A Quick Start Guide to Seasonal Marketing

Tis the season for seasonal marketing campaigns!

Over the next few weeks, storefronts will be plastered with Halloween-themed ghouls and goblins, travel companies will urge you to “Book now!” before tickets skyrocket before Thanksgiving, and online advertisers will begin teasing upcoming holiday sales.

Seasonal marketing, however, is more than just putting up store decorations and creating special discounts; it’s all about perfect timing, unique content, and how your campaign is executed that earns engagement and ultimately sales.

Sure, you may have created a special promotion, launched a few social media ads, and optimized some landing pages with holiday colors in the past. This may work for some companies, but to really stand out in a crowded field of digital advertisers, you need to think outside the gift box.

In this guide, I’ll briefly outline:

  • What is seasonal marketing?
  • Why a seasonal marketing plan may be right for your company
  • What you need to know to successfully execute a seasonal marketing campaign
  • A few ways to make your seasonal ads stand out

What is seasonal marketing?

Seasonal Marketing Calendar 2017 Photo credit: Kensa Creative

Seasonal marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on creating campaigns based on annual events. Seasonal marketing involves three types of annual events:

  • Official holidays: These are the most commonly celebrated holidays, including Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Independence Day, Easter, and Saint Patrick’s Day.

  • Non-traditional holidays: Unlike official holidays, non-traditional holidays are not officially recognized or observed, but often raise awareness about things or groups that aren’t often recognized. For instance Earth Day, Black Friday, Star Wars Day, and International Women’s Day.

  • Annual cultural events: These are annual cultural events that happen around the same time every year, like Back-to-School, Spring Break, and Summer Vacation.

Does a seasonal marketing campaign make sense for my company?


You don’t need a product that is gift wrapped or an exclusive holiday promotion in order to take advantage of financial boost around popular holidays. Instead, a successful seasonal marketing campaign hinges on offering your customers or users valuable content.

holiday shopping According to 2016 research from 451 Marketing, 75% percent of shoppers aged 18-24 (millennials) will spend under $500 on holiday gifts. Photo Credit: 451 Marketing

For instance, if you’re consumer-facing food delivery service, you can offer more than an exclusive discount on their next offer. This is the perfect opportunity to create an infographic on how to cook a Thanksgiving turkey correctly, create a short, behind-the-scenes video about Valentine’s Day chocolates are made or share recipes for refreshing summertime cocktails on your blog.

Even B2B companies can get in on the fun! Let’s say your company sells office furniture to companies of all sizes. You can create a blog post on how to successfully throw an office party on a limited budget, design a fun infographic on how to creative ways to decorate your office during the holidays, or create a hashtag encouraging your customers to share photos of their office’s holiday party.

This, however, does not mean you should create a seasonal campaign for every holiday, but you should be strategic about choosing a seasonal opportunity. It helps to know you know your audience’s attitudes towards official and non-official holidays, and that's precisely why conducting keyword research is essential.

Starting with the copy and creative for your seasonal campaign is working backward and will force your ad to fit into a less-than-optimal set of keywords. By identifying a set of keywords to target opens up a ton of options for catering your seasonal content to your audience.

Before you continue reading this guide, read our step-by-step blog post on how to conduct keyword research and how to use keywords to run and optimize your seasonal paid ads.

What you need to know before executing a seasonal marketing campaign


Before you begin planning your seasonal marketing campaign, here's what you need to keep in mind.

Time is of the essence


Timing is everything when it comes to putting together a seasonal marketing plan. This means planning your seasonal marketing strategy well in advance--if you’re beginning to plan your Christmas-themed campaign in November, you’re going to be in serious trouble.

Begin to plan your seasonal marketing plan at least 3-4 months in advance (this takes into account the build up prior to the event or holiday). This also gives you enough time to create a comprehensive marketing strategy, create high-quality content, and finalize an execution schedule for your campaign.

Creating unique, high-quality seasonal content


Unique seasonal content is at the forefront of your seasonal marketing campaign.

If this is your first time planning and executing a seasonal marketing campaign, here are a few content ideas to help you get started:

  • Helpful Content: Teach your audience something valuable that will make a process easier or less stressful. For instance, grocery stores can share easy holiday recipes in their weekly circular, a makeup company can create a tutorial video on a look perfect for the holidays, and lifestyle blog can share money-saving DIY projects for the holidays.

Seasonal Marketing Ad- How to Cook a Turkey

A Thanksgiving infographic from Reynolds, the manufactures of Reynolds Wrap® Foil. Photo Credit: ReynoldsKitchens.com.

