Our Favorite Leveled-Up Holiday Campaigns

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This is a podcast episode titled, Our Favorite Leveled-Up Holiday Campaigns. The summary for this episode is: <p>In this Level Up episode, listen to Tyler Williams and Jess Endl, Marketing Strategy Manager on Lev's Creative Services team, discuss their favorite holiday campaigns and dissect what makes each unique and successful. In this episode, they explore how to maximize holiday campaign success, &nbsp;from omnichannel campaign strategies to technical considerations like IP warming and data utilization. You'll gain expert insights, tips, and real-world examples that will empower you to thrive during the holiday season and beyond.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Listen in for:</strong></p><ul><li>06:15&nbsp;-&nbsp;08:16 ☕️ Favorite Holiday Campaigns: 1. Starbucks red cup</li><li>08:23&nbsp;-&nbsp;10:17 🧃Favorite Holiday Campaigns: 2. Lil Jon + Kool-Aid</li><li>10:20&nbsp;-&nbsp;11:47 🎵 Favorite Holiday Campaigns: 3. Spotify + Sonos</li><li>12:42&nbsp;-&nbsp;14:51 🐻‍❄️ Favorite Holiday Campaigns: 4. Coca-Cola polar bears</li><li>19:17&nbsp;-&nbsp;24:52 ⚖️ Unveiling the Elements of a Meaningful Holiday Campaign</li><li>25:16&nbsp;-&nbsp;29:43 🎁 Navigating multichannel marketing for an effective holiday campaign</li><li>30:19&nbsp;-&nbsp;34:05 💥 Unveiling the Power of Data: The Role of Analytics in Holiday and Long-Term Marketing Strategies</li><li>37:04&nbsp;-&nbsp;40:55 ⚙️ Navigating Technical Aspects for Successful Holiday Marketing Campaigns</li></ul>
☕️ Favorite Holiday Campaigns: 1. Starbucks red cup
02:00 MIN
🧃Favorite Holiday Campaigns: 2. Lil Jon + Kool-Aid
01:54 MIN
🎵 Favorite Holiday Campaigns: 3. Spotify + Sonos
01:27 MIN
🐻‍❄️ Favorite Holiday Campaigns: 4. Coca-Cola polar bears
02:08 MIN
⚖️ Unveiling the Elements of a Meaningful Holiday Campaign
05:34 MIN
🎁 Navigating multichannel marketing for an effective holiday campaign
04:26 MIN
💥 Unveiling the Power of Data: The Role of Analytics in Holiday and Long-Term Marketing Strategies
03:46 MIN
⚙️ Navigating Technical Aspects for Successful Holiday Marketing Campaigns
03:52 MIN

Tyler Williams: Thank you for joining us for this episode of Level Up, the podcast for marketers, by marketers, created by Lev, that distills best practices and strategies. Helping marketers increase their experience, one up their strategy, and grow personally and professionally. We're your hosts Tyler Williams. I lead a sales team here at Lev. Been with Lev a little over four years and based in Indianapolis, Indiana. I'm joined by a special guest host today. Jess, do you want to introduce yourself?

Jess Endl: Sure. My name is Jess Endl. I have also been with Lev for almost four years now. I currently live in Charlotte, North Carolina. And my education is in graphic design, got a master's in advertising. And I lead our team of creative consultants here at Lev.

Tyler Williams: Amazing. So as our fearless and faithful listeners know, we typically like to start with a icebreaker that kind of maybe pertains to today's discussion topic. Sometimes it doesn't. Today's actually does have some application. So Jess, in our preparation, thankfully we did a little bit of this icebreaker, not fully. But I know that at least we're not going to be completely diametrically opposed on our answers here, which probably could have made for better podcasting arguably. But our icebreaker questions, there's a couple of them. I'll ask them all at one time, respond whoever you like. Do you decorate/ play Christmas music before or after Thanksgiving? What's your favorite Christmas movie? And then if necessary, to back up your favorite Christmas movie, how do you define Christmas movies? So before or after Thanksgiving? And what do you think about Christmas movies? How about that?

