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The Local Marketing Holiday Guide 2023

The Local Marketing Holiday Guide 2023

The holiday season is fast approaching. Sure, supermarkets probably started stocking cranberry sauce in August, but now’s really the time you’ve got to get focused to make sure your marketing is ready for the coming festivities. In fact, some people would probably think you’re leaving things a little late.

That’s where this article is here to help. Unfortunately, we’re not going to offer you tips on creating an amazing Christmas campaign from the ground up or help you come up with heartstring-tugging adverts for Hannukah or New Year. What we are going to do, however, is help you get the basics right for your digital marketing, so you don’t have anything to worry about.

Google performed a study with Ipsos in November 2022, which showed that 86% of consumers say online sources helped them make informed decisions for the holiday season. The same study highlighted that 32% of searchers used maps to find businesses.

With this in mind, we want to make sure you’re ready for whatever comes. Be prepared for potential influxes of reviews, or season-specific questions your customers may have. Get your emails scheduled for the right times, your sales pages optimized and ready, and know exactly what you’re posting on X (formally Twitter).

So, without further ado, here’s our holiday marketing checklist to help local businesses navigate Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas, Hannukah, and the New Year.

Social Media Checklist for the Holidays

On social media, the key is to communicate what you are doing for the holiday season effectively. This could be as simple as a special menu or updating your opening hours or as complex as creating a whole campaign, like an advent calendar. Our top tips for social media in the holiday season are:

Communicate your offers

Let customers know if you’re offering gift cards, holiday offers, or discounts. Use social media channels to get the word out about what you’re offering, and how your audience and customers could benefit. 

Share any updates to opening hours

Even if you’ve updated your GBP for the holidays, you should share when you’ll be open on all your channels. You can’t rely on someone googling your business. For many people, your social channels are their first port of call. If you’re going to be closed for a night for a Christmas party, for instance, or open for longer during the holiday period, make sure you let people know.

Share any updates to your menus

If you serve food, there’s a good chance you’ll have some special items on your menu. If you’re updating your whole menu for the next couple of months, make sure you share it on your social media platforms for people to see. This works in a couple of ways, it gives them access to something up-to-date but it can also get people excited about that deep-fried cranberry & blue mac n cheese you’ve spent all year planning.

Here’s Starbucks announcing its holiday menu on Instagram for some inspiration.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Starbucks Coffee ☕ (@starbucks)

Consider adding new photos of any holiday offering, like decorations

If your store is offering holiday products like decorations, gift ideas, holiday menus, Santa appearances, boiler maintenance Christmas deals, seasonal products like Christmas tree delivery or disposal services, let your customers know! Here’s a great example of how Zabar’s & Co. announced an exclusive product and discount for Hanukkah via social:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Zabar’s & Co. Inc. (@zabars)

Share any special events

If you’re running one-off experiences or events, or even just know that you’ll get particularly busy on certain days, let people know in advance to help them plan.

Cincinnati Zoo Fb Screenshot

Consider a holiday-specific campaign

This doesn’t have to be something complex that you’ve spent 6 months planning, either. Social can help you put something simple together, like an advent calendar, with 25 days of offers, or 25 days to share services, menu items, or gift ideas. Unveil a new product over 25 days, or something completely new.

Folly Farm Fb Screenshot

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Main Street Heating & Cooling | Utah HVAC Repair & Install (@mainstreetcomfort)

You could also invite local influencers to share your offering as part of a gift guide.

@connie.mp4 Toronto local small business gift guide part ii 🙂 #toronto #wishlist #christmasgiftideas #holiday #shoplocal ♬ original sound – Connie ❀

It’s just as easy to create videos for Reels as it is TikTok too, doubling your efforts across social platforms with minimal stress. Plus, the holiday season means you can add timely and relevant sounds to your videos. Think Mariah, Brenda Lee, and Michael Buble—the perfect soundtrack to your holiday marketing.  

Run a competition on social media

Want to get people excited about your new offering? Consider a “like and share to win” for a holiday meal, experience, or gift.

Consider adding holiday designs to any of your social graphics

This could be as simple as a dusting of snow on your cover photo, or you could go for something more advanced in any of your promotional images. It’s up to you (or your brand guidelines!).

