2015 Holiday Inbound Marketing Campaign Checklist

by Chad Carpenter | MIN READ

holiday-campaign-checklistWith Thanksgiving right around the corner, most of you already have inbound marketing campaigns started, or at the very least planned to launch this week. Regardless of previous successful campaigns, you still should make a list and check it twice, so to say.

This holiday season many will utilize a multitude of digital initiatives to gain traffic, build contact lists, continue to build (as well as begin) customer relationships, and generate buzz--all with the end goal being to generate revenue.

Whether your campaign is on social, email, search or on your website, there are key items to check off to stay on the inbound marketing good list, and of course important misses to avoid to stay off the bad list.

Let’s start with the prep work to make sure everything is lined up for the best recipe for success this season:

Inbound Prep Work

1) Analyze last year’s campaign results:

Leverage your previous year’s results to gain insight to what concepts, promotions, techniques, and strategies are a “must-have” this year for holiday success, and drop those that did not work well.

2) How did your implementation go last year?

This is really a time to learn from past issues and plan to prevent them again this year. Did you have any issues with the execution last year? Did you find yourself reacting to what your competitors were doing instead of being able to be proactive? Would additional resources have made the implementation go more smoothly? Learn from these mistakes and be ahead of the curve this year.

3) What did your competitors or others in the industry do last year?

Pool the ideas and concepts you liked, such as cool email features they utilized, when they went to market with offers, or their content strategy. This will not only give you a leg up this year, but help you really up your game.

Inbound Marketing Checklist

Now that you have looked back over last year’s campaigns, utilize the following checklist to be sure that you have all the elements for inbound marketing success and haven’t missed key details that can make or break your digital marketing campaign.

Don't have a checklist of your own just yet?
Download the Inbound Campaign Checklist

holiday-inbound-campaignReview the Messaging

  • Is the messaging relevant to the buyer persona/audience? Speak to the needs and wants of your target buyer persona. Take advantage of all targeting capabilities from social media, to mobile ads and the right keywords so that your content and offer reaches the right person at the right point.
  • Is the messaging relevant to the channel? Don’t just use the same copy on every channel. They are called channels because there is a specific goal that people have when interacting with brands, so even subtle differences to the offer, CTA, length of the message, imagery, etc., can make a huge difference to the interaction—and the actions taken by your targets.
  • Are there additional ways to repurpose the campaign? Many brands create a lot of content that can be used in a variety of places. For instance, a blog could become a free guide offer, a Slide Share document, or even a video.
  • Does the messaging get to the point? People have short attention spans, so if they feel you’re wasting their time, they will bounce. Review your messaging, remove fluff words, and make sure you’re efficient with your words.
  • Has someone reviewed the content for errors? A second set of eyes can eliminate unnecessary goofs/errors, so have a colleague or peer review your campaigns before hitting send or publishing.

Review the Call-To-Action (CTA)

  • Have you included a CTA that is both prominent and relevant to your target personas? Go beyond bolded text in an email or regular copy, and have a button or graphic that will entice your customer to click. Make it relevant to your buyer personas with smart, exciting copy and don’t use “Click Here”—make it pop with what they are getting, i.e., “Get 20% off this Product Now”, “Get your Free Guide” or “Join Now for Instant Benefits”.
  • Does the offer provide value to the buyer persona targets? Again, with short attention spans or patience, always seek to solve the customer’s need or problem. Offer a solution or promotion that they can really use or they need.
  • Will it be clear what you want the user to do? Make it clear what action to take and what taking the action will do for them.
  • Do the links work? Always check links more than once, and check them on various devices to assure they work for all users.
  • Will it be measurable and trackable? You should know where traffic is originating whether it be social media, an ad (digital or print), or email. This will let you know what initiatives are effective and can be useful for A/B testing as well.
  • Are any necessary start and stop dates set? There is nothing worse than clicking on an offer or promotion only to find that it has expired or is no longer available. This will lose trust and most likely they won’t come back for another offer.

Review the Landing Page

  • Will the landing page meet the user’s expectations upon clicking through? Your CTA offer should direct the user to a landing page with consistent design and messaging as well as the correct offer or product.
  • Is there a supplemental offer on the thank you page? Once you have a user provide you their information, you can offer a follow up option, like related offers or opportunities, site search, etc., so they stay on your site and continue to tell you more about them, bringing them closer to being a customer.
  • Is it responsive/mobile-friendly? With the percentage of mobile users exceeding desktop for search and email alike, be sure that all pages and emails are responsive for any device. This also includes legible copy.
  • Can your website handle an influx of traffic? This goes without saying, but with the craziness of holiday campaigns, don’t lose all your hard work to server-side issues.
  • Do you have smart content that knows your user? Go beyond personalization and integrate pages that can adapt based on a contact already being in your CRM. Have alternate smart content to offer up a highly target promotion or product based on the information you have gathered along the buyer’s journey.

Review the Email Campaign

  • Do you have smart content to optimize? Make the most of your workflows and offer alternate smart content based on the recipients actions in previous emails, other actions on your website, or based on the details you have been able to capture about them. This capability will increase your click rate and conversion numbers beyond your expectations!
  • Is your list high quality and clean? You don’t want to content with messy bounce numbers or spam reports. Remember it is quality over quantity, and the quality of your list is the foundation of your email campaign.
  • Is your contact strategy on point? Yes, contact strategy—don’t be that brand that just takes the number of emails too far. At the very least, if you reviewed last year’s results, you should know your contacts’ sweet spot for emails.
  • Does your content mean clicks or deletes? Again, are you providing something of value? Who can’t use something to make the season easier to maneuver. For instance, gift guide emails are a trend that have shown to outperform other content over the past few years.
  • Is your template mobile-optimized? Yep, it applies to email as well. With over 50% of people checking their emails on a mobile device, you don’t want yours deleted because they can’t read it or click on an offer with their finger (or even stylus).
  • Does your template encourage social sharing and engagement? Even the simple step of giving your social share icons some pop is worthwhile, but take it a bit further with some encouraging text, such as “We bet your friends would like this offer, too. Feel free to share it!” This will also help you identify key influencers, and grow your list with quality opt-ins.

Create Some Holiday Madness

There are many steps to consider as you plan, strategize and go to launch with a holiday campaign. Don’t let your hard work be diminished by some often overlooked errors and mishaps that can dramatically affect the results of a campaign. While different initiatives require their own unique checklists, these are some top items for digital marketing campaigns to double check not only before the launch, but to make corrections if you aren’t seeing your conversion numbers hitting goals.

What are some of your key checklist items going into a holiday digital marketing campaign?

If you'd like to add to the list, please share in the comments.

Originally published November 16, 2015. Updated November 2, 2016.