’Tis the season for businesses across the world to see the bottom line on their income statements  (profit and loss, or P&L) go from red to black! Black Friday is just around the corner, and this is a great time to review your sales forecast goals and develop a strategy to meet them through your holiday campaigns.

So what will your business do to make sure your products are top of mind as your customers make spending decisions from Black Friday and Cyber Monday through the end of the year? 

Here are 6 ways your business can build holiday marketing campaigns that help you increase holiday sales this season!

1. Offer special discounts to loyal customers

Offer special discounts to your best or most loyal customers on the things they buy the most. Why not treat them to a holiday gift, from you to them? Offering deals they can’t refuse on the things they buy the most is a great way to say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Happy Kwanzaa to your most loyal customers! 

Remember, it usually costs you a lot more to acquire brand new customers than to retain the ones you have. So if you only really reach out to your all-stars once a year, make sure it’s during the holiday season. One approach to increase holiday sales might be to offer these loyal customers an even bigger break when they refer your business to family or friends . . . and those referrals make a purchase. 

2. Personalize Emails to Your Customers

For online stores especially, but for any business that has email addresses and some basic information on their customer base’s sales history, it’s great to be able to personalize emails by including their name and a pertinent detail. Maybe they’ve been a customer for more than a year. 

Maybe they always place a monthly order. If they always make the same order, personalize the email with a suggestion for an item you think they would like based on their order history, and tell them why. 

Email segmentation based on your customers’ history or personal details such as their birthdate, if you know it, is a powerful tool. This approach reminds your customers that you really do appreciate their loyalty. It works well for a holiday marketing campaign but is also a great strategy anytime.
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3. Offer gift certificates

Maybe you’re an automotive repair shop, a hairdresser, maid service, a professional organizer, or a web developer—how do you gift those things? With gift certificates, of course! 

Who wouldn’t love a free oil change and tire rotation, new hairstyle, or house cleaning!?! (I know I would, hint, hint.) Or maybe you have tons of products and services and choosing one is too difficult! Give the gift of choice. Gift certificates are great stocking stuffers and offer a great opportunity to cross-sell (see #2!). 

Don’t over complicate things, but don’t discount the power of offering an online option for purchasing a gift certificate, even if ultimately, you’re still snail-mailing a physical copy. Try it out—promote them on your social media channels or to your email list. 

Make a visually appealing sign near your cash register if you have a brick and mortar store. You might even run a sale on gift cards, offering a volume discount, or some other incentive (such as buy a gift certificate for a service and receive a service for free or at a discount) for your regular customers to purchase them as a gift. 

4. Cross-sell!

The months leading up to the holidays are a great time to suggest items to go with the products or services your customers are already purchasing. Maybe they bought a beautiful set of earrings last year for mom. This year, suggest the matching necklace. When you sell a spa package, offer the premium at-home spa kit to go with it as a carrier for the gift certificate! 

Hairdressers can cross-sell a salon-quality shampoo and conditioner set. The auto repair store can offer jumper cables or fix-a-flat canisters—all as nice little carriers or stocking stuffers for the gift certificates! Cross-selling is a great way to add value to the client—and to increase holiday sales.

5. Send gift ideas

How many times have you been stumped on a gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list? We’ve all been there! So help your customers by sending an email full of gift ideas tailored to the people on their list with headings like: “gifts for mom,” “great gifts for co-workers,” “gifts for neighbors,” or “gifts  for the mail carriers.” 

What are your most popular items and who buys them? Share that info with the people on your mailing list and they’ll be grateful for it!

6. Offer free shipping or special deliveries

Who doesn’t love a surprise?!? Don’t be afraid to think outside the box to increase holiday sales. What if that premium spa package and at-home spa kit were hand-delivered with a bouquet of fresh flowers or a box of chocolates? 

What if the oil change was done on-site at the recipient’s home? What if a gift basket with a few jars of local homemade jam and bakery-fresh scones were delivered fresh on a Saturday morning? Wouldn’t that make the gift extra special?

If you’re running an e-commerce store, it’s no secret that you’re competing with giant retailers like Amazon that are offering more choices and fast, free shipping. What are you going to do to either make it worth the wait and worth paying more for, or to cut your losses if you do offer free shipping?  

How you craft the customer experience around waiting for and receiving their purchase can make a big difference in how willing people are to shell out for shipping costs or wait longer than they’d have to if they bought from Amazon. 

7. Send cards or gifts to current and past clients.

Maybe staying in touch and top of mind is as simple as wishing your customers a Happy Holiday and thanking them for their business! Customers love to know they’re appreciated. Send them a thank you card or a special gift that has nothing to do with trying to sell them anything—they’ll love you for it! 

Editor’s note: This article originally published in 2011. It was updated in 2019. 

AvatarCarolyn Higgins

Carolyn Higgins is the President and founder of Fortune Marketing Company. Her personal mission is to help small businesses stop wasting money on advertising and promotions that don’t deliver and help business owners implement an effective marketing system that will bring in more customers—consistently. For more information about Fortune Marketing Company visit the Fortune Marketing Company website or blog.