal Consultant, Distilled | JonoAlderson.com
Make your Christmas content evergreen

My #1 tip is to think beyond this Christmas because, if you haven’t already started planning, you’re probably too late to compete. To really hit a home run, you need to think about how you’ll win every Christmas, not just this year.

One of the best strategies for winning on seasonal and recurring events is to build a valuable content and campaign hub that grows and attracts traffic over time, each year, and even out of season. People make terrible mistakes by waiting until November to launch their Christmas content, then deleting the content in January. They list products, launch pages, develop interactive Christmas cards and games, and run other activities that generate links and coverage, only to remove them in the future and lose all that value. Don’t do this – plan from the beginning to make evergreen resources.

If you plan ahead, you can think about how previous years’ campaigns might be updated or archived, and use canonical URL tags to pass value from these pages back ‘up’ to the current Christmas page. When you’ve got that kind of structure in place, you can start to think about how old Christmas content might remain relevant and useful, beyond just archiving them. For example, you could provide an overview of the top-selling products from the year in question, which could be a genuinely useful resource that attracts coverage and traffic all year round, forever. This kind of thinking can apply to all seasonal and recurring campaigns, and it’s a much more effective way of competing, compared to fighting with your competitors every year using limited resources and with ridiculous sales targets.

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Matthew Edgar
Matthew Edgar
Web Analytics Consultant, MatthewEdgar.net
You don't always have to follow trends

As companies ramp up their websites for the holiday shopping season, so much of the focus is typically on pushing people into buying certain items. To stand out online this holiday season, instead focus on having your website deliver what people really want. For example, all kinds of new tech gifts will be launched and promoted heavily in the coming months. While it may be tempting to heavily promote the latest and greatest tech gift that is trendy right now, look at your data and analytics to answer questions like “is this trendy thing what my customers really want as they browse through the products my site offers?”, “are the people who visit searching for things like this in Google?”, or “are my visitors sharing these kinds of things on social media?” The more your website helps people get what they want as quickly and easily as possible, the more your website will naturally stand out.

Start early by reviewing your analytics tools and interviewing your visitors to learn about their interests, wants, and needs. That way you can make the necessary changes to help people find exactly what they are looking for on your website instead of chasing the latest trend this holiday season.

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Andi Jarvis
Andi Jarvis
Strategy Director, Eximo Marketing
Do something offline to raise brand awareness

I feel like I spend my entire working life ranting about the need to stand out in digital marketing. And, there isn’t a more important time for retailers to stand out than Christmas. It’s the golden quarter, which can guarantee a company’s survival if it’s done right. But, it’s also silly season where every idiot who can type adwords.google.com or facebook.com/ads starts throwing money around, so standing out is important.

The line I use is ‘when nothing goes right, go left’. It’s a memorable line to remind companies that they have to be a little bit different. Blindly copying your competitors is just a recipe to waste money. I’m old enough to remember when marketing wasn’t digital, and I still believe offline has a huge role to play in improving online. With more and more budget being pushed into online, going offline and building brand awareness – proper, useful brand awareness – with your target market can help your online campaigns. Very’s award-winning #LoveGiving campaign was a great example of this. They executed it across all their channels but, importantly, they also had a physical presence on the streets, handing gifts to people and crowd sourcing nominations for people to surprise. Yes, it’s done at a scale that is out of reach of most companies, but there are smaller versions of this you can execute yourself. Think about the data you hold on existing customers, and how you can use that to communicate with them before they go online. This will build trust and authority so that you’re their first choice when they get into spend mode.

 

 

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Allegra Chapman
Allegra Chapman
Engagement Manager, Cobb Marketing Group
Be genuine with your campaigns

Be authentic. Just because everyone else is doing it, that doesn’t mean you should suddenly start making soppy adverts, or trying to convince everyone that you make the world a better place if it’s not something you do the rest of the year. Consumers are pretty quick to see through that kind of behaviour. Be true to your brand identity and create a Christmas campaign that feels genuine and gives real value to your consumers.

Spotify’s “Thanks 2016. It’s been weird.” campaign, which combined OOH and digital ads with online playlists and personalised content, is a great example of a fun and unusual approach to Christmas that perfectly embodied the brand’s ethos, and showed exactly why it’s meaningful to its customers.

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Jeremy Rivera
Jeremy Rivera
Freelance SEO, JeremyRiveraSEO.com
Do your bit to change the world for the better

During the holiday season, when marketing budgets are bloated, you need to change something for the better in the world to grab people’s attention. Is there a struggling family living on the same block as your business? Is your local foodbank or shelter struggling? Find a way to apply your product or your client’s services to improve their situation.

In the attention economy, the value of this type of activity is multiplied when it’s as genuine as possible. That’s tough, because you also want it to benefit your business. This can only be true if you make benefiting your community or humanity part of your core company values, regardless of the marketing benefit. Did you see the Grinch evaluating the marketing value of returning the Christmas goods to the Whos down in Whoville? It’s time for your company’s heart to grow three sizes!

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Christoph Engelhardt
Christoph Engelhardt
Author of the SaaS Email Marketing Handbook, SaaSEmailMarketing.net
Make sure you don't stand out for the wrong reasons

The first step to standing out is NOT standing out.

Confused? Good!

What I mean is, before you start to stand out  — normally through great marketing automation that makes every message feel like a hand-crafted letter from the CEO — you need to NOT stand out through avoidable mistakes.

First, let’s look at an example of a marketing email that stood out to me through avoidable mistakes.

I’ve obfuscated the sender and the company, because a) I love their top-notch product, b) I’ve made some of those mistakes myself in past, and c) you really shouldn’t laugh at them, because way too many companies make those same mistakes.

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Now, that email isn’t all bad:

  • They have a fantastic headline sure to entice their audience
  • They are promoting their original, high-quality (case study!) content to their list
  • They are writing pretty darn good copy in the email

How can you avoid making the same mistakes they made? 

