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Seasonal Marketing 2021: Essential 15-Step Checklist

Can you believe that it’s almost the holiday season? Neither can we! If you’re like many companies this year, you’re just as surprised that it’s time to start planning your seasonal marketing for the holidays. 

While we can’t provide you with specific holiday campaign ideas in a generic blog post, we can offer some tips and tricks for making sure your holiday marketing is set up for success starting right now. (But you can reach out to us for a strategy session if you want more one-on-one support!)

This checklist offers tangible ways to prepare your seasonal marketing for (yet another) COVID holiday season. 

Search Engine Optimization

Time to ramp up those seasonal marketing keywords! Ranking in Google doesn’t happen overnight, so you need to start thinking about optimizing your site today for the holidays before it’s too late! 

Perform a seasonal content review

Do you have a few blogs on your site talking about Seasonal Marketing for the Holidays 2020? It’s time to go through and update them! Instead of writing a new 2021 gift guide, update your 2020 one instead. You already have a bit of traffic to that page, and no one is going to look at it once it’s 2021 anyway, so you might as well use what you have to make an impact.

Go through and see what types of opportunities you might have within your existing content. From adding a bulleted list to merely adjusting your headers, these might be a quick win for you and your team.

Readjust (or create!) a holiday page on your website

That leads us to our next point: You may want to have a page on your website dedicated strictly to holiday updates. If you always host Black Friday specials or like to create a specific page for the holidays and hide it once the season is over.

Having an existing page and updating it seasonally with new gift guides, products and imagery will allow you to take advantage of your current rankings. That way, it’s already been crawled and likely indexed, bypassing the need to fight to get a new page up on search results.

Create a strategy for gathering traffic insights

Hopefully, your site is going to be full of customers this holiday season. A customer on your website isn’t only useful for their ability to Add to Cart—they can also provide you with game-changing information that can help lead you to better decisions throughout 2022.

For example, if you notice that most of your traffic is coming from tablets (which would be weird in itself), you better make sure your site is fully optimized for that experience. There are many ways to use your metrics to make smarter choices, and it would take a whole blog to dive into that. Luckily, Google did it for us with this blog.

MAKE Digital Group Google Search

Directory Management

According to a Google Global Retail Study, around 40% of shoppers in 2019 use Google to find the best deals. And for many businesses, their local listings act as a pseudo virtual storefront where they can make a first impression on potential customers. This means that your Google My Business, Yelp, Yahoo, etc. listings need to be ready to catch their attention and convert them into paying customers.

Update your seasonal hours 

Do you have special holiday hours? Whether you’re closed for the holiday or are offering expanded hours of service, your GMB and other directories need to reflect that. You don’t have to wait until the week of to do this anymore; you can set it up ahead of time! Get this checked off your list with confidence this holiday season so that you have one less thing to worry about.

Read this blog to find out how to set seasonal hours on your GMB listing.

Craft seasonal MARKETING messages

Offer or event posts are a great way to get your seasonal marketing message across on GMB. Plus, these can stay up longer than the traditional seven days, meaning you can gain more traction and get more impressions. Make sure you take advantage of the heightened attention on your local listings with customized seasonal marketing content.

Post a COVID GMB update

Since the start of COVID, Google My Business has allowed businesses to set a two-week COVID notice. If you don’t have any special offers or events and would rather take advantage of highlighting your health and safety measures, this is the perfect place to do this. Consider talking about the precautions your team is taking to make in-person shoppers (or even online ones) feel safer this holiday season. 

Whether you’re taking extra steps to ensure all online orders are sanitized and safe or requiring masks and social distancing, your customers will appreciate the heads up and maybe even choose you over the competition. 

Website Updates

It’s COVID–your customers are likely going to be shopping online. In fact, Adobe Analytics found that U.S. online sales increased 43% year over year this September, reaching $60.4 billion. That means your website needs to be prepared for anything and everything.

Prep for an increased volume of sales

Hopefully, you’re going to have an increased volume of sales. Make sure your inventory is updated and ready to rock and roll before you start sending out holiday messages. Whether it’s a Black Friday deal or a Christmas gift idea, your customers will want to take advantage of your offerings, and if you aren’t ready for that—they’ll go somewhere else for it.

