When Should You Start Your Christmas Marketing Campaign?


Christmas tree with decorations

Christmas seems like it was only a few months ago but make no mistake about it, the sounds of Mariah Carey will soon be following you around shopping centres once again. And it seems like Christmas campaigns start earlier every year, so when is the right time to start your Christmas campaign?

Start Planning in July And Promote in September 

For big brands that need to secure prime media placements, planning starts early in the year. The global marketing director at T2, Jane Hoban, reported they start planning on 26 December. “We start to analyse our Christmas campaign data immediately,” said Hoban.

Denise Wyer, the head of sales APAC at AdRoll, said that around 40% Australians have started their Christmas shopping by the end of October. Being in market and front of mind before this point is important for any business looking for a merry Christmas.

One of the biggest mistakes is not giving marketing enough time to work its magic. At Clue we see a big difference when clients launch campaigns earlier with top of funnel brand content, before transitioning to content focused on sales activation.

Remember: marketing is not just about direct sales.

If you jump straight into a sales activation, you’ll only be resonating with a limited number of customers who are at the sales stage. Months before you can do this you need to start nurturing new customer relationships with brand awareness campaigns to grow your following.

Starting Christmas campaign planning in July gives most businesses ample time to come up with ideas, create assets, and prepare media plans. Once you’ve created your plan you should start running promotions in early September. An added bonus is media costs don’t spike until October so you’ll be getting a better bang for buck.

Why You Should Plan Early? 

Christmas Shopping Starts During Cyber Week 

Your Christmas campaign needs to be well underway before Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Cyberweek kicks off Christmas sales. According to Australia Post’s e-commerce industry report, in 2019 Black Friday began on the 29th of November and kick-started Christmas spending, with volumes peaking in the first week of December. Australians are changing their spending habits by shopping earlier and taking advantage of popular sales.

Online Christmas Shopping Is On The Rise 

If you’re not yet online, don’t wait until Christmas. According to the ABC, more Australians are choosing to shop online, rather than walking into a physical store. This gives them greater choice and the ability to avoid those dreaded Christmas crowds.

It may seem like it goes without saying, but make sure your website is set-up seamlessly for online sales before you start your campaign. You should test the check-out process and ensure there are no barriers for customers.

Competition Is High 

Around the festive period competition for your customer's attention is high. If you start advertising earlier this gives you a chance to get ahead of the game. It takes a few touchpoints for new customers to gain trust. So by planning early before your competitors, you can increase your share of voice in the market.

This will also help decrease the cost of your ads. If you choose to advertise at the busiest sales period, there is more competition for placements, which means a higher cost-per-click. Distribute your advertising so your brand is visible in the months before, when competitors aren't and therefore costs are lower.

Christmas Marketing Tactics For Success 

Use Your Existing Customers 

With the focus on getting more customers and sales, don’t forget about your existing customers!

A study by Adobe found 40% of revenue came from only 8% of website visits. This indicates that a smaller portion of customers are making up a larger percentage of the revenue.

Existing customers account for even more revenue during the holiday season. Adobe’s research showed that those who had never made a purchase accounted for a 4% increase in revenue over the holiday period. Whereas returning and repeat customers accounted for a 48% increase. 

So, in short, your existing customers are important. 

Looking for ideas to re-engage existing customers?

  • Send out an email campaign with an exclusive promotion to say thanks for their support this year.
  • A gift for a loved one is a gift for them - encourage customers to buy a gift card and receive a discount they can use themselves

Offer Free Shipping and Express Delivery 

Buyers expect free and fast delivery.

While shoppers may be looking to purchase earlier in the year, the last-minute scramble is not a thing of the past.

Cardboard box package underneath Christmas tree

In 2019, the third week of December had the highest rate for express, next day delivery, according to the Australian Post report. Over half of purchases were express delivered in time for Christmas.

To leverage off this statistic, have express delivery as an option on your website. Use this as a selling point in your ads to let customers know their purchase will arrive before Christmas. 

Free postage is an expectation. So adjust your product pricing to absorb postage costs so you can offer postage for free. If you can't implement free shipping in the long-term, run it as a short promo over the festive season.

Use Retargeting to Leverage High Cart Abandonment

Ensure your retargeting funnels are set-up before the holiday season.

During Christmas, there is a high cart abandonment rate as customers browse across devices or even use the cart as a wish-list. Using effective retargeting, you can capitalise on the influx of traffic to your site. 

This can include: 

  • Email reminders for abandoned carts. 
  • Google display retargeting ads for visitors to your website. 
  • Facebook and Instagram product retargeting.

Give Customers Real Reasons to Buy

With the prevalence of discount prices, it can be easy to fall into the same trap. While sales can be a great way to get customers in with an initial purchase, do so cautiously. Having too many frequent sales can condition customers to look for lower prices and only purchase from you when there is a sale. This can ultimately devalue your brand. If low price is not your differentiating point, perhaps limit sales to two per year.  

One key marketing tactic that will rain true during the holiday period is having a content-first approach and creating personalised shopping experiences.

In saying that, sales do work for a reason. So time your flash sale to encourage urgency.

Keep Up the Marketing After Christmas

It’s not over when the Christmas carols stop.

Remember how important your existing customers are? 

Now is the chance to turn all of your new customers you’ve acquired over Christmas into repeat buyers.  

Try sending a post-holiday deal or new year’s special to your holiday shoppers. This can help keep up the sales during January which is usually a lower traffic period.

Don’t wait until the Christmas decorations are out. Start planning your Christmas strategy early and be prepared this holiday season.