The right recipe for digital marketing success this Thanksgiving

The table is set. You have your turkey in the oven. Your family is on their way.  But you forgot all about the sides! You place so much focus on the largest aspects of your holiday feast but a true Thanksgiving meal isn’t complete without a few sides.

Is your holiday marketing program also missing some key components?

Surely your long-lead marketing communications have been planned for weeks, if not months. But sometimes, the side dishes that come together at the last minute are what really bring a meal together. How can you create and implement last minute tactics as part of your digital marketing campaigns to yield results? Here is a recipe for success this holiday season:


  • 1 handful of listen
  • 1 dash of respond
  • 4 tablespoons of cause marketing
  • 1 dash of last minute in-stock
  • 2 cups ease and convenience
  • 1 handful of everyday


1 handful of listen and a dash of respond

Listening and engaging to social media conversations around the holidays can seem daunting, but a little advance prep here can make all the difference in the world if you’re strategic about your approach.

For example, plan to listen to and engage with social media conversations on peak shopping days – like Black Friday – as they’re happening. As top items sell out on these days consumers will want insight into where they’re available. Most retailers know what their top SKUs will be (a small number of top performers will be your low-hanging fruit; don’t worry about your entire catalog). Arrange in advance to have internal visibility into regular (hourly or more frequent) inventory updates on these top SKUs throughout the day. Since you can likely predict that consumers will be talking about top items, through proactive social conversations you can be prepared to let them know where you have them in stock. Consider the customer experience you’ll offer when your holiday social media war room guides a customer right to your door for that hot toy or gift on Black Friday or another peak shopping day.

4 tablespoons of cause marketing

‘Tis the season to being thankful and for shopping; and to the season of giving. 50% of millennials reported that they would be more willing to purchase from a company if the purchase supports a cause, and 37% said they are willing to pay more if it supports a cause they believe in. Now is the time to promote philanthropy and celebrate the good work that your brand supports. Philanthropy efforts create delicious content and storytelling for brands. Mix these key ingredients with sharable photos, videos and customer testimonials to create organic virility that promotes positive sentiment within the marketplace.

The holidays are also a great time to cook up favorite childhood memories. Encourage millennial moms to take a time out with the family by using nostalgia and “sadvertising,” or emotional ads, to tug at moms’ heartstrings. Allow consumers to voice their opinions, especially millennial moms, or hear from their peers through user generated content across all digital channels.

A dash of last minute in stock

As the season wears on the hottest gifts will disappear from shelves and products will be out of stock. You likely know when your next shipment is scheduled to arrive, so why not leverage the opportunity to create an event around in-stock merchandise.

Use your digital channels like email and SMS messages to let customers know you’re restocking the shelves. Include details to make it easy for customers to find what they are looking for, such as online availability and/or personalized store location and hours. Make sure all communication is well integrated and not repetitive or siloed, which can be more harmful than helpful to your consumer.

Keep stirring the gravy! Stay on top of the social conversations to remind customers that top products are available again, especially if they’re not engaged with other channels like email, as we know this time of year, their inbox can be quite overwhelming.

Dig in to your data and drive urgency. Send personalized and targeted messages to highly engaged and interested customers about restocked items and highlight benefits of arriving early (online or in-store) to help ensure they get what they need.

Two cups ease and convenience

Let’s face it; holiday shopping can be a hassle for consumers. Anything that you can do to make their shopping experience easier could be a difference maker this holiday season. Consider offering curbside pick-up or buy online, pick up in-store to create convenience for your customers. As brands promote “keeping it easy & simple,” don’t forget to encourage consumers to be heard.

Some spices to consider are compelling cross-sell product ideas or suggestions based on past purchases, such as your husband’s favorite team jersey to go along with those upcoming game tickets you bought. Leverage data to make customer’s lives easier with any last minute gift giving or shopping.

One handful of everyday

The holiday shopping season can be a stressful time for consumers, and sometimes their everyday needs can get lost in the noise. Groceries, household products and Spot’s dog food all need to be replenished amongst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Home improvement projects don’t take a break just because it’s December (in fact, homeowners probably want them done before the holidays). Don’t lose sight of the opportunity to market towards these everyday needs. As you plan your integrated marketing communications, be sure you include messaging and promotions that make your customers' everyday lives easier.

Don’t Forget to Stir the Gravy

While we’ve been focused on new holiday communications, let’s take a moment to remember your existing automated messages. Now is a great time to refresh these communications with seasonal content for communications such as on-boarding, transactional (order/ship confirmations), abandon cart/browse, etc. Consider bounce-back coupons, personalized offers and loyalty/rewards messaging to incentivize repeat purchases within the holiday season.

Make sure your creative rings with holiday cheer; include memorable images and descriptive calls to action. Highlight holiday benefits including special holiday hours, shipping cut-offs, return policies, and gift-wrapping. Take a moment to update your onboarding communications to ensure that one and done holiday shoppers clearly understand your brand’s year-round value.

As you think about the last-minute tactics you can incorporate into your holiday marketing recipe, don’t forget to revisit your changes before the New Year – it’s a clean table ready to be set.

What’s your recipe for success this holiday season? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Wili Roberts also contributed to this piece.