Jess Endl: Yeah, classic questions. And I know a lot of our Levsters have very strong opinions about this. I'm super glad we can be friends today, since you kind of queued that up. But my opinion is that you definitely have to wait until after Thanksgiving. Hard stop, no decorating before. It's just not okay if you do. And my favorite Christmas movie is Elf. I think we know how you feel about Christmas decorating, but what's your take?

Tyler Williams: Well, to spin it back on you really quick before I dive into my thoughts. Why Elf? Is it Will Ferrell? Is it funny? Is it just the Christmas feels? What about that movie makes it special for you?

Jess Endl: It's probably the combination. So Will Ferrell's great, right? Classic. But it's kind of got all the themes of a feel- good Christmas movie, while also being really funny. I still regularly quote a lot of the movie lines. " I just like smiling. Smiling is my favorite." And you can't go wrong when that stuff sticks with you.

Tyler Williams: For sure. Yeah, I would put Elf is probably my top five. But to answer the questions in order, yes, people who decorate and/ or play Christmas music, at least for others to hear. If you're in your house by yourself, and you're one of those families who is wrong and you play music before Thanksgiving. If you do it on your own time behind closed doors, that is fine. What I don't need to hear is Christmas music in the mall, or you driving with your windows down in your convertible in late October playing Christmas music. That will be grounds for me making a recommendation for you to be institutionalized. So absolutely not before Thanksgiving. I would even make an argument that at times it should only happen once December hits. But for those families who live far apart or don't get together that often, I can see how, hey, the day after Thanksgiving or some time that weekend, it makes sense to Christmas decorate together if that's something that is necessary for you to do together. So I'll allow that caveat. My favorite Christmas movie, hands down, watch it every year. And certainly watch it way more than just once a year growing up. Which probably puts the number of times I've seen this movie somewhere between 40 and 50 I'd guess, is A Christmas Story. It's a little bit old school. I do not know when it came out. I don't even want to wager a guess and be wildly wrong publicly. But a great Christmas story with all of the feels. And also some irreverence that catches you a little bit off guard. And obviously it's quite funny. And growing up, I also wanted a Red Rider BB gun and the opportunity to shoot my eye out. So all that being said, I think probably some of our feelings about Christmas feels, the emotions we feel, the stories associated with holiday movies, probably translate quite well into some of our favorite holiday campaigns. Which is in general what we're going to discuss today. Favorite holiday campaigns, what makes them successful, how we track success, how we think about audience. And then finally, what are some other considerations during the holiday times, if and when maybe you're not running a campaign? Or just other marketing efforts, evergreen efforts, for example, that you should be thinking about during the holiday time. So let's start out with just some warm fuzzy feelings. Jess, what are some of your favorite holiday campaigns and why?

Jess Endl: Yeah, so one of my favorites is going to have to be Starbucks. It's the red cup, but more importantly, it's also kind of the gamify element that they've created. The red cups are just classic. And they've kind of become this cultural icon element, if you will, that really signifies the start of that holiday season. There's countdowns now to when the red cups are going to get released. So in the spirit of vamping up for Christmas, there's some buzz and some excitement there. Fun fact, the first red cup was actually purple and it was designed before Facebook or Twittery. Twitter X, sorry, it was designed before that even existed. So the first two years they had purple cups, and ever since then it went to the red cups. But it signifies the start of the holiday season for a lot of people. Not just here in America, but around the world. What do you think is on...?

Tyler Williams: Yeah.

Jess Endl: Yeah, what do you think about Starbucks' red cups? You can't really get away from it.

