How to Create a Vacation Marketing Campaign: A Step-by-Step Guide

The malls are decked out in holly, your inbox fills with vacation-themed promotions, and you think it’s socially acceptable to listen to your favorite vacation playlist on Spotify … or maybe it’s just me.

Either way, the holiday season has arrived and marketers are preparing to end the year strong. But just like shopping for gifts, you don’t want to plan your vacation campaign until the last minute.

There is a lot of spending going on in the next month, so it’s important to have a plan to reach your customers and prospects before your competitors do.

You haven’t planned your campaign yet? No panic.

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide with everything you need to start a holiday marketing campaign this season. From quote templates to free vacation-themed photos, we’ve peppered this step-by-step guide with resources to get your campaign up and running right away.

How to create a vacation marketing campaign

  1. Decide on a campaign theme.
  2. Choose your campaign goals.
  3. Define your target audience.
  4. Make an offer.
  5. Create a landing page.
  6. Draw up an advertising plan.
  7. Create lead nursing paths.
  8. Take the campaign live.
  9. Measure and report.

1. Decide on a campaign theme.

While content creation is anchored in the daily lives of most inbound marketers, starting a campaign is a little different. Unlike a tweet or an infographic, campaigns require you to target all of your marketing channels towards a specific goal or message.

Holiday campaigns, like all campaigns, are usually run over a concentrated period of time. Depending on your industry, they can start as early as October and often extend into January.

Now that you know what you’re in for, there is no time to waste. Below, we’ll start this process by guiding you through the creation of your campaign and offer.

2. Choose your campaign goals.

Before you start creating an offer, you need to determine what you want to achieve. What is the ideal result of this campaign?

Once you’ve defined your focus, you can start creating goals that you can use to evaluate the performance of your campaign once it’s complete. Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART goals for short). Here is an example of structuring this type of goal:

to generate [number] Leads focused on [topic/product] by 2020-12-18T11:00:00Z

Depending on what you want to get out of your campaign, your goals might look like this:

  • to generate 1,000 leads who are interested in ours annual Christmas sale by 5th December 2015.
  • to generate 5,000 registrations for our Vacation Shopping App by November 30, 2015.
  • Collect $ 50,000 in donations for Charity XYZ by December 20, 2015.

Read this free goal setting template to better align your marketing efforts with SMART goals. Use this template to summarize your goals, calculate your greatest marketing needs, and set deadlines.

3. Define your target audience.

Once the goals are set, the next step is to define your target audience. The more information you can gather about the people you want to reach, the better. Where are they hanging out on social media? Do you prefer to consume information on your desktop or mobile phone? This will help you make smarter marketing decisions when it comes to creating content and planning promotions.

If you already have some buyer personas to use in your marketing efforts, the first thing to do is narrow your focus. Does your campaign target all segments of your target audience? If not, you need to immediately weed out the people that you don’t want to include.

If you don’t already have buyer personalities or want to create campaign-specific personas, we recommend checking out our free buyer personality templates. These templates make it easier for you to create and organize your personal data.

4. Create an offer.

The offer you create serves as the hub for all of your campaign initiatives. Usually, offers take shape in the form of e-books, white papers, templates, online courses, videos, tools, etc. While there are many options to choose from, we recommend that you take an approach that makes the most sense for your purpose audience.

Think about it: if you know that the people you want to reach are usually limited in time – especially during the holidays – you might want to create a bunch of easy-to-use templates instead of a long ebook, right?

If you choose the e-book route, we can help – you can download our free, customizable e-book templates. We have already taken care of the design element. So all you have to do is focus on writing the content. And if you’re looking for compelling graphics to use throughout your listing, download our 250 free vacation photos here.

5. Create a landing page.

Once your listing has been created, you will need to provide a place of residence. This is where the landing page comes in.

Given that your landing page is the page you’re driving traffic to, it has to be compelling. Here is a list of some of the essential elements that you should include:

  • Convincing headline. This is how you will attract the attention of potential visitors. For tips on creating the perfect headline, check out this guide.
  • Interesting pictures. Your landing page shouldn’t be just a jumble of text. Think about how you can provide visual context for your offering.
  • The advantages of your offer. This usually takes shape in a bulleted list. The aim is to drive home what the visitor can expect from this offer and why it is important.
  • A form. This way, you collect information in exchange for the offer. Note that there is no magic number for form fields. In fact, the amount of information you need to request on a form varies from company to company. That is, if you don’t really need some information, don’t ask for it.

If you need more information on how to make a great landing page, check out this roundup of 15 brilliant landing page designs.

6. Draw up an advertising plan.

“If you build it, they’ll come,” no marketer ever said. Now that your content has been created, it’s time to figure out how to get the word out. Here are some of the advertising tactics that you should implement per channel:

Email Marketing

If you already have a list of people who you know will be interested in what you have to offer, this is great. If you want to slice and dice your database to keep track of a more specific group, this segmentation should be dealt with first. For HubSpot customers, it’s easy to segment your database using a smart list in the lists app. (Here’s a resource to get you started.)

