Many businesses ask the same question every year when it comes to the Christmas holiday period – should they be marketing their products and services online during this festive time?

The decision can cause upset if members of staff are asked to stay behind during important holidays to ensure there is someone there to take and process orders.

However, is there much value to promoting your products and services during the Christmas holidays or should you save money and spend it elsewhere?

 

What If You Are A B2B Business?

B2B businesses probably have one of the easiest times making the decision of whether to advertise during the holidays. Many businesses close their offices down from Christmas Eve right through until the day after New Year’s Day.

This is because during the holiday period some organisations find that staff are distracted, unproductive and produce lower quality work. However, this isn’t always the case and should be carefully considered whether this is true for your business.

Even if your office is closed, social media and other online activities should not be ignored. Those who are attracted to your site are unlikely to place an order on the first visit. In fact, more than 80% will wait at least three visits until they place an order.

Therefore, your down period could be put to good use by growing your lead database and attracting audiences to come back to your site.

Perhaps your marketing should concentrate on building your email list and sending them seasonal greetings on the appropriate day. All of this could be set up to automatically run, therefore no members of staff will be required to initiate it and you can benefit from the lead intelligence derived from consumer behaviours.

Then when you return from your Christmas break, your sales team can have a significant number of leads to process and determine who to contact. This could mean that January can be a busy time for you; giving your business a great start for the New Year.

 

What If You Are A B2C Business?

If you are selling directly to the consumers, then you might be mistaken to think that promoting your business during the festive period is a good idea.

However, research from companies have found that online activity is down 27% on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Day.

This indicates that online marketing should be limited during the holiday period. Perhaps a good idea would be to create a blog post that wishes everyone a Merry Christmas or Happy New Year.

Sales during these periods are also likely to be down compared to other times of the year. Therefore, unless everything in your business is automatic, perhaps advertising your products on these special days is not the best allocation of your marketing budget.

If you still want to promote on these days then you should optimise the timings of your campaign. Research from 2013 found that online traffic grows steadily from 7am until it drops rapidly at midday. This could be because of the tradition of opening presents, eating Christmas dinner and enjoying a Christmas film or watching television.

After this traffic does grow again as families test out their presents; especially computers, mobiles and tablets.

But what about the days in between Christmas and New Years Day? These are still typically counted as holiday days and many people do not go into work during this week. On the other hand, many countries across the world start their New Year Sales on Boxing Day and continue that right through to the 6th January or later.

According to historic data this is one of the most important times for e-retailers to be noticed by customers. Many brands in 2013 found that shoppers returned to their online stores on Boxing Day to find bargains in the sales. In fact, research has found that there is a huge surge in online traffic at midnight as shoppers attempt to find early bargains.

The behaviour of shoppers does vary from country to country. For instance, the US has a significant number of sales occurring in the weeks before Christmas with a heavily focus on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The UK has had a traditional after Christmas sale. This might have changed however with the rise in popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the UK. This year, the UK saw a larger increase in online sales compared to the US, the traditional home of Black Friday. This could impact what happens in the post-Christmas sales.

 

Consider What You Are Offering

The biggest problem with advertising during the festive period is that consumers expect a bargain. If you aren’t offering one then you aren’t going to be seeing much activity. You also need to consider what content you are offering your target audience.

Many members of your community will be unlikely to read blog posts as they are spending time with their families and reading blogs take a significant amount of time. However, they might be spending their time on Facebook and Twitter. Therefore, social media campaigns could be used to attract audiences to your products.

Research from this year’s Black Friday campaigns have shown that social media can play an important part in the sales process. Normally, social media only accounts for 1% of all online sales.

On Black Friday 2014, social media updates accounted for 7% of all online sales. This was an improvement from the 2013 figures, where 5% of all online sales could be traced back to social media.

Pay-per-click was also an impressive performer. Traffic from PPC campaigns increased during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. On Black Friday, the amount spent by businesses on PPC increased by 145% compared to the previous day. This made it by far one of the best revenue days for Google Adwords and other PPC providers.

 

Conclusion

Christmas is a period to be with your family and friends; however, that doesn’t mean that no-one is online. While traffic is down on Christmas Day, the period between then and News Year Day can be busy, especially if you have a sale on.

Therefore, use paid search and social media, two of the best performing platforms during sales seasons, to draw attention to your brand and achieve some holiday profits.

Jake Burdess

Director at Aflua
This post is by Jake Burdess, the founder of Aflua and HEROIC. Jake is an English designer who lives in New Zealand with his wife and three kids.

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