A Complete Guide to Seasonal Marketing

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A Complete Guide to Seasonal Marketing

As we head into the final stretch of the year, most marketers realize we’re encountering consumers with a completely different mindset – one that is filled with twinkling lights, fizzy drinks, time with family, festive tunes, and chilly nights. As a result, most brands are shifting their messages and content so it speaks directly to this new (albeit predictable) mindset.

This shift is known as seasonal marketing, and even if your company doesn’t offer something your consumer can wrap up with a bow, you can still take full advantage of the holiday season – particularly because of its cyclical nature.

In this post, I’ll take a closer look at what we mean by seasonal marketing and outline a guide your brand can use to make the few changes needed to make the most of these consumer trends that come around once a year.

What Is Seasonal Marketing, and Is It for Everyone?

Seasonal marketing is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: Throughout the year, brands will adjust their marketing strategy to align with holidays to capitalize on inherent interest. Consumers behavior shifts throughout the year because of these timely events, and to remain competitive, marketing strategies and tactics need to shift, as well.

Most people think year-end events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday when they hear seasonal marketing, so if you’re not in retail, you might be thinking, “Is seasonal marketing really for me?”

The short answer is yes, in large part because all you need get started is a calendar to identify upcoming holidays that offer the opportunity for timely content. You don’t need to be in the e-commerce industry to reap the benefits.

Consider music streaming service Spotify. To celebrate another year with their listeners, they launched their “A Year in Music” campaign, which allowed users to see their most-streamed tracks from the previous year along with their favorite genres. It was an incredibly simple idea that relied only on year-end nostalgia.

The point is, though, that a lot of companies – including yours – can benefit by tapping into consumers’ holiday psyches, and the best seasonal marketing ideas go beyond sales and specials. Here’s how to offer content that is in tune with timely interests while also providing value to your consumers – an essential ingredient for success.

Timing Is Everything

Marketers spent nearly $600 billion on ads last year, so it goes without saying that success in today’s crowded ad space is all about getting your content in front of the right audience at the right time. The difficult part is predicting when and where that is, but luckily holidays offer a definitive answer in regards to time.

So, what are some ways you can make seasonal timing work to your advantage?

  • Start early: An easy way to break through the noise is to be the first person to start it. Launching a seasonal campaign before your competitors is a great way to ensure your message is seen by your target audience.
  • Promote your content often: Although specific holidays usually only last a day, there’s usually a lot of build up. Take full advantage of the months, weeks, and days before a holiday to ensure your consumers see your content.
  • Be consistent: Whether or not your content is new or exactly the same, if your consumers expect something seasonal from you, make sure you deliver it – and on time.

You Don’t Need to Reinvent the Wheel

One of the best parts about seasonal marketing is the ability to recycle your best-performing ideas the following year, so long as you make your content is as evergreen as possible. A great example is Hershey’s “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” commercial. The brand has run the TV spot every year since 1989, making it the longest running Hershey’s commercial of all time. It’s recycled content at it’s finest.

But you don’t need to reuse the exact same content year after year. Here are some easy ways to repurpose your highest-performing seasonal content:

  • Bring new life to old content through roundups: Lists are incredibly reliable in generating high social traction – a study from Fractl (my employer) revealed that they could average 21,000 shares a month – so pull a few stats from old posts to include in an updated “Top 10” list.
  • Offer it in a different visual formatHave a SlideShare that did insanely well? Turn it into one big infographic. Or perhaps you have an infographic that earned thousands of shares? Break it up into an eBook. You get the idea.
  • Produce a podcast: Nearly 20% of U.S. adults listen to podcasts at least once a month, so if you’ve got a blog post that did well the year before, simply record someone reading it and voila! You’ve got an episode for your podcast.
  • Share it with influencers: Handing off high-performing content to a third-party is a great way to get some fresh perspective – and additional social traction once they share it with their audience.

