A Guide to Holiday Season Marketing for Agencies

A Guide to Holiday Season Marketing for Agencies represented by a gift box

For marketing agencies, the holiday season offers an unparalleled opportunity to drive significant revenue for their clients through effective holiday marketing strategies. It’s prime time for your clients’ businesses to boost their brand reach, increase conversions, and skyrocket sales, all while building a stronger community with their audiences. 

Let’s take a look at how agencies can fully embrace the holidays and keep their clients coming back year after year.

What Is Holiday Marketing and Why Is It Important?

Holiday marketing is the strategic approach of tailoring marketing campaigns to align with seasonal events and festivities. It is about leveraging the power of paid ads, social media marketing, email marketing, and even in-store displays to capture the attention of potential customers. Whether it's offering free shipping, promoting holiday-themed products, or crafting the perfect holiday email with an irresistible subject line, every tactic plays a role.

Holiday marketing isn’t merely about crafting cute social media posts or ramping up paid ad spend. A successful holiday marketing strategy requires a deeper dive, understanding the nuances of holiday spirit and the emotional appeal of the holidays, and then leveraging it to engage your clients’ audiences. 

Beyond creating a buzz during the busy holiday season, a solid holiday marketing plan will target new prospects and loyal customers with the campaign goal of achieving two distinct but equally important objectives. 

Building Community 

The festive season gives your agency a chance to sprinkle a little holiday magic into your clients' content. Light-hearted and engaging posts help showcase their brands in a fun, community-building way. 

For instance, you might think about creating Instagram Reels about selecting that ideal Christmas present for Mom. Not only does it add a touch of festive cheer to your clients’ marketing efforts, but it also offers a solution to the perennial 'what-to-buy-for-Christmas' dilemma.

Boosting End-of-Year Revenue

Additionally, agencies can set up specific campaigns to promote their clients’ holiday deals that are too good to pass up. Most clients with stores expect to see a surge in website visitors as well as an influx of holiday shoppers to their brick-and-mortar locations.

By harnessing the power of the upcoming holiday season and planning ahead of time, agencies help their clients not only meet but surpass their revenue goals. 

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Why Agencies Need a Holiday Marketing Strategy

With the holiday season comes not only joy and celebration but also a significant shopping event inextricably linked to it, much like Thanksgiving is to turkey. In fact, the holiday shopping season can account for a quarter of your clients’ annual sales. This makes it the most profitable time of the year for many of your clients. 

statistics in a bar chart on when holiday season marketing should start based on shopping behavior

Not convinced? Here are two compelling reasons why your agency should prioritize the creation of holiday marketing campaigns.

1. Facilitate Impulse Buys to Boost Client Sales 

The holidays are not just about festivities and gifts; they're deeply rooted in emotions and memories. These occasions evoke a myriad of feelings, from nostalgia and joy to gratitude and love. A successful holiday marketing campaign recognizes and harnesses this emotional landscape to drive impulse buys and enhance the gifting experience.

Imagine this scenario: A shopper visits your client's online store to buy a gift for a loved one. They've already picked out the main gift but are looking for those extra touches to make the present even more special. This is where impulse buys come into play.

And I think we’ve all experienced the “One gift for you, one gift for me” habit of stumbling across hard-to-resist items for yourself while shopping for others. 

Impulse buys during the holiday season can include add-ons like holiday-themed wrapping paper, personalized gift cards, or small stocking stuffers. For your eCommerce clients, this is best added at Checkout as “You Might Also Like”. These last-minute additions not only enhance the gifting experience but also contribute to increased sales.

To further engage and retain holiday shoppers, consider incorporating holiday-specific content that highlights these impulse buy opportunities. Showcase holiday gift bundles, suggest matching accessories, or even create a sense of urgency with limited-time holiday offers. Social media marketing can amplify these offerings, with holiday-themed posts on various platforms drawing even more visitors to your online store.