Tyler Williams: No, that's actually something that, to your point, it started as a holiday campaign. But arguably for some people has probably even grown larger than holiday, if you will. There are certain campaigns, whether they be marketing like we're talking about, or just even certain things in pop culture. That like, hey, it starts out as this specific thing, and now it's grown to such a scale that that's really amazing and impressive. I think that's what's exciting about Starbucks is that they continue to evolve it. And somehow it's both gotten bigger, and arguably better. I'm sure lots of people have very strong feelings about the Starbucks red cup campaign. I'm intrigued. I'm impressed. I don't necessarily have super strong feelings. Jess, as we prepped this podcast, I told you I'd have some hot takes. Red cup campaign is not one of them. So yeah, it's solid. It's cool. So we'll go back and forth here just a little bit. And the first one I'm going to mention is... We're going to call it an honorable mention, because as I was researching both remembering holiday campaigns that have made an impact on me, but also the ones that I maybe wasn't aware of to go back and look at their impact on the marketplace, their spot in pop culture, etc. I stumbled upon something I'd never seen before and now it can't be unseen. And it is a Lil Jon featuring the Kool- Aid Man, All I Want for Christmas. And it is just everything you can imagine. It's a three minute and 15 second. If you think about one of Lil Jon's amazing contributions to symphony and music. The song goes, " Yeah, yeah, yeah." I mean, what could be better than around the holiday time than the Kool- Aid Man screaming, " Oh, yeah." Along with Lil Jon rapping with people dancing with candy canes and holiday theme. So this first one is an novel mention. I'd never seen it before. I don't plan on seeing it again, but it cannot be unseen once you've seen it. So shout out to Kool- Aid doing something so wild and off the beaten path, that it made an impression on me. I thought as I was just scrolling through, " Interesting holiday campaign." So I'm starting with my honorable mention there. I've got two more that I want to dive into, but Jess, to make sure I don't talk for nine straight minutes. Do you have a second campaign you wanted to highlight today?

Jess Endl: I do. But I will say that I have not seen the Kool- Aid Man hopping around on Christmastime. And now I feel like that's three minutes of my life I'm going to have to dedicate to it. So thank you for imparting that wisdom on me.

Tyler Williams: Maybe it's something that Kool- Aid could partner with Starbucks on. Because Starbucks has the red cups, but they could just do clear cups one year and serve red Kool- Aid in partnership with Lil Jon. So guys, that one's free. I won't charge anything for that creative concept. But anyways, I'm way outside my lane. So Jess, what's campaign number two for you?

Jess Endl: For me, campaign number two is going to be one that Spotify ran, and they ran it in partnership with Sonos. At its core, I like it because it's simple, and it's strategically smart. It uses multiple brands with a partnership. But the idea behind this is, we all celebrate the holidays. They're about gathering with friends, with family, with coworkers. And in that spirit of celebration, if you will, Spotify partnered with Sonos to do a Playlist Potluck. And simply the idea is just that instead of RSV paying what you're going to make food or drink wise, you're going to add a song to a collaborative playlist. And the reason I like it, I had mentioned that it's simple and smart, but it doesn't try to be anything that Spotify isn't. Right. It stays in their lane, it partners with another brand. And it's just a strategically creative way to be yourself in the holiday space. And that's stuff that I really respond to.

Tyler Williams: Yeah, I love the way you put that. Spotify isn't trying to be something they're not, right? I think there's a time and place for brands to remake their image or launch a new product line. But when something like that isn't being done, it's just fine to be more true to your product, your brand, or whatnot. We think about the Super Bowl commercial as literally the Super Bowl of advertising and creative. And I'll get to this point on my second campaign I'm going to highlight. I kind of have a pet peeve with some of the brands that put stuff out there that it's like, " Hey, really cool." Maybe it's emotional, maybe it's a fun story. But I have no clue what your company does, or what product you have, or what you just put out there. Ties to your company or makes sense why XYZ company is making an ad like that. So I love when there is a little bit of a tie at least. I don't have to completely suspend reality to wonder why XYZ corporation that makes drugs, is putting an ad out there about Golden Retriever puppies. Obviously we love both of those things. Drugs that help people, oh gosh. And Golden Retriever puppies, oh boy. Might need to edit that one, but heck. Okay, the second campaign we're going to go to, speaking of fuzzy animals that are cute but could kill you as well, the Coca- Cola polar bears. It's kind of a classic, but it is one of my favorites. I'm not going to claim that every Christmas I wonder what the Coca- Cola polar bears are up to. But kind of germane to what I just said about, I appreciate it when brands do something creative, but at least you can connect the dots between what the campaign is doing or saying, and the actual product they make. There's some suspension of reality I think. I don't think polar bears drink a ton of Coca- Cola around Christmastime. I'm no biologist. But I think it is really neat that the polar bears are having fun. They're wearing red and white scarves, holiday colors, that sort of thing. But they're also drinking Coca- Cola, right? There is a tie there, and I think it's something that's fun. It's seasonal. There is a direct product tie, but it's obviously differentiated in much of the marketing they do throughout the year. So I think that one's fun because it really threads the needle nicely for me of how do you do something holiday- specific, but don't go so far that people are left wondering what company put that out there? What is their product? What is going on?