First of all, use a tool like Send Check It to prevent yourself from making all kinds of nasty mistakes – like that “via dripemail2.com”, which comes down to a setting in your mailing software. I’ve been using it for the better part of a year now and it has saved me numerous embarrassments.

Secondly, make sure that the same person writes your marketing emails every time – or have someone write the email as that person. This was the original error that threw me off. I noticed the other bits after the mismatch in names.

Lastly, segment your list properly and make sure you hit every segment with the right message. Don’t hit paying customers with an offer to try your free trial. Try to sell them on annual pricing instead.

These are the first steps to standing out with your marketing message in 2017: good old proof-reading with a sprinkle of segmentation and talking to the needs of your customers.

 

 

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Adam Rowles
Adam Rowles
Managing Director , Inbound Marketing
Try lead nurturing with marketing automation

Christmas is a huge time for e-commerce, as people love to spend money during the festive season. Here in the land down under (aka Australian), we have a double whammy — it’s Summer too.

During the Christmas period, you want to capitalise on all of the opportunities. Lead nurturing with marketing automation will enable you to convert more leads into buying customers.

Marketing automation is the technology used to send emails to prospects at the right time to help “nurture” them to buy. Here are some marketing automation campaigns that will help you increase sales during the Christmas period:

Send a “thank you” email to your top clients to get them thinking of you. As they say, “out of sight, out of mind”.

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Suggest relevant products based on their previous purchases – you’ve already spent the time or money acquiring them, so get them back to buy.

Email them if they abandonment their ‘cart’. Don’t let yourself be forgotten in busy times.

 

 

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Tom Pick
Tom Pick
B2B Marketing Consultant , Webbiquity
Give back to those who have contributed to your business

The Christmas season is all about giving, and that is one key way for any B2B brand or marketer to stand out online at this time. Think about the people who’ve had a positive impact (or, perhaps, who could have a positive impact) on your business this year. This could be anyone: a client, a partner, a vendor or contractor, or an industry influencer who has inspired and enlightened you.

What can you give them online that will make them feel special or valued? Three quick ideas are an endorsement or mention in a LinkedIn update; a real follow recommendation (not just part of a #FF group tweet) on Twitter; or a mention in one of your blog posts, showcasing their knowledge. Even a brief acknowledgement of someone’s skills or contribution means a lot, and people like doing business with those who acknowledge such efforts. Stand out by taking the time to give credit.

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Offer more than just sales

E-commerce businesses typically launch sales to get attention during the holidays. In addition to considering running a sale, here are a few other ways to stand out:

Run a holiday contest

Giveaways and contests can be a great way to get people’s attention. A viral giveaway where people are rewarded with extra entries for sharing the giveaway with their friends can be a great way to expand your reach.

Create content that helps people prepare for the holidays

Most businesses will focus on selling products, so creating content that helps people prepare for the holidays can be a fun way to get people’s attention. For example, creating an article or video with some holiday baking tips.

Show some personality on social media

Rather than just focusing on merchandise, show some personality on social media channels like Instagram. Coca Cola did a Make Someone Happy campaign on social media to share the spirit of the holidays.

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Shari Thurow
Shari Thurow
Founder and SEO Director , Omni Marketing Interactive
Make sure customers are given accurate information

I would like to share a story about another special occasion: a loved one’s birthday. I hope this story will illustrate the importance of having ALL aspects of the user experience (UX) ready long before the holiday season. The special occasion? My mother’s birthday. I was put in charge of planning and implementing her birthday party.

I found exactly what I needed for the party on an e-commerce website, and my online searches indicated that all of the items were available at a specific, nearby store. Because the party items were in stock, I decided to look at them physically before making a final purchase. I went to that specific store right away, because the store was only 2 miles from my office. When I arrived and tried to find the items, I did not see them anywhere. I looked in multiple departments, multiple aisles. Ultimately, I asked for assistance.

Keeping in mind that I am a search expert (PhD level), I showed the manager my website search results that clearly indicated availability. The manager’s website search results, however, did NOT indicate availability. I asked to view the manager’s handheld computer screen, as I wanted to see the difference in our search results. I noticed that the autofill items were different in his search box. In fact, I noticed many differences. How come customers see different inventory to store employees? It did not make sense to me.

I know what the real problem was: the store’s content management system (CMS). It shows different things to different people. The store manager blamed me for not having the same search results that he saw. I showed him physical printouts of the items I wanted with the “Free pickup today” label next to each item.

I (the customer) am not in charge of this e-commerce site’s CMS system. And, I am sure that many readers have encountered this same issue when speaking to a technical support person. The technical person might say, “Well I don’t see this on my screen.” True, but it doesn’t mean that what customers see on their computer screens or mobile phones is a figment of their imagination.

What do you think is going to happen during the holiday season if the CMS is not fixed? Customers will Add to Cart, pay for items, and arrive at the store to find their items won’t be there. Then customers will have to go through a tedious process of getting a refund. They will not have a good user experience online or offline. They will have a negative brand impression of the website AND the physical store…especially when a store manager thinks your printouts are figments of your imagination.

The moral of this story is make sure your customers see accurate information, and that they see what you (the vendor) see. Test your website on an ongoing basis to make sure your inventory is accurate and consistent. That includes inventory in site search results.

christmas content technical
Ashley Faulkes
Ashley Faulkes
Founder , Mad Lemmings
Use striking visuals to stand out

Standing out online is tough, but I use one simple, but powerful trick to beat the competition these days: striking visuals.

Now, creating your own visuals may seem way too hard or above your skill level. But, do you want to know a secret? It can take just 20–30 minutes to create stunning visuals.

Using tools like Canva, you can take templates created by graphic artists and simply tweak them to suit your goals. You should aim to have a branded colour scheme with consistent fonts, and the layout will come from Canva.