  • Photo Contests: Get your audience involved in your seasonal campaign and encourage them to submit photos on a dedicated landing page or using a hashtag on social media. Your company can simply re-share the best submissions or award the best photo with a prize or special offer.

t mobile

For Halloween, T-Mobile ran a photo contest on Twitter. To enter, all you need is to upload a picture to Twitter with two designated hashtags. Photo credit: Twitter/T-Mobile

  • Free samples: Consider offering a free sample of your product to celebrate a non-traditional holiday. For instance, a doughnut shop can offer a free doughnut on National Doughnut Day or a bakery can offer free samples of pie for Pi Day.

Seasoal Ad - National Ice Cream Day

Dippin’ Dots offered their customers free mini cups of ice cream on National Ice Cream Day.

  • Limited-time offers: For annual events and seasons, consider offering a special limited-time offer or discount to correspond with times. For instance, a retailer may want to offer a 25% discount on school uniforms and other children’s apparel. A photography company could offer special packages for graduating students for May and June.

Sesonal Ad- Back to School Offer

Here’s an example of a deal Best Buy offered for a 3-day sale specifically for Back-to-School. Photo Credit: Calgary Deals Blog

  • Seasonal social media posts and ads: The needs of consumers also change depending on the season. At the beginning of the summer, it makes sense for a retailer to advertise their swimsuit and sandal collections, with visuals and copy conveying summertime fun. Likewise, a coffee shop may want to share high-quality photos of a specialty drink made for a special event or for a season. Moreover, if you decide to run seasonal paid marketing ads, make sure to include keywords frequently searched during holidays, like “deals”, “specials”, “Black Friday”, “coupons”, “save”, “discount”, and “promotions”.

starbucks zombie frappucino

Starbucks is promoting a special Zombie Frappuccino available for a limited time for Halloween. Photo Credit: Starbucks/Instagram

  • “Best Of” Content: At the end of the year, give your audience a recap of what happened this year. You can share a numbered list of your top selling products of the year or a blog post of your company’s biggest accomplishments of the year.

Seasonal Ad - Starbucks

An example of a retailer of baby products sharing a roundup of products moms loved in 2016. Photo Credit: Wall Decal

For experienced marketers or companies with a large budget dedicated towards seasonal advertising, here are a few additional ideas for content and paid ads to make your seasonal marketing campaign really stand out.

  • 3-D GIFs in social media posts and ads: Instead of using static images or short videos, experiment using 3D GIFS--no glasses required. Better yet, for marketers or designers with experience using Photoshop, 3D GIFs aren’t super difficult to make! Check out this step-by-step guide on how to create these eye-popping GIFs.

Seasonal Ad- 3D GIF

Photo Credit: Mashable

  • Add an automated countdown timer to Google Ads: Target early and last-minute shoppers by adding an automated sale countdown to your Google Ads. Using ad customizers, your ad can display exactly how many days and hours remain until the target date, without having to delete and re-add the ad or wait for policy checks. Read this step-by-step guide on ad customizers to learn more.

Seasonal Ads auotmated countdown google ads

Photo Credit: Guaranteed PPC

  • Using social proof in ad images or copy: If you’re in the e-commerce industry, try adding positive reviews from users or renowned publications/organizations for seasonal items. For instance, you can create a Facebook ad promoting your store’s best selling winter outerwear and accessories with a positive review from a popular lifestyle blog. This tactic builds customer trust and makes them more likely to convert.

Seasonal Ad with Social Proof

Photo Credit: Nanigans

  • Using Facebook and Instagram Carousel Ads to share related seasonal products: Another tip for retailers is to use a carousel ads to share a series of related products that are perfect for an event or season. You can share images of 4 gifts that would be perfect gifts for Father’s Day or share four variations of a scarf perfect for cool fall weather.

Seasonal Ads-Facebook Carousel Ads

Photo Credit: Nanigans

  • Facebook 360 Video: With Facebook 360 videos, you can create and share immersive stories, places, and experiences with your audience. Travel companies, for instance, may want to share a Facebook 360 video of a warm tropical beach, encouraging their audience to book a trip to temporarily get away from the winter cold. Likewise, a furniture company can create a Facebook 360 video demonstrating how to properly set up holiday decorations around your home.

Scheduling and execution


When you’re ready to execute your seasonal marketing campaign, aim to get a head start before your competitors--look at what they did in the past to give you insight on when they’ll most likely post this year.

And don’t forget about your audience! Your campaign schedule should include the best times to communicate with your users and the types of content they’ll most likely engage with.

Finally, keep in mind that customers want to have more choices when shopping on and offline. One unique characteristic of successful retailers is that they've applied the "omnichannel marketing" approach to their seasonal marketing strategies. Omnichannel marketing is a new consumer-based strategy known to improve the customer experience and overall business performance. Click here to learn how the omnichannel approach benefits retailers.


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