Jess Endl: inaudible Yeah, so the polar bears also I feel like are something that just spans generations, even if you didn't necessarily grow up when it started. But similar to what the red cups is turning into, I feel like most people, unlike Lil Jon and Kool- Aid would be able to name the Coca- Cola bears up there on something that they see in advertising in the Christmastime.

Tyler Williams: I totally agreed. And how dare you suggest that the Kool- Aid Man and Lil Jon, do not speak to people five to 95.

Jess Endl: You heard it here first. We're going to start a revolution. And the Kool-Aid Man and Lil Jon a holiday, is going to become a Cultural Revolution.

Tyler Williams: Santa Claus, Lil Jon, the Kool- Aid Man. I mean put it on a board in 2035.

Jess Endl: What else do you need?

Tyler Williams: Jess? Any other campaigns you wanted to highlight? I've got one more.

Jess Endl: Let's hear what your other one is.

Tyler Williams: Okay. My other one, it is a holiday ad, but I think it also does a really nice job of not just beating you over the head with red and green or Christmas. And it's actually an ad that Lagavulin, which is a scotch manufacturer did with Nick Offerman. And the thing that I thought was really interesting to highlight is that it's very, very subtly holiday. So you could probably argue that we could talk about this campaign in the vein of just in general interesting creative concepts. But it was relatively groundbreaking due to its subtlety in the fact that for 45 seconds Nick Offerman sat in front of a Yule log fire, and sipped Lagavulin Scotch and didn't say a word. And I think it's really fun when... Now there is so much content, there's so much creativity, it's really hard to do something different. And it was just an interesting reminder that hey, sometimes simplicity will be such a differentiator that you'll stand out so much. There were a few Super Bowl ads to jump back there that really stood out. And oftentimes it's now the simple stuff that's more attention grabbing, right? There's not colors flying everywhere. There's not an animated animal you've never seen before. There's not 15 pop stars or celebrities somehow in the same commercial. That stuff is kind of now becoming white noise. But I did think that Lagavulin and Nick Offerman commercial was really interesting. And had a fun sense of humor about poking fun at itself in the seriousness sometimes of holiday campaigns. And I think it used Nick Offerman in a very natural role, which also made it work well. So that's my last one, Jess, any thoughts about that one or final campaigns to highlight for you?

Jess Endl: Something that you said about the simplicity of that one. Also, I have to bring up REI as well kind of on that list of cool campaigns that you've heard about. But what I think is interesting, I'm sure most of our listeners have heard of REI closing on Black Friday. And kind of taking this stance, which is really popular lately, on not necessarily being open. The consumerism of it all, that whole thing. But I don't don't know if everybody necessarily knows that that whole idea started... They didn't really know it was going to get to the place that we all know where it is today. Again, in the sake of simplicity, they started with this simple idea that, " We want you to spend more time outside aligning with our mission statement of,'We believe that a life outdoors is a life well lived.' Use our products, get outside, and standing in line to buy things on that day." And it was a" hashtag opt outside" campaign that the employees actually started using to spread this message. I don't know that people necessarily know the first half of that story. We know what it is today, and we know that Targets and other big brands of the world, are considering, " Now we should close on Black Friday, and we should treat our employees well." But it really started with just a simple idea of, we sell products that we live in outside. We go skiing and hiking and camping and fishing, and you should go spend time doing that. I think there's a theme that we're noticing. And it's that you can't always necessarily try to come up with a cool idea that's going to become relevant years down the road. You really just got to stay true to who you are, and sometimes simple is the best way to make a big impact.

