Effective holiday marketing strategies for 2023
'Tis the season for businesses to ramp up their holiday marketing efforts and capitalize on the festive fervor of Q4.
Holiday sales accounted for almost 20% of America's total retail sales last year and it's only ramping up. Nextdoor data suggests that by 2023, the average consumer may splurge a minimum of $1,000 on holiday shopping*. This season is often pivotal for businesses' success, meaning, companies harnessing holiday advertising and marketing stand to capitalize on this surge in buyer intent.
As more of today’s top brands lean on powerful tools to implement digital marketing and advertising campaigns, any business looking to stay competitive must do the same—especially during the holidays.
In this guide, we’re offering you a step-by-step checklist to create a holiday marketing strategy that's as fun as decorating the tree and as profitable as finding the perfect gift. Let's make this holiday season both joyful and prosperous!
Holiday marketing guide Table of Contents:
Understanding consumer habits during the holiday shopping season
To optimize holiday advertising plans, businesses must understand how customers behave during this unique shopping season. Let’s take a look at some key customer philosophies and data points.
There are two key consumer motivators to consider as you curate your holiday marketing strategy:
- Emotions and sentiment – Emotions run high during the holidays, and brands can leverage common sentiments (i.e., event planning stress, nostalgia for holidays passed, expressions of generosity) to connect with new and existing customers over near-universal experiences.
- Traditions – Whether customers are pulling out their ancestors’ recipe books or forging new holiday traditions, the holidays are rich with ritual. Like universal emotions, brands can play on common traditions in their advertising content to connect with shoppers.
Platforms like Nextdoor Ads Manager (NAM) can help businesses play to both of these key consumer motivators during the holidays. Just take a look at Hershey’s Halloween campaign – To boost brand awareness and sales ahead of trick or treating, Hershey leveraged Nextdoor Ads and specialized click-through GIFs. Customers responded, and Hershey exceeded its Add to Cart benchmark by 140%.
2023 Holiday spending trends
While we touched on customers’ expected holiday spending in 2023 (approximately $1,000 per consumer, on average), let’s explore some other holiday shopping trends and statistics that highlight the importance of a holiday marketing plan this year:
- Over 75% of consumers report that advertising plays a role in creating their holiday shopping lists.
- 41% of shoppers start their holiday shopping before Halloween, and 62% do most of their shopping immediately after Thanksgiving (on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday).
- 84% of consumers will wait for a sale before they visit a business for holiday shopping.
These three statistics alone showcase how important advertising, timing, and promotions are for shoppers in Q4—and all of these are key considerations for holiday marketing.
Components of a data-driven holiday marketing strategy
With the above data in mind, let’s break down key parts of an effective holiday advertising plan:
- Clear, measurable goals – Your holiday campaign objectives will offer achievable benchmarks, but they’ll also shape your strategy. If you want to generate more online sales, for instance, you’ll want to skip print ads in favor of digital advertising to achieve this goal.
- Defined audiences – Holiday marketing is all about connection. And, to connect with your customers, you have to understand them. Identify the primary audience of your campaign to create messaging that will resonate with them specifically.
- Select targeted channels – We touched on print vs. digital, but let’s zoom in even further. Will your holiday marketing campaign primarily leverage social media, or are you planning on investing in new, high-intent channels?
Holiday calendar: Important dates & peak shopping days
To establish a campaign timeline, incorporate key shopping dates from a holiday marketing calendar, including:
- Black Friday (November 24, 2023)
- Small Business Saturday (November 25, 2023)
- Cyber Monday (November 27, 2023)
But, don’t forget about other peak shopping days, like:
- Giving Tuesday (November 28, 2023) – Typically the Tuesday after Cyber Monday, businesses often contribute a percentage of their profits to charitable causes—this attracts many shoppers.
- Green Monday (December 11, 2023) – Usually the second Monday in December, Green Monday is around ten business days before Christmas. Shoppers recognize that it’s crunch time and amp up their shopping efforts.
- Super Saturday (December 23, 2023) – Sometimes called “Panic Saturday,” the last Saturday before Christmas is a major shopping day as consumers knock out the last items on their shopping lists.
Holiday marketing strategy checklist
With key customer motivations, campaign must-haves, and important dates in mind, let’s explore some of the most important elements of a successful holiday marketing campaign. You can use these holiday marketing ideas as a checklist as you outline your tactics.
