Here's a checklist to help marketers get ready for the busiest and most profitable time of the year.

It’s crunch time: The holiday season is like the Super Bowl of marketing.

We’re on the final push to the end of the year and most marketers are already deep into their marketing campaigns, and consumers are crossing gifts off their lists.

If you’ve waited til the last minute, we’re here to help. Here’s an emergency checklist to make sure you have everything in order for a successful end of the year:

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Checkmark_small_redOne big promotion

The big promotion is probably something your brand comes up with as early as the summer. According to Experian, 69 percent of marketers start planning in August and nearly half launch them by Halloween.

Don’t have one? Here are some options for a contingency plan:

  • Hold a sale
  • Release an infographic (if it’s too late to make one from scratch, consider revamping an existing graphic with a holiday theme)
  • Publish a white paper or an eBook (Or pull one in your archive and repurpose it to address your customers’ concerns around the holidays)
  • Launch a specialized learning series – think video or blogs that solve customers’ problems this time of year
  • Sponsor a social contest with a giveaway

Now is the time to think about optimizing your campaign to get the best results with other marketing tools in your belt.

Checkmark_small_redGoals (Benchmarks to measure your progress)

Your promotion won’t be successful if you don’t know where you want it to go. Before you build out all of your supporting assets, make sure you have a plan that includes:

Web goals:

  • Reach – The number of impressions you get through search, social and links
  • Engagement – The number of responses, clickthroughs you get
  • Traffic – The number of visits your get to your website

Revenue goals:

  • Leads – How many qualified prospects do you attract?
  • Conversions – How many people buy, download your content or request a demo?

Checkmark_small_redSeasonal optimization & SEO

You probably have a creative name for your promotion already, but consider how you can make it fit into your SEO strategy.

  • Can you include a keyword that people use to find your business?
  • Are you using internal jargon or terms your target audience searches frequently?
  • Is there a relevant hashtag you can use for inspiration, while also capitalizing on existing buzz?

For example, we found the hashtag #Thankfulchallenge was an appropriate conversation where we could jump in and share our 30 Stats for Thanksgiving series. Pro tip: It’s important to research hashtags before you jump, as evidenced by campaign mishaps earlier this year. 

Checkmark_small_redA content calendar

You need to plan with details about when you’ll release materials promoting your campaign. This guarantees they’re distributed at the optimal times without overlap.

Content Calendar example

Here’s a sample (If a video anchored your campaign promo)

Checkmark_small_redContent to support your big holiday push

To support your campaign, you need a range of assets that will get people excited about and engaged in your promotion, including:

  • Pictures: infostats, photos, illustrations or graphics
    Visuals have a high impact. They draw attention and make campaigns feel complete.
  • Site-based written content: Articles and blog posts
    Text-based content adds context and search value to your campaign. It conveys the fine print and educates readers, while also using keywords and relevant terms that make the campaign searchable and bring people to your website.
  • Shareable content: Interviews with influencers, insightful quotes and striking stats
    These elements, pulled from your site resources, provide compelling items to share and can add allure to your content.
  • Videos: In-person interviews, video blogs, animated product demos
    Streaming media adds another dimension to your marketing mix and has strong appeal for visual learners. It gives your campaign a dynamic edge.

Checkmark_small_redAn email campaign

You need an email campaign to distribute your promotional content throughout the promotion, obviously including:

  • An intro email
  • A last-minute email

… but what about nurtures in-between, such as:

  • A follow-up for people who don’t open
  • A follow-up for people who don’t click
  • A follow-up for people who click but don’t convert
  • A follow-up for people who convert, such as a thank you message
  • An unsubscribe option specifically for the campaign*.

*While you want to keep the promotion fresh on people’s mind, they might not be into it. Don’t lose the right to email them year-round if they’re simply not interested in the holiday offer.

Checkmark_small_redA social strategy

Create a comprehensive plan to reach your social networks and promote the campaign from start to finish

  • At least 1 daily post per network promoting the campaign (with more on Twitter). This is in addition to your regular schedule – you don’t want to turn your social feeds exclusively into your holiday promo channel.
  • Unique visuals to share on social
  • A list of influencers to reach out to, who might support your campaign and get it in front of their own social circles
  • A unique hashtag for the promotion

Checkmark_small_redSupport from your team

Get your staff excited about the promotion. Consider putting the spotlight on the people behind the product or service, and getting them to speak about why it’s great and how it works for customers. Also leverage your professional networks so colleagues can help spread the word about the campaign.

  • Incentivize employee support with an INTERNAL contest – even for bragging rights

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Don’t sit back – Track the results & be responsive

When you’re running a long-term campaign, it’s vital to keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to revise and improve. Track the results in real-time and make adjustments to your overall strategy for the best results come the end of the year.

How’s your holiday strategy coming? Let me know what your favorite campaigns are!

 Keep the checklist handy for easy reference! Grab your downloadable version here.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.