Tyler Williams: Yeah, I completely agree that simple is possibly sometimes best, right? There's always that crazy, splashy, out there ad or campaign that draws our attention, but I think we might see the pendulum swing back a little bit to what is most effective or attention grabbing. And Jess, something you said about kind of simple being king or queen. Another interesting thing to think about is... We've talked about this on a prior episode, but really being in tune with who your brand is and what customers expect of you. And that doesn't mean you have to run the same playbook, or do the same things that's going to appease your audience every year. But it is an interesting thing to consider looking in the mirror. I'm not going to name types of companies or industries, but there are certainly types of companies or industries where, hey, maybe you don't need to spend tens, hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on a holiday campaign. Your customers might not care what you have to say around the holiday time. It might be most effective for you to send one mass email, lacking personalization that says, " Happy holidays from ours to yours." That's all you need to do. So I think understanding who you are, what the potential ROI of this campaign is. And taking a look in the mirror and thinking about what company you are and what expectations you have. The holiday campaign should influence not only the creative, but maybe even if you're going to invest in something significant. So I think about that decision like, should I or shouldn't I on a holiday campaign? So we can probably gloss past that a little bit, Jess, unless you have additional thoughts. But we hit on this a little bit as we highlighted the campaigns we discussed, but any other thoughts, Jess, on what makes a successful holiday campaign impactful? And that can be impactful for the audience, the brand, space aliens, whoever else, whoever we want to make impacts on. So what makes a holiday campaign impactful in your mind?

Jess Endl: Yeah, so I think one of the first things that's going to be on that checklist for sure is, they tell a relatable emotional story. I think you can see that in some of the ones that we talked about. But really, we as humans, want to connect with other humans. We don't necessarily want to feel like we are being yelled at, or forced to buy your product, or get on board with your brand. We want to feel like we're connecting with the brands on a personal level. And so I think that these really impactful campaigns are telling those stories, and it leaves you with a feel- good moment. And I think that's part of the reason why we all like the holiday in general, is we get to experience a little bit of magic and coming together with people. Other than telling stories and whether you agree with that or not. What else do you think really makes the campaign impactful?

Tyler Williams: So to use a classic salesperson trope, let's take a step back here. Because I think about Jess, I agree with all the things you said when it comes to what makes a campaign impactful. Relating to the human condition, telling a story that we can empathize with or connect with in some way, shape, or form. But as marketers, it's very rare that we can just go do the most fun, most creative campaign concept we can dream up. So oftentimes we also have to marry up, hey, what's a fun thing? Or whether it's a product launch or something a little bit more tangible, what's a creative concept for the holidays? We also have to tie that to measurement and success criteria. And to determine, hey, has this campaign been impactful? We need to understand upfront what are the measurements of success that we're looking for? And those measurements, depending on your marketing maturity, can be anywhere from as simple and basic as, " Hey, this year we're going to do a holiday campaign for the first time in company history." Or, " A shift in our business has suggested that, hey, we need to connect more with our consumers. Therefore, for the first year this year, we're investing a small amount of money and we are doing a holiday campaign." Wonderful. Everyone's got to start somewhere. We work with clients all across the maturity curve. All the way up to, hey, if you have an omnichannel campaign that has different tactics, channels, creative, etc, that is geared towards customers at different points in the funnel, you likely have specific metrics tied to each audience segment that you're targeting. So I'll use the most basic example, right? If your campaign has a video element, most videos will have some awareness metric tied to them. How many people are watching this thing? And then you'd click into some of the more specific metrics, how long, where they drop off, that sort of thing. So that's really important awareness, specific metrics. Then you think about like, " Hey, are people buying my product? Or converting on the campaign?" Did they fill out the form? Did they subscribe? Did they buy the thing? So how are we setting metrics upfront to determine if we're successful or not? And then oftentimes, depending on the areas where you want to be successful, sometimes that can even influence creative. Like, hey, we need some awareness metrics, but we're really focused on conversion this holiday season. So Jess, I'm curious to get your thoughts on as we talk about setting goals and the marketer's responsibility to the business to drive real results, where have you seen that potentially impact either at the concept level, at the creative asset level? Any thoughts there on how that impacts creative teams as they seek to measure their success within campaigns?