Email marketing can be highly effective for holiday marketing—customers may be keeping an especially close eye on their inboxes as they look out for:
- Digital holiday cards and season’s greetings from friends
- Event planning information
- Sales, promotions, and coupon codes from their favorite brands
As you prepare your holiday email marketing campaign, consider:
- Incorporating short, simple, and eye-catching subject lines
- E.g., “Get Free Shipping Before the Holidays”
- Timing your messages ahead of high-traffic shopping days (see the previous Holiday Calendar section for important dates)
- Creating personalized, holiday-themed graphics and visual assets
For eCommerce brands, all roads should lead to your webpage—meaning your efforts should be geared toward optimizing your website and providing a seamless online shopping experience throughout the sales funnel.
That could look like:
- Incorporating seasonal banners and holiday digital assets
- Leveraging customer data to personalize recommendations and speed up checkout
- Incorporating abandoned cart email strategies for shopper convenience
Ahead of the holiday shopping season, test out your website, browsing, and the checkout process to ensure a seamless customer journey.
Holiday SEO landing pages
Similarly, the holidays offer crucial opportunities to capitalize on seasonal search engine optimization (SEO). Consider building specific landing pages that incorporate:
- Information about your holiday promotion or in-store events
- Holiday keywords, e.g., “Christmas gifts for teens,” “gifts for mom,” “gifts under $10”
- Dedicated holiday landing pages for:
- Black Friday/Cyber Monday
- Seasonal products
- Gifts for specific relatives (e.g., spouse, grandparents, siblings)
Holiday landing pages can also be an outlet for new marketing approaches like games or interactive site features—tactics that reel in visitors with the promise of a fun, seasonal experience. Take The Winery at Bull Run, for example. In 2019, they ran a Black Friday sale every 8 hours and timed it using a countdown timer. This interactive experience reels in users and creates a sense of urgency to purchase.
Social media campaigns
Social media platforms are key channels for holiday advertising. As you brainstorm ways to incorporate holiday posts into your strategy, remember to:
- Align your platform and content – If you plan on incorporating video content, analyze your customer data to determine which platforms customers use to interact with your video posts.
- Schedule your posts – Make a schedule for holiday posting ahead of time to eliminate as much campaign stress as possible during crunch time. Use social media management tools to plan your posts and don't forget those holiday-specific hashtags (#TisTheSeasonToShop).
- Craft festive content – If you’re already leaning heavily on social media marketing, it’s time to freshen up your content with seasonal messaging, eye-catching visuals, heartwarming stories, and content that resonates with the season's emotions.
- Incorporate user-generated content (UGC) – Partner with an influencer, leverage video testimonials, and highlight customer reviews to build credibility with new customers.
Targeted promotions and discounts
Holiday shoppers are on the lookout for deals, and running promotions is a great way to attract them to your business. Ensure your discounts hit the mark by incorporating the following tactics:
- Personalize your promos – One-size-fits-all promotions won't cut it during the holidays. It's all about knowing your audience's preferences and serving them tailored discounts and offers. Consider segmenting your email list based on past purchase behavior or interests to send the right holiday deals to the right people.
- Remind customers these discounts won’t last – Create a sense of urgency with your promotions. Phrases like "limited time offer" or "while supplies last" can nudge hesitant shoppers to take action.
Content calendar planning
Planning ahead is the backbone of any seasonal marketing campaign. Without a roadmap, you might find yourself lost in the holiday chaos. Here’s how to develop a successful holiday marketing plan:
- Consider important seasonal dates – Creating a content calendar that syncs with key holiday dates and events ensures you stay on top of your game.
- Diversify your content – Your content calendar should include a mix of blog posts, social media updates, email newsletters, and perhaps even festive videos. Diversify to reach your audience through various channels.
- Consistency matters – Stick to your content calendar schedule. Consistency builds anticipation, and your audience will come to expect your holiday-themed content.
- Monitor and adapt – Keep an eye on the performance of your holiday content. If something isn't resonating with your audience, be ready to adapt and switch gears.
Utilize user-generated content (UGC)
Your loyal customers not only engage with your brand, but they can also help spread the word.