When you’re looking for striking images to use, you could pay hundreds of dollars to the likes of Shutterstock. But I prefer the free route (and you do too, I’m sure). There are dozens of free photo sites out there, and the great news is that many of them don’t even require attribution.

You can trawl the likes of Pexels or Pixabay, but I recently found a tool that helps you check them all a bit faster. Just enter your search and then click on each link/site to open them with that search prefilled. This way you can check for your chosen topic on all sites in far less time. Once you have your image, you can just upload it to Canva and you should be good to go.

Oh, and one last thing: don’t forget to optimise your images if you upload them to your website. Because Canva images tend to be on the larger side (they’re huge), they need a lot of compressing to get them to a realistic website size.

christmas content
Ariel Kozicki
Ariel Kozicki
SEO Manager , Wpromote
Launch products that people will actually be searching for

Optimising your site with an SEO strategy won’t work if people aren’t searching for your product. Especially during the holiday season and for seasonal products, it’s essential that you launch products and new collections at times when users are actually looking for them.

Take advantage of Google Trends and Keyword Planner to assess spikes and areas of opportunities. If competitors are taking advantage of search trends, you should be too. For example, the term “planners” sees spikes in both August and around the new year.

In August, back to school promotions can play a factor here and, during the holidays, it is important to plan these launches ahead of time in order to capitalise on market trends.

christmas technical
Ana Hoffman
Ana Hoffman
Internet Marketing Consultant , Traffic Generation Café | Content Boomerang
Use visuals to set yourself apart

Set yourself apart with visuals. This image from CoSchedule certainly caught my eye when it landed in my inbox last year.

 

No text — just the image, and pure mystery. From what I remember, this was the way they built tension before releasing a new feature. But, I liked it so much that I used the image to announce the release of my new content repurposing pilot course, Content Boomerang. It went very well, and that image earned better click-throughs than any other email I sent.

 

 

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Eugene Farber
Eugene Farber
Marketing Manager , Buzzergy
Be different

My number one tip to stand out this holiday season really gets to the essence of standing out: be different. So, think about what everyone else is doing and what kind of content everyone is seeing. Then don’t do that.

It’s pretty obviously that there will be a ton of holiday discount offers floating around. I’m not saying don’t do this at all — it obviously works — but I wouldn’t lead with that. Make this secondary, as a way to convert the final sale after you’ve gotten someone’s attention.

Additionally, everyone is inundated with negative news all day, every day on social media, television, etc. So, what if you could provide some sort of positive, feel-good story for your audience, and then promote that? It would give you instant differentiation, and build a lot of goodwill for your company at the same time.

A few years back, WestJet went viral with their “Christ Miracle” campaign. You certainly don’t have to do something of this scale to stand out, and your business may not even be trying to reach such a wide audience. Local businesses can do something great for their community and get plenty of coverage within their local area, for example. Get creative. It probably wouldn’t take much time, money, or effort to do something. You’ll feel better, your audience will feel better, and your company’s bottom line will feel better.

advertising christmas content
Andrew Holland
Andrew Holland
Owner, SEO, and Viral Social Media Specialist , Zoogly Media
Try to capture the magic of Christmas in all of your content

With Christmas approaching, it is going to be even harder for people to stand out online. The solution is to be (as Seth Godin puts it) The Purple Cow. So, what is the Purple Cow? In simple terms, it is about being remarkable, and standing out from the crowd. Every year the supermarkets and department stores do this, and it works. They craft dramatic and emotionally charged adverts that are more like stories. Last year we saw the Buster the Boxer video that John Lewis put together. Millions watched the video online and on TV, and yes it got the nation talking as our hearts melted. But, while this video costs an estimated £7 Million to make, it was not the high production costs that made it a success — it was the story!

John Lewis said: “This is the story of a little girl called Bridget who loves to bounce. When her mum and dad buy her a trampoline for Christmas, they soon discover that she isn’t the only one with a passion for jumping.” But there is a lot more going on with this video, which we can learn from and apply to our own marketing. Firstly, while it is easy to say this was a story about bouncing, it is a story about Christmas. We have a Dad putting up a trampoline (in the freezing cold) for his daughter. Anyone that has put a trampoline up will instantly know what the Dad is going through! Then, we’re inspired by the magic of Christmas.

This was not the usual Santa Claus magic we see in most adverts, but a far ‘closer to home’ magic of animals coming together for a ‘bouncing’ party. And, we have the happiness of the little girl and Buster the Boxer as we see him bounce on the trampoline. The advert brought the magic of Christmas into our homes, and the audience loved it.

So, how can you use similar tactics? By creating more ‘story’ content this Christmas. Using animation, blog posts, memes, or even ‘mash-up’ videos, you can create a range of content that will get people sharing.

A good tool to use is the STEPPS viral formula created by Professor Jonah Berger. The formula features in his bestselling book ‘Contagious: How to build word of mouth in the digital age’. STEPPS stands for Social currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories. If we take the Buster the Boxer advert and look how it fits into the STEPPS framework we can see that people would share the video online because it was great and made people smile (social currency), it was also emotional and had a great story.

You might not have a £7 million budget this Christmas but, if you maximise every social media post, blog article, or video you create to capture the magic of Christmas, tell a story, and give people something to share, you will do well. So, my number 1 tip is simple: try to capture the magic of Christmas in all of your content!

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Neil Sheth
Neil Sheth
Founder, Only Way Online
Use Instagram videos

In my opinion, Instagram videos give brands the ability to extend their reach, appeal to a larger audience, and build relationships online with customers at scale. But, before jumping into Instagram, you need to have a strategy in place.

A good content strategy on Instagram starts with understanding the audience and what they’re interested in. Once you know those two things, it’s time to get creative and test what grabs their attention and gets engagement. The next step is to review the data, gain insights, and tweak your Instagram strategy to optimise it even further.

christmas content
Boni Satani
Boni Satani
SEO Manager , Zestard Technologies
Enforce your brand identity and offer exceptional customer service

There are various ploys you can use when handling an e-commerce store over the Christmas period. The first and foremost aspect that you should rely on more than the usual gifts and discounts being offered is impeccable customer service. There are various deals that every business offers during the holiday period, but not many back the offers with prompt customer service, letting people know if an item is out of stock, for example.

