How to Time Your Holiday Marketing Strategy
The holidays can be hectic, especially if you have something to market. The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are a prime time to promote classes as gifts or get students lined up for the new year. But what about the holidays themselves?
As you plan your holiday marketing strategy, you may tend to avoid scheduling messages to go out on the days just before Thanksgiving or in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The thinking goes that people are focused on holiday celebrations and spending time with family. They probably won’t want to engage with marketing messages, right? But there’s one big problem with that logic — it doesn’t reflect how people actually behave.
We’ll show you how to plan a holiday marketing strategy that makes the most of people’s shopping and social media habits around the holidays.
Here’s the truth about marketing during the holidays: People tend to have more downtime, which means they’re online more. Think back to the last holiday gathering you attended. There was likely plenty of fun, food, and conversation. But at some point, after the meal was done and the gifts were opened, people probably sat around the living room fiddling with their phones.
If you pause your marketing during the holidays, you may miss the opportunity to get your message in front of people who are relaxed and in a receptive mood. As you plan your holiday email strategy, blog calendar, and social media posts consider how you can time these messages for maximum effect.
How to adjust your holiday marketing strategy for email
Email is normally the most effective digital marketing channel that programs have access to. That may not be the case over the holidays. For a couple of days before and after both Christmas and New Year’s day and on Thanksgiving weekend, email engagement rates tend to drop off.
Your emails are likely to get buried under holiday well-wishes and last-minute deals. Plus, people are less likely to check their email when they’re on vacation or spending time with their family. That doesn’t mean you should stop sending emails over the holidays. It just means you may see better results if you’re thoughtful with the timing.
If you normally send an email newsletter on the last Wednesday of the month, for example, you might want to move it up or down by a week so you’re not sending a big communication between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
There is some evidence to suggest that open rates increase the day after New Year’s Day and about one week after Thanksgiving. So if you do want to send holiday marketing emails, try scheduling them for those days.
Keep Posting on Social Media
People may not be checking their email as often over the holidays, but they make up for it by spending more time on social media. Social media traffic can spike by as much as 73% during the holidays.
How to make the most of the social media traffic spike:
- Post meaningful content – So many organizations post generic holiday greetings that they’re easy to ignore and people may not even connect the post to your program.
- Respond to messages and comment threads – in the days just after Thanksgiving and just before Christmas, your messaging and comment threads may be more active than usual. Be prepared to reply with helpfulness and enthusiasm.
- Encourage the giving of classes as gifts – create a gift guide or other messaging to promote the idea that classes make great gifts (because they do!)
- Have some fun – caption contests, polls, and countdown posts are fun ways to keep people engaged over the holidays.
You can still share information about your classes and program but work in some of the more lighthearted posts too. Try sharing recipes or craft ideas, giving people a glimpse at your office holiday decor, or offering a limited-time holiday discount code.
Go Ahead and Blog
Most blog posts are evergreen content, meaning the information will still be useful in months or even years, so there’s no harm in publishing during the holidays even if people don’t read until they come back from vacation. In fact, people might be more likely to read blog posts during holiday vacations since they have more leisure time and are less likely to be distracted by meetings or work calls.
Plus, consistent blogging is good for search engine optimization. It keeps your website looking fresh and encourages frequent indexing by search engines.
Choose your blog topics wisely. Most people won’t be in the mood for anything heavy or complex during this time. Keep your blogs light and fun but still useful, like this:
- Art projects to recycle holiday wrapping paper instead of trashing it
- Our favorite holiday plays ranked
- Six fun classes for the new year
- Why classes are more fun with friends
Feel free to steal these blog topics or adapt them for your audience!
Hold Off on Big Announcements
The new year might feel like the right time to announce new courses and programs. Everyone is thinking about new year’s resolutions and setting goals for the next few months. Time these announcements carefully so they don’t get lost in the holiday noise.
Even though people spend more time on social media during the holidays, they may not be ready to absorb new information. Save big announcements for January. As we mentioned above, email open rates go up on January 2nd. So that can be a good day to announce a new program, class, or other big news.
The Foundation of Your Holiday Marketing Strategy
Thoughtful timing is the foundation of your holiday marketing strategy. There’s no need to exhaust yourself by trying to market on every channel. The trick is to be present in the right places. And remember that you can schedule social media posts, blog posts, and emails ahead of time so you can take time off and enjoy the holiday too.
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Nic is skilled in scaling start-up edtech and education organizations to growth-stage success through innovative marketing. A former journalist and copywriter, Nic holds a postgraduate certificate in digital and print publishing from Columbia University School of Journalism's publishing course.