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2. Maximizing Web Traffic Shifts

There’s often a transformative change that happens in online consumer behavior during holidays. As the holiday shopping season approaches, many consumers start planning their holiday purchases, eager to find the perfect gift and the best deals. This proactive approach leads to a surge in website visitors.

“Depending on the industry, traffic can go WAY up or WAY down,” notes Joey Randazzo, founder of Portland SEO Growth. “For example, many of our local SEO clients are medical clinics. December, for most of them, is a slow month. However, we have a flower shop as a client that sees a huge uptick in traffic and sales in November and December because people are buying flowers and gifts for the holidays.” 

Understandably, eCommerce operations, florists, and even medical clinics have distinct objectives during the holiday season. Your agency's challenge is to navigate these quieter periods strategically. After all, the end-of-year holidays aren’t all about holiday decorations and gift-giving. For instance, Dental and Chiropractic clients can leverage the holiday season by reminding patients to maximize their annual health benefits before they lapse at year's end to drive appointments during typically slower periods or schedule them ahead of time.

Ensure your clients’ websites are optimized for the holiday rush. This includes technical aspects, like making sure your site can handle the increased load, or marketing tactics like offering free shipping or a free gift with certain purchases. The goal is to convert the increased interest into tangible sales, making the most of the holiday shopping frenzy.

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How To Craft the Perfect Holiday Marketing Strategy 

As the holiday season approaches, your agency stands on the threshold of a remarkable opportunity. It's that time of year when consumers are not only feeling festive but also ready to spend. But remember, the holiday shopping landscape evolves, and so should your marketing strategies.

In this section, we'll dive into crafting an effective holiday marketing strategy specifically tailored to your clients' needs. These four foolproof steps and holiday marketing tips will guide you in creating a strategy that ensures your clients make the most of this time of year.

1. Ask Your Clients What Holiday Marketing Goals They Want To Achieve

The holidays are a great time to focus on specific goals that can keep paying off in the year to come. Ask your clients what goals they want to focus on during their holiday campaign and see if they’re a bit different than the rest of the year. 

They might want to:   

  • Retain existing customers

  • Attract new audiences

  • Boost web traffic

  • Improve brand awareness

  • Promote sales

  • Collect consumer data

For instance, if your clients are running online stores, it’s a great time to ramp up your conversion goals and boost sales. 

Additionally, consider the concept of promoting memberships as gifts. When someone purchases a membership as a gift, not only does the recipient get a valuable and ongoing present, but the brand also secures a continuous sale throughout the year. This approach can be particularly effective for businesses offering subscription-based services or products.

If your clients operate online stores, the holiday season presents an ideal time to ramp up conversion goals and boost sales, including promoting memberships as thoughtful and lasting gifts.

We notice that for our e-commerce brands, conversion rates go up the two weeks before Christmas. Why? It's hard to say exactly, but it's likely because people are buying gifts for others. There's a time crunch. A gift must be purchased, and people have a "buy now" mentality.

Joey Randazzo, Founder, Portland SEO Growth

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2. Plan Your Holiday Marketing Ahead of Time

Planning for holiday theme marketing is crucial for agencies, as it can significantly impact client sales and visibility during peak shopping times. But navigating the vast ocean of information-savvy consumers can be challenging. 

The competition is fierce, and the stakes are high. So if you don’t want your clients to miss the boat, they have to get here early. 

Nearly half of US survey respondents say they plan to start holiday shopping in October. That means if you’re marketing for Christmas, consider October as the new November. 

Pie chart of when US shoppers start holiday shopping with most starting early

There is no longer an official start date to begin holiday shopping. Gone are the days of rushing to the blackout sales and the risk of being trampled by a crowd of people hungry for a deal. Especially not when 57% of shoppers prefer buying holiday gifts online instead of in-store.

When we build out our client campaigns and calendars, we're thinking about the holiday season in May and June since we know that SEO takes time to stabilize and perform. With more consumers buying before November, marketers need to plan ahead of time.

