It may be too soon to talk about 2021 holiday marketing, but it’s a smart strategy to create your holiday marketing calendar and start to think about your plan right now.
Wonder if the global pandemic reduces consumer spending, and people will shop less on holiday?
In case you don’t know: Retail consumers spent over $153 billion online in April and May 2020—7% higher than the $142.5 billion spent online during holiday season 2019.
So, if the trend continues (and it does), now is the right time to get a head start and prepare everything for your holiday campaigns. No matter how busy you are, year after year, the holidays arrive on time. Don’t wait until the last minute.
“What if I don’t have a holiday marketing calendar on hand? How should I be supposed to get started? In today’s world, where every day is a celebration, which holiday events should I focus on most?”
Don’t worry! We’ll help you to prepare.
Here’s how we’re going to do it: In this post, we’ll tell you 6 main money-making holidays at the end of the year. We also reveal other not-less-than-important holiday events you shouldn’t ignore. Finally, you’ll learn four core steps to build a sure-fire 2021 holiday marketing plan.
Above all, we also designed an interactive holiday marketing calendar and a downloadable campaign checklist. We’ve got an easy one-page PDF for the checklist for you to print it off and follow your progress. Running a holiday campaign for a client? Impress them by handing in this checklist and calendar!
What is a holiday marketing calendar?
A calendar is a chart showing all the days, weeks, and months of a particular year. Your holiday marketing calendar performs the same function, but a bit more than that.
In plain words, a holiday marketing calendar visualizes your marketing activities in the holiday season. It’s an actionable tool to track your actions and achieve your holiday marketing goals.
For marketing success, an effective holiday marketing calendar should:
- Show specific events/activities you should focus on.
- Show a specific period for each event, so you can know how much time you have to reach goals, when your plans occur, and when they should be accomplished.
- Help keep your team stick and focused on your marketing plans.
- Keep your team updated with workflows and progress status to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Help develop a strategic plan for the future.
- Track the performance of your marketing actions
Sounds good? Then let’s jump into key dates of the holiday marketing calendar 2021.
Don’t have time or don’t know how to create your marketing calendar from scratch?
Take a look at our platform when you start a free 14-day trial today. Grab ours and customize it your own way to use for your holiday marketing planner.
6 key holidays in your marketing calendar 2021
Back to School, Labor Day, Cyber Monday, Halloween, Veteran Days, etc. with many occasions to mark, it’s crucial to understand which of these events are the most relevant and profitable to your business.
Studies show that more than half of brands see their sales spike in the fourth quarter. According to Adobe Analytics, U.S. online holiday shopping (November to December) for 2019 hit $143.7 billion, a 14.1% growth over 2018. Last year, daily online revenue in November and December were expected to surpass $1 billion.
With these in mind, it’s fair to pay much attention to the main holiday events in Q4. These events are shown below:
1. Black Friday
Start date: October 24.
Suggested launch date: November 21.
End date: November 24.
Black Friday is a gold mine for all businesses, whether big or small, retail or non-retail. If you know how to do it right, you can boost your sales A LOT.
2. Small Business Saturday
Start date: October 24.
Suggested launch date: November 21.
End date: November 25.
Small Business Saturday is the day to celebrate small businesses and encourage local consumers to shop small. If you’re a small business, you can turn this event into a big deal.
Need some marketing ideas for small businesses? Read our Digital Marketing Trends for Small Businesses.
3. Cyber Monday
Start date: October 29.
Suggested launch date: November 25.
End date: November 27.
In 2018, Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping in U.S. history, with sales surpassing $7.9 billion. In 2019, Cyber Monday topped the chart for 2019 revenue at $9.4 billion, increasing by 18.9% over 2019.
4. Giving Tuesday
Start date: October 29.
Suggested launch date: November 25.
End date: November 27.
Giving Tuesday is a national day of philanthropy and giving. It’s an opportunity for non-profit organizations to raise awareness about their activities and call for support from businesses of all types.
You can do many things to join this spirit of giving. For example, you can partner with a charity and make an exclusive product for them. This lets customers know you care about the community and want to make it a better place. Hence, they feel more encouraged to support you by purchasing from you.
If you’re running a non-profit organization, you can show people how you do what you do such as real insights into your campaign goals, progress, or the impact of past donations. People love to know things behind the scenes. You can take advantage of that to create a unique connection between your audience and your cause.
Start date: November 19.
Suggested launch date: December 18.
End date: December 26.
For most of us, Christmas is the time for family, foods, sweets, cozy evenings, and, last but not least, shopping. It’s a great opportunity to create engaging marketing campaigns, generate more leads to your website, and increase your holiday turnover.
At Christmas, you can give away discounts, free gifts, gift cards, or free services. Besides, you can create exclusive Christmas deals like a “12 Days of Deals” promotion or personalized products for the first 100 customers making a purchase in a limited time.
Start date: November 29.
Suggested launch date: December 27.
End date: January 02.
The end of the year is a great time to hold a clearance sale to unload some unsold, overstocked products. It helps reduce excess inventory, drive massive traffic to your store, satisfy price-conscious customers, and increase sales. By running a clearance sale, you can start a New Year with something new (new products, new strategies, etc.).
Plug the dates into your own calendar or check out our interactive holiday marketing calendar for more details and a timeline for creation for your entire 2021 holiday.
But… don’t forget Halloween, Thanksgiving, and more!
Shoppers are continuing to shift more to shopping on big days. But other significant spending events can add additional money to your pocket.
You don’t need to wait until November to start your big campaigns when you have so many other days you could capitalize on from now.
Think like this: Every event is established for a reason, and it affects people in different ways. You’re going to buy gifts, whether you buy them on Back to School day or on Thanksgiving, or in between. As long as there is a good reason to join the event and a good deal available, you’ll continue to shop.
So, enough for the explanation. Here are some significant holiday events you can run your marketing campaigns:
Back to school: Around 90% of back-to-school shoppers are active from mid-July to early August. They have been increasingly buying more these days than before. You can treat students, parents, and teachers with a greeting or a special back-to-school promo.
Labor Day: Labor Day (September 7) is the day to honor and appreciate American workers. It’s a national celebration featuring firework displays, picnics, and barbecues. Labor Day weekend is often connected with the end of summer.
Thanksgiving: Celebrated nationally on November 26, Thanksgiving is a special occasion when families and friends get together for a meal to give thanks for what they have. Businesses can use this day to thank their customers for their loyalty by offering discounts or gifts.
Halloween: Halloween (October 31) marked the end of the annual harvest season and the coming of winter. On Halloween, people look for fun costumes, trick-or-treating, and festive decorations. You can take advantage of this by breathing some spooky components into your social media campaigns or share how your brand celebrates Halloween.
By implementing a proper marketing strategy, you can turn these events into opportunities to engage with shoppers, drive sales, and get them to buy from you in upcoming shopping days.
You can use our interactive holiday marketing calendar to mark and organize these days as well.
How to use our holiday campaign checklist to plan your marketing efforts
Feeling overwhelmed yet? That’s why we took time to create this holiday campaign checklist. It’ll help you know how you can prepare for a successful holiday season.
Each page of our marketing checklist features when you should start along with bullet points showing exactly what you need to do.
There are some ways to make use of this holiday campaign checklist, whether you decide to print it off and hang it in front of your desk or save it to your desktop for quick reference. You can use it as a guide in creating your emails, social media posts, website content, and more.
1. Be prepared, and… more prepared than you think
The key to a successful holiday season is to plan ahead. It’s recommended that you begin laying the foundation as early as July. This includes understanding what your target audience will buy in the holiday, getting insights into their holiday shopping behaviors, being creative in deals you can offer and implementing necessary tools for tracking, optimization, and measurement.
You should do a thorough review of last year’s holiday marketing performance to ensure everything you learned is being applied to this year’s planning. Also, keep in mind changes in consumer behavior due to COVID-19, especially their shift to value and essentials, digital and omnichannel, health, caring and homebody economy.
Considering the following:
- Determine your goals: What do you want to achieve in the holiday season? What is your target audience? How much can you invest in this holiday marketing plan?
- Check your assets: Which promotion methods do you have? Are your website and social media accounts ready for the holiday? Do you need to hire someone on Fiverr for designing? How about inventory and customer service?
- Optimize your website: Remember to crank up the heat on your website UX and performance. Check the site loading speed, improve site search functionality, streamline backend workflows, create a seamless checkout experience, boost payment security, etc. If you haven’t had a website, use Leadpages Website Builder to create one.
- Brainstorm your offers: You need to have something to market. Should it be a coupon code, a discount, a free gift, or a gift card? Are you trying to clear out your inventory with 70% off your store? Is it possible to create a unique holiday bundle? If you don’t have a physical product to sell, consider offering your services at a discount or creating a new holiday-themed package.
Need more preparation ideas, check out our holiday campaign checklist.
2. Build awareness
Creating excitement around your holiday deals is an excellent way to gain traction and build brand awareness.
To do this, take advantage of all possible channels—casting a net wide enough to grab most fish out there. The more channels you can use to get your unique message out, the more potential visitors you can turn into loyal customers.
- Produce your holiday content. You can spend a day (or a few days) taking photos, recording videos, and writing content for your holiday marketing campaign. You may need product photos, behind-the-scenes videos, ad copy, email copy, social media graphics, gift guides, holiday-related blog posts, etc. If you need holiday-specific imagery that doesn’t include your products, you can save time by sourcing them from free stock photo sites like Unsplash or buying them on Stocksy.
- Think about a holiday-themed landing page: Create a dedicated landing page for your holiday offer. It can be a sales page, a squeeze page, or a lead generation page. Focus on what you give away in the holiday and apply persuasive marketing techniques (urgency, scarcity, etc.) to encourage visitors to take action. You can use Leadpages landing page builder to create a page in minutes.
- Show your offers anywhere on your website: Besides landing pages, you should make your offers prominent in other places on your site. The best practice is to create an alert bar and show it at the top of your homepage, so visitors always see it when they enter your site. Or, you can show your offers on an email pop-up form, which is also good. Both of these can be done using Leadpages.
- Advertise your offers on social media: There are so many ways you can use social media to build awareness about your holiday sales. You can run a giveaway/contest, create hashtags, partner with influencers, etc.
3. Drive conversions
To boost conversions in holiday sales, you may think about running PPC campaigns, email marketing, etc. But that’s not enough. If you want to make these strategies work, you need to think further.
- Use a sense of urgency: Holiday season can be a high-stress time for shoppers. They want to get the best deals as quickly as possible before the sale ends, or stock runs dry. You can take advantage of that to drive conversions during the holidays by adding a countdown timer in the product page/cart page/checkout page/landing page/alert bar/opt-in form, in your marketing email, or even in your ads. Or, you can use words that create urgency like “Limited time,” “Only,” “Last chance,” etc.
- Streamline the checkout experience: Every step in the buying process is a point of friction and gives shoppers a chance to reconsider. Hence, you should find ways to make the checkout experience smooth to close the transaction quickly. For example, think about a one-page checkout or offer guest checkout.
- Try one-click upsell: The idea behind this tactic is simple—you show an upsell product to customers, and let them buy it with just one extra click. Using one-click upsell is a great way to increase your average order value.
- Personalize your email marketing: Shoppers love to feel engaged with the brands they interact with. By applying personalization, you show that you know about them and understand what they need. Tools like Drip provide a variety of options for personalizing email content.
4. Implement post-holiday marketing
After the holiday season is over, you may be exhausted and often want to relax, but don’t go quiet.
This is a good time to follow up with customers on products purchased and strengthen relationships. By doing that, you can prevent your sales from spiraling downward.
- Start another sale: You may be tired of promotions, but your customers aren’t. You don’t have to offer quite the same level of discounts as in the holiday season, but a discount alone is powerful enough to get you back on track.
- Release a new product: The New Year is the perfect time for doing this. New Year, new you, new resolutions, new goals, new everything. So, why don’t you release something new to surprise customers?
- Send a thank-you email to all holiday customers: Tell them how much you appreciate when they bought from you. In return, you can offer them a promo code, so they can come back to your store again to buy. It’s good to keep the engagement and build a long-lasting relationship.
Now that you know how to create a holiday marketing calendar and what you need to do to develop a sure-fire holiday campaign, it’s time to start mapping out your 2021 holiday campaigns.
As Mark Twain said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Whether you’re trying to keep existing customers, acquire new ones, drive revenue, or solicit donations, starting to plan right now will allow you to be strategic with your time and resources.
And, remember to download our interactive holiday marketing calendar and holiday campaign checklist to ease yourself. The 2021 holiday season will be here soon. You got this!