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Marketing For The Holidays: 12 Tips For Sustainable Brands 

Marketing for the holidays can sometimes feel like a blood bath. Let your brand stand out by showcasing your sustainable ecommerce journey. 

Customers now expect the companies they support to practice sustainability, and if you want to stick out from the cacophony of sellers, you must exhibit environmental and social responsibility. Here’s our guide to marketing for the holidays.

How To Create A Sustainable Holiday Marketing Strategy

Over 60% of consumers prefer to shop from purpose-driven brands, so addressing your brand’s purpose in your upcoming holiday marketing material is just giving your customers what they want. 

Creating sustainable holiday marketing campaigns is all about authentically blending your sustainability story with holiday marketing promotions. Successful holiday marketing strategies incorporate the concepts of lifecycle marketing (connecting with your audience at every touchpoint) with sustainable marketing practices

This powerful combination helps customers make ethical online shopping decisions and feel good about their purchases during the holiday shopping season. 

Generally speaking, these are the steps to a seamless launch of your holiday marketing campaigns with sustainability in mind:

  • Define Sustainability Goals: Set clear, achievable objectives that align with your brand’s mission. Start by identifying your sustainability KPIs to get started and establish your sustainability initiatives.
  • Understand Your Audience: Research your target demographic’s values, especially regarding sustainability. Find out what sustainability issues matter most to them and how your brand can address them this holiday season.
  • Develop Messaging: Craft consistent, authentic sustainability messages across all channels.
  • Plan Your Campaigns: Outline promotions, channels, content, and timelines, ensuring alignment with sustainability objectives. We’ll go through a few example holiday promotions in the next section.
  • Create Engaging Content: Educate and engage your audience on sustainability, showcasing your brand’s commitment.
  • Implement and Monitor: Launch campaigns, monitor performance, and pay attention to customer feedback. Many holiday marketing campaigns begin the months leading up to the actual holidays themselves to build anticipation.
  • Analyze and Optimize: Post-campaign, assess results, identify successes, and areas for improvement.
  • Share Your Impact: Communicate the positive outcomes of your sustainable efforts to build trust and reinforce commitment. EcoCart’s sustainability dashboard, for example, allows brand’s to display the carbon offsetting activity during a certain period.

By following these concise steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating a holiday marketing strategy that resonates with conscious consumers and upholds your brand’s commitment to sustainability.

8 Examples Of Holiday Marketing Strategies

Sometimes, you need to see sustainable holiday promotion campaigns in action to envision which direction you want your marketing strategy to go. Here are some of our favorite holiday marketing ideas that you might implement in your strategies.

1. Offer free rewards

There’s nothing better than a freebie. Encourage sales by offering a free reward with certain purchases in your holiday marketing strategy. 

For example, you might include a free holiday ornament with every purchase over $100. Or, over the holiday season, you can cover the cost of carbon neutral shipping to help your customers feel good about their purchase. You can also encourage new customers to come back by including a coupon with every purchase.

2. Webroom your products

Webrooming is when a customer researches a product online before making a purchase. You can make yourself a part of the webrooming process by providing educational materials within your holiday marketing to help them make a decision. 

For example, you could make social media videos comparing your products with other similar products and showing your value. Or, you can partner with influencers who are willing to promote your product and tell their audience why they enjoy your brand over others.

3. Encourage discussions

By building online communities and encouraging discussions, you can have a direct line to your target market and better understand their desires all while gaining promotions from existing customers and reeling in new ones. 

Encourage discussions on your social media channels by creating fun polls or asking interesting questions that your audience can then address in the comments. You can then motivate participation by offering a giveaway for the comment with the most number of likes. 

Make the polls holiday-themed by asking your audience about their favorite holiday treats, what’s on their gift list, or their favorite holiday traditions.

4. Use hashtags

Hashtags help customers find the videos and products that they are interested in. Use hashtags to drive your target audience to social media posts, increasing your views and getting your products in front of potential customers. 

Don’t just put in as many hashtags as you can. Strategize hashtags that have high interest with less content, increasing your likelihood of being noticed. 

