How Soon is Too Soon to Begin Holiday Marketing?

Holidaymarketing  Vizion Interactive Reading Time: 3 minutes

Every year, marketers jump at the chance to bolster advertising techniques around the holidays. From red and green banner ads in August to Black Friday discounts advertising months before Thanksgiving, some brands are a little overenthusiastic to begin the holiday season. Knowing where to draw the line on holiday-themed marketing tactics can improve your relationship with customers and increase word-of-mouth advertising – in a good way.

Merry Metrics: What the Numbers Say

Holiday-themed content, articles, and social media posts are perfect opportunities to spread brand awareness and join the national conversation. Tweeting about Black Friday deals is not only a good idea – it’s what consumers want and expect from brands. However, when brands push the boundaries of when it’s acceptable to begin holiday marketing, they can damage their reputation and turn off customers.

For years, many consumers have boycotted big name corporations such as Walmart and Target for their aggressive holiday marketing, especially around Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Using the holidays to boost sales is a common technique, but it doesn’t work if it comes too soon. Decking your website out with Christmas sales in early November, for example, can irritate your audience and make your brand look insensitive to the deeper meaning of holidays.

While consumers expect brands to take advantage of an opportunity to make a sale, they don’t want to feel that a business is pushing the holidays too early. A recent Nielsen survey shows that October is the earliest brands should consider marketing for Christmas, but many consumers disagree. We’ve all heard complaints about stores that sell Christmas decorations right alongside Halloween costumes and candy, so do these tactics actually result in increased sales?

There will always be customers who shop year-round for Christmas presents, just as there will always be shoppers who wait until the last minute to get the best deals. The question is, what is the optimal time to target the widest range of customers? In a 2013 survey by Accenture, researchers found that 73% of respondents planned to do most of their shopping by the end of November. The Nielsen survey showed nearly one quarter (23%) of consumers start holiday shopping in September. With numbers like these, it’s no surprise that companies begin advertising early.

Many businesses argue for Christmas in July marketing campaigns, at least through email channels. Companies see it as getting ahead of the game, even if it’s at the risk of irritating some customers. October seems to be a relatively safe time for holiday marketing campaigns, according to research from Oracle Marketing Cloud and Edison.

Marketing before October puts a business at risk of sounding pushy and overly concerned with making a profit on the holidays. Marketing too late, on the other hand, can mean consumers miss your ads completely.

Strike a Balance Between Summer and Sleigh Bells

The solution for marketers seems to be adjusting timeframes for different platforms. Every year, social media analytics companies look at holiday-related activities and deliver metrics detailing when the most conversions take place. One of these companies, Union Metrics, found the best time to post about Black Friday sales is 10 days beforehand. If your social audience isn’t ready to think about the holidays, forcing them to can waste money and even hurt sales.

Email marketing campaigns, on the other hand, need an earlier start for greatest impact. Start with a low percentage of holiday marketing in September or October, and work your way up to the grand finale. As the date approaches, you’ll have your holiday marketing in full swing right at the optimal time of year. Market your hardest in the third and fourth weeks of November to stand out from crowded inboxes as Thanksgiving grows closer.

The best way to have a successful holiday marketing campaign is to do a lot of preparation, without your customers knowing about it. Gather the products and deals you’ll be debuting for this year’s holiday season and put together a marketing strategy. Do you research early, starting in the summer, but don’t make your plans public until the time is right. Personalize your emails to last year’s holiday shoppers to ensure you have their business again this year, and line up your social ads to target your ideal audience.

It’s never too soon to start organizing your marketing strategy for the holidays. The more research, data, and preparation you do early, the more likely your marketing efforts will bear fruit(cake). In today’s digital world, more and more consumers are engaging in online shopping instead of brick-and-mortar shopping or at least a combination of the two. Begin your online strategies early so your efforts come off polished, planned, and perfected when you go public. Consumers will appreciate your effort and reward your conscientious timing with brand loyalty.

This year, give a gift everyone wants – optimizing your holiday marketing strategy with the consumer in mind.