It is also paramount for business owners to ensure that their brand identity is enforced in the prospect’s minds with regular engagement over Christmas. You can do this with campaign emails that come with trendy offers and discounts exclusive to them.

Share some engaging posts, pictures, and videos with prospective customers. Try to avoid sales pitches when sharing things through social media channels, but you can use your posts to direct people to the new products you’re selling on your site.

Additionally, being on top of all customer service issues on social media and beyond is likely to boost your online business reputation. Best of luck!

christmas content customer-service
Nate Shivar
Nate Shivar
Marketing Educator and SEO Consultant , ShivarWeb
Build on your past successes

My best tip would be to not create a strategy or run with an idea from scratch. Instead, build off your own data and past Christmas successes to create a solid, successful season. Christmas is too big of a deal to completely fail on.

Most publishers and retailers dream of having that one massive, viral hit, such as Cards Against Humanity’s infamous stunts. But, viral hits are the exception, and most companies’ efforts to stand out completely fail.

You need to research the products or posts that did well last year, and design your merchandising and calendar from your findings. Re-use URL slugs, especially for gift guides, so they already have links and social proof to do well.

You should also see what PR wins your competitors got last year, and start outreaching to those same contacts right now. It’s a good idea to grab your retargeting data from last year, too, and plan new campaigns there.

Nobody can truly “stand out” at Christmas – there’s too much happening. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful and profit massively by building on past successes.

christmas content technical
Justin Wilson
Justin Wilson
Senior Digital Marketing Officer , IAmJustinWilson.com
Target your audience accurately

My one tip for standing out online this Christmas is to target your audience really accurately. The more that you are able to segment your audience, the more personalised your content will seem and the more effective it will be. You should also start thinking about your Christmas plan before the end of the summer: people want to connect with you on a deeper level than just transactional, and that will take time.

 

 

christmas content personalisation
Peter Attia
Peter Attia
Head of Marketing , Meet Edgar
Simply do something different

When it comes to standing out during the holidays and in general, I think it’s important just to be different. I’m not saying you should try and do something bizarre in the hopes of going viral or anything, but just doing something that isn’t the same generic campaign we see over and over again.

People see stale text like “30% off Christmas Sale! Shop Now!” so often that it gets to the point where they’re blind to it. Here’s an example:

Peter Attia_Image for Comment

Hotel Tonight did a series of these during the holidays. It’s a great example of taking something seasonally relevant and making light of it. They turned it into something unique, different, and eye-catching. It’s easier said than done, for sure, but the effort can be worth it and, at the very least, will make your brand memorable.

advertising christmas content
Gabriella Sannino
Gabriella Sannino
International SEO Consultant and Writer , Level343
Sprinkle Christmas cheer throughout your site and marketing

If you were running a brick and mortar shop during the Christmas period, what would you do? You’d make sure your shop was the most Christmas-y shop out there, right? Right – and that’s my number one tip.

In everything you do, make it sparkle and shine with good will and Christmas cheer. Here are some things you can do:

  • Add snowflakes and pictures of happy, smiling families to your website.
  • Include candy canes and snowmen in your email marketing.
  • Partner with a family charity.
  • Create a Christmas campaign that’s positive and uplifting.

In short, Christmas is an emotion-filled event, and successful businesses tap into it. Everyone wants to believe that world peace and good will towards men is really possible. If you cater to that atmosphere in your search snippets, marketing campaigns, visual content, and social campaigns, you’ll stand out like that star everybody keeps putting on top of their trees.

christmas content personalisation technical
Steven Macdonald
Steven Macdonald
Online Marketer , SuperOffice
Offer high-quality customer service by responding to messages and emails

To stand out, deliver high-quality customer service. What does high-quality service mean? Well, it’s not as difficult as you might think.

Earlier this year, we conducted a customer service benchmark survey and found that 41% of companies ignore customer service emails. This report was based on 500 companies, with the majority of companies failing to meet customer expectations. Very few auto-responders were sent, nearly half of all emails were ignored, and only one company actually followed up to see if we were happy with their customer service.

Considering the fact that 68% of customers leave a company because they feel they aren’t cared about, many companies are losing business by not delivering the minimum requirements of customer service – responding to their customers. So, in order to stand out this Christmas, all you need to do is reply to customer support emails.

christmas customer-service
Shounak Gupte
Shounak Gupte
Web Developer and SEO Specialist, ShounakGupte.com
Consider what will appeal to your target customers — discounts or memes?

Do you have a fabulous product, service, or company? The Christmas period, a time for shopping, is finally here. To take advantage of this, you need to stand out. The best way to achieve this is by redefining your sales theme to drive the festive mood that will make your clients shop more, and attract new shoppers. Here are some ways in which you can do that:

Offer Christmas coupons to your email subscribers

To stand out online, you need to encourage your clients to shop more. A redeemable coupon is seen as a way of giving back to clients’ loyalty. People on your mailing list will flock to your shop to redeem the Christmas coupon. You could even consider extending the coupon to new subscribers to increase sales to an even higher level.

Run a pre-Christmas flash sale

You can also run a flash sale for all buyers. By surprising shoppers with a special day and publicising it extensively on social media, every product on your shelves will experience raised sales. Fab.com, which is valued at about $1 billion, made more than $15 million in flash sales in 2014.

Design and use Christmas memes in social media

Memes have become an ideal tool for attracting a lot of attention and standing out. By crafting unique memes that are relevant to your business, linking back to your special Christmas offer page, you could raise your sales by a huge margin. In March, Gucci rolled a collection of memes that were targeted at millennials, which helped the company to rush fast past most competitors.

