Christmas is now right round the corner. “But only last week it was summer!” I hear you say! – well it’s time to get a move on with your Christmas campaigns. But when is the right time to start? It’s certainly not a Christmas Eve job. Here, I will walk you through the ‘when’s’ and ‘why’s’ of creating a successful Christmas campaign just at the right time. The key to seasonal marketing is to reach people before they make decisions about purchases, not when they’re about to start buying. For example, starting at around early November time rather than Christmas Eve!

If you haven’t yet made a start, don’t fret, you’re not too late. According to the National Retail Federation, by 15th December 2015, 44.8% of people surveyed said they were still undecided between gifts. Additionally, 28.8% said they wait until mid-to-late December because their friends and family had not given them enough gift ideas; and 22% wait for “the best deals” on products. Meanwhile, one in five consumers admitted simply, they were just procrastinating.

It’s not too early!

One major factor to consider is the fact that it’s not just about Christmas gifts anymore. The festive season includes a range of events such as Black Friday and New Year’s Eve. Think about your activity and the best timing for it and schedule your content calendar accordingly. Black Friday has grown in popularity over recent years. It falls on Friday 25th November this year, that’s a date to keep in mind!

Black Friday is definitely something that you should take notice of, as more than 3 billion was spent over the Black Friday weekend last year. At least 15 retailers’ websites couldn’t even cope, according to The Guardian, big names such as Tesco, Argos and John Lewis experienced some form of ‘loss of service’ during the weekend.

Six steps for campaign success

In order to make your campaign standout throughout this festive season you must plan accordingly. Here we have put together a six step process to help make your Christmas campaign a success:

1) Everything begins with audience. Once you have clarified who you’re speaking to, you can establish what you want to say, how you’re going to say it, as well as, where you want it to be said based on the channels your target audience engage with. Understand your audience likes and dislikes – don’t just focus on demographics, make sure you’re aware of their psychographics.

2) Figuring out your objective is the next step; this will dictate the type of content you use in order to reach your target audience. The objective will also help establish how you are going to measure success of the content. For example, for driving sales it could be CTR to your e-commerce site to then purchase; attribution modelling is key. If it’s for brand awareness, it could be how many views of your Christmas video you achieved and what the reach of this was.

3) Develop a campaign strategy and confirm your content proposition. Take into consideration the other crucial dates throughout the seasonal period, e.g. Black Friday, New Year’s Day; and what else might be going on in your target audience’s lives. Relevant and valuable content is key in grabbing attention in a busy Christmas marketplace.

4) Once you’re clear on your content strategy and the content you will be creating, this will help you determine the platform you choose to display it on. This may be your own website, social channels, digital ads, influencer channels, apps or printed material.

5) Once you have established your platform, this will help to lead the way the content is published, and then supported with paid media. Once you know your objectives, are clear on the call-to-action, and where it will be published, think about how you are going to reach your audience; probably through some paid media activity.

6) After your Christmas content has been published it should be rigorously measured and optimized to ensure the content provides maximum value. This is where you can compile learnings and feed them back into the campaign or take note for future activity.

So don’t miss a trick when planning your Christmas activity, stay organised, start early and remember that Christmas is hectic for everyone, so your content needs to be extra smart and work extra hard. Have in mind how you’re going to give your customers some festive joy this year!

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