Achieve a strong UGC strategy through the following methods:
- Encourage them to spread the holiday cheer by sharing their experiences with your brand across social media channels. For example, ask customers to share photos of themselves using your products in a holiday setting.
- Offer incentives or feature the best submissions on your social media to encourage more participation.
- If your customers participate, don’t forget to engage with their posts and express gratitude. It shows that you value their support and encourages more customers to get involved.
Partnering with influencers who align with your brand can amplify your holiday campaign and reach a wider audience during this busy time of the year. For the most successful holiday influencer collaboration, consider:
- How to select influencers – Choosing the right influencers to partner with is critical. Work with influencers whose values and interests align with your brand. Also, consider teaming up with micro-influencers. They often have a niche following and can be just as effective (if not more so) than mega-celebrities.
- Collaborating on campaigns – Be sure to work closely with your influencers to develop the most creative campaigns. From unboxing videos to holiday DIY projects, the opportunities are endless.
Maximizing ROI during the holiday season
To maximize the return on investment (ROI) on your holiday marketing campaign, focus on budgeting strategically and monitoring key performance indicators.
Budgeting is crucial at the beginning of your campaign and throughout the holiday season. While you should set a cap for ad spend before building your campaign (and stick to it), remember that you can adjust your investments in certain assets and channels as you go. For instance, if you’re getting more customer traction with email marketing than social ads, divest slightly from the latter to bolster the former.
But to tweak your budgeting effectively, you’ll need to establish those KPIs in the first place—objective measures of campaign performance you can use to make data-driven decisions. Cost per conversion, conversion rate, click-through rate, and cost per click are just a few KPIs you can analyze to track campaign performance.
Consumers love the holiday season
Looking for inspiration for your holiday advertising push?
Nextdoor helped spread holiday cheer with nearby businesses with the Cheer Map—an interactive map where neighbors could upload photos of their holiday decorations and find the most eye-catching light displays in their neighborhoods. Plus, users could access a local guide to decoration shopping to find the perfect home accessories.
The results spoke for themselves, and over 1 million users viewed and interacted with the Cheer Map.
Holiday marketing & advertising using Nextdoor Ads Manager
If you plan on investing in local channels (or advertising in multiple markets), Nextdoor Ads Manager helps grow your business in the neighborhoods that matter to you.
As you build your NAM holiday campaign, consider:
- Targeting and personalization – With NAM, you can build highly personalized campaigns based on specific target audiences. Decide which markets and consumers you plan to target in advance and develop messages that will specifically resonate with these shoppers.
- Messaging, images, and graphics – Prepare any digital and copy assets you’ll need and upload them to the NAM platform—it’s just that simple. For optimal impact, choose images and text that are hyper-focused on holiday sentiment, your target audience, and your product.
- Budgeting – NAM makes it easier than ever to manage advertising costs and track your key performance indicators (KPIs) to optimize spending and invest in results.
As you build your campaign with the NAM platform, you’ll also have opportunities to optimize your content for mobile and web and track your performance throughout the season (and tweak your tactics accordingly).
Earn new business during the 2023 holiday season with Nextdoor
Are you embarking on your first holiday marketing campaign, preparing for your small business’s tenth holiday season, or planning a large-scale ad push for your mid-market brand?
Whatever stage your business is in, holiday marketing and advertising must be a part of your strategy—and Nextdoor can help.
If you want to optimize marketing spending and reach high-intent customers, turn to Nextdoor Ads Manager (NAM). Our data-driven platform makes it simple to advertise to Nextdoor users locally, regionally, and nationally with personalized content and in-depth performance tracking.
What sets NAM apart from traditional social media advertising?
- Nextdoor users are real people – Since Nextdoor neighbors sign up using their real names and addresses, you can confidently advertise to real users—not fake profiles.
- Ads can be highly localized – Brands looking to hyper-personalize their ads can zoom in on specific neighborhoods, using local data to connect with customers.
- Viewers have high purchase intent – Neighbors come to Nextdoor looking for festive gifting recommendations—they’re ready to find the perfect product or brand to gift to their loved ones this holiday season.
When you need to build connections with high-intent, authentic holiday shoppers, NAM is the perfect platform for a successful holiday marketing campaign.
Get started today with Nextdoor Ads Manager. We can’t wait to welcome you to the neighborhood.
*Source: Nextdoor Survey (08/2023)