graphic showing holiday themed items like gifts

6 Holiday Marketing Ideas for Your Digital Strategy

Planning for holiday marketing campaigns typically begins in July, so the time is now! Getting an early start means you’ll have time to craft holiday marketing ideas that take into account current trends, emerging digital channels, and the expectations of consumers going into this holiday season. 

Ready to spruce up your digital strategy this holiday season? Read on to learn everything you should know ahead of campaign planning.

Past Trends to Inform Your Holiday Marketing Strategy

Looking at historical data is beneficial to planning programmatic campaigns that perform, but this especially rings true for seasonal campaigns like holiday shopping. Below, we’re sharing some of the biggest takeaways from the 2021 holiday season. This data can provide you insights into what the 2022 season might look like, and the consumer mindset. 

Retail sales grew in 2021.

In January 2022, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that retail sales during 2021’s holiday season grew 14.1% compared to 2020, reaching $886.7 billion USD. This set a new record despite the challenges from inflation, supply chain disruptions, and rolling pandemic shutdowns. The NRF, which defines the holiday spending period as the months of November and December, has found that US holiday season sales have been growing at an average of 4.9% per year from 2011 to 2021.

Clothing and fashion was the fastest growing retail category.

According to the NRF, of the retail sectors that contributed to 2021’s holiday season sales growth, the biggest increase came from clothing and clothing accessory stores. Their combined sales grew by 33.1% compared to 2020. This notable growth in clothing and accessories isn’t that unexpected because the fashion industry currently ranks among the top online shopping categories

Black Friday was a popular shopping day.

From Thanksgiving Day through to Cyber Monday in 2021, more than 174 million Americans shopped in stores and online during the 5-day holiday weekend. The most popular day for shopping in-store was Black Friday. On that day, 77 million consumers shopped in brick and mortar locations.

What to Expect for the 2022 Holiday Retail Season

Now that we’ve unwrapped what the 2021 holiday shopping season looked like, let’s look forward. Use these predictions about the 2022 holiday retail season to prepare a holiday campaign strategy that aligns with consumer behaviour. 

Holiday retail sales will continue to increase.

According to eMarketer, holiday retail sales are estimated to increase 3.3% to $1.262 trillion USD in 2022, with brick and mortar rising 0.9% to $1.026 trillion USD and e-commerce climbing 15.5% to $235.86 billion USD.

The holiday shopping season will be longer.

Emarketer also reports that the 2022 holiday season will be longer and flatter, with less concentrated spending during the Cyber Five period. Sales may start earlier and last longer. 

We’ll see a rise in m-commerce.

M-commerce will represent nearly half of holiday e-commerce sales. Emarketer forecasts m-commerce sales to hit $116.98 billion USD, or 49.6% of overall e-commerce sales.  

Holiday Marketing Ideas to Leverage in 2022

If you’re spending weekends diving into a lake right now, then it’s the perfect time to dive into your holiday campaign planning, too. Here are 6 essential holiday marketing ideas to get you started. 

Consider a multi-channel strategy. 

A multi-channel strategy enables you to reach users across different platforms and channels. This is an essential strategy in today’s digital landscape because it can enable you to achieve greater reach by capturing users wherever they are online. 

The key to a successful multi-channel campaign is to create a cohesive message across all of your available channels. With the right mix, you’ll reach prospects where they are, create more visibility for your brand, and increase engagement from your consumers. 

The best part? Targeting multiple advertising channels is proven to lift the performance of campaigns when compared to those that run on only one. For example, if a campaign is running video ads only, the potential reach of that campaign is going to be limited to users who are on that channel. But, if another channel (like native, for example) is added, potential campaign reach will grow because more users will be exposed to the ad. 

Personalize your holiday digital campaigns.

According to the Next in Personalization 2021 report from McKinsey, companies who do a good job at demonstrating consumer intimacy generate faster rates of revenue growth. This is because users today are looking for, and expect, a personalized experience online. 

You can personalize your digital strategy by tailoring your messaging to an individual or a specific audience. Start by looking into who your audience is. Data plays an important role in this because it gives you insights that provide an accurate picture of your customers. Demographic data, behavioural data, as well as website and transaction data can all be leveraged to help you personalize your digital marketing strategy. 

From there, create customer profiles to help you identify what digital ads will perform best in reaching those profiles, and develop creative assets for your campaigns that speak directly toward those profiles. 