Remember that there is no single best method to make your company stand out this Christmas. It is important to look at a collection of methods that will appeal more to the target audience and beyond.

christmas customer-service personalisation
Seb Brantigan
Seb Brantigan
Affiliate and Featured Content Expert, SebBrantigan.net
Hold sales and offer discounts

One key thing you can do running up to any big event such as Christmas or Black Friday is to run a ‘flash sale’ on some of your products. People are in a buying mood anyway, so why not feed people when they are hungry? You can also use virtually any opportunity to do a flash sale, such as your own birthday or really any major event. All you need to do is decide which product you can reduce the price on, and still be able to create a decent profit.

The bigger the discount, the more interest you will get. However, don’t burn through your profits if you can’t afford to give large discounts. This is more relevant if you’re sending out physical products, as digital products are very inexpensive to create since they don’t require shipping and handling costs. So, if you offer digital products, you should be doing a few flash or extended sales in the run up to Christmas. You could also give a discount code out if people share your offer on their social media profiles.

christmas customer-service technical
Patrick Langridge
Patrick Langridge
Create unique and emotive content

With any significant annual event like Christmas, it’s really important to plan marketing campaigns and activity as early as possible. I know that sounds fairly obvious, but many publishers will be well into their Christmas planning already.

We use tools like Gorkana to help us be aware of specific publisher deadlines and lead times, which can be really useful in knowing how and when to pitch to journalists and influencers. So many brands and agencies try to leverage Christmas for content campaigns, that a huge amount of noise is inevitably generated. This makes it hard to get content or campaigns noticed, due to the sheer competition! This increased competition is unfortunately not always reflected in quality and originality, with a deluge of low quality and lazy content pieces released to try and tap into the Christmas hype.

My advice would be to avoid the unoriginal angles that have been done to death, and try to think creatively and originally – try and avoid getting to December 5th and panic thinking “what are we doing for Christmas content?!”.

This forward planning should also be used to plan content and campaigns in a strategic way, over a number of significant milestones. By this I mean you should think of Christmas as part of a wider festive period that includes Black Friday, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Eve. It’s an easy example, but John Lewis always do this well with their eagerly anticipated Christmas advert, which is released in early November every year. The premiere is always teased very cleverly in the lead up, with much speculation about the content and what song will be used.

I believe that one of the reasons the John Lewis adverts are always so popular is because they always draw on emotion. There is a lot of content out there (Christmas related and otherwise) that could be described as ‘cool’ or ‘interesting’, but less content is successful in making people feel. Content with an emotional hook is what, for me, stands out from the crowd — especially at Christmas. And, from experience, this kind of content is generally more successful as it often compels users, journalists, or bloggers to write about or share it.

I once received some good advice on creating emotional content: “Don’t make people angry, make them furious. Don’t make people chuckle, make them belly laugh uncontrollably. Don’t make people sad, make them absolutely depressed.” In any emotional capacity, this will help a content piece or campaign to cut through the noise and really stand out to influencers. Rather than focusing on Christmas trees, presents, and turkey, I would focus on emotional themes such as family, sharing, love, giving, generosity, thoughtfulness, and friendship.

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Mark Wright
Mark Wright
Director , Climb Online
Ensure that your campaigns are mobile-friendly

According to research, online shoppers spent a massive £805 million on Christmas Day in 2016 alone. Of this spend, an increasing percentage of users purchased products via mobile devices, with John Lewis reporting that nearly half [47.1%] of its Christmas Day traffic came via smart phones or tablets. The point? Using mobile to search and engage online has increased dramatically in recent years, with Google now driving 95% of all paid search ad clicks on mobile devices.

My top tip for standing out online this Christmas, therefore, is to not only start thinking about your campaigns as soon as possible, but to also ensure that they are mobile-ready – incorporating an effective mobile marketing strategy into all digital spend, from Facebook advertising right through to Google Search and Display. A mobile-optimised website, with content fully optimised for voice search, will also increase the likelihood of online sales and conversions, driving mobile web traffic and providing users with an easy online shopping experience.

christmas technical
Janice Wald
Janice Wald
Blogger, Blogging Coach, Author, and Freelance Writer , Mostly Blogging
Don't stop blogging

Standing out online during the holiday season can be difficult. The blogging world is so quiet the last two weeks of the year, people joke that the blogosphere is asleep. However, there are a number of things content creators can do to still get online attention.

First, it is important to keep blogging. I would recommend creating both evergreen content and content that relates to the holiday season. If you create evergreen content like I do, people may not pay attention. On the other hand, they may have time off during the holidays and might have more time to read your writing than ever.

Also, your work gets sent to Google and other search engines. After the holidays, people searching for your terms will be able to find and read your content. The people who will have the easiest time standing out between now and the end of the year are DIY bloggers. Articles explaining how to make Christmas recipes and crafts will be in great demand over the next few months. Posts about how to throw a great New Year’s party will be widely read as well. If people want to stand out in the short term, these are the kind of posts they should produce. If content creators want to stand out in the long-term, they should keep creating evergreen content and have the ability to see the long-term rewards through the SERPs and organic traffic.

christmas content
Chris Countey
Chris Countey
SEO Technical Manager, ChrisCountey.com
Encourage more traffic in-store

My recommendation for businesses looking to stand out online during the Christmas shopping season may be surprising: do something awesome offline. Get them to your store.

With many shoppers likely to get their gifts online, brick and mortar retailers (even those with great online stores) should look to encourage more traffic in-store. Shopping, though fun for some, can be a hassle during the holidays. Retailers will need to be extremely creative to lure consumers away from their homes to make purchases. Here are a few ideas you could use:

  • Partner with Lyft or Uber and restaurants or bars.
  • Pay for customers’ trips to your store, as well as to a restaurant of their choice.
  • Turn shopping into a fun day or night out where the consumer can eat, drink, and shop without having to worry about driving.
  • Create a “friend bounty” system where you get a discount or deal for every friend you bring in.
  • Create an app or photo-based scavenger hunt that provides the same benefits.
  • Partner with other retailers in the same location to expand the hunt and drive not only in-store visits but social media awareness as well.

