Creating a Content Marketing Strategy for the Holidays…. According to Consumers

After the pandemic the way consumers shop has shifted drastically. The ecommerce boom of 2020 meant that consumer buying habits have changed.

A very different year for shoppers means you’ll have to engage with them differently, too, if you want to grab their attention and stand out among all the other new online brands they’ve discovered this year. 

But what exactly are shoppers looking for from brands this year? 

Over 1,000 consumers shared what kind of content they’ll use to inform their purchase decisions.

To make your holiday marketing campaigns better resonate with your current and potential customers during Cyber Weekend and the holiday season, here are seven content ideas that you can use across your owned marketing channels including email, SMS, and your website based on what consumers say they want from brands this year. 

Owned marketing channels that help guide the market

1 | Gift guides

More than ever, consumers will be looking to gift guides—especially when it comes to buying for the significant other who never tells what they want. 

In fact, over 45 percent of people said that they’ll be looking to gift guides to inform their purchases this holiday season.

One way to create gift guides you can use across owned marketing channels is by curating your best selling items. This is a great way to use the data you already have about what your customers are most likely to buy in order to inform your content and hopefully convert some new shoppers as well. 

Alternatively, you could create multiple gift guides based on budget (Gifts under $100, $500, etc.), gift guides based on the giftee’s personality (Gifts for the Automotive Enthusiast, The Home Cook, The Outdoors Buff, etc.), or gift guides based on your current collections.

For example, Ugmonk’s email includes multiple holiday gift guides, categorizing their products by collections including office essentials, cozy comforts, and kids. 

Holiday gift guide email from Ugmonk

One last option to consider is partnering with another brand that sells complementary products in your gift guide in order to share the reach of both of your audiences. 

For example, if you sell pet toys, you could team up with a brand that sells pet treats since you sell to the same audience but don’t compete.

The lack of in-store browsing this year means that consumers will want gift ideas served up to them on a silver platter. Get on top of your customers’ minds early by showing your shoppers exactly what they should buy.

2 | Customer reviews and UGC

What do 49 percent of consumers want to see from brands this season? Customer ratings and reviews—because there’s nothing more convincing to shoppers who are on the fence with their purchase than seeing proof of other happy customers.

Using customers’ rave reviews across your owned marketing channels is always a surefire way to show prospective buyers that your products work and that other people love them.

This email from Nisolo keeps it simple but still manages to integrate reviews that show a variation of their product offering. They also pick quotes that show that their products make great gifts, making the email a timely send for the holidays when your customers are trying to predict what products will excite recipients most.

Reviews and testimonials aren’t the only way to leverage content from happy customers. In fact, social media tags from your customers who are using your products are worth their weight in gold, especially around the holidays.

Additionally, with 29 percent of survey respondents claiming they’ll be looking for social media content when it comes to deciding where they make their purchases, using user-generated content (UGC) from these channels is a great way to repurpose content that customers are already craving.

This email from West Elm is a perfect example of how you can use UGC to promote your sale by discounting one product or collection and curating images from social media to show shoppers how customers put it to use in their everyday lives.

3 | Wish lists

Similar to gift guides, wish lists can be extremely effective when it comes to helping new navigate your website—and helping them share their most-wanted items from your store with people who may have never even heard of your brand before. 

Consumers have had to turn to the internet for almost all their shopping needs this year, which means over the last few months, many avid online shoppers have already familiarized themselves with the products their favorite ecommerce brands offer—and likely have their eyes on a few items they wouldn’t mind receiving as a gift this holiday season.

Over 36 percent of survey respondents said they’ll be relying on wish lists this year. This means that offering the option for shoppers to create a wish list is a great way to win new customers (say hello to all the parents that receive their kids’ lists from your store).

Before the holiday season enters full swing, send an email to your VIPs inviting them to build their wish list and encourage them to send it to family and friends. You could also send the invite to one-time purchasers or 2019 Cyber Weekend purchasers.

I like this email from Missguided that adds, “FYI sometimes we like to make wishes come true…” 

This creates an incentive for customers who haven’t explored your site in some time to get reacquainted with your brand before the holidays. By implying customers could win the items they add to their wishlist, they’re more likely to create one with your brand.

And if you can get your customers to do the heavy lifting when it comes to telling friends and family what products they’d like to receive from your brand, you’re already halfway there.

4 | Product recommendations

While gift guides and wish lists are great to send to your larger customer base, they’re not necessarily personalized to each recipient

Once the holidays are closer, you may want to consider providing product recommendations based on your customers’ purchase and browsing history in order to use more behavioral data. These are especially effective in browse abandonment in cart abandonment emails.