Leverage new or emerging channels for your holiday ads.

Ahead of a busy retail season, review the channels you typically leverage for your campaigns, and see if there are opportunities to introduce new ones, or identify if there are channels you haven’t adopted yet. New channels that will help set your holiday campaigns apart include connected TV, audio, and in-game ads.

Connected TV

Connected TV (CTV) is a valuable channel because it allows you to reach your audience in moments when they are highly engaged. When watching streamed content on a CTV device, a viewer has made the active choice to watch the programming, and in most cases they don’t have the option to fast forward or skip the ads. 

CTV is a great addition to your holiday campaign strategy because it provides access to the open internet, enhanced targeting, and inventory selection. You can deliver ads to audiences that are generally hard to reach, as well as highly-specific audiences. This will improve audience quality this holiday season. 

Programmatic Audio

Digital audio commands the listener’s full attention. Listeners feel intimately connected to the content they are hearing, which allows for a better connection between a listener and a brand. When a programmatic audio ad comes on, a listener is more receptive, which creates the opportunity to drive engagement. Because of programmatic audio’s engaging nature, it’s the perfect channel for discovery. 

Especially during the holiday season, listeners are receptive to hearing about products or services that they haven’t encountered or purchased before. And, the personal nature of audio also results in ads having a lasting and memorable effect, which means a higher rate of ad recall. 

In-Game Advertising

In-game advertising enables ads to appear in mobile, computer, and video games. With in-game advertising, marketers have an opportunity to tap into this expansive, and growing audience. Because gaming is an emerging programmatic channel, advertisers have the unique opportunity to experiment with new strategies to reach engaged audiences.

Capture attention with interactive ad formats.

Creative and interactive ad formats will help you capture attention from your target audience and build awareness for your brand. Interactive ads invite the user to perform an action in order to have something revealed within the ad itself, or to navigate towards a specific landing page. The action might simply be to hover over the ad, or to click on something. 

Either way, the audience is typically given instruction to explore the ad for more details. This interactive viewer experience is the perfect opportunity to uplift and complement your digital strategy during the holiday season. 

Some interactive creative formats that can benefit campaigns during the holiday shopping season include discovery ads, which pose a question to the user based on a topic you’ve chosen. Their answers help you determine their interest or opinions, and clicks can be tracked to create retargeting pools.

Shoppable video showcases products while allowing a user to browse right in the banner. This ad format reduces steps a user has to take between awareness and conversion. During the holidays, dynamic countdown ads are particularly useful! Countdown ads can be leveraged to inform or remind users about your sales. And, a dynamic countdown unit will help create a sense of urgency for your audience to purchase. 

Tap into the power of cookieless targeting.

Santa might not like it when there are no cookies around, but that’s not the case for digital marketers! Cookieless targeting offers you an opportunity to experiment and innovate your targeting strategy. By adding contextual tactics to your holiday marketing mix, you can elevate your campaign results.

Cookieless advertising targets ads based on the environment in which an ad appears. It uses algorithms to target ad placements based on keywords, website content, and other metadata. This way, ads are shown to users based on the content they are consuming at that moment in time. Modern cookieless targeting leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), which has made this targeting method more effective than ever before. 

The best part? Cookieless targeting comes with many unique benefits. It helps you reach users in the right frame of mind, target niche audiences, provide real-time metrics, and is a brand safe targeting method that will also help build brand affinity. 

Re-engage holiday shoppers with dynamic retargeting.

With dynamic retargeting you can serve ads which feature the most recent product page that a user has visited. They’ll see a creative containing the exact item they viewed, reminding them of the product they showed interest in at some point in their online shopping journey. 

This strategy differs from standard retargeting where generic ads are served to users who have visited your site. Standard retargeting ads remind the user of your brand message, while a dynamic retargeting ad reminds the user of the exact item they were looking at.

Dynamic retargeting is a great mid- to lower-funnel tactic. Since the user has visited your site and viewed a specific item, you know that they are aware of your brand and have moved from the top to the middle of the funnel. During the holidays, when your ultimate goal is conversion, this tactic will help drive results. 

Tis’ The Season for Holiday Campaign Tips

We hope you find these holiday marketing ideas helpful! You may also find that whatever worked last year will perform similarly in 2022. Optimize to improve your previously successful holiday campaigns, or use them as a source of inspiration!

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