Offer a gift list/gifting suggestions

This is particularly important if you’re a retail store. Getting on TikTok to show off your holiday products and services could be a great way to kickstart your holiday campaign in an authentic way that doesn’t require much huge investment in time and money. From the 2023 Local Consumer Review Survey, we know that 20% of consumers find out information about a business on TikTok, making it an obvious choice to spread the word about your holiday offering.
This example from a local gas station works well:

@maryledbetter9 Check out Reeder’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma! #tulsaoklahoma #shoptulsa #localbusiness #christmasshopping #familybusiness ♬ Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee

The creator shares each holiday-themed product that can be found in her business, makes use of a popular Christmas hit as the video sound, and uses local keywords throughout her video and through hashtags in the caption.

Partner with other local businesses to offer something unique, or share content with

If you’re offering locally sourced food, consider partnering with a local brewery to create a food and drink gift basket people can buy. If you’re a landscape gardener, consider partnering with Christmas tree wholesalers to deliver Christmas trees around the local area.

Remember to wish people a happy holiday season

If your audience is from a range of backgrounds, it’s a good idea to share the love this holiday season. Don’t just limit yourself to the holiday you’re celebrating yourself.

Get Your Website Ready for the Holidays

While many local businesses still forgo a website, they’re a key aspect of your digital presence. At this time of year, there are a number of things you can do to help you prep for potential heavy traffic moments, like end-of-season sales, or increase your online visibility.

Prepare for heavy traffic

Do you need to check your server, or consider a queue system? Basically, if you’re expecting an influx of additional traffic, can your current site hack it? This won’t affect everyone, but for those who know it could happen there are a few things you can do. Make sure your server can cope with the potential additional traffic, or even consider investing in queue software if you’re expecting particularly high demand.

Pin seasonal posts in your blog

If you create seasonal content that’s relevant every year, then make sure your customers can find it! A simple way to do this is by pinning holiday posts to the top of your blog page for the duration of the season. This means you may not have to write whole new posts every year just so people can find them again.

Showcase seasonal reviews

If you regularly offer different services or have seasonal products there’s a good chance you may have reviews for these. This is the time of year to put these front and center. Showcasing reviews is something you should do all year round, as it’s excellent social proof, but at this time of year, it could be worth reviewing the ones you’re using.

Update posts for freshness

That being said, if you are pinning old posts to the top of your blog, you need to make sure they’re up-to-date. This applies to any of your seasonal posts. There’s a chance that most of the information in your holiday posts could be absolutely fine, but it’s worth checking to make sure data, dates, or other information is still accurate and relevant. Avoid simply re-publishing with a new date, though. Google watches out for this kind of activity with its Helpful Content Updates. If you’re going to do that, make sure you’ve genuinely added new content.

Prepare your sales & promotional pages

You should already have pages created for these that you use every year. If you don’t, this is your cue to do that. You should have an evergreen page for your holiday promotions and sales. This page should remain live all year, just not linked prominently from your homepage. This way your main promotional pages for key events will gain authority from links and age over time, and you won’t be trying to rank a brand new page every time. Now that you’ve got your evergreen pages, make sure they are completely up-to-date with this year’s information.

Bed Bath And Beyond Holidays

Bed, Bath & Beyond has had its ‘Holiday’ category live with the same URL structure since 2015, with other subfolders coming off it. This has allowed it to gain links and rank for related keywords.

Check for consistency

Make sure your promotional messaging is consistent across your entire website. If you have a banner saying one thing and your landing page says another, you’re in trouble.

Check metadata is correct for this year

If you’re using your evergreen pages, there’s a good chance you optimized your meta titles and meta description for the previous year. Make sure each one is accurate for this year. Consider optimizing them to include what the deal actually includes, too. Are you offering cut prices, a special service, or free shipping? Your meta title or description could be your customer’s first impression of your deals or events.

Communicate key information where applicable

If you’re running special menus or deals, make sure you communicate these where you can. Similarly, if you have restricted opening hours or a final postal date, make sure you clearly communicate this.

How To Smash Your Email Marketing This Holiday Season

In an ideal world, your holiday email marketing communications would be all-singing, all-dancing campaigns with seasonally appropriate designs and GIFs galore, right? But in reality, when it comes to communications as a local business, the most crucial elements of your holiday emails will be the need-to-know items.

Opening hours reminders

Don’t give your customers a chance to tell you they didn’t see your holiday opening hours! As well as on your website, GBP, and social channels (plus any in-store signage you may have), come at your clients from all angles and reinforce any changes to opening hours or contact details in your email marketing. Much more active on IG stories or your Facebook Page? Direct email subscribers to the most relevant channels for regular updates.

Communicate service or product ordering and delivery deadlines

Likewise, for any significant holiday deadlines, ensure your customers have plenty of notice—whether it’s the last order and delivery dates for gift giving, seasonal food ordering ahead of any big days, or your availability for particular services.

