Online shopping has steadily taken ever larger chunks of change out of the Christmas marketing kitty over the last couple of decades. This year is sure to prove even bigger, with social shopping and augmented reality maturing into valuable digital marketing channels.

Market Research

Years of market research tells us that there are two major forces driving buying decisions; market effects, and brand desire.

Win the Branding War This Holiday Season with These Digital Christmas Marketing Strategies - 123RF Blog

Market effects are factors like price, promotions, and availability. If you have ever completed weeks of market research to choose the perfect product, only to be swayed by an almost too good to be true Black Friday deal, then you have felt the manipulating force of market effects.

Brand Desire is a powerful marketing strategy all the big brands spend millions chasing. The emotions usually get the majority vote in a purchasing decision, with logic and rational reasoning receiving a minority share. It’s for this reason that organizations spend big dollars appealing to people’s emotional side in their efforts to create irresistible brand desire.

Marketing campaigns go into overdrive during the holiday season, as retailers strive to capture market share with creative digital Christmas marketing campaigns that tug on heartstrings, amuse, entertain, or help people save money on their gift-giving.

You don’t need marketing budgets the size of Apple’s to enjoy a successful Christmas marketing campaign, but a little creative thinking won’t go astray. Here are a few innovative digital marketing strategies you can use this holiday season.

Tugging on Heartstrings with Video Marketing

Win the Branding War This Holiday Season with These Digital Christmas Marketing Strategies - 123RF Blog

During the Christmas period of 2013, Apple hit one out of the park with their “Misunderstood” YouTube video. The campaign capitalizes on the idea that the older generation sees the younger generation as too captivated by their small handheld screens.

During the video, a teenager is shown to be continually using his phone. The looks on the faces of the aunts, uncles, and grandparents suggest that they feel disappointment with the youngster’s attachment to his device and would rather he pay more attention to enjoying the company of his family.

However, at the end of the video, we see the teenager turn on the TV and cast a montage of the family’s time together, which he has been producing on his phone the whole time.  

Apple is effectively combating the common perception that smartphones drive people apart. In the video, the device is shown to be a capable tool for capturing fun memories, nurturing creative talent, and bringing people together.

Creating Social Media Buzz

Social shopping is on the rise and is forcing marketers to adapt their strategies so they can take advantage of the higher traffic generated by the various social media platforms. Being able to capture the attention of Christmas shoppers rapidly scrolling through a news feed is an important skill.

Christmas traditions have the power to bring people together and reminisce, as well as forge new memories.

Every year, Starbucks’ delivers a new holiday cup design which inspires people to collect seasonal cups and discuss the designs over social media. The discussions can get quite lively, and often centre around how the new design compares to the previous years. 

The campaign has been so successful that a design which fails to satisfy customers’ expectations never fails to generate a torrent of tweets and posts from customers who vent their frustrations. As a result, Starbucks regularly enjoys a wave of viral posts every holiday season.

Win the Branding War This Holiday Season with These Digital Christmas Marketing Strategies - 123RF Blog

Digitized advent calendars are another popular strategy brands are using to create social media buzz. Just like kids counting down to Christmas get a chocolate surprise or little toy from a physical advent calendar, a digital advent calendar delivers discounts and giveaways to participating consumers.

You can get creative with the surprises. A countdown to a future discounted price can create excitement, and interesting tidbits of information or a quiz can add some variety.  

Instagram is a growing force in Christmas digital marketing, and a powerful way to generate sharing is to create a hashtag contest. Ask users to post an image, along with a hashtag to qualify as an entrant. You could ask them to post selfies with a decorated Christmas tree as the backdrop – with the best-decorated tree to take the prize. Other Christmas themed ideas you could use include favourite Christmas recipes, creatively wrapped gifts, Christmas themed costumes or even Christmas light displays.  

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) is making its way onto more and more smartphones, and many brands are learning to take advantage of the unique shopping experience AR can provide.

While games such as Pokémon Go and Harry Potter Wizards Unite, have been the main driving force for AR adoption on mobile phones, the big social media channels are working hard to improve the tool sets available to digital marketers.  

By using AR in their marketing campaigns, brands can give consumers a better idea about how items will look in real life as well as add fun elements to social media posts.

Coca-Cola uses AR to great effect in their holiday marketing campaign where users can scan a bottle or can to see it come to life as the foundation of a winter wonderland.

Starbucks has also expanded on their holiday-themed cup design idea mentioned above by bringing their design into augmented reality. The AR effect can be activated by one of their cup designs to enhance their Christmas branding.

Users will see 3D messages of good cheer spring from their cup, as well as ornaments, or a game where users get to burst bubbles on their screen.

Target has cleverly incorporated AR into their digital holiday marketing campaign. Aptly titled “Will it fit?” smartphone users can use the app to help them choose the perfect Christmas tree. Target shoppers get a digitized image of the tree as if it was physically present in their living room. They can see how it will look, and more importantly, whether the size is right for the available space.

Getting Noticed

The risk is high that your digital Christmas marketing campaign could see your promotions getting lost in the crowd. However, creative ideas and using digital technology to make the Christmas shopper’s life more convenient or fun should help you gain more market exposure and strengthen your brand in the marketplace. Explore more topics on marketing here, or check out the digital marketing trends in 2020.