Believe it or not, it’s that time of the year again. The holiday season is rapidly approaching and marketers must start gearing up for the biggest shopping season of the year.
To help you prepare for the upcoming season, we’ve put together a campaign timeline, new insights into retail trends, and actionable influencer marketing strategies to run a successful holiday campaign this year.
Let’s get started.
Holiday Campaign Timeline
Although it may seem premature to plan for the holidays while we’re still soaking in the summer sun, remember that the holiday season is busy for everyone. Influencers are real people with lives outside of social media — they’ll also be traveling, spending time with family, and taking time away from creating content. Plus, with more brands reaching out to influencers during this time of year, their schedule is even busier than usual.
Start early so you can secure your influencer partners and give them enough time to plan and create high-quality content for your campaign. In fact, by the end of August, you should have a finalized list of influencers you want to work with for your holiday campaign.
Below, we’ve put together a sample collaboration timeline. Use these dates as guidelines when creating your own campaign timeline to ensure that all of your influencer content is posted in time, whether it’s for Black Friday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or other winter holidays.
To increase your chances of getting your collaboration proposals accepted quickly, work with long-term brand partners who you have collaborated with in the past. Having an existing relationship with the influencer will help your brand stand out in the sea of collaboration proposals and improve the likelihood of getting a quick response. Plus, because you’ve already worked with them before, you can have confidence in them to meet deadlines and create high-quality content.
But if you find yourself in a bind to find more creators who you haven’t worked with in the past, use a third-party tool like Aspire to quickly connect with well-aligned influencers. Our search engine will allow you to explore over 100 million content creators using specific filters like keywords, follower count, and even aesthetic via image search. Or, publish your campaign on our creator marketplace and watch as high-quality influencers organically apply to your campaign.
Keep in mind that response times may be delayed because of the increase in brand proposals. You may even see that influencers increase their rates during this time due to the demand, so plan your budget accordingly.
Retail Trends to Carry Into the Holidays
Before we dive into our holiday influencer marketing tips, we first need to discuss how the retail landscape is changing.
The current state of the economy will undoubtedly affect consumers’ budgets, shopping habits, and sentiments this holiday season. Shoppers are already buying fewer items from fewer brands — signaling not only short-term impacts of economic uncertainty, but also long-term consumer behavioral shifts towards value and convenience.
Keeping all this in mind, it’s more important than ever to build brand loyalty. Here are the top 3 trends we’re seeing retailers implement to give consumers what they want — now and throughout the holidays.
Trend #1: Selling online and in-store
For the past two years, brands have been hyper-focused on ecommerce as the world practiced social distancing — and for good reason. Latest studies show that retailers today gain 51% of their revenue from online sales, and by 2026, ecommerce payment transactions are projected to exceed $7.5 trillion globally — a 55% growth rate.
However, as the spread of COVID-19 slows and more people ease into the “new normal,” brands need to bridge back the gap between physical and digital commerce. More consumers are shopping in brick-and-mortar stores again, with in-store sales rebounding by 8.2% in 2021 to over $21 trillion — which is more than what was spent in-stores in 2019 before the pandemic. This not only points to the resilience of the industry, but also showcases consumers’ desires to continue shopping in person and testing products IRL.
So, while selling online is non-negotiable, don’t forget about driving traffic to your brick-and-mortar stores this holiday season.
Trend #2: Incorporating social commerce
The future of commerce is social, and we’re seeing brands, creators, and social media platforms prioritize building seamless shopping experiences for digital communities.
Social commerce: a subset of ecommerce that entails selling products directly on social media. Social commerce allows the entire shopping experience — including product discovery, research, and check-out — to take place on a social media platform.
From Shopify integrations to extensive creator monetization tools, platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest are making social commerce much more accessible. This empowers online communities to engage in conversations around a brand, share product feedback with other consumers, and influence each other’s purchasing decisions.
It’s a great way for brands to meet consumers where they are, especially when shoppers are inclined to make immediate purchases as soon as they discover a product while scrolling through their social media feed. Brands that are already leaning into this strategy say they attribute an average of 32% of their sales to social commerce. Plus, experts say social commerce is predicted to grow 3x faster than traditional eCommerce over the next four years.
Consumers are also increasingly using their mobile devices to shop for holiday gifts. Not only did mobile devices account for 60% of order share in Q4 2021, it comprised 72.9% of total ecommerce spend.
This holiday season, consumers will be on their phones scouring social media for gift ideas, holiday party outfit inspiration, festive recipes, and so on. Make sure you’re fully equipped for mobile shopping and social commerce to be there through your customers’ product discovery, research, and check-out journey.
Trend #3: Investing in the post-purchase experience
While it’s important to attract new customers, it’s even more crucial to keep existing customers coming back — especially in this challenging economy. Brands are starting to place more value on the post-purchase experience in order to create stronger customer relationships, build brand affinity, and make a big impact on brand loyalty.
The idea is to continue creating valuable touchpoints with customers to keep them engaged. This will compel them to return to your brand time and time again, even after the season of gift-giving ends. Plus, you’ll be able to increase customer lifetime value (LTV) in the long run.
6 Holiday Influencer Marketing Strategies
Now that we’ve covered this year’s retail trends, it’s time to put them to action. This year, it’s all about building brand loyalty and meeting consumers where they are — whether it’s online or in stores.
Incorporate these 6 strategies into your holiday campaign this year.
1. Offer discounts through affiliates.
As we’ve discussed above, the current state of the economy may make it difficult for many consumers to shop for gifts this holiday season. Create cost saving opportunities by running an influencer affiliate campaign. Give your influencer partners unique discount codes to share with their audience and pay them commission for the sales they drive.
A post shared by Kayla | DIY Home + Lifestyle (@kaylasimonehome)
It’s a win-win for all parties involved. Your influencers’ loyal followers will be excited to shop with your brand at a discounted price, allowing your brand to boost sales even amidst the economic challenges. And of course, your influencer partners will benefit financially from driving conversions for your brand.
Make sure you track all of the sales they drive through their discount code. You can even automate link tracking and affiliate payment by using our sales tracking tool.
2. Host a holiday giveaway.
‘Tis the season of gift-giving! Use this opportunity to host a holiday-themed giveaway on Instagram. Giveaways are an easy and effective way to increase your brand’s follower count and engagement.
Partner with 10 influencers to promote a sponsored giveaway for their audience. Set rules to enter, such as following your brand account, leaving a comment on the giveaway announcement post, or sharing it to their Stories.
You can even run a giveaway to drive more foot traffic into your brick-and-mortar stores. Put together a surprise box of goodies or a bundle of sample size products that you want to give away to store visitors. Then, have influencers tell their audience about a giveaway that is happening in-stores only, with a link to a store locator.
3. Support a cause.
In addition to giveaways, supporting a cause that aligns with your brand is a great way to give back to your greater community during the holiday season.
So, partner with well-aligned influencers to support a social justice cause or environmental solutions that you both care about. Not only does this help mobilize people to take action in line with meaningful movements, but the majority of consumers also want to shop at a brand that supports causes they care about. In fact:
- 87% of consumers say they’d buy a product based on a company’s advocacy on an issue they care about.
- 78% of customers say environmental practices influence their decision to buy from a company.
- Purpose-driven consumers, who choose products and brands based on how well they align to their values, now represent the largest segment (44%) of consumers.
Work with influencers to craft messaging that will drive awareness and raise funds for the cause. Highlight the work that your brand is already doing to support causes you care about to show your commitment, whether it’s your environmentally friendly practices around packaging or your ongoing fundraiser for Black Lives Matter.
4. Run an allow listing campaign.
Holiday content is typically eye-catching and highly engaging — who doesn’t love a cozy fire or a well-decorated home for Christmas?
A post shared by Marianne Sides (@mariannesides)
We always recommend repurposing influencer-generated content (IGC) across all of your other marketing channels, such as your website, organic social, emails, and more. But the best way to stretch the impact of this festive content is by using them in allow listed ads.
Build allow listing access directly into your terms to gain advertiser access to your influencers’ social accounts. Then, watch as revenue from your holiday ads skyrockets. For more information on allow listing, download our complete guide.
5. Start a countdown.
Get customers excited about your upcoming holiday sale or holiday collection launch by running a countdown.
Have influencers post once a week reminding their audience about your upcoming campaign, with a sneak peek of your new products or some of the can’t-miss deals you’ll be running. You can even give your influencers’ loyal followers an early access link to your latest collection or sales once they sign up for an account on your website or subscribe to your newsletter. Build the buzz around your campaign, so you’ll have an audience eagerly waiting in line at launch — whether it’s online or in person.
6. Invite customers to join your brand community.
As we mentioned above, brands today need to build a great post-purchase experience for customers.
Keep customers engaged by inviting them to an online brand community, such as a private Facebook group or Slack channel. Create a space for discussion around your brand and products where customers can share tips, reviews, and more with each other. Or, drive more subscriptions to your email newsletter and send them relevant content. For example, if you’re a fashion brand, send weekly “lookbook” emails compiling all of the amazing holiday outfits that your influencers have put together. These types of newsletters will be a seamless way to attract your customers to your future campaigns as well, whether it’s for New Year’s or Valentine’s Day.
Another way to build a strong community of brand loyalists is through invite-only events and special products. According to a study from Salesforce, millennials and Gen Zers value exclusive access to limited products and experiences nearly 2x more than Gen X and Baby Boomers. So, offer customer-only events and products and create a sense of exclusivity for your biggest brand fans.
By creating these frequent touchpoints and enjoyable post-purchase experiences, you’ll be able to turn newly acquired customers into lifelong customers.
The holidays are right around the corner! With this year’s retail landscape shifting in many different ways, it’s important to start planning early to evolve with consumers’ changing budgets, shopping habits, and sentiments. Work with influencers to reach your target audience, drive conversions, and boost customer retention.
Ready to start planning? Sign up for Aspire to streamline every step of your influencer partnerships and set yourself up for success throughout the holiday season.