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5-Step Plan to Drive Holiday Sales with Content Marketing

What would your letter to Santa look like this year?

If you’re doing business online, it might go something like this…

Dear Santa, Please bring me website visitors, new email subscribers, and more customers. Love, all online businesses

(We have it on good authority that Santa prefers bulleted lists typed on scrolls.)

But unfortunately, you can’t wait until Christmas morning for the big guy to deliver holiday revenue. 

You need a plan now. 

To help your small business hit your goals, we’ve put together this five-step holiday content strategy. It’s based on solid content marketing principles and reinforced by our experience watching hundreds of ecommerce businesses use their blogs to grow. 

Follow this strategy and you will:

  • Drive qualified holiday shopper traffic at up to a 90% discount.
  • Get more of those visitors to join your email list.
  • Acquire more customers and keep them around long after December 26th. 

What do you need to follow this plan?

Just a blog, an email marketing platform, and a Facebook Business Manager account.  

Step #1: Publish content 

The first thing you need to do is decide what content to publish. Make sure you honor your audience’s intent and deliver the content that serves it at that moment. You can do it with these two types of content.

Top-of-Funnel Awareness Content

Educational and entertaining articles to attract and nurture your audience

This first content type is not about your products or holiday promotions. Not yet. Instead, it focuses on topics your audience cares about. Because this content is more about your customers’ lifestyles than your brand, licensed content is a good choice here. If you’re already using Matcha, then you have plenty of licensed content options. Actually, about 10,000 of them.

Either way, here are a few examples from the Matcha content library so you can see what I mean by helpful and entertaining holiday content. Looking for more examples? Check out this Guide to Holiday Content in the Matcha Library for articles that are perfect for different niches.

You might sell to parents, fitness lovers, or budding chefs. Choose content that matches their interests and challenges, not just your product.

Don’t be afraid to choose topics that aren’t specific to your brand, so long as they serve your audience’s needs. If your online store sells makeup, go beyond the eyeliner application tutorials and consider publishing an article about women’s health or career growth for women.

This content has several jobs to do (including some sneaky ways to get conversions in step #2). Some of those jobs need to be done now. So your content calendar should be filled with this type of content as soon as possible. 

Bottom-of-Funnel content

Gift guides for people with intent to buy

The second type of content you’re going to publish for this strategy is gift guides. 

These handy tools help your shoppers buy the perfect gift, even if they don’t know a lot about your products. 

Plus, gift guides are excellent for SEO because they target the exact keywords your shoppers will use. (Think “gift ideas for moms” or “best gifts for film lovers.”)

Gift guides not only make it easier for holiday shoppers to get the perfect gift, but they can also encourage add-on sales. This example from Barebones is heavily designed, but gift guides on your blog can be incredibly effective, too.

Need to create a gift guide? We’ve got a template for that. Just download this gift guide template (left) and fill in the blanks.

I’ll show you how to use this content in a minute. But first, here’s a few tricks to make your content a powerful sales conversion tool. 

Step #2: Optimize your content for conversions

Whether you’ve licensed your top-of-funnel content or created it yourself, you don’t want to make it too salesy. Doing so risks running off a valuable audience that may not ready to buy yet.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t help you convert readers to subscribers and customers. 

Here are five simple but effective ways you can optimize that content for conversion, along with examples of how to do each one.

Even if you’re using licensed content, you can:

  1. Feature personalized products: Publish content about detoxing from sugar and add a link to your low-carb, sugar-free brownies below the article’s body.
  2. Change the title for audience relevance: If your target audience is busy parents, change “10 Simple Ways to Destress” to “10 Simple Ways for Busy Parents to Destress.”
  3. Add a branded sign-off: For example, add a blurb about your company’s zero-waste policy under an article about reducing your carbon footprint.
  4. Showcase the article’s author: If you’ve licensed or commissioned an article from a respected author or publication, highlight the value they bring by thanking them below the article. 
  5. Add links to other relevant content: Keep readers engaged with your brand by including links to your other relevant articles and videos. 