Jess Endl: Yeah. So at the end of the day, we're all marketers, and everything is going to be tied back to the bottom line. I think what we're seeing is that you really need to be as omnichannel as you can be, because it's going to take multiple touch points to convince consumers to make a purchase. Especially in today's world where you're just being hit with messages everywhere. And I think where that then lends to taking your ideas is, creative needs to produce a lot more of it in a lot of different spaces. You can no longer necessarily bank on making a TV commercial and being successful with that. You are probably going to have to have a splashy landing page, and some social media assets, and an email with a follow- up if they didn't necessarily purchase. And I think the cool and interesting thing there is really any of those channels can be successful and it's the combination of those that's going to have the biggest success metrics at the end of the day. So you have to be prepared to have content ready in every lane.

Tyler Williams: Content ready in every lane. That sounds like a challenge.

Jess Endl: They call it, everyone needs a vacation after the holiday season. We're all tired.

Tyler Williams: For sure. Because not only do you have to have a concept that stands up to the ability to put it in different channels, you also then have to have the asset production capability to pump that stuff out. And then the companies who are doing this right from our perspective, are not just set it and forget it. The holidays at minimum are a month long period sometime right before Black Friday and Christmas. But for most companies, they're stretching that well before Black Friday and even post New Year's. The, " Hey, if you didn't buy on Christmas, here's stuff that's discounted." You can tell I'm a creative copywriter for campaigns like this, but it generally is at least a month if not two months worth of a campaign here. And oftentimes we're recommending that folks iterate along the way. Along the way, our customers expectations and demands are constantly changing. And if we are able to analyze our results in real time, we can tweak creative either by audience segment, or by product, or by geography. Whatever that looks like. Generally, this is not a set it and forget it issue. So hey, you might think you're building one doohickey, you're actually going to need three doohickeys. Because it's going to perform a little better with this audience segment. We're going to drop this product out of the campaign because we sold out so quickly. Stuff happens, as the kids say.

Jess Endl: Yeah, I'm going to take a step back one further as well. And what we're seeing some of our clients do is even preparing as early as now... I was going to say we're in July, we have officially hit August, and back to school in fall in some parts of the country. But what's coming up in the conversations that are we are having is, people are already thinking about the holidays. And they're thinking about what they can do. And one of the things that we have been seeing with some clients is this idea of testing a strategy that you might want to use for holiday time during a smaller holiday, like back to school. We keep using the word holiday and I think we mean the Thanksgiving, Christmastime, but a good example is retail back to school. So do you have an idea of how you might want to use some new personalization efforts, use some new data that you have in an email campaign about" buy online, pickup in store"? It's a really, really good time to try that out during back to school where you can work out the kinks, iterate, fix it before you have to launch it for your biggest sales season of the year, come November, December.

Tyler Williams: That is so smart. Marketers are smart, Jess. Testing out concepts, or channels, or whatnot. I mean for many, to use an analogy that I use to start the podcast. For many of our customers, and companies in general, Q4 and/or the holiday season is their proverbial Super Bowl, right? Retailers, some CPG companies, they're doing 75%, 80% of their annual business in this window. So it's two months of pedal to the metal. But to your point, there's planning and testing that can and should happen well before we enter the arena for the Super Bowl, if you will. So I love that example. Another thing that we discussed in prep for this... And thing is the technical marketing term obviously, is this idea of if we're setting success criteria early, we've got a kick ass creative concept, building all this stuff. We're iterating and being really smart. Something that marketers, I think over the course of the last even just several years that has really increased in appreciation and focus, is the data conversation. So hey, we can have the most awesome creative concept in the world, but if we are not prepared to ingest, analyze, and then take advantage of any data that we are tracking, earning from our subscriber base, during the course of these campaigns, we're probably not doing ourselves justice. Because not only is the holiday season the proverbial Super Bowl for many of our clients because they are selling so much product, it also then... At least the train of thinking would follow, that we're earning a lot of new customers or reengaging with old customers because we have POS data, we have online shopping data, etc. We have all this data flowing in that we're learning so much about our customers. But if the data's not structured, or if our campaigns set up, or our ESP, or our marketing automation platform, or any of the other terms, are not set up to take advantage of that, we're not taking full advantage of the holiday season. All that offers the marketer for the rest of the year to continue to engage with that audience. So Jess, any thoughts about customer lifetime value, how we leverage that data, how you have to be prepped for that, how you use it in the future, etc?