During the holiday season, we’d argue that segmenting your list is more important than ever. Due to the increased number of incoming promotions and the limited amount of time customers are busy, targeted emails often take precedence over bulk messages.

Once you’ve weeded out your recipients, it’s time to start the actual email creation process. Here are some notable elements to consider when composing your email:

  • Subject.Focus on what the offer solves. Check out this helpful post for tips on how to improve your subject lines.
  • Body copy. The text of your email should be short and sweet, similar to the copy on your landing page. This is also a great opportunity to incorporate personalization using personalization tokens. Here are some great examples to get you thinking about personalization options.
  • Share options. Don’t forget to add buttons to your emails that recipients can use to quickly forward your offer to their network.

You can find an email template that meets your needs in the HubSpot Template Marketplace.

to blog

Once you’ve sent an email to put your offering on your audience’s radar, it’s time to expand your reach even further. Blog posts serve as an effective campaign element to attract people to your offer and can be targeted in a number of different ways.

One way of promoting your offerings on your blog is to create a simple “promotional mail” – that’s what we call it. This post is usually a very focused post that provides a brief introduction to the offering, advice on implementation, and a compelling CTA to get users to the landing page.

Example of a vacation promo post

According to a 6 month long analysis of HubSpot’s marketing blog run by my colleague Ginny Soskey, promo posts turned out to be the most effective lead generators among the seven post types we typically publish. This can vary depending on the industry and target group. However, we recommend that you explore this species on your own.

Aside from promo posts, it’s also a good idea to add a CTA for your offer to a post that is in line with the topic. You can create a completely new post and revisit older, related posts to exchange their CTAs. That way, people who reach the bottom of your post looking for more information or a deeper dive into the topic can click on the offer.

Social media

After you have specific promotional material, you can promote it on your social media channels. Whether you share the related blog post or a link to the landing page, make sure to switch messages so that you don’t repeat the same tweet or Facebook post over and over again.

You’ll also want to customize the post to match the platform you’re posting on. For example, create a teaser video for your listing to promote on Instagram, then use a colorful image when you post it on Twitter:

The holidays provide an exciting opportunity for businesses looking to explore platforms that they normally wouldn’t try. If busy consumers are looking for vacation help and inspiration all over the internet and social media, it may make sense to promote your campaign on a wider variety of platforms.

Wherever you share your content, you need a place to organize and plan your sales strategy. To do this, check out this free social media content calendar.

PPC

Paid advertising can be a great tool to help boost some of your inbound efforts – especially during the busy holiday season.

If your budget allows, and you know there is search demand for your listing, you may want to experiment by investing a little money into some of your campaign resources to promote on social media. This guide provides advice on creating successful paid ad campaigns on the top three social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

7. Create lead nursing paths.

What happens to your leads once you’ve generated them? And when the holidays have come and gone, what do they mean for your company?

Before starting your campaign, it is best to create a plan for qualifying and developing your leads once they have completed your form.

Email segmentation

Marketing automation software allows you to use email nurturing to connect leads with your business and bring them closer to a sale.

Before you can start building emails and workflows, you need to double-check your list to see if there are any segmentation opportunities. Breaking down your lead list will make it easier for you to send contextual follow-up emails that will help you separate from the mess in the vacation inbox and ultimately help recipients see the value in your relationship.

Email maintenance

Next, determine what content you will use to nurture your leads. You can narrow your focus by focusing on your goals for this nursing process. Would you like them to get these people on sale? Subscribers? Would you like to forward them to a specific page?

For your campaign, it can be useful to relink these leads to helpful, related resources.

To keep track of your progress, make sure you set a goal for your workflow. If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can do so in the HubSpot Workflow app, which is an easy way to measure the performance of your email sequence.

8. Take the campaign live.

Now that you’ve got everything set up – offer, landing page, blog promotion, maintaining workflows, and so on – it’s time to go live with your campaign.

We recommend doing a “soft launch” before starting a promotion as this will allow you to take all the steps to make sure everything is working properly. If you can get a couple of colleagues to fill out the form and also go through the stages, it will be much easier for you to spot glitches or missed marks.

Once you know everything is going smoothly, it is time to start advertising and drive traffic to your landing page.

9. Measure and report.

This is the last – and arguably the most important – step in the process. Once your campaign has had some time to gain momentum, you’ll want to dive into its performance and see what you can learn from it.

Do you remember the goals we set in step one? Now is the time to see if you actually met them – and if not, determine what may have been stopping you. By analyzing where people dropped off in your workflows, blog posts that failed, or areas of your offering that stalled a little, you can see what stopped your campaign from reaching those numbers. Make a note of these details and let them know about your next campaign strategy.

If you need help defining the numbers you should be looking at, check out this introductory guide to inbound marketing analytics. This resource will teach you how to effectively analyze your website and landing pages, search engine optimization, paid search, blogging, social media, email marketing, and lead nurturing and automation.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated for completeness.

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