Find hashtags that align with your brand, core values, and product so that you put your content in front of people it will resonate with. A good hashtag strategy goes beyond anticipating searches. You must consider user intent as well, meaning is the user seeking information or intending to actually purchase the product? Focus on hashtags and phrases that target users with the intention of purchasing.

5. Produce festive ads

Perhaps obviously, festive ads can be a huge part of any sustainable marketing strategy. According to Insider Intelligence, TikTok generated the most digital ad revenue, indicating that this is where ecommerce companies need to be advertising. 

Because video-based platforms see the most digital ads, your festive ads should consist of short-form videos designed to do well on these platforms. They may include influencer marketing, sponsored posts, or video advertisements on your own social media platforms and channels.

6. Appeal to shopper emotions

Today’s consumers want to support companies that stand for something. This often requires that the company makes its audience feel emotional. As you combine your sustainability goals with holiday festivities, pull at your customers’ heartstrings. Use statistics to help your customers see how certain environmental choices can make a huge difference this holiday season. 

While making an emotional appeal, make sure that you don’t forget the facts. While customers want to feel something, they also crave authenticity. 

7. Partner with a non-profit

The holiday season is a time of giving, and by partnering with a non-profit, you can do your part toward society while encouraging sales. Find an organization that aligns with your core values and sustainability goals, and donate a portion of each sale to the non-profit. 

When you advertise this promotion, explain it in a tangible way. Rather than saying, “10% of each sale will go to the local food bank,” frame it as “Each sale will help a family in need enjoy a holiday feast.” This will help customers envision exactly how their purchase will help, and it will make them feel really good.

8. Consider an influencer strategy

As mentioned previously, influencer marketing has one of the top ROIs. On top of this, the HubSpot Consumer Trends Report discovered that 55% of Gen Z and 44% of Millennials find influencer recommendations to be important. By having an influencer with a wide following promote your products within their holiday marketing, you can build trust for your products and drive sales. 

People find authentic videos that are relatable will entice them toward a sale much more than a polished ad might. Influencer videos can provide a way for your products to be promoted in such a way.

12 Sustainable Holiday Marketing Tips

Building holiday marketing campaigns that resonate with your target market, come across as authentic, and adequately tell your sustainability story is possible. Here are some holiday marketing ideas to help you advertise your products alongside your sustainability strategy this holiday season.

1. Highlight your core values

When developing your holiday marketing strategy, keep your company’s core values at its center. If you’re committed to reducing your carbon footprint, for example, make sure that this remains the focal point of everything. Be consistent in your messaging, and as you design holiday shopping sales, be sure to highlight your core values, too.

For example, if your company’s biggest sustainability goal is to reduce its carbon emissions, draw attention to your carbon neutral shipping add-on as part of your holiday marketing.

2. Tie your sustainability strategy to the holiday season

The holiday season is a time of love, family, and togetherness. But it’s also a time of heightened carbon emissions from shipping and travel, increased packaging and food waste, and more. Show your target audience how buying your products will minimize their footprint and allow them to enjoy the material fun of the holiday season while still practicing responsibility.

For instance, if you sell eco friendly clothing, discuss the problems of holiday micro-trends as part of your holiday marketing campaign, and educate your customers about the importance of recycling their holiday pajamas or choosing a holiday look that they’ll wear again.

3. Be ready to adapt

A successful holiday marketing campaign should see increased website traffic, elevated engagement, and more customer service calls than at any other time during the year. This also means that you need to be ready to deal with any problems that may arise due to heightened interest. 

This time of year may be your company’s first impression to many buyers, especially if they are buying a gift on behalf of one of your loyal customers. 

Leading up to the holiday season, brainstorm any issues that may occur, and make sure that you have plenty of people ready and waiting to take care of those problems.

4. Use a content-driven approach

According to HubSpot’s 2023 State of Marketing Report, the channels with the greatest ROI are blogs, social media shopping tools, and influencer marketing. Take the time to prepare these channels and create valuable content leading up to and through the holiday season to drive sales. 

Consider investing in more influencer marketing during the holiday season, educate your customers with sustainability-centered holiday blog posts, and create short-form videos that showcase your sustainability story while cultivating excitement around the holiday season. 

