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How to Stay Ahead of Holiday Creep

Altaf Shaikh | August 29, 2017 

In 2015, Coca-Cola worked with Snapchat to create a holiday filter that lasted started on Christmas Eve and lasted for one day. The filter allowed people to overlay a snowy scene of the Coke truck on top of a selfie and share it with friends. Within 24 hours, the filter was shared 26 times per second for a total of 2.3 million shared Snapchats. It created 70 million views and more Christmas buzz for Coke than any other social media Christmas campaign. Click here for details.

The holidays are a time for cheer, family, and positive vibes. For many, however, they are actually a time of stress (overeating, debt, harried schedules, and the in-laws). The last thing consumers need is being bombarded with boring ad campaigns that start in September.

For businesses, however, this time of year is critical as they position themselves for a slice of the holiday pie.
Holiday promotions used to start in November just after Thanksgiving. Then, sales moved closer to Halloween in October. Some retailers even promote “Christmas in July.” With winter holiday sales comprising more than 80% of the total annual American holiday sales, holiday creep is understandable.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), over 50% of shoppers began researching holiday gift ideas in October or earlier, with 25% actually beginning prior to September. So, how do retailers strike the balance between getting their message across and not annoying customers?

Start Preparing Now

Salesforce’s 2016 and 2017 Holiday Marketing Calendars provide some great tips for early planning – including email, mobile, social, ads, web, and brick-and-mortar.


Start planning your email campaign strategy, designs, and messaging now with the goal of sparking in-store foot traffic and capturing online sales with personalized content. Don’t forget to optimize every email for mobile, and be sure to include a plain-text version that can be opened on wearables (like watches).


Consider adding mobile campaigns to the mix. If you haven’t started collecting phone numbers for SMS campaigns, now is a good time to start. According to Google, 82% of smartphone users say they consult their phones during shopping in a physical location.


According to Salesforce, 30% of Gen X and 48% of Millennial consumers report using social channels to discover products to purchase. Social media is increasingly video- and visual-centric. The use of Snapchat for the holidays has significantly increased in popularity. Sixty percent of 13 to 34-year-old American smartphone users are now snapping. This holiday season, test some storytelling techniques on various social media channels.


If you do social advertising, determine where your best customers are coming from and start targeting those audiences. Take time to clean up your social accounts so that new visitors see an established presence that actively engages with customers. And be sure to provide rich content throughout the year to keep them coming back.


Your website should be collecting valuable data about consumer preferences. Start enhancing customer profiles now with browsing behavior, purchasing habits, and preferences so your holiday messages will be more relevant.


Be prepared for shoppers to know more than ever about products and prices this year. Many consumers conduct extensive research online before stepping foot inside a store. Make sure employees are able to answer questions and are aware of specials and sales that are advertised online.

This is also a great time to leverage location-based geo-marketing tactics, such as:

  • Geo-targeting – Contacting customers based on their geographic location.
  • Geo-fencing – Pinpointing users when they enter a pre-defined area within the store.
  • Beacons use a phone’s built-in Bluetooth technology to determine a person’s proximity to a specific part of the store then serve up promotions through a mobile app the customer has downloaded.
  • Geo-conquesting – marketing to a customer who is near a competitor’s space.

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly

Here are some final tips for helping your customers put the “Fa-la-la-la-laaaa-la-la-la-la” into their Holiday shopping experiences this year.

  • Be authentic and make ads and messages focused on the customer, not just securing the sale.
  • Be sensitive to the timing and frequency of your campaigns to avoid annoying consumers.
  • Know your audience and serve up personalized information and recommendations based on their needs.
  • Take time to thank your customers with no reference to products or sales.
  • Tell a meaningful holiday story that resonates with your customers. Is your company doing something special for others during the Season? Share it!

Need help coming up with your holiday marketing strategy?  ListEngage has been in the biz since 2003. Contact us today for a free marketing consultation.

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Altaf Shaikh

Altaf Shaikh | Founder, CEO

Altaf Shaikh is ListEngage’s Founder and CEO. Altaf has been in software development and digital marketing for more than 25 years. He started ListEngage in 2003 to help businesses transform their email and digital marketing. ListEngage has supported the Salesforce Marketing Cloud since 2003 when it was ExactTarget. As a dedicated Salesforce Partner, ListEngage has served 900+ customers and earned multiple awards, such as: 2013 ExactTarget Global Services Award, the Inc. 5000 three consecutive years, and the Boston Business Journal's FAST 50 two years in a row. Contact Altaf at