Joey Randazzo, Founder, Portland SEO Growth

So how should agencies prepare? Here's a general guideline on how soon agencies should plan a holiday marketing strategy:

6-8 Months Ahead:

  • Research & Analysis: Analyze previous holiday campaigns. Understand the target audience's behavior during the holiday shopping season.

  • Brainstorming: Start brainstorming holiday marketing ideas. This is the perfect time to think creatively.

4-6 Months Ahead:

  • Strategy Development: Finalize the marketing strategy. Decide on marketing channels like social media, email, and PPC.

  • Budgeting: Allocate budgets for different activities, including paid ads and content creation.

3-4 Months Ahead:

  • Content Creation: Begin to create content for the holiday marketing campaigns. This includes holiday videos, social media posts, and graphics.

  • Partner & Influencer Outreach: Collaborate with other brands or influencers for holiday promotions.

2-3 Months Ahead:

  • Campaign Setup: Set up ad campaigns, email campaigns, and technical integrations. Consider offering free shipping as a holiday promotion.

  • Promotion Planning: Plan out the promotional calendar. When will you tease the holiday marketing campaign?

1-2 Months Ahead:

  • Testing: Test all elements, from landing pages to ad copy. Ensure everything is optimized for mobile devices.

  • Training: Encourage your clients to prepare all team members for the upcoming holiday season.

3-4 Weeks Ahead:

  • Soft Launch: Consider a teaser to build anticipation and engage your audience.

  • Final Review: Double-check everything. Remind your clients to ensure the online store is stocked.

1-2 Weeks Ahead:

  • Promotion: Ramp up promotional efforts. Send out promotional emails with an enticing subject line.

  • Monitoring & Adjustments: Monitor website traffic and be ready to tweak the marketing campaign.

During the Campaign:

  • Active Monitoring: Keep an eye on web traffic and customer experience. Engage with holiday shoppers on social media platforms.

  • Optimization: Adjust in real-time to maximize ROI.

Post-Campaign:

  • Analysis: Post-holiday sales, analyze the campaign's performance.

  • Feedback & Learning: Document learnings for the next year.

The earlier you start planning, the better prepared you'll be to execute a successful holiday marketing campaign.

“We are heavily focused on the SEO side of things, so we start planning for the holidays 6 months in advance. The amount of people that call us in October and November saying ‘Hey, we want to get our SEO in the right place for Black Friday and for Christmas. Can you help?’... it is absurd! That's not how SEO works,” says Joey Randazzo, Founder of Portland SEO Growth.

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3. List the Relevant Holidays 

Crafting a successful holiday marketing strategy requires a keen understanding of the holidays that resonate most with your client's target audience. Here's how to tailor your holiday marketing campaigns for maximum relevance and impact:

Understand the Client's Audience

  • Demographics: Consider the age, gender, location, and cultural background of your clients’ audiences. For instance, a brand targeting young adults might focus on holidays like Halloween, while one targeting families might emphasize Thanksgiving. 

  • Firmographics: For B2B clients, consider the industry, company size, and job roles. Some industries might have specific events or 'holidays' that are significant, like a National Retail Day.

Research Cultural and Regional Holidays

If your clients operate across different geographic regions, be sure to tailor your holiday messaging to what’s relevant to each group. Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas will have distinctly different nuances that need to be respected and acknowledged.

Consider E-commerce Peaks

Some holidays, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, might not be traditional holidays but are crucial for online stores. Understand the e-commerce peaks that are relevant to the client's industry and how these will influence holiday spending.

Evaluate Previous Holiday Campaigns

Look at the client's previous holiday campaigns. Which holidays brought the most engagement and sales? Use this historical data to guide future holiday marketing strategies.

Engage and Ask

Addressing customer pain points allows agencies to tailor their marketing campaigns to provide real solutions, positioning your client's brand as a helpful holiday partner. To connect with your client's audience during the holidays, dive into their holiday-related challenges. 

Use surveys, social media, or user-generated content to ask questions like:

  • What aspects of the holiday season stress you the most?