5. Engage customers in your sustainability journey

Our research shows that over half of shoppers are enthusiastic about doing their part to reach sustainability goals. It feels good to do good, and the holiday shopping season is all about the spread of goodwill. Engaging customers in your sustainability journey and allowing them to opt into more sustainable behavior will not only bring you closer to your sustainability goals but will also give them a little boost of holiday spirit. For example, you might incentivize slower delivery times by utilizing ground shipping, which carries a smaller carbon footprint than air freight or overnight delivery.

6. Be aware of the competition

ESG and sustainability marketing are now key parts of any holiday marketing campaign. You won’t be the only ecommerce company highlighting your sustainability goals and achievements. 

In fact, 90% of CEOs say that sustainability is essential to success. However, only about 60% of businesses even have a sustainability strategy.

Because of this, you need to have a strong understanding of what makes your company stand out above the rest. How are you going above and beyond when it comes to sustainability? What areas are you addressing that others in your industry are not? You must ensure that your sustainability strategy is comprehensive and verified, and then you need to take the time to tell your sustainability story effectively in your holiday marketing.

7. Educate customers

Impart the importance of your sustainability goals, and use this as an opportunity to educate your customers and help them understand your values. For instance, on your social media channels, you might include short-form videos that teach customers about sustainable wrapping paper while highlighting your eco-friendly packaging.

8. Avoid false urgency

While false urgency can increase sales, it can also result in increased returns. Package returns make up a quarter of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the ecommerce industry and are not great for your carbon footprint

Rather than creating false urgency, give customers a real reason to buy. This requires a deep understanding of your target market and its pain points. Understand online shopper behavior and cultivate a holiday marketing strategy around these actions.

9. Don’t forget about your existing customers

Even though the holiday marketing draws in new customers, you don’t want to leave your existing customers behind. Now is a good time to offer more holiday deals within your loyalty programs, giving even more deals to the customers who have been with you for a long time. 

By boosting rewards in your holiday marketing, you’re also buffering the post-holiday season by increasing the average order value (AOV) and lifetime value (LTV) of customers who join your loyalty program. 

Here are some numbers to show you just how powerful a loyalty program can be:

  • 83% of consumers will shop with a brand again simply because it has a loyalty program. 
  • 64% will spend more just to earn more rewards. 

Over the holiday season, provide extra points for carbon neutral shipping or offer free shipping to those who have already signed up for your loyalty programs. 

You’ll make your existing customers feel taken care of and it will encourage new customers to join your loyalty programs to become returning customers, too. 

10. Be charitable

Donate a portion of your holiday sales to a cause that aligns with your core values. The holiday season is called The Season of Giving for a reason; the last two months of the year are the two biggest months for charitable donations. Hop onto the bandwagon by giving to a cause that aligns with your sustainability goals. For example, if your main area of focus is in reducing plastic waste, you can donate to plastic pollution projects in vulnerable communities.

11. Maintain authenticity

As you develop your sustainable holiday marketing strategy, make sure that authenticity permeates your holiday marketing campaigns. While the ultimate goal of any holiday marketing plan is to convert sales, you shouldn’t mislead to do so. 

12. Avoid greenwashing

Sustainability marketing needs honesty and transparency to align with modern consumer values. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating your target audience or, worse yet, succumbing to greenwashing.

6 Major Holiday Marketing Opportunities

Although the holidays around November and December create the biggest consumer months of the year, they aren’t the only marketing opportunities. Your company’s marketing team should be aware of these major consumer holidays, and start brainstorming ways to take advantage of these dates months before the dates arise. 