Jess Endl: Yeah, I think that there's an element of, if you're not using your holiday time advertising to consider your longer year strategy, then you're really falling a little bit flat. And you're a little bit too shortsighted in that holiday is a really good opportunity. Data has been the hot take word of the past few months, and it's only going to continue to be crucial in your success strategies. So really the smartest marketers, if you will, the ones that have the ability to think bigger picture, are really seeing this as an opportunity. I think you mentioned earlier, just it's not really set it and forget it. And I think that's true of these individual pieces we might be creating to bring happiness and joy to people. But I also think that it really speaks to needing to find out what the value of that is long- term. And I know some of the things that we were kind of talking back and forth when we prepped for this was, what can you necessarily use with the data that you obtained during holiday time to further promote sales in June before the next holiday season comes? And I think that there's a few areas that that lends really well in beauty and reusable products. So we're going to refill and buy a bunch of products that we know six months are going to run out, three months. Whatever that cycle might be. But really I think there's a message here that I don't think everyone thinks about, because to your point about the Super Bowl, it ends. So a lot of us are like, " Yeah, we made it through the holiday time." I made a joke earlier about needing a vacation after the holidays. But in all reality you get through that and you've just got a whole bunch of new data points to use and work with, and continue to refine your strategy longer term.

Tyler Williams: Yeah, I love that. And beauty products is a really good one. Another thing we talked about was the idea, because we are both living in this world right now of small children's clothing. So think of product examples where there's a natural progression. We have so many clients coming to us saying, " Hey, my digital revenue growth is down. Or, " I need to increase customer lifetime value." Like, okay, well what are you doing today so that you actually understand your customer lifetime or lifecycle rather. So you understand your customer lifecycle and then how are you engaging with them at the critical moments in the lifecycle? It's a really, really easy example. In an effort for me to be able to understand it, I'm going to use it, but to jump back to the infant or kids' clothing. There are windows, it's infant, zero to three months, three to six, and six to nine. It does not take a rocket data scientist to figure out, " Oh, if someone is buying infant clothes, perhaps they might be interested in zero to three month clothes sometime soon." And don't get me wrong, there's nuance in that data. There's plenty of people, aunts and uncles who buy it one time and it's not their child. Grandparents buy. Maybe it's people who only buy once a year for birthdays, that sort of thing. But that's at least a starting point. If you're not doing anything personalized, or that attempts to capture more critical points of the customer lifecycle value, start there. Think about, " Do I have a product that lends itself to repeated purchases that I can predict?" And then make efforts to engage with that audience at the times, where the data tells me, " It's three months later, they're probably looking at stuff like this. Can I send them a coupon? Can I ask for the child's birthday on an online form?" Be able to send that child... Not send the child. If they're an infant, they're probably not going to be redeeming any gift cards anytime soon, but send the parents of the child a gift card. So if we think about that, better understanding the customer lifecycle, how we put creative elements to that. And then how we try to own that lifecycle post the holidays, I think that's a really important mark that not all customers are fully taking advantage of yet.

Jess Endl: Yeah, absolutely.

Tyler Williams: Alrighty, Jess, that brings us to our final kind of bucket of stuff. Again, I like using technical terminology to describe the important marketing strategies we're discussing. And that bucket of stuff is okay, I've got this crazy holiday campaign going. 99% