Tips for Creating Successful Holiday & New Year Digital Marketing Campaigns

Preparing for the holiday season can be a major undertaking for businesses. Everything from marketing and sales to supply chain and inventory management must be closely monitored. With regards to marketing, some companies spend millions of dollars every year attempting to entice shoppers. But how do you know if your holiday campaigns are truly effective? This article discusses how to prepare for your campaign, offers some tips for refining your approach, and provides examples of successful campaigns from past holidays to serve as inspiration.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Section One: Preparing & Strategizing for Your Holiday Campaign
  • Section Two: Campaign Execution Tips & Tricks
  • Section Three: Examples of Successful Holiday Campaigns
  • Section Four: Additional Ideas & Inspiration
  • Final Thoughts


Everyone’s favorite time of year has officially arrived. With lights hung, presents wrapped, and trees lit, the holiday spirit is in the air. Everything is cheerful and merry… including the strategy behind most business’s seasonal marketing campaigns.  

The holidays have always provided a massive revenue opportunity for businesses. On one hand, consumers enjoy the promotions and deals, while some businesses collect sales composing 30% of their annual revenue in just November and December. Due to the pandemic, a massive shift in these sales to e-commerce purchases occurred last year, although it is estimated consumers are more likely to resume in-person shopping in 2021. Either way, whether offline, online, or both, the 2022 holiday period in the U.S. is expected to result in more than $860 billion (yes, BILLION) in total sales in just a 30-45-day period.

Given the opportunity for heightened sales and promotions during the holiday period, we at SpeakClear want to help you prepare for your next holiday campaign by offering some strategic insights and market inspiration which may help you refine your existing email, social media, website, and other digital marketing campaigns. 

Preparing for the Campaign

A helpful first step for those who have created holiday campaigns in the past is to review these old campaigns and evaluate which of them proved to be successful, and which of them flopped. Look at previous performance statistics (i.e. email opens and clicks, social media likes / comments, website visits, etc.) across each campaign and be sure to account for variables such as the date of the campaign’s release, the amount of time it ran, and the specific channels through which it was posted.

Make sure to also consider any changes in your consumer data, such as a change in the demographics, locations, or audience targeted. Even a minor difference plays a crucial role in determining the success of your campaign, so be sure to clearly define who your target audience is. For example, if your holiday campaigns in 2020 focused on children’s clothing, but this year you wish to advertise for adult clothing, this will ultimately require a shift in the demographic you are targeting (i.e. adults instead of children).

Once you’ve narrowed down your target demographic and have evaluated your past campaigns, the next step is to determine which channels and messaging will prove most effective.

During this stage, it’s important to remember that while generating revenue might be your underlying motivation for holiday marketing, establishing and strengthening customer relationships should be a top priority. Ergo, the campaigns you develop should seek to strengthen relationships in a manner that last beyond the holidays — and results in customer engagement that extends into the new year and beyond.

Campaign Tips

Consider expanding your campaign to include other strategies, such as influencer marketing, videos, podcasts, or otherwise — in addition to what you already have established. Run promotions, competitions, and offer discounts. Although keeping tried and trusted campaign methods is also encouraged, expanding your options to include alternative branding channels and partnerships (i.e. social media influencers, cryptocurrency projects, etc.) can do wonders for awareness and engagement, especially during a period when standard marketing and advertising competition is at all-time highs. 

As a second tip, launching follow-up campaigns for customers and prospects that have engaged with you in the past is a great way to drive additional holiday traffic. For example, implementing a timely “abandoned cart” email blast in late November to consumers who almost placed an order during the year might remind them to make a purchase as a gift. With online shopping being so prevalent, consumers often browse multiple sites at once, and may simply forget to make a purchase or move on to other products. Reminding these consumers about your products and offering an incentive to purchase, right at the time when holiday shopping is set to begin, can serve as all the encouragement needed.

On a related note, as the holiday period progresses towards Christmas and the new year, consumers take on more urgency for finding and buying gifts. This behavior sometimes drives quick and often impulsive decisions, but businesses can take advantage of this period by offering extended discounts and “fast-shipping” promotions to encourage these consumers to make a purchase and have assurances that their package will arrive on time. 

As a final point, it’s worth noting that half of new loyalty signups from the holiday season will ultimately fall to the wayside during the new year. Thus, it is crucial for businesses to develop post-holiday campaigns and incentives also to keep their newly-engaged customers around for as long as possible. For example, consider extending your promotion to include the new year, or advertise incentives that encourage longevity in the relationship, such as loyal party discounts or member rewards.  

Examples of Successful Campaigns

1. Spotify Wrapped

Spotify Wrapped” is Spotify’s annual marketing campaign which releases in early December. The campaign permits users to view the compilation of data regarding their activity, including the top five artists, song, genres, and podcasts to which they listened, on the platform over the previous year. The release of the campaign has become very popular amongst Spotify’s listeners – as evidenced by the fact that there was a 21% increase in Spotify app downloads in the first week of December when this promotion was launched. 

As the year comes to a close, many people love to summarize their year and look back on all that they experienced. Taking inspiration from this campaign, consider compiling a summary of a person’s purchases or engagement with your company over the past year and provide them with a creative method for reviewing this activity and engaging more with you. Reminding customers of how much they interacted or purchased from you in the past and providing visual or statistical confirmation of these actions, as highlighted by Spotify, can be a great method of boosting engagement.

2. Chick-Fil-A Peppermint Chip Milkshake

Chick-Fil-A’s peppermint chip milkshake is a seasonal addition to their menu. It is a common favorite for consumers who frequent the restaurant, and, similar to Starbuck’s “Pumpkin Spice Latte”, it is a much-anticipated, limited edition product. 

Adding a product or service which is only seasonally available builds hype for its release each year, and consumers come to anticipate its annual release. Further, it instills a longevity in consumers who look forward to it for the next year. Given the popularity of both Chick-fil-a and Starbucks seasonal products and beverages, businesses in similar industries should closely inspect these campaigns for spin-off ideas of their own.

Another Starbucks-inspired campaign is highlighted below.

3. Starbucks’ Red Cups

Starbucks’ use of their red cups marks the beginning of holiday season for many avid coffee and tea drinkers. Released in late November, they announce only one month left until Christmas and instill an extra sense of joy in everyone who receives the colored cups. While they have since switched to reusable plastic cups, the same excitement bubbles around their arrival. 

Taking a page out of Starbucks’ book, other businesses can draw upon the success of this campaign by redesigning product packaging, web pages, logos, social media posts, or any other physical or digital item that depicts your brand to boost engagement with a holiday-reflective vibe.

4. Macy’s Believe Campaign 

In their Believe campaign, Macy’s partners with Make-A-Wish, a non-profit which helps fulfill the wishes of children with a critical illness between the ages of 2.5 and 18 years old. Macy’s encourages children to write letters to Santa, and for every letter written, the store will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Given that NGO giving and charitable contributions are at all-time-highs during the holidays, partnering with a non-profit during this season and making generous donations helps showcase your company’s position as a trusted and valued part of the community. If you are a new business and do not have the funds to partake to such an extent at this time, perhaps your team can write letters and holiday cards to the needy, hospital patients, those overseas, etc. or partake in another form of service to show your support for the community, once more encouraging your customers to do the same. If you’re able to properly demonstrate your company’s good-will through these campaigns, data shows that customers of nearly any demographic and background will respond in a positive fashion.

5. Disney’s From Our Family to Yours

Disney released From Our Family to Yours to start the 2021 holiday season with a short, three-minute animated tale, titled “The Stepdad,” about family togetherness and the power of storytelling. It is the sequel to 2020’s “Lola” Christmas campaign. They also released a skating Minnie Mouse soft toy and journal inspired by the ad, from which the proceeds will go to Make-A-Wish. 

The purpose of these Disney ads is mainly to show that the holidays are not only the season of giving, but the season of coming together. Of course, that message bodes well for Disney, but it also serves to show that if you can produce a campaign that is personal, intimate, and can capture the emotions of the audience, it stands a much better chance at being remembered relative to other ads.

Additional Ideas

In addition to taking motivation from others’ existing campaigns, here are a few additional ideas for your holiday campaign. 

1. Online or app only discounts

Customers are attracted to both extra savings and the feeling of exclusivity. Mobile online shopping grew 41.4% in 2020 and is projected to account for 72.9% of global eCommerce in 2021, offering discounts on your app could drastically increase your income. Over 57% of shoppers in the United States are expected to commence their holiday shopping online, so strictly online discounts or offering only certain products online further greatly impacts the size of your revenue. 

You can even offer special discounts for those who purchase directly off your social media. More than 50% of 18 to 34-year-olds have purchased from social media. Depending on what your product is and the prevalence of your social media and digital channels prior to the holidays, it could be an excellent means of expanding. 

2. Pull on emotional appeal in advertisements

As exemplified through Disney’s campaign, pulling on consumers’ heart strings attracts them to your brand and, thus, your products and/or services. However, there is a fine line between doing so in a genuine vs ingenuine fashion, and if consumers think your efforts are purely driven by money, the result can be worse than not doing a promotion at all. So, in these circumstances, make sure to be transparent and authentic in how you convey your message, and avoid asking outright for sales, subscriptions, or sign-ups relevant to your products in these types of campaigns.

3. Give back to your customers

You can send email (or handwritten for an extra personal touch) thank you notes to your customers over the past year, mentioning some of your upcoming sales, discounts, or deals for the season. Another way is to offer giveaways on social media. For example, hosting an Instagram giveaway where each person sharing the post to their Instagram story is entered to win. This expands your brand awareness while also giving back. You could even go so far as to offer free shipping on products just for the holidays, increasing people’s chances of ordering from you. 

4. Host an event for the community

The holidays are the time for coming together, and hosting an event, whether virtual or in-person, is a means of doing just that. You could host a contest on social media, maybe a gingerbread house or Christmas decorations, whether people post theirs, tag you, and other people have to vote and decide which one they like the best. The winner could win a free product or special discount code. 

Final Thoughts

Holiday campaigns should reflect the values of the holidays themselves, such as giving, cheerfulness, family, etc. Infusing these values with your brand attracts both new and old consumers, and ultimately increases your chances of revenue this holiday season. Check out our other blogs for guidance on incorporating new marketing strategies into your holiday campaign, or contact us for more information.