Additionally, according to Google, mobile in-store searches are up 30%. So, once in-store, don’t let your consumers down with a poor website experience. Make the transition from physical to digital and back again as seamless as possible. Beyond a mobile-friendly website, try to identify searches or visits done in-store and provide a better experience to that audience with features like in-store navigation, in-store product search, in-store product comparison (or even store comparison), and social integration.

Once you’ve got your audience identified, make sure you keep in contact with them after the fact. Create in-store only incentives to help draw them in and get them to sign up for your amazing CRM program. All of this may not seem very digital, but it could get people talking about your brand and your specific location. And, where will they talk about it? Online.

christmas customer-service personalisation technical
Ben Wynkoop
Ben Wynkoop
SEO Specialist, BenWynkoop.com
Use geographically targeted ads

This year I had a Google AdWords campaign bring in $30,500 revenue in one week, selling a single product that is popular around several major holidays. The money was great but, unfortunately, we were not able to setup product fulfilment partners in time. Consequently, we stayed up all night for a 36-hour, energy drink-fuelled sprint before having to tap out and shut down ads, despite plenty of customers who were still happy to give us their money.

One successful element of this campaign was geographically targeted ads leading up to the shipping deadline. Many online retailers post a table showing the latest date customers can place orders and receive their gifts by Christmas, depending on the area they live in. So, as each deadline arrives, adjust the geographic targeting of your ad campaigns to target areas where customers can order and still receive their gifts by Christmas.

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Owain Powell
Owain Powell
Digital Marketing Manager , Tangent
Link online and offline marketing activity

Unless your brand operates within the e-commerce space with a heavy focus on selling products in the run up to Christmas, any adaptations to your website or digital marketing activities around Christmas aren’t always so important.

Especially over the past couple of years, there has been less of a distinction between offline and online marketing. It’s ill-advised for anyone in a marketing function nowadays to conduct any offline marketing activity while neglecting any impact beyond that activity, online. On the flip side, with any digital marketing function, it is important to think more broadly about the impact that offline activity has for the website or levels of engagement with brands online. As a result, I always like to think as a general marketer, linking offline with online marketing activity. For brands, there is a beauty in the power of social media to boost online presence around this time. Historically, I have worked with my clients on a number of approaches such as:

Owain Powell accompanying image

To round off, I’d say my number one tip this Christmas would therefore be to think in general marketing terms, not just as a digital marketer.

advertising christmas content technical
Jasja Ter Horst
Jasja Ter Horst
Owner and Developer , SEO Review Tools
Make sure your site is mobile-friendly

To stand out this Christmas, it is key to be visible when your visitors are searching and researching the products you’re offering. According to a Google survey, consumers spend 15+ hours a week researching products (product information, reviews, price comparison etc.) on their mobile. Additionally, mobile conversion rates are steadily on the rise (currently around 1.55% for the US), mobile search traffic has overtaken desktop search traffic, and Google has announced Mobile-first Indexing.

So, it’s safe to say that mobile will be a very important factor this Christmas, and will become even more important in the near future. Here’s how you can optimise your site for mobile:

  1. Optimise your design for mobile, so it serves the best possible user experience.
  2. Reduce load time — faster is just better.
  3. Don’t use pop-ups, because Google and users don’t like them.
  4. Optimise your check-out process for mobile.

Once you’ve made these changes, use the Mobile-Friendly Test and Search Console to see if your site is ready for this Christmas.

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Jarratt Isted
Jarratt Isted
Co-founder , HelpDocs
Give influencer marketing a go

It seems like influencer marketing is still gaining traction (particularly in the e-commerce market), despite the recent criticisms about transparency. Paired with Instagram Stories and the new creative ads they’re introducing (Boomerang, slideshows, etc.), it seems like the perfect opportunity to showcase product alongside influencers.

My tip would be to get in touch with influencers to help market your product, as well as get some festive images and copy lined up. The holiday season makes it a difficult time to stand out, so using an audience that’s already engaged with potential customers seems like a smarter way to stand out than just blasting an audience with advertising and hoping for the best.

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Visakan Veerasamy
Visakan Veerasamy
Content Strategist , ReferralCandy
Create funny, entertaining content

It’s definitely getting harder to stand out. The Wild West days of internet marketing are over, and consumers have gotten pretty used to being marketed to. So, I would say that the best thing you can do to stand out is create entertaining content. There are two videos that come to mind when I think about this – one was about a tired mum using a photo album printing service , and another involved pool floats. Both ads were so amusing that I actually shared them with my friends on Facebook, and remember them well enough to mention them here off the top of my head. Doing this isn’t easy, but standing out never is.

You need to really understand your product, and you need to be genuine, but probably a little irreverent. In the second example, the ad was commissioned — that is, the company got a comedian to write and produce the video. So, you don’t necessarily need to be doing it yourself. If you can come up with a funny and entertaining ad for your product that pokes fun at the crazy consumer-fest that Christmas tends to become, I’d probably be happy to share it.

But, that’s just my personal perspective – the perspective that really matters is your customers’. What sort of personalities do your customers have? What sort of humour do they appreciate? The important thing is to avoid obsessing about “selling your product”, and look for how your product might be entertaining in a real-world scenario. Protip: you shouldn’t have to invent these from scratch. Chances are, your product team or support staff already have some funny stories, so tap into those!

Don’t let your Christmas advertising be bland and predictable. Have some personality. Have some fun. Make it something that you would personally share with your friends because you thought it was cool.

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Hannes Johnson
Hannes Johnson
Product Lead and Growth Hacker , TripCreator
Create content that people will want to share

Create feel-good content that people want to share – something related to your products or industry. Emotional videos, like WestJet’s Christmas Miracle, are likely to get a positive reaction (views & shares).