  • Are there specific holiday challenges you face?

  • Do you struggle with gift selection or time management during the holidays?

  • How can brands make your holiday experience easier and less stressful?

Stay Updated:

New trends emerge often, and societal values shift. Stay updated with cultural and social nuances to ensure you're not missing out on a new and relevant opportunity for your client.

Prioritize and Plan:

Once you've listed the relevant holidays, prioritize them based on their potential impact on the client's business goals. Not every holiday needs a full-blown campaign; some might just require a social media post or a special offer.

By identifying and focusing on the most relevant holidays for each client, agencies can create more targeted, effective, and respectful holiday marketing campaigns. This tailored approach ensures that marketing efforts resonate with the intended audience, leading to better engagement and more sales during the holiday shopping season.

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4. Get Aggressive With Your PPC Bids

The holiday season sees a surge in clickthrough rates, conversions, and ad impressions. However, with ad space becoming increasingly competitive, it's crucial to be proactive. Inflow suggests intensifying your clients’ PPC bids, particularly for keywords with high transactional or commercial intent

By allocating a larger budget, you’ll capitalize on the elevated click-through rates unique to this festive period.

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5. Have a Tracking System in Place for Effective Holiday Marketing

In the bustling holiday season, it's crucial to have a comprehensive tracking system like AgencyAnalytics to monitor the effectiveness of your clients’ holiday marketing messages and campaigns. Here's how to ensure you're on top of every detail:

Implement a Robust Client Reporting Platform:

Centralize all your client's holiday marketing campaign data. This platform should provide a holistic view of all campaigns, from social media marketing to email marketing, ensuring you don't miss any vital information to optimize your clients’ holiday campaigns.

Highlight Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

Beyond sales, ensure you're tracking metrics like website visitors, conversion rates, cart abandonment, and customer satisfaction. These KPIs provide a deeper understanding of the customer journey and the effectiveness of your holiday marketing strategies.

Read more: How To Create an Automated KPI Dashboard for Clients

Provide Live Dashboards:

Equip your clients with access to live dashboards that track their sales, web traffic, and other key performance indicators (KPIs). This real-time data helps them make informed decisions quickly, especially during peak holiday shopping times.

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Generate Comprehensive Client Reports:

Regularly update your clients with detailed reports that showcase the impact of your agency's efforts on their bottom line. Highlight successes and areas of improvement and suggest actionable next steps.

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Review and Adjust:

Use the data from your tracking system to review the effectiveness of your holiday marketing campaign ideas. Adjust your strategy in real time if something isn't working as expected. This agility makes a significant difference in achieving your client's revenue goals.

By having a robust tracking system in place, agencies provide clients with transparent, actionable insights into their holiday marketing campaigns. This builds trust and positions the agency as a valuable partner in driving holiday sales and engagement.

The Takeaway 

The holiday magic doesn’t have to stop with your clients. Here’s how to use the holiday season to improve your agency’s bottom line, too. Seize the opportunity to onboard new clients or renew existing contracts in the final days of December.

Lindsay Casey, Paid Campaign Manager at AgencyAnalytics, recalls from her time working at a previous agency: "Our sales team often encountered clients eager to sign on or renew in December. They aimed to settle invoices by year-end, capitalizing on tax benefits."

Remember, many clients have a lighter workload during the festive season. This downtime and the desire to maximize business-related tax credits make the holidays an opportune moment for agency growth.

Easily communicate your holiday marketing success to clients and showcase your agency’s impact on their bottom line with AgencyAnalytics. Start your free 14-day trial today.

Melody Sinclair-Brooks

Written by

Melody Sinclair-Brooks

Melody Sinclair-Brooks brings nearly a decade of experience in marketing in the tech industry. Specializing in B2B messaging for startups and SaaS, she crafts campaigns that cut through the noise, leveraging customer insights and multichannel strategies for tangible growth.

Read more posts by Melody Sinclair-Brooks ›

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