Whether your customers are shopping for themself or others, using product recommendations to cross-sell similar products to the ones they’ve already expressed interest in is a great way to introduce them to new offerings they might not have known about otherwise.

Additionally, using product recommendations to up-sell customers on the products they’re considering with complementary products can help you increase average order value (AOV) around the holidays. 

If you really want to increase AOV, you could even take product recommendations a step further by offering related product bundles in your email automations—especially considering 14 percent of consumers say they’ll be looking for product bundles this year.

This way, shoppers who were considering buying face lotion from your brand would receive an email promoting all the bundles you offer that include face lotion. 

For example, Drunk Elephant’s holiday bundles are a great way to introduce recipients to an extended line of their products in order to get them hooked and increase customer lifetime value (CLTV).

5 | Educational content

Amid discounts and promotions galore, how do you differentiate your content this holiday season? Educational content can be an effective way to connect with shoppers during the holidays by communicating your expertise.

You may have seen a surge in customers coming through your ecommerce store this year as consumers went online for all of their shopping needs. But that doesn’t mean your new customers will remember why they bought from your brand six months ago—or why they should buy their holiday gifts from you. 

Sending educational content among other Cyber Weekend promotions helps build trust with customers who might still be in the research phase, who might not be that familiar with the products you offer, or who might be receiving your emails for the first time.

But how do you educate your customers? 

There are a myriad of ways to include educational content through emails and SMS or throughout your website including videos, infographics, blogs, tutorials. As long as you’re educating your customers on a topic that directly relates to your products or your brand, it’s likely to be relevant in as shoppers make decisions.  

For example, this email from Only Curls is all about how to “finger coil” your hair in order to enhance the definition of your hair, and it includes a video and a step-by-step how-to demonstration.

Not only does it show that the team who created the brand knows curly hair and how to manage it, it also integrates multiple Only Curls products through the emails. For Cyber Weekend, brands could recreate something similar with featured discounted products.

Twenty-one percent of consumers will be looking for video demonstrations of products this holiday season, so prioritize how you’ll showcase your products through video and use that content in your holiday marketing campaigns.

6 | Last-minute offers

The holiday season isn’t over until the last email pings. 

This year, your customers aren’t likely to be able to make the mad dash out to their local shopping centers for last-minute gifts, which means you have an opportunity to get those procrastinators buying online with your brand. But, you have to be smart about what you’ll offer.

Twenty-two percent of consumers are hoping to see a buy online pickup in-store (BOPUS) or curbside pickup option from brands this year. If you offer these options, consider encouraging customers to take advantage of last-minute gift buying with this option. 

Not only does this provide a way for customers to continue shopping online up until the holidays, it also alleviates the unpredictability of shipping times this year. 

One thing to consider: don’t extend this offer to all of your customers if you only offer BOPUS or curbside pickups in certain areas. Instead, segment these offers by demographic so that you’re only promoting this option to people who live within a certain radius from your stores.

If you don’t have a brick-and-mortar presence that allows you to extend this kind of offer, though, gift card promotions will be your best friend in your final holiday promotions. But seeing as most brands will resort to gift cards, find a way to make your offer stand out with an incentive. 

For example, if your brand’s AOV is $50, create an offer where shoppers who buy a gift card of $100 or more also get a $25 gift card for themselves. This effectively increases your AOV with each gift card while also giving your customers a reason to purchase with you rather than the millions of other brands they could opt to get a gift card from.

There’s also something to be said about going back to the basics and taking an empathetic approach, especially this year.

This email from Moment is transparent about the fact that they ran out of stock in last year’s holiday campaign, but they still wanted to create a way for their customers to buy with the brand. 

As many brands will continue to face supply chain and shipping issues this holiday season, taking a similar approach to Moment is a honest way to connect with your customers when order fulfillment might be more challenging than years past.

Final thoughts

While the 2020 holiday season brings a huge opportunity for brands to see their highest ecommerce sales ever, it also brings heavy competition against other brands that will also be vying for your customers’ attention.

In order to stand out this year, you need to have a smart content strategy that resonates with what people are looking for—otherwise, you’ll blend into the crowd.

Fortunately, consumers aren’t shy about telling you what they want and expect to see this year. Use the data you have about your customers or ask them what will help them most when it comes to gift shopping this year, and use that insight to inform your content strategy as you head into the holiday season.

Want to set your brand up for a successful holiday season?

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