Another easy way to get into the holiday spirit with minimal effort is a seasonal logo redesign. Google does this year after year with their incredibly popular Google Doodles. To celebrate holidays and other important events, Google has changed their logo more than 2,000 times. Now, you don’t need to create anywhere near that many logos, but a few snowflakes or a pumpkin can go a long way in taking advantage of seasonal interest.

A Complete Guide to Seasonal Marketing | SEJ

Remember Holidays Also Impact Search

Although most SEO strategies focus on long-term gains, the most effective seasonal campaigns also take into account how consumers change the way they interact with search engines during holidays. For instance, “Black Friday deals” will likely peak around November while “fireworks” will peak in July. Marketing teams can count on specific queries like these to trend around the same time each year and should plan their keywords accordingly.

Let’s use the example of “holiday shopping.” It’s a broad term, but one you could make work for your brand with help from SEMrush’s related keywords tool. This feature allows users to identify additional queries that are related to a specific keyword but might be more applicable to your brand or service. Take a look at some of the related keywords provided below:

A Complete Guide to Seasonal Marketing | SEJ

If you’re an e-commerce site, the long-tail query “online holiday shopping” is a lot more targeted for your brand. Perhaps you’re a site that offers a survey platform like SurveyMonkey? Then you would want to go after “holiday survey” (or even “online holiday shopping survey results” to target audiences interested in learning more about consumers’ shopping habits).

Another great place to identify keywords is Google Trends – particularly because it can also give you a good idea on when you should start your campaign. Let’s use the “holiday shopping” example again. Below are the results for the query over the last 90 days:

A Complete Guide to Seasonal Marketing | SEJ

Notice anything interesting? There was a significant spike in searches for “holiday shopping” at the end of August. This might seem a bit early, but it’s something to consider when deciding when to put some feelers out for your holiday content.

Look Beyond Traditional Marketing Channels

Along with repurposing content and updating keywords, you also want to make sure you get creative when thinking about how you want to promote your seasonal content.

Social media is a powerful way to engage your audience, especially when you harness the power of hashtags. Starbucks’ #redcupcontest is a great example of this in action. The coffee company has created a highly-anticipated holiday tradition with their red cups, and in 2015 they launched the #redcupcontest on Instagram. Starbucks challenged their customers to add their own design on the plain cups and share them with the hashtag #redcupcontest. They earned more than 40,000 entries, but the value of the campaign doesn’t end there: This year’s holiday cups are actually designs pulled directly from last year’s entries.

Another reason the contest was so effective? It was run on a mobile app. More than 55% of holiday searches last year were conducted on a smartphone or tablet, so it’s a smart move to make sure your seasonal content is optimized for mobile. For the best results, make sure your site has a responsive design and that any visual assets you create are mobile-friendly.

Final Thoughts: Seasonal Content Should Be Built Into Your Annual Marketing Plan

Seasonal marketing is more than just throwing a few festive posts on your social media accounts, and the most effective strategies understand that consumers respond best to brands that reach out to them in a meaningful way. The trick is to figure out the perfect combination of content and timing that will drive engagement.

And don’t worry if you can’t put something together fast enough before the end of the year. The beauty of seasonal marketing is that there are a ton of opportunities throughout the year – everything from Valentine’s Day to Independence Day – and all of these tips can be applied to each holiday. The best seasonal content is crafted as part of a broader annual marketing strategy, so if you want to get ahead of the curve, take a look at what’s worked before and go from there. Producing that perfect piece of evergreen, seasonal content can make all the difference in driving results.

Image Credits:
Featured Image: tookapic/
Screenshot of Google Doodle, Thanksgiving 2015 by Andrea Lehr. Taken November 2016.
Screenshot of SEMrush “holiday shopping” by Andrea Lehr. Taken November 2016.
Screenshot of Google Trends “holiday shopping” by Andrea Lehr. Taken November 2016.


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Andrea Lehr

Brand Relationship Strategist at Fractl

Andrea Lehr is a Brand Relationship Strategist at content marketing agency Fractl where she works alongside a team of creative ... [Read full bio]

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