You’ve got your content planned out and optimized. Now it’s time to use it to drive high-quality, low-cost traffic.

Step #3: Promote your content

Black Friday ads cost around 2.6x more than the typical ad.

Meanwhile, Facebook ads that feature educational and entertaining content cost 90% less than the average Facebook ad

Leverage the lower cost Facebook ads pre-Black Friday and blog content to get a lot of high-quality traffic on the cheap. That will give you loads of new people to reengage during and after Black Friday.

Here’s how it’s done.

First, pick a few of your top-of-the-funnel articles that will likely resonate with your audience (or audience segments). 

Next, create Facebook ads that feature that content. Here’s a handy guide to creating the best content ads on Facebook.

Run some A/B tests on copy, images, and target demographics. Doing this work up front will help you increase holiday sales and reduce retargeting ad costs (“Measure twice, cut once,” as my grandpa always used to say).

You’ll want to do this work in the four to six weeks leading up to Black Friday. That’s why it’s important to fill your blog with holiday content as soon as possible.

Throughout the holiday season, you can also distribute your gift guides. Use retargeting ads to leverage that audience you’ve already built.

With a healthy flow of new visitors coming in, you can use your content to grow your email list.I told you content had a lot of jobs to do.

Step 4: Convert readers into email subscribers

Email is typically the most valuable marketing channel for online stores. That’s because email marketing nets a whopping 3,800% ROI!

Your email newsletter is particularly powerful during holiday crunch time. Unlike other marketing platforms like Facebook and Google, it never costs more for a top spot in your subscriber’s inbox. 

Step #4 is all about getting lots of new subscribers so you can reach more people for free with your emails. And there are several really easy ways to do it.

Here’s one you can do right now.

Pick one of your highest-performing articles. If you’re a Matcha customer, you can use your Insights tab to find it.

Matcha product - Insights analytics screenshot
Matcha Insights

Promote that article in a Facebook ad campaign that’s optimized for lead generation.

Then, use a tool like Matcha to put a form in front of that blog post — in other words, lock it and require readers to provide their email addresses in exchange for exclusive access. (Note: Don’t do this for your gift guides. This tactic should be reserved for top-of-funnel awareness content.) 

Outdoor clothing maker Ogden Made uses gated content to grow their email list

We know how well this works firsthand. Our customers who are using this tactic are seeing a 15 to 20% conversion rate, on average.

Now you’ve got new visitors flowing to your website and converting to subscribers. The final step is to nurture this growing audience so they stick around through the holidays and beyond.

Step 5: Nurture your customers for long-term growth

When asked, people said that getting too many repetitive emails was the number one reason they unsubscribed from a brand’s email list.

Don’t push your best customers away with one promo email after another. 

Instead, create an email sequence that balances educational and entertaining content with promotional offers.

The ideal mix is going to include product information (like your gift guide), discount offers, holiday shipping information, and blog content. 

The psychology here is that people with intent will be attracted to the promo offers, while people who just bought or aren’t ready to buy yet will stick around for the other content. 

Does it work?

Like a charm. Outdoor goods retailer Campman used this method and increased their sales from emails by 10x!

Step #5 isn’t just about selling during the holidays, though. By converting that pre-Black Friday traffic to email subscribers and nurturing them with content they love, you’ll have a huge audience that continues to pay attention to your brand well beyond December 26th. 

That’s an audience you can introduce to new products and offer discounts at other key times of the year. 

Ad costs skyrocket during the holidays. But there’s no time of year with more people actively looking to connect with, and buy from, your brand. 

Publishing and distributing the right content, at the right time, through the right channels is how you grow an audience while it’s cost-efficient and convert them when it’s most valuable.

For small companies doing business online, Matcha makes all this possible.

Create your free Matcha account today to start exploring our library and use our full content marketing platform. Then, publish your first article in just a few clicks and see just how easy it is to kick-off your content marketing strategy!

Try the Matcha Blog Creator with a 7-day free trial. No credit card required.

Feature image provided by Mel Poole

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