  1. Green Friday: Created as a way to combat the overconsumption of Black Friday while allowing consumers to find great deals, Green Friday promotes sustainable businesses and sustainable living. Some ways that you and local businesses can participate in Green Friday are to donate a portion of each sale to a sustainable cause, encourage slower ground shipping instead of overnight delivery, or offer carbon neutral shipping at checkout.
  2. BFCM (Black Friday, Cyber Monday): The weekend of Black Friday, Cyber Monday is huge for ecommerce businesses. Participating in these holiday promotions isn’t inherently bad. You just need to ensure that you are promoting mindful shopping as you promote your sales. Discourage impulse buys by prolonging the period of your BFCM sales. Offset the carbon footprint of returns. Send your products in packaging that can be reused. Do your part to ensure less waste during the two biggest consumer holidays of the year while still taking advantage of the sales opportunity.
  3. December holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and other big December holidays make December a massive month for shopping. When you’re creating your holiday season marketing strategy, use inclusive language so that you don’t alienate portions of your market. Be aware of which holidays your customers celebrate, and when in doubt, use generic language that speaks to everyone.
  4. Eco friendly Valentine’s Day: Valentine’s Day can be a huge opportunity for sales. Encourage an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day by promoting the use of recycled cards, educating your customers about fair trade chocolate and ethical jewelry, and more. 
  5. Giving Tuesday: Giving Tuesday occurs on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and it’s a movement intended to promote community service and generosity. Provide rewards to customers who can prove that they volunteer, take your employees out on a community service event and showcase it on social media, donate a portion of proceeds to a non-profit, and otherwise promote volunteerism on this day.
  6. Halloween: Another consumer holiday that promotes unsustainable practices, Halloween offers the perfect opportunity for sustainable clothing companies to promote environmentally friendly practices while increasing sales. During the spookiest time of year, showcase costumes made of recycled materials, and encourage customers to thrift or recycle their ensembles when they’re done with them. Halloween also offers the perfect opportunity for fair trade candy companies to showcase their social responsibility and makeup businesses to educate their customers on the importance of organic ingredients sourcing.

How To Boost Your Conversion When Marketing For The Holidays

Boosting your conversion during the holidays is all about providing excellent customer service, removing friction points, offering competitive holiday promotions, and creating a consumer experience that your customers crave. 

But that’s what most businesses will be offering during the holiday season.

One way that you can provide a unique customer experience for holiday shoppers is by engaging them in your sustainability goals by offering carbon positive shipping on all orders.

tribe kelley carbon neutral checkout

Tribe Kelley, a sustainable clothing company, has seen a 19% improvement in their conversion rate after implementing EcoCart. Sustainable furniture company Simbly saw a 38% lift in average order size

And, Face the Future, a skincare, haircare, and cosmetics company, has seen an astounding 130% higher AOV for loyal customers and a 200% increase in the number of purchases per customer. 

How? By showing their commitment to sustainability through carbon positive shipping.

As an ecommerce company, one of your biggest areas of impact will be your carbon footprint associated with shipping. Here at EcoCart, we help ecommerce businesses take responsibility for their carbon footprint by offsetting the carbon emissions of each shipment with verified projects. 

It works like this:

  1. We calculate the carbon emissions of each order, taking into account things like shipping distance, product weight, and product type. 
  2. You can offer a carbon neutral shipping add-on to your customers, engaging them in your sustainability goals, and offsetting the carbon footprint of their order.
  3. Track and share your results using our carbon footprint dashboard. 
  4. Market your carbon journey to your customers using our sustainable shopping experiences.

We even integrate with Yotpo and Loyalty Lion, allowing you to give points to your customers for opting into carbon neutral shipping. This can be a hugely powerful combo when driving sales.

Face the Future uses this integration to reward customers for opting for carbon neutral shipping.
Face the Future uses this integration to reward customers for opting for carbon neutral shipping.

It’s clear that EcoCart can improve conversions for sustainability-minded customers. The upcoming holiday season provides the perfect opportunity to implement our services and reach your sustainability goals in a meaningful way.

Conclusion

When developing your holiday marketing campaigns, don’t forget to include your sustainability goals. After all, you’ve worked hard to be a sustainable company. You should use that to encourage new sales. Here at EcoCart, we provide resources to help our customers tell their sustainability stories in a way that resonates with their target audience and builds on their holiday marketing campaign ideas. 

Want to learn more? Read our guide: 7 Sustainable Marketing Strategies to Weave into Your BFCM Promotions, or reach out to our team for a demo today.

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