But, your content doesn’t have to be as elaborate or expensive as WestJet’s video — just something that fits your resources and audience.

christmas content
Sarah Hewitson
Sarah Hewitson
Community and Marketing Manager , Neatly.io
Focus on personalisation and targeting

This Christmas, if there are two things you should concentrate on, they’re personalisation and targeting — and I’m not talking about “Hi Sarah” in subject lines.

It’s common sense that you need to make sure you’re targeting the right people with your marketing, but you’d be surprised how little people focus on getting it right. You’ll think you know who your biggest customers will be this Christmas, but have you actually looked into the data to prove it? You might find that you need to readjust your thinking.

Personalisation is tightly integrated with targeting, which is why I believe it should be one of your top priorities this year. If you’re targeting men aged 25–40 who are buying gifts for their partners, make sure the content is aimed at men aged 25–40 who are buying gifts for their partners. The Christmas period will be full of people looking for the best gift ideas, or the best prices on items they can buy for their loved ones. So, make sure your content helps deliver that.

If you haven’t got time to create personalised content but have the budget to spend, then a quick win is remarketing campaigns. Whether on Google, Facebook or Bing (it’s still relevant!), remarketing targets people who have already shown a clear intent to purchase on your site. Use Dynamic Product Ads for an extra punch to show them the products they’ve been viewing, and you’ll be on to a winner.

advertising christmas content personalisation
Olga Kołodyńska
Olga Kołodyńska
Content Writer and Marketing Specialist , LiveChat
Make your communications more fun and personal

We provide live chat solutions for other companies. The majority of our customers are from the e-commerce industry and use LiveChat to provide great customer service, but also to guide customers to a sale.

Now, the holiday shopping season offers a great opportunity for businesses to stand out with their customer service. I would recommend adding some Christmas magic to your communication by going as personal as you can. For example, you can change the look of your chat by using an eye-catcher — an image above the chat window that will catch your visitors’ attention. A good idea would be to place a picture of your team in a Santa’s hat above the chat. It’s always better to look like a Santa’s helper than a plain support agent, don’t you think? It brings attention, makes the communication more casual, and improves the overall customer experience. Customers will remember you and, chances are, they will come back long after the holiday season is over.

When it comes to talking with customers, I recommend using your imagination. Instead of going with the usual “Hi, how can I help you?”, try “Ho ho ho, what brings you here?” or “Do you need help finding a perfect gift?”.

To make the communication consistent, don’t forget about your email campaigns. They should also be kind of magic, not only with their language but also with their look. Use your imagination and surprise your customers whenever they contact you. You know they’ve been good this year!

christmas customer-service personalisation
Bill Acholla
Bill Acholla
Digital Entrepreneur, BillAcholla.com
Add some festive spirit to your website

The moment November rolls around, the anticipation for Christmas builds up. Over the years, the media has become obsessed with creative advertisements and the public loves it. Taking the Christmas spirit and turning it into something eye-catching can bring added traffic for your website, and it shouldn’t just be through Christmas campaigns. Since it’s the start of the festive season, make sure you keep up with the traditional Christmas spirit. Add a few decorative touches to your website — the more festive your page or blog is, the more attention it will get.

If you get this campaign right and keep the emotional train running on the tracks, you’ll be remembered for a long time and for all of the right reasons.The key is communication! If you can evoke emotions and celebrate the spirit of Christmas with your content, your campaign will be a success and you will have efficiently made yourself stand out from the crowd.

 

 

christmas content technical
Kane Miller
Kane Miller
Marketing Director , BlendBee
Give back to your customers

Around the holidays, we like to send our email list a coupon, which typically gives 20% off or so. That usually gets a good response. We’ll also create some eye-catching social media graphics that our customers can post to their social channels, or share with family and friends. These contain unique affiliate links, so our customers will be rewarded for any orders they send our way. It’s truly a win-win.

christmas customer-service personalisation
Alex Chaidaroglou
Alex Chaidaroglou
Co-founder , Altosight
Create relevant infographics that people will want to share

One great way to stand out during the Christmas season is by running a fun or emotional infographic that’s relevant to your industry, as well as interesting to a wider audience. This is very important for two reasons.

For one, media publications love infographics and so do their audiences — the number of shares infographics get are significantly higher than the average article. Just remember that, in order to get on their radar using your infographic, it must cover a topic that a lot of people care about in order to drive clicks for the media sites that will be republishing it.

Secondly, you will get a lot of referral traffic, backlinks, and a very high reach, which drives awareness. Couple this with some of your marketing budget to promote it and you should be good. There is plenty of time to do this in the months before Christmas if you start planning it as soon as possible!

christmas content
Lolly Spindler
Lolly Spindler
Offer your audience helpful tips and actionable advice

Be helpful. No matter the industry, offer your audience helpful tips and actionable advice they can actually use. For example, when I was writing for home owners, I created posts that offered holiday decorating and party tips that people could use in their own homes. When writing for sales and marketing teams, I created posts that argued why these teams shouldn’t let up during the holiday season. And, don’t be afraid to get into the spirit! Have some fun with your holiday marketing efforts and let your personality shine through.

christmas content
Ty Magnin
Ty Magnin
Director of Content Marketing , Appcues
Shatter customers' expectations of normalcy

I was just at a conference and heard some great advice from Jetblue’s VP of Marketing, Jamie Perry. In essence, Jamie said that you’ve got to do something people are going to talk about to effectively leverage your marketing dollars. And that thing people are going to talk about is something that shatters their expectations of normalcy or, as Jamie, puts it, “their schemas”. Things like delivering a coffee to a passenger on a plane who’s tweeting about the absence of Starbucks in the JetBlue terminal are so out of our expectations of normalcy that the customer will talk about it for months to come.

