No doubt we see Christmas being pushed on consumers much earlier year after year. We see it in the stores once we’re past Halloween – we skip right over Thanksgiving and dive deep into Christmas. But not so much in the online world… Why is that? It’s not like major brands sit at idle and don’t think about their major holiday promotions.

If you are one of those brands that have sat at idle and now realize it’s time to revamp your holiday promotions from last year, here are some top tips to supercharge those online efforts.

Establish Proper Campaign Schedules

If you didn’t launch your holiday promotional efforts before Halloween, don’t fret – there’s still plenty of time. Sorting out when to run promotions and what channels to run them on can be a daunting task. Consider the holiday promotional season to span from November through January. By starting at the beginning of November, you’re able to catch some of those early (or late) shoppers seeking good deals, and especially new hot products of the season. Follow this theme up until the traditional Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials that you keep exclusive for a 1 to 2-day run.

And it’s not over when the holidays are over. Consider keeping some budget available for post-Christmas promotions. As a reminder, the busiest time at stores tends to be the day after Christmas. What makes you think consumers are limited to only in-store returns? Think about what you can do to boost sales heading into the new year.

Understand Your Seasonal Audience

Identify the products or services that will best perform during the holiday rush. If you understand your brand well enough, you should be able to reference historical sales data to understand what products or services are moving the best from November through January. As mentioned above, if you have a product that is one of those “hot must-haves” of the season, make sure you’re placing good efforts behind that, but don’t lose sight of your other ancillary products/services that could be delivered to customers as an up-sell or cross-promotion.

Don’t be so constrained to the holiday shopping season for your hot ticket items. Look back over the entire year and see what past promotions converted the best. Ask yourself if these were products that delivered a better profit margin or even brought in additional recurring sales throughout the year. Look for ways to pepper those products into your holiday promotions.

Promotional Campaigns by Channel

Naturally, you have been promoting your products in the usual spaces: Google AdWords, including shopping ads; retargeting; and even paid social ads on Facebook and Instagram. But have you been promoting all products, in all places, to all audiences?

Consider retooling this approach slightly for the holiday shopping season. Keep in mind Instagram is a great medium for those who are more lifestyle-oriented. Have a product that is more visually appealing and requires a deeper look? Consider separating those ads out into Instagram-only campaigns to test.

The beauty behind Facebook resides in the targeting and layering options. Don’t build your Facebook campaign off the objective of being all things to all people. When building targeted ads, focus on the products and services you know perform the best with that audience. Mine your Facebook Insights data to see the type of content that has resonated the best with a particular audience. Have products that fit within that niche? Odds are that audience is ripe for picking, and you just need to get the correct products in front of them.

For those in the AdWords space, you should be familiar with Ad Extensions. Be sure to update all ad extensions for a solid call-to-action that promotes special holiday pricing, bundles, and shipping. Callout extensions can be scheduled, and are great for those last-minute urgency promotions on making sure consumers know that if they order from you, they’ll receive it by December 24th. Pricing extensions work great for individuals who might be on the fence about a purchase. This is the holiday shopping season, after all; setup price extensions that are helpful and get the information in front of those who are buying.

Remarketing has always been a great tactic for online shoppers, especially during the holidays, but take caution that you’re not creepy and annoying about it. Create smarter lists that can serve up ads with dynamic product feeds, like Amazon is probably doing to you now on Facebook, or consider a similar approach to your callout extensions. Be specific; let the person know you have their best interest in mind, with shipping reminders and trust-building messages that say you can deliver what they want, by the time they need it.

Take Care of Existing Customers

Many times, it’s easy for us to get so stuck in the rut of constantly chasing down new customers that we fail to keep existing customers in mind. Consider this: If you’re doing a substantial amount of business during the holidays, what percentage of those customers were new to you last year? Have they come back to purchase from you again?

If you have been a little relaxed with those efforts throughout the year, now is the time to get back on the bandwagon and bring those customers back with new offerings. Even the most basic of e-commerce platforms should have some level of customer purchase history in there, allowing you to see what they bought. Build out targeted email lists with this data, and get special offers in front of these people that feature similar products or – better yet – products that can accompany those that were purchased before.


In closing, it’s not too late to get your holiday promotional efforts on the straight and narrow. A quick review of your historical data can help show you the way. Use some of the steps above to develop smart strategies that allow you to deploy tactics much faster than you thought you could.

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