- I’ve seen huge corporations that create a new “Black Friday” page every year
- Most businesses fail to apply reuse and learn their past seasonal campaign’s data to further amplify ROI
- Pre-holiday traffic boosts can be hard to reverse-engineer unless you organize and recorded well
- Holiday marketing is tough, but it doesn’t always have to be this way
A pre-holiday marketing strategy can turn any business ROI around: It can literally either make or break your ROI for the whole year. Businesses get so obsessed with generating more sales over the big holiday season that they neglect their biggest asset: Data.
This results in ill-informed decisions made for the following year. Businesses keep following the same routes year after year without relying on the previous year’s results or learning from past mistakes.
It is understandable: Unless you capture your (and your competitor’s) stats while the campaigns are still underway, it will be hard, if not impossible, to revive them later. Rankings drop, social media campaigns get archived, and landing pages get buried.
Pre-holiday boost of traffic can be hard to reverse-engineer unless you do good homework of organizing and recording it well.
Here are a few ideas.
1. Keep a record of all your seasonal content
There are some huge mistakes most businesses make: They fail to reuse their past seasonal content or seasonal landing pages. They do not use the holiday period to A/B test their marketing to gain hypothesis, and scale campaigns for the future.
I’ve seen huge corporations that create a new “Black Friday” page every year. What happens, in this case, is:
- It is never enough time for that page to start ranking properly, so the brand is missing all the potential organic traffic
- Google may prefer older pages (due to their more established reputation) that may feature outdated offers or broken links
- This way the brand will not only fail to benefit from a huge increase in relevant traffic, but it will also annoy its current customers and send them away to competitors
In contrast, re-using holiday content offers quite a few benefits. You can –
- Take advantage of existing link equity those pages were able to accumulate. So your seasonal content will be able to achieve higher rankings within a short period of time
- Be sure that no other pages exist with outdated information that can mislead user experiences
- Consolidate all the seasonal pages to ensure there are internal links flowing from page to page for all that cluster to drive traffic and conversions to your site
Create a spreadsheet listing all your seasonal pages, including commercial pages (gift lists, special offers, holiday category pages, etc.) and supplementary blog posts (holiday listicles, “how to decorate”, etc. articles).
Make sure to include your PPC pages – those are often temporary but I recommend keeping them as you will be able to address those page layouts and CTAs when creating the following year’s PPC campaigns.
Make a lot of notes keeping a record of your best-performing pages or your losses – this helps you remember what you’d like to change for the next holiday season. Record dates when you started seasonal marketing and how.
Finding a good time to launch publishing seasonal content is tricky. You cannot start too early when it is still not relevant but you want Google to have enough time to pick up on it.
For example, Starbucks started its festive campaign right after Halloween. This timing is backed by a study from Sitecore claiming that 48 percent of US consumers begin their Christmas shopping in October. Another research claims that Christmas shopping starts earlier every year, so you may want to start your holiday activities as early as possible. But this can also vary from niche to niche, so there’s no single answer.
The previous season’s marketing experience will help you improve your timing year by year.
With that in mind, keep a detailed record of:
- Seasonal page URL
- Publication date
- Its purpose (SEO or PPC or email marketing landing page, etc.)
- Your own (or your marketing team’s) observations for each page
2. Track your competitors
Holiday marketing is quite ephemeral: The temporal spike of interest in certain products or topics may last for a few weeks and then vanish. If you look at your competitors a month or two afterward, it will be hard – if not impossible – to sign that obvious success with possible tactics that brought it.
Therefore the big holiday season is an ideal time to watch your competitors closely as there’s always a lot to learn.
- Keep an eye on your competitors’ landing pages and main CTAs: What’s their focus? Which products are they promoting the most? How do they structure their landing pages and what’s their main source of traffic?
- Capture your top seasonal competitors, for example, those ranking for “Black Friday Deals”, “gift ideas”, and other high-value keywords. Search for something like “keyword deals” or “keyword Black Friday” and keep a record of higher-ranking URLs before the season is over and SERPs drastically change
- Monitor their reviews to be alerted when their clients get too excited – this will help you figure out their most effective tactics. Look for integrations to automate this activity, the best place to begin would be checking your existing tech stack
- If you are in a B2B business, download and analyze your competitors’ seasonal lead magnets and how they are utilizing them to capture more leads
- Monitor their social media bio changes as those usually indicate the start of the biggest marketing campaigns
This is also a good time to run a keyword gap analysis to discover more seasonal search queries. Make sure to use the URLs of holiday-driven landing pages while they are still searched a lot and ranked well. Both SEMrush and Ahrefs (as well as some alternatives) allow you to enter 2-5 URLs of your competitors to identify which keywords they are ranking well while your URL is failing.
Try to capture behind-the-scenes data from your competitors’ holiday marketing. In other words, dig deeper. Identify the CMS they are using and learn how they are utilizing it for seasonality. For example, both Wix and Weebly offer some fun holiday marketing features you may be unaware of because you are using WordPress.
3. Capture your data
When your marketing campaign is underway, it always feels like you’ll remember all the details clearly. From personal experience, you won’t remember a thing by the following year’s big season.
You can revive some of that data (like your rankings) but it will take you hours of work to identify where your page stood, which were your best traffic-driving search queries, and which keywords brought the most conversions. Capture your most essential data points now while they are easy to surface:
- Your rankings with the highest traffic
- Your rankings with the highest click-through
- Your best-converting URLs
- Your rich snippets that bring sales
I recommend noting all of that data in the spreadsheet you have recorded your existing seasonal content to be able to repeat that success the following year. It is always easier to rely on past success than starting from scratch.
Likewise, maintain records of:
- Your (team’s) best successes: Social media updates that converted best
- Your best-performing PPC audiences, remarketing campaigns, and landing pages
- Your best-performing email marketing campaigns
Make sure your data is not isolated. Your page rankings may be of no use unless you know which of those keywords brought actual sales, and that’s the type of data that’s the hardest to revive after some time.
Holiday marketing is tough: Competition goes through the roof, and it is already getting year after year to get your brand noticed.
Your experience and data are the most powerful competitive advantage that will propel your brand ahead and help you overcome holiday mania. Rely on the right set of existing data and make sure you don’t lose it.
Ann Smarty is the Founder of Viral Content Bee, Brand and Community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. She can be found on Twitter @seosmarty.
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