Holiday Marketing Strategies For Your Agency and Clients

What do Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Hanukkah, Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Year’s all have in common? They all happen in the last two months of the year and offer an opportunity to execute clever holiday marketing strategies to boost revenue for both agencies and clients.

There is a misconception among agency owners that acquiring new clients or contracts is a wasted effort during the holiday and Christmas sales period, according to Mike Cooch, Founder of ServicesThatScale, which helps professional services companies accelerate growth.

But the fact is business-to-business (B2B) buyers are equally as eager to find a great deal for marketing services as consumers are for electronics on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Agency owners assume that their prospects are checking out for the holidays and there’s no real point in trying to continue to push on sales until the New Year starts. But that’s a big mistake. Business owners are setting big goals and making plans for the New Year now and they will need your help to get them done.
Mike Cooch

Founder, ServicesThatScale

Neil Patel, Founder of performing marketing agency NP Digital, agrees service-based businesses have just as much to offer during the holidays as product retailers.

“You’re still trying to make money by selling something to a target demographic. Holiday promotions are simply another marketing tool to help you reach this goal,” he says.

In this blog, we explore holiday marketing strategies agencies can use to secure more projects during the peak shopping period. We also look at holiday-specific digital and ecommerce strategies that agencies can use to maximize sales for their small and medium business (SMB) clients.

Holiday marketing strategies: 4 tips for agencies

Both Cooch and Patel say agency owners should consider using and repurposing some of the same tactics small and medium businesses (SMB) use to increase holiday and Christmas sales.

1. Have clear goals in mind

Patel says as a starting point, it’s important for any service-based company to have a vision about what they’re trying to achieve with their holiday promotion strategy and why.

“For example, maybe you have an underperforming service you’re trying to boost. The clearer the goal, the easier it is to choose the right holiday promotion,” he says.

Patel adds the following advice when planning their holiday marketing strategy:

 

  • Know what customers want - By analyzing existing customers, a service-based business or agency can deliver relevant seasonal promotions.
  • Analyze competitors - What promotions have rivals been running and what learnings do they provide?
  • Plan in advance - The earlier a business starts thinking about promotions, the more time they have to execute promotions effectively.

2. Consider corporate gifts

Shops such as cosmetics stores and chocolatiers are often in a position where they’re giving away items to customers. But it can be refreshing for a business owner to be receiving a gift for a change.

Cooch suggests agency owners should consider setting a “gift budget” and spending amounts based on the client or prospect’s revenue tier.

Here's an illustrative example of how a gift budget could be planned and spent:

 

  • Take the top 20 percent of clients and send them something really nice. Let them know that you appreciate their business and that you look forward to working with them in the next year. This should be about 50 percent of the gift budget.
  • Take the other 80 percent of clients and send them a thoughtful card or a handwritten note with a smaller gift and also thank them for their business and show them their appreciation. This should be about 30 percent of the budget.
  • Send the top 20 percent of prospects a thoughtful card or a handwritten note with a smaller gift and let them know you look forward to the opportunity to work together. This should be 20 percent of the budget.

 

“You should also send the rest of your prospects a holiday email and wish them the best for the holidays and the New Year,” Cooch says.

3. Include a pre-paid discount and create urgency

The idea of gifting is not only to make a client or prospect feel valued but to also serve as a gentle nudge for the business owner to consider your agency for more work. Or, at the very least, the gesture goads them into briefly paying attention to the gift-giver.

To tie it to the holiday theme, Cooch says the agency should include within the gift, an exclusive offer that encourages the client to prepay for services at a discount. For example, a 15 percent Black Friday discount for a website refresh.

“The strategy has worked really, really well for me over the years, because you have more clients than you know that have a surplus of profits and cash at the end of the year that would love to spend it before the New Year to get a tax break,” Cooch says.

“So give them the opportunity to pre-pay for services now, lower their taxes, and get a discount on your services for the pre-pay.”

However, the key with this tactic is to create a sense of urgency so that a client is compelled to pay before year-end.

“Let them know that your first quarter schedule tends to get booked up very quickly and let them know that you’re prioritizing scheduling their projects because of your relationship with them,” he says.

“They’ll feel like you’re taking good care of them, and you’ll have a packed calendar in January before the year has even started.”