Prepare the ‘signing off’ email

If your business is closed during any of the holiday periods, it’s always a good idea to send a ‘signing off’-style communication. This is a nice opportunity to wish your subscribers happy holidays, whilst communicating key reminders about how and when customers can expect to receive support throughout this time. You can also use this as an opportunity to recirculate helpful resources such as FAQs or any guides you might have created.

Sharing the joy of shopping local

The winter holidays in particular can be a great opportunity to reinforce how much the support of your community makes a difference to your business, as it catches consumers at a time when they’re feeling generous and bighearted. Create content to remind them of all the reasons to shop local, such as highlighting the uniqueness of independent gifts and personalized services, or sharing a personal story behind your business.

Automate key messages and prepare ahead of time

Even if you’re going to be out of the office for certain periods, the importance of timeliness never diminishes. For example, the period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is prime for discounts and sales promotions, so in the run-up to key holiday periods, ensure these key emails are planned, created, and scheduled.

Make Sure Your Promotions Are Optimized

Need-to-know information aside, these busy promotion periods do call for some creativity. As commercial dates like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas approach, the need to stand out from the hundreds of notifications pinging your customers’ inboxes or sponsored ads filling up Instagram feeds comes into play. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Be descriptive with your offers

Absolutely everyone is going to be bombarding users with ‘BLACK FRIDAY SALE’ messaging, and it’s more than enough to just turn people who aren’t actively looking for something off. In emails, use your subject line or pre-heading text to be descriptive about what you’re offering and therefore why it’s such good value. 

Creating a sense of urgency

We can’t all be like Glossier, which so rarely holds sales that it causes the internet to go into meltdown, but we can learn a thing or two about how it creates urgency. If you aren’t the kind of business that usually discounts products or services, you can utilize messaging to create excitement or a sense of urgency (AKA incite a sense of FOMO). Some brands make good use of ‘flash’ offer messaging, which can be made all the more effective via app push notifications, while others utilize a live countdown in emails or on-site to drive urgency.
Glossier Promotion Screenshot
Can you handle demand?

This applies to both the what and the how of any promotions you’d like to run, so not just the product or service that your customers are buying, but the logistics of fulfilling them and your business being able to keep up with any issues. Consider the following:

  • Do you physically have enough products in stock?
  • Is there a limit on purchasing?
  • Do you have adequate customer support in place?
  • Is your site set up to receive discount codes?
  • Can it handle significant traffic and amounts of transactions?

Rewarding loyalty / high-value customers

Some consumers see pre or post-holiday promotional periods as a free-for-all and, while it can be a great opportunity for you to grow brand awareness and gain some new customers, it’s worth considering what value they will place against your brand as a one-time promotional purchaser. Why not consider how this could be an opportunity to reward your existing, loyal customers? You could create an exclusive customer discount, an early-access event, or a live interaction via social channels that seek to reward your most engaged users.

Be smarter around timeliness

UK health and beauty retailer, Boots, has already kicked off the 2023 winter holiday season with discounts and loyalty point boosts for its Advantage Card members with a clever twist: some personalized vouchers can be used twice, some combined with others, and some reward you for ‘getting ahead on gifts’ for purchases during a specific period. However, it’s especially smart as it’s teasing promotions well ahead of time, while also encouraging customers to spend over longer periods, rather than inciting a rush around Black Friday that dwindles ahead of Christmas.

Preparation Is Key for a Relaxed Holiday Season

So, are you feeling ready? Our checklist should help every local marketer get the business ready, whether you’re launching a festive menu, closing on different days to everyone else, or simply optimizing your promotional pages

We hope our tips for the holiday season will have you feeling prepared to tackle everything that comes your way over the next couple of months.

Before you get started with your holiday marketing strategy, why not run a Google Business Profile Audit or benchmark your visibility with Local Rank Tracker? Make sure you can measure the impact of everything you’re doing across Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and beyond.

Mike Hawkes
About the contributors
Mike is BrightLocal's Senior Content Marketing Manager. With over nine years of experience in digital marketing, he is responsible for devising and executing our content strategy and delivering a host of local SEO insights to our audience.
Jenny Bernarde
Jenny looks after the BrightLocal community, through managing our social media channels, connecting with our community, and producing our online webinars.
Sammy Paget
Sammy is BrightLocal's Content Marketing Manager, focusing on developing marketing-leading insights into what drives visibility, rankings and search success for local businesses.

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