It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas… okay, not really — or, rather, not yet. The holiday season is just around the corner, and (if you haven’t already) it’s time to start thinking about what you and your marketing team will be doing to celebrate.

T’is the season of giving, and the most effective holiday marketing campaigns are crafted in this generous spirit. For example, offering special incentives to make a purchase or providing helpful, timely content to your audience are both effective options.

Whatever you choose to gift wrap as part of your holiday marketing campaign, it’s not a good idea to leave planning and execution to the last minute — much like ticking items off of your holiday shopping list. To help you out, we’ve created a six-step guide for building a festive and effective holiday marketing campaign.

Step 1: Determine Your Campaign Goals and Audience

The very first thing that you need to do is figure out what you want to achieve. Is your ideal outcome more leads, subscribers, transactions or something else entirely?

Once you’ve answered this question, you can create goals that will later be used to benchmark the performance of your campaign.

Goals should be very specific. Make them:

1.) Attainable

2.) Measurable

3.) Time-bound

For example, your goal may look like this: “Generate 1,000 downloads of our holiday shopping eGuide by December 10, 2016.”

Once your goals have been determined, it’s time to define the target audience of your campaign. It’s beneficial to find out as many details about your target audience as possible. Consider things like preferred social networks and peak usage times, mobile vs. desktop habits, etc. Ultimately, more information will result in better decision-making when it comes to content creation and promotion.

It’s likely that your marketing team already has personas in place. If so, this is where you can decide to segment your personas for more specific targeting.

Step 2: Create Your Holiday Offer

Your offer is the most important aspect of your holiday marketing campaign. There are so many types of content that you can choose from to bring your campaign to life: gated videos, webinars, podcasts, ebooks, whitepapers, templates, courses, apps — the list goes on and on. Alternately, you can offer holiday discounts, deals and other types of incentives to spend some money.

The type of offer that’s right for you really depends on what your audience wants or needs, and the type of goal(s) that you have already determined. For example, if you find out that your intended audience isn’t big into downloading whitepapers but spend hours plugged into podcasts every week, why not create a podcast series?

Step 3: Build Your Landing Page

Your offer needs a home — a compelling and convincing landing page. When building a home for your offer, the following elements are must-haves:

  • An eye-catching headline to get your audience’s attention the moment the page loads
  • Clear and concise bulleted benefits of your offer to convey what your audience will get out of it
  • Visuals that are pleasing to the eye, provide context and break up text
  • A form to get information from your audience in exchange for the offer

Step 4: Design Your Nurture

If your landing page includes a form (it should), it would really help your sales pipeline (and sales team) to set up lead nurture paths before you launch your holiday marketing campaign.

Use your marketing automation platform to set up email nurtures to stay in contact, top of mind and engaged with your leads.

You’ll need to determine a goal for your lead nurture — do you want contacts to view specific content, reach out to a sales rep or maybe make a purchase? From here, you can write the copy and CTAs for each email within your lead nurture and set up a schedule.

Step 5: Set Up Your Promotion Plan

Now it’s time to figure out how you’re going to deliver your holiday marketing campaign to your target audience. A successful promotion plan aligns all marketing channels around your specific offer and message. A handful of promotion ideas are below.

Blog: There are a few different ways to utilize blog posts as effective promotion components.

One option is to keep it short and sweet by creating a simple blog post that briefly describes what your holiday offer is, outlines its value and ends with a CTA that pushes people to your landing page.

You can also take the long-tail blogging approach for your promotion plan. You can create a series of fully-formed unique blog posts that are all related to your offer’s topic — just remember to include appropriate and relevant CTAs within each post.

Another option is to go back into your blog archive and find posts that relate to your holiday offer. Drop some brand new CTAs into these posts that push readers to your landing page.

Email: You may already have a list of people that you want to send your off to — if so, great! If you want to create segments out of that list for more specific targeting, even better. The holiday season is chaotic for most inboxes because of the inundation of seasonal promotions, so being very specific with your segments and relevancy will boost your open rate.

While creating your email, it’s important to craft a subject line that effectively describes your offer and its value. To-the-point body copy is also essential because you want to get recipients to your CTA as quickly as possible.

Social Media: Sharing links to your landing page and related blog content is an easy way to get your offer in front of a wider audience. Changing up messaging for each Tweet and Facebook post, etc. is important to prevent your promotion plan becoming stale. Also — tailoring content to each social platform is a great idea. Videos work well for Instagram promotion and colorful images, like infographics, work really well on Twitter.

There is a big opportunity to have fun on social during the holiday season and to experiment with things like tone of voice and visual content. Generally, there’s a lightheartedness associated with the holidays and social promotion as these platforms serve as places to find inspiration for gifts, decor, party ideas, etc.

Pinterest, in particular, has become the online go-to for all things holiday-related. Millions upon millions of holiday pins find their way to pinboards every year — so if your brand and holiday offer are pinnable, take advantage of Pinterest.

If you have the budget, it also wouldn’t hurt to boost some of your social posts with a little PPC action.

Step 6: Launch Your Campaign and Measure Performance

It’s time to go live with your holiday campaign now that all the grunt work is done! Launch your landing page, flick the switch on your offer, turn on your lead nurture, schedule your emails and start your social promotion.

Once your campaign has been live for a while you can start checking in on metrics and reporting on performance. Stack up results to the goal you set for yourself way back in step one.

If you find that a particular asset, like a blog post or email, isn’t working as well as you had anticipated you can experiment with copy and other elements of your campaign.

At the end of your campaign if you hit your goal, congrats! If you fell short, take this as an opportunity to learn and apply takeaways to your next campaign. Analyze all elements, comb through all assets and make note of where people fell off (then relax and enjoy your holiday break).