6 Steps to Create your Holiday Marketing Plan


6 Steps to Create your Holiday Marketing Plan

Do you have your holiday marketing plan in place?

I know I don’t need to remind you that the shopping season has begunnnn, but I’m going to anyway.

Halloween is this weekend and then its off to the shopping races my friend.

If you feel like you’re scrambling a bit to stay on top of your day to day shop tasks and plan your marketing, let’s start out with some prep work:

8 Tips to Boost Holiday Sales

Why and How to Create Holiday Gift Guides to Increase Sales

3 Decisions You’ll Need to Make this Holiday Season

Holiday Marketing: The Ultimate Guide to Creating a 12 Days of Christmas Sale or Giveaway

Okay, good?

Awesome. Let’s move along to the 6 step process to create your holiday marketing plan!

Holiday Marketing Plan - 6 Steps to Create your Holiday Marketing Plan and 9 Events to IncludeThis post contains affiliate links, which means if you sign up or purchase a service I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for trusting in my recommendations + supporting The Shop Files!


1 | Set your revenue goal for the holiday season (November-December).

But let’s be more specific — Pick a number that you want to achieve, set 2-3 supporting marketing goals, then determine the tasks that will help you achieve each goal.

Marketing Plan Example:

Goal: Reach $15,000 in sales revenue for November-December.

Supporting Marketing Plan:

  • Grow email list by 200 new subscribers
    • Create 3 new blog posts that promote email list incentive throughout or have an opt-in
    • Run a giveaway that encourages email sharing (can use a program like Gleam for easy execution)
    • Tease an “email VIP only” sale – promote a few days before on social media to earn new subscribers
  • Use abandoned cart recovery emails to re-engage customers
    • Did you know 68% of online shopping carts are abandoned?! Check out #4 on this list and start earning your customers back
  • Create a product round up for holiday inspiration + gift ideas and share with the bloggers/shops featured

The supporting marketing plans form your framework.

These guide the content you need to create, the platforms to focus on, and ultimately: what you need to promote to reach your revenue goal.

Looking for feedback or help setting your goals? Join us on Instagram @theshopfiles. And grab your free Q4 Prep Guide below:

2 | Grab a calendar and mark the dates for each promotional event you’ll participate in

(You can edit and use the ones [thrive_2step id=’3839′]provided here[/thrive_2step] if you like!)

These can either be traditional holiday events – which I’ve listed details on below – or events you create for your own shop (like a 12 Days of Christmas sale or giveaway for example). Work backwards to decide when you’ll begin to share messaging. Will you share just the day of, with a preview day, or further advanced notice?

3 | Determine your product or category focus.

Choose 3-5 specific products or categories (by product category, price point, gift receiver, etc). These will determine what your focus is for your above marketing plans in step #1 (ie. what you’ll give away, write about in your blog posts, and include in product round-ups).

What does your customer need to know about this holiday season:

  • Does an item make for the perfect gift?
  • Does she need inspiration and ideas for holiday outfits, home decor, etc?
  • Is there a special holiday line or themed collection?

4 | Create your promotional graphics for social media + email.

4a | Create specific event graphics for each social media platform you use and write your messaging for each platform. I recommend Canva – free + easy to use, plus comes loaded with pre-made templates.

I’d advise creating 3-5 different ‘announcements’ so your messaging doesn’t get stale, plus you’ll have pre-written templates for everything — which will make step #5 super easy.

4b| Create email graphics and begin to craft email announcement(s). Sprinkle in some non-promotional emails as well with short holiday tips for decorating, holiday outfit inspiration, new recipes, etc – whatever makes sense for your brand.

Tip – Keep your images for each promotion the same on both social media + email (can change it up for each event though) This makes it easy on you, plus creates consistency for your customer as she’ll see the same imagery – which helps your campaign stand out.

5 | Schedule your messaging.

  • For Instagram I recommend Later (free) – you can set up your image + caption, then schedule a time to go live. It will prompt you at that time to “push” to Instagram. (IG doesn’t currently allow automatic posting)
  • For Facebook & Twitter – I recommend Hootsuite (free) – you can set up both accounts to manage all in one place. Create your post by uploading your image and text, set a date + time; and these will automatically post for you. Yay!
  • For Email – you can schedule individual campaigns to send at exact times. I recommend MailerLite as it’s easy to use and set up a good looking email; plus it’s free for less than 1,000 subscribers.

6 | For extra holiday power –  tack on some content marketing with holiday gift guides.

  • Create 3-5 gift guides that tie back to core products or seasonal trends. (You can read more about how to create gift guides and get over 50 ideas here.) Share as a blog post with links to other products and shops that you included.
  • Send an email to or tag the shop owners / brands you included in your gift guides. You never know – most will often share or re-post (free marketing for them!)
  • Share on Pinterest to relevant boards and schedule out additional re-pins to automate your holiday marketing.
    • I recommend Tailwind (free trial) for scheduling as you can control the re-pin timing on specific pins. You can set it to re-pin to other relevant boards or re-pin to the same board. Pinterest likes to see you active!  And pinners? They are ACTIVE buyers during the holiday season:

93% of Pinners have used Pinterest to plan for or make purchases and 52% have seen something on Pinterest and made a purchase online. source

9 Events to Include in Your Holiday Marketing Plan:

BLACK FRIDAY – November 25th

Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving (sometimes referred to as “DAT” Day after Thanksgiving)

It is the busiest shopping day of the year and officially kicks off the holiday shopping season which accounts for over 30% of annual retail sales. Last year, over 74.2 million people shopped on Black Friday itself. (source)

Black Friday promotion ideas: Pick a limited number of items to surprise discount that day. You could also an early bird sale with select items and a new evening sale with a different category.

Black Friday hashtags: #blackfriday #dayafterthanksgiving


This is YOUR day!! Small Business Saturday is the Saturday following Thanksgiving. It began in 2010 by American Express as a way to support and draw attention to small businesses.

The focus is often more heavily on local business, so if you’re not already – share where you’re from as part of your brand story.

Other great ways to get involved on Small Business Saturday are to partner with local retail shops or local cafes / coffee spots or other online shop owners. For more information on networking that benefits your customer, check out this article on how to network without that icky feeling.

You could also consider partnering with a local blogger – this would provide them topical and relevant content for their readers and engage your shop with potential new customers. For more tips on partnering with bloggers, take a quick read over this article.

Small Business Saturday promotion ideas: Network with other shops to cross-promote each other’s businesses + show your support for shopping small!

Small Business Saturday hashtags: #smallbusinesssaturday #smallbizsaturday #smallbiz

CYBER MONDAY – November 28th

So turns out, this is also YOUR DAY! Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving and is focused on online sales, shops, and more sales! It began in 2005 by Shop.org and continues to grow in importance as the online space has taken off. (Seriously…remember in 2005 when people were nervous to buy “online”?)

This is also one of the least productive work days as employees are often pouring through emails looking for deals, so if Monday isn’t typically a great day for you – consider testing this year!

Cyber Monday hashtags: #cybermonday #cybermondaydeals

GIVING TUESDAY- November 29th

Since everyone spent the last 5 days gorging themselves on food and commercialism, a group out of New York decided to start this event in 2012. Giving Tuesday is an event that reminds consumers to give back and has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy.

If your shop donates a percent of profits or works with suppliers / retailers that provide work for underprivileged or charities; today would be a great time to remind customers of how their purchase helps support those initiatives.

Do you have a story that shares recent happenings for the charity you donate to? Or stories about the lives that have been changed or influenced by your network of suppliers? Share these stories with your customers as a large part of the effort and changes that have taken place; and thank your customers for being a part of them.

Giving Tuesday hashtags: #givingtuesday

ST NICK’S – Tuesday, December 6th

So apparently this is kind of a region thing, and even more specifically in Wisconsin (where I was raised!). But St. Nick’s is a Christian tradition and is celebrated on December 6th. Typically St. Nick’s is focused on small gifts, candy and treats. So leading up to St. Nick’s would be a perfect time to promote stocking stuffers, gifts under $10, and sweet treats.

FREE SHIPPING DAY – Friday, December 16th

Founded back in 2008, in an effort to extend the online holiday shopping window; this is a one-day event held in mid-December. For the day, consumers can shop from both large and small online merchant participants offering free shipping with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve.

If you can guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve for orders placed on 12/16 >>> Sign up at www.freeshippingday.com to register as a merchant. You will need to offer free shipping on all orders + you’ll have the option to provide an additional coupon code for a discount. Let them do the heavy legwork – you’ll be included in their promotions and searchable on their page.

SUPER SATURDAY – December 24th

Let’s get ready to rumble here folks! This is the last Saturday before Christmas and everyone (cough mostly boyfriends and husbands) is scrambling for some last minute gifts.

Depending on how Christmas falls, as an online shop owner you may not be able to participate based on your individual turnaround times. Be sure to have that in mind and update your holiday policies and share shipping cut-off dates.

*For 2016, Christmas on a Sunday is a bit rough as it cuts your last shopping weekend short.

HANUKKAH – December 24th – January 1st

This year’s dates happen to fall right on Christmas so the good news is your promotional effort can hit both. Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights and it remembers the rededication of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. It did not always have such a gift-giving focus, but as it falls close to Christmas and that season has become more commercialized… the popularity to give gifts grew here as well.

Popular Hanukkah Gifts on Etsy

NEW YEAR’S EVE – December 31st

Self-explanatory 🙂 but don’t forget this holiday! It seems so far off, but with the whirlwind of Christmas you don’t want to be left running around after the holidays and the buying window for online between Christmas and New Year’s is short!

If you sell jewelry, fun dresses and tops, sparkly home decor, etc now is a perfect time to start planning your promotion.

On the flip side, if you sell wellness items, athletic apparel, yearly planners or organization related items; this is your time too! Get them thinking about the new year so they can add these items to their holiday wish list.

Create your own Holiday Event:

Create your own holiday campaign with a 12 Days of Christmas sale or giveaway. See what to include and steps to take here.

Swipe my done-for-you promo calendars + content timeline.

You deserve to start the holiday season confident, focused, and prepared to reach your sales goals.
And that can’t happen by accident. Start planning to have your best season yet (with less stress).

Increase sales on Etsy during the holiday season and Christmas gift giving with a holiday marketing plan - tips to increase Etsy sales using these 9 key holiday events to drive traffic



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