November 19, 2015 Rhea Ford

Oh Come All Ye Content Writers: A Guide to Dominating Your Content Strategy This Holiday

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. Just when you were starting to forget about jack-o’-lanterns and trick-or-treaters, it hits you: the holiday season is just around the corner and you need to start thinking about your holiday content plan.

The truth is that the holiday season serves as the perfect time to stand above the noise and reach out to a wider audience. According to a new research from Outbrain, cited by cyberalert.com, in 2014, holiday related content consumption increased at the beginning of November. The study also shows that not only the demand for content increased during this period, but the demand exceeded supply.

Another study showed that, in 2013, holiday content consumption reached its highest peak on Cyber Monday, with 26% more clicks than the previous day and twice as many as the following day.

It’s easy to see that offering fresh content to your audience during the holiday season is a must. The only problem is that the end of the year can be a little hectic, and finding the time to plan a proper holiday content strategy can be overwhelming for most content writers.

How can you create connections through content? What is the right message to send this holiday season?

In the spirit of giving, here’s a guide that will help you dominate your content strategy this holiday season.

  • Plan Ahead

Holiday Content Calendar

The time to start creating holiday-related content is now – if not earlier. Holiday content consumption starts earlier and earlier every year and it’s an ongoing trend. More than that, the holiday season is so hectic that is almost impossible to pull it off without planning ahead.

Don’t wait until December and start creating a holiday content calendar if you haven’t already. Mark down all the important holidays for your audience and think about relevant topics that will grab your readers’ interest.

However, while it’s important to get a head start on your holiday content strategy, you should be careful not to start weaving holiday messages too early. For example, a couple of years back, Kmart released a holiday-related ad at the beginning of September, long before the official start of fall. Obviously, consumers were not happy about it and took to social media to express their frustration.

The main takeaway here is: its never too early to start planning your holiday content, but timing is definitely crucial when it comes to actually sharing holiday focused content.

  • Use Content to Connect with Your Readers

The John Lewis Christmas ad is the most anticipated of the year. John Lewis is constantly taking the online media by storm, and it’s all because of the way they use storytelling to connect with their audience. The last ad, which features a man on the moon, has more than 13 million views on YouTube and thousands of mentions on social media.

The ad tells the story of a little girl who spends a lot of time staring through a telescope. One day, she spots and old man living in a little barn on the moon. She tries to contact the man by waving or firing messages with an arrow, but with no results. Then, on Christmas day, a basket attached to dozens of helium balloons lands at the feet of the old man. It’s a present from the little girls – a telescope which the man can use to connect with the girl back on earth,

The old man sheds a tear of joy. The Internet weeps.

Emotions generate shares. According to a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, positive stories are more likely to be shared than negative ones. If you want your holiday-related content to stand above the noise, you need to tap into your readers’ emotions. The John Lewis commercial is so successful because it play’s on people’s emotions at a time when they are more susceptible to messages that hit a chord.

  • Send the Right Message

During the holiday season, you are going to be up against countless content writers blasting out holiday-related programs. It’s going to be harder and more time consuming to break through the noise.

Highly Targeted Content

One way to do this is to make sure you are sending the right message to your audience. According to one study, during the holidays, people seemed more concerned with saving time than saving money. Targeting keywords such as “easy”, “quick” or “simple” is a great way to capture your audience attention during this hectic period. On the other hand, according to the study, keywords like “budget”, “afford” and “money” are less effective at reaching audiences.

  • Showcase Your Human Side

The average consumer today is exposed to over 5,000 advertising messages per day. This number increases during the holiday season. People are overwhelmed with sales pitches, offers and information. With this amount of noise, those who are able to genuinely connect with their audience will have an advantage over those who don’t.

Connecting with your audience

Successful content writers don’t look at content creation as a way to increase their revenue, but as the conduit for building lasting relationships. For reasons both practical and emotional, you have to show your human side, listen and take action based on what you hear and try to build a real connection.

The holiday season is the perfect time to build a true connection with your audience. Get personal. Let your guard down and share a little bit of the real you. Let your audience know you are a real person, not just a business.

  • Create Holiday-Themed Content

During the holiday season, a lot of marketers make aesthetic changes to their websites. They change the color scheme, use sparingly, ornate typography to set the mood or add holiday-related decoration to the navigation menu. While all these changes can contribute to that general holiday feeling, creating valuable, relevant content is much more important than cosmetics.

Readers will appreciate time-saving shopping guides, gift ideas, DIY video etc. Write SEO friendly content that will make it easier for readers to find the information they need. Focus on creating content that your audience will find useful and sharable. For example, if you run a travel blog, create a comprehensive list with top Christmas destinations. Include things like flight routes, accommodation options, tourist sights or other relevant tips. This will show that you know your readers and you are here to help them with useful holiday-themed information. They will value your information and it will reinforce the value of the service you provide.

  • ‘Tis the Season to Give

People love getting gifts. And they are wired to want to get gifts during the holiday season.

Pamper them.

That doesn’t mean that you have to send something to each and every one of your subscriber. The gifts should be related to your business. It can be a free eBook, a white paper, exclusive access to news from the industry or invitations to a webinar. Send your email subscribers coupons and deals, even small ones.

Free Gift

This is a great strategy any time of the year, but during the holidays is a great way to break through the marketing noise and grab your readers’ attention. Do a little extra work and make your gift holiday-related.

  • Be Mobile Friendly

With more than 87% of the world’s population switching to mobile devices over desktop computers, it’s safe to say that the future is mobile. Keeping up with this rapidly growing trend has proven to be a real necessity for all content writers who want to keep their audience close, engaged and excited during the holidays.

According to a study by Outbrain, in 2013, a large portion of holiday-related content was consumed via smartphones. More than that, at certain time, clicks on holiday content from mobile devices surpassed clicks from desktop computers. Not only did consumers tend to consume a large portion of holiday content from their smartphones, but they were also more likely to engage with holiday content from mobile devices than from desktop computers. According to the study, the average click-through-rate on holiday-related content was 23% higher among mobile users that desktop users.

Responsive Web Design

Making your website responsive and providing a mobile-friendly experience during the holidays – and all year round for what matters – is not only a logical step, but a smart one also. Considering that most people spend a big fraction of their media time on mobile devices, making your website mobile-friendly is a must if you want to reach and engage your audience during the holidays.

  • Create and Schedule in Advance

Imagine you are enjoying Christmas dinner with your family. Every now and then, you run to your computer to write a few more phrases for your holiday-themed post. You should be having fun, not creating content.

That’s why you need to create and schedule content in advance. There are various blog post schedulers and email campaign services out there you can use to schedule some of your content.

When Christmas morning rolls around and you’re in your pajamas opening gifts, you will thank us. Your content is still being published and looking professional while you enjoy time with your family.

  • Don’t Focus Solely on Christmas

Planning your holiday content strategy doesn’t necessarily mean focusing solely on Thanksgiving and Christmas. It also doesn’t mean that is has to be launched in December. There are various other holidays celebrated by millions of people around the world. For example, the Lunar New Year is celebrated by more than 60% of the world’s population. Or Small Business Saturday is a holiday held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving celebrated by more and more small businesses.

Think about what interests your audience and mark down all the key holidays. Brainstorm relevant content ideas and messages for each of the holidays and launch your strategy accordingly.

That’s a wrap

Certainly, your audience will be hitting the web to find what they need during the frantic holiday season. This time of year, you can use content not only to create real connections with your readers, but also to build and reinforce your role as a trusted partner.

Follow the tips above to make sure you will dominate your content strategy this holiday season. If you are having troubles with creating holiday-related content, you can work with professional content writers to make sure that your messages will be compelling enough.

What else are you doing to prepare for the holiday season? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

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