Typeform did something just like this last Christmas. They created a video in which Santa collected info from kids about what they want for Christmas with their digital survey tool, and then Santa went around delivering presents to the children. It’s fun, beautiful, and something that’s bound to be shared.

christmas customer-service personalisation
Ksenia Dobreva
Ksenia Dobreva
Content Strategist , Amasty
Fine tune your campaign, and think about doing things differently

To my mind, the best way to stand out during the Christmas season is to fine-tune every step of your campaign so it hits right into customers’ needs. Sometimes, thorough analysis of routine actions can be more effective than enabling snowflakes on your site or sending a very funny email campaign with beautiful design — especially for small businesses that have very limited resources.

Start by analysing your latest Christmas campaigns: which ones had the best response, which ones had a delayed effect, and which products were popular? Did you try selling bundles? Did you manage to make a profit? You also need to be analysing your competitors and their latest Christmas campaigns. Specifically, look at the timing and the types of products they advertise. For example, do they send newsletters to notify customers about their sales before they even start?

Once you’ve done all of this, think about what you can do differently, apart from being creative with newsletter copy and social media images. Could you schedule new product launches for Christmas, or create some exciting offers? Instead of just giving a 25% discount, think how you can encourage customers to come back after Christmas. Maybe you could include a gift card with each order so people will have a reason to come back later.

Additionally, I would recommend preparing gift guides in advance. You can do this by searching for relevant seasonal keywords, and creating the pages with product collections. Many customers start researching presents well in advance, and Christmas gift related keywords are becoming more popular in late October.

christmas content personalisation
Joel Janovsky
Joel Janovsky
VP Business Development , Rank Ranger
Create an emotional connection with your customers

In my opinion, finding new ways to connect with your audience is the #1 online tip for Christmas 2017. As vital as your SEO, PPC, or even CTR are, the emotional connection you have with your customers is just as important, if not more so.

Organic rankings can change, and they do on a daily basis. But, even when your organic rankings are slipping and your AdWords ads are drawing lower quality scores, your audience will be back if you’ve provided them with the most amazing user experience — with that “wow” feeling. Trust me… they will be back. Sure, it might not be through organic or paid search, but via direct traffic to your site. Singularity is magnetic, and your customers will be drawn back to it over and over again.

 

 

christmas customer-service personalisation
Casandra Campbell
Casandra Campbell
Internet Marketer, CasandraCampbell.com
Address any concerns shoppers may have about shipping and returns

Most shoppers are buying gifts for others during the holiday season. Two of their main concerns are knowing that their order will arrive on time, and whether you offer a good returns policy. Addressing these concerns head-on can be a great way to stand out.

Make sure your shipping and returns policies are easy to find and understand. Offering gift receipts and an extended return or exchange period can also help shoppers feel more comfortable. Consider including a section across the top of your site that lets shoppers know how many days they have left to order in time for Christmas. This simultaneously addresses their worry and creates a sense of urgency. Finally, if possible, offer expedited or even same-day shipping as the holidays are approaching. Christmas Day is one deadline, but shoppers have many other deadlines, including other holidays and parties they will be attending.

christmas customer-service
Krista Seiden
Krista Seiden
Product Manager and Keynote Speaker, KristaSeiden.com
Personalise your customers' shopping experiences

My number one tip would be to personalise the shopping experience as much as you can. When an experience is personal and easy, customers are much more likely to convert.

For return customers, do some analysis to understand what your most important audiences (or segments) are, what they buy, who they buy for, etc., and target them with offers specific to their indicated preferences based on their prior site behaviour. For new customers, use look-a-like audiences to remarket to segments of users who look similar to your most valuable audiences, and consider targeting them with the same offers you’d target those audiences of returning users with.

There are plenty of tools out there to help you do this. My preferred toolset for this type of action would be Google Analytics for site analysis and audience creation, Doubleclick for remarketing to look-a-like audiences, and Google Optimize to target and personalise the onsite experience. These tools work seamlessly together to deliver an end to end solution for getting personal with your customers and increasing your business bottom line.

Don’t have these tools? That’s okay. The biggest key to personalisation is understanding your customers, whether that’s through web analytics data, CRM data, or any other data sets you have. Use that as a starting point for considering the types of offers you want to present to different customer groups, and start experimenting with different offers to see the potential impact you can have on your bottom line.

christmas personalisation technical
Katie Cunningham
Katie Cunningham
SEO Manager , Adept Marketing
Make sure your site is prepared for the increase in traffic

My first thought is to ensure that your site is prepared for the traffic levels. Although this doesn’t help you stand out before people reach your website, it will improve your customers’ delight while shopping, and could potentially help them choose you over a competitor with a frustrating website.

Site speed is critical year-round, but a few extra seconds to load on Black Friday could lead to dozens of lost sales. We are working with our clients now to ensure their servers are ready for expected traffic levels, and are leaving some room for extra unexpected traffic.

We are also doing last minute optimisations to improve site speed before our holiday code freezes. There are tools out there to help audit your site speed issues — Google’s Page Speed Test, Pingdom, and GTmetrix to name a few.

Google has another tool, Test My Site, that can help estimate loss in mobile traffic due to site speed. One e-commerce website we worked on took more than 30 seconds to load, which was having an obvious impact on the bottom line. At one point, the Google Test My Site tool wouldn’t even be able to finish running its test on it! Since improving site speed, both traffic and revenue are up.

christmas technical
Mary Bowling
Mary Bowling
Co-founder, Ignitor Digital
Make sure your gift voucher programme is in shape

My best tip is to get your gift voucher programme in shape. You need to create attractive vouchers, make it as easy as possible for people to purchase them online, and accept all the typical forms of payment for them. It’s also vital that you have a plan for delivering them to the recipients via email and snail mail. Consider advertising the availability of your gift vouchers more frequently as Christmas gets closer, too. You need to be aiming your ads at the gift givers.

christmas technical
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