4. Offer an existing service with a seasonal twist

If an agency is planning to launch a new service, it may be worth holding off on promoting it until the holiday season.

Think about what services your customers need and figure out how you can put a seasonal twist on them. Not planning on introducing new services this holiday season? Just put a holiday spin on your existing services to make them “feel” new.
Neil Patel

Founder, NP Digital

In the case of an agency, a holiday marketing package could include a number of solutions designed to help local businesses sell more during the holidays. These could include building a Christmas-themed ecommerce store, conducting a search engine optimization (SEO) audit, and publishing holiday gift guides.

A business doesn’t necessarily have to create “new” services, Patel says, but the impression of packaging existing offerings in a certain way for a certain event makes a buyer perceive it as something fresh and relevant when advertised at the right time.

Gifts for customers
Sales tips for local businesses

Holiday marketing strategies: 8 tips to maximize sales for local businesses

As a starting point, Sean Corson, Co-Founder of data analytics platform Daasity, says agencies and local businesses should review the prior year’s marketing budget and return on ad spend (ROAS) data to determine the most effective promotions and channels for traffic during the holidays.

“If you forecast how much traffic you need to drive to hit this year’s holiday revenue goals, you can estimate how much you have to spend per customer and on which channels,” he says.

1. Leverage social media and paid advertising

Nearly 8 in 10 consumers said they used at least one Facebook app or service to find gifts, and it was estimated that social commerce accounted for 11 percent (or $474 billion) of total global retail ecommerce revenue in 2020.

Carson expects social media to be a key driver of online sales again and encourages marketers to use content and selling functionality on these platforms to increase Christmas sales.

But Tim Asimos, Partner and Director of marketing agency Digital + Growth, believes it will be hard for local businesses to stand out purely with organic content alone, and that paid ads are now necessary to reach audiences on Facebook, Instagram, and other popular social channels. 

"Paid social allows you to display advertisements on social platforms or to promote your own social content so that it reaches more people, targeting the demographics you’d like to reach," Asimos says.

That means agencies may need to have conversations around a holiday paid ads budget with their clients.

2. Optimize local SEO

As always, SEO will play a huge factor in holiday marketing strategies.

Last year, search accounted for 45 percent of visits and revenue during the holidays, with paid search being slightly more effective than organic search.

Carson says marketers should look back to see which terms resulted in the highest conversions at the best cost per acquisition (CPA) rates while factoring in terms that are trending this year through keyword research.

In addition to this, it’s critical agencies remind local businesses to ensure their listings information is up to date on Google and other platforms. This may form part of an SEO audit and cover:

 

  • The store’s name, address, and phone number and ensuring these details are identical to what’s listed on the SMB’s website and other listings
  • Accurate business hours including public holiday open and closing times
  • Ensuring the SMB has a continuous flow of online reviews, and if not, the agency should see this as an opportunity
  • Lots of visual content including recent photos, and if possible, a virtual tour of the store.

 

Recommended Reading:  Our How to Conquer Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO): The Comprehensive Guide explores the strategies and tools for reselling local SEO services to get your clients found online.

3. Display your local inventory on Google Business Profile 

We recently reported that Google My Business rebranded to Google Business Profile and added new features to help local businesses drive store traffic.

One of these is the “in stock” filter on Search so shoppers can see only nearby stores that have the item they are looking for - this will greatly assist more than 50 percent of shoppers who will attempt to confirm online that an item from a local business is in stock before going to buy it.

To make sure products show up, retailers in the United States and Canada can sign up for Pointy from Google — free of charge and right from a business’s GBP on Search.

In stock filter function on search

Example of the in stock filter function on search

4. Consider new marketing mediums

The lead-up to Christmas is a great time for agencies to get SMBs to consider new tools such as SMS message and web push notification marketing if they don’t already have this functionality.

Last year saw a 378 percent increase in SMS messaging over 2019, with an average conversion rate of 2.65 percent, according to the Omnisend 2020 Ecommerce Marketing Statistics Report.

Meanwhile, there was a 1098 percent increase in web push messages in 2020 from the prior year. These had a 52.8% view rate, 2.8% click rate, and “an impressive 28.1% conversion rate.”

These notifications can provide a convenient way to keep customers up-to-date on order and shipping status.

Recommended Reading: Discover why you should provide SMS solutions for local businesses, and how you can easily implement this into your offering.

5. Create teaser email campaigns

Email campaign marketing remains one of the most powerful tools to communicate to the masses.

Dan Macgill, Consultant at ecommerce platform WooCommerce, says local businesses should generate hype among customers by sending emails in advance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday about the imminence of great deals.

“You begin by sending out emails in advance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday telling customers to anticipate great deals. You might segment special offers to different lists. So as the big day draws near, your customers are looking forward to what they can get,” he says.

“If you’ve planted the seed, and then watered it in the weeks leading up to the big day, your customers will already be thinking about you and planning to look at your deals and specials,” he says.

6. Create a surprise bonus

Macgill suggests that as an added surprise, local businesses can extend the duration of their sale on the day it starts, rather than limiting it to a one-day event.

“Some companies extend Black Friday sales through the weekend. Some start them before the actual date. The same flexibility extends to Cyber Monday, which is why it’s often referred to as Cyber Week,” he says.

He adds that an SMB could include benefits that weren’t previously mentioned when the sale period commences, such as:

 

  • Free shipping
  • Free gift wrapping
  • A bonus gift like an accessory or holiday ornament
  • A gift card that can be redeemed in the new year
  • A special buy one, get one free offer

 

“Surprise and delight are powerful motivators. Use them in your Black Friday and Cyber Week email campaigns,” Macgill says.

7. Upsell customers with ‘stocking stuffers’

“Stocking stuffers” or small Christmas gifts could be the perfect solution for shoppers who have many people to shop for, and an easy way for SMBs to upsell products and boost sales via ecommerce.

“Just like with checkout displays at retail stores, people don’t mind adding on a few dollars worth of items they can use as stocking stuffers or fun gifts,” Macgill says.

Agencies can work with local businesses to recommend stocking stuffers based on categories, tags, or customer actions. 

“Suggest several of these products on your checkout page as simple upsells during the holiday season,” he says.

Recommended Reading:  Our The Ecommerce Ecosystem: A Post Pandemic Playbook Learn explains why ecommerce will become even more important in coming years and explores the tactics, tools and technology for selling ecommerce services and solutions.

8. Create email campaigns for after the sale

The holiday shopping season doesn’t end after Cyber Monday is over. Many people continue shopping throughout December and in the lead up to Christmas, Macgill says.

And the fact of the matter is that if a local business won a new customer during the holidays, they have the opportunity to go much further than one sale via re-targeting and also new email campaigns that:

 

  • Thank them for their purchase
  • Give shipping updates
  • Include instructions on how to use or care for a product
  • Ask for reviews
  • Send new offers

 

“Doing this shows customers you care about their experience, not just their money, and it will result in fewer returned products and better customer loyalty,” he says.

And where a customer still has items in their shopping cart but hasn’t checked out, addressing abandoned cart emails can be useful in ensuring customers don’t fall through the cracks.

Conclusion

Agencies shouldn’t view the holiday period as a write-off for securing more projects. On the contrary, it’s the perfect time to express gratitude to customers and prospects.

At the same time, agencies should ensure they’re on the ball and help local businesses plan their holiday marketing strategies in advance given the revenue at stake for business owners.

 

  • Have clear goals in mind about what B2B campaigns are designed to achieve
  • Everyone loves a good deal during the holidays, so consider offering a pre-paid marketing services discount and creating a sense of urgency among clients to lock in more work for the New Year
  • Sales in 2021 are expected to reach a record high, and both the ecommerce and in-store customer experience will be equally important in driving revenue
  • Support local businesses by ensuring communications campaigns are planned in advance, websites are optimized for SEO, listings and inventory information are regularly updated, and adopting new technologies to drive leads and conversions

 

And on that note, happy holidays!

About the Author

Vishal Teckchandani is a Content Marketing Specialist at Vendasta. A newcomer to Canada, he spent the last 14 years of his career in Australia as a financial services reporter and TV host. He has written extensively about how technology companies are transforming business processes and lives, and interviewed the CEOs of global banking, payments, SAAS, and cloud storage providers including Afterpay, ELMO Software, Macquarie Group, National Australia Bank, NextDC, and Zip Co. When he’s not creating content, Vishal loves to cook, explore Saskatchewan with his family, and volunteer for his community.

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