User test your purchasing flow

Part of prepping for that increased volume of sales also means making sure every step of your purchasing flow is set up for success. Go through each phase, from adding the item to the cart to completing a purchase, to ensure that each part works in the way that it’s intended to. 

Things to look out for include:

Be cautious of new initiatives

Websites are a fickle thing. Updates that seem perfectly normal could break your website into a million pieces if you’re not careful. Consider holding off on any significant website updates until after the new year so that your customers continue to have an efficient and optimized website experience.

After January 1, check out our best tips for optimizing your website to boost sales! (And then let us know if you want help implementing them.)

Email Marketing

According to a Shopify report, email marketing earned businesses $169.8 billion in revenue within the last two months of 2018. That’s billion with a b. 

You can’t skimp on email marketing, but you also can’t just hope that what you already have will work just fine for your customers. Your seasonal marketing campaign needs to be personalized, humanized, and, most importantly, optimized. 

Clean up your email list

You should clean your email list every six months to a year. Cleaning a list means that you’re getting rid of subscribers who aren’t engaged with your content so that you can be sure that the beautiful holiday work that you’re doing is actually worth the effort.

We get it—it can be hard to delete people off your email list (especially when you’ve worked so hard to get them there!) But think about it: if you’re sending emails to someone that isn’t opening it or engaging with it, their presence on your list is only skewing your data and costing you time and money.

As you prepare to launch your seasonal marketing email campaigns, make sure you know who you’re planning on sending it to.

Customize your holiday promotions

We live in “unprecedented times” (we prefer just to call it craziness), and your marketing should be mindful of that. This year has been challenging for everyone, so sending out tone-deaf messages based on spending lots of money may not be received in the way you’re hoping.

Instead, customize your messages to the truth of the matter: COVID is here. It will very likely be here during the holidays. 

With your seasonal marketing, write with an uplifting tone, offering empathy and support. Let them know how your product helps them live a better life during this uncertain time madness.

Automate your emails

You’re going to be busy this holiday season. Whether you’re visiting family out of town for Thanksgiving or closing the office from Christmas to New Year’s, having to press send on an email campaign should be the last thing on your to-do list.

Set up an automation campaign that will allow your emails to deploy without employee overview. This Beginner’s Guide to Email Automation from MailChimp is an excellent resource if you’re just starting on this journey.

Social Media

You don’t have to be a marketing expert to understand that social media is a powerful tool. But during the holidays, everyone is bombarded with gift ideas and best Black Friday deals that customers start to tune out. That’s why you have to get creative with your seasonal marketing campaigns on social media.

Conceptualize a holiday campaign 

This is a no brainer, right? But it’s always easier said than done. Finding a seasonal marketing social media campaign idea that is personalized to your brand and memorable can be very, very difficult.

Remember the 2015 Opt Outside campaign from REI? It’s the perfect example of how a company can tie its values into its messaging during the holiday season. We challenge you to take the time to brainstorm what matters to your company and how that can be used to craft your seasonal marketing campaign.

Consider a Give Back program

Since the start of COVID, many companies have established Give Back programs that help their communities while also expressing their values and mission. Suppose it’s within the realm of possibilities for your business. In that case, the 2021 holiday season might be the right time to explore a Give Back campaign that can be promoted through social media (and other avenues of marketing).

Promote gift cards

Who doesn’t love receiving a gift card as a gift? It’s like free money. But during COVID, gift cards can be even more critical. Multiple movements have started promoting gift cards as a great way to support small businesses during this time. Jump on this bandwagon with your seasonal marketing by promoting them on your social media accounts with a message tied into COVID and giving.

Partner With Seasonal Marketing Experts

If this all seems like a lot of work, it’s because it is! If you want to partner with a merry marketing team full of cheery and bright experts, we’re your team! Contact us today to see how we can help with your seasonal marketing efforts and everything in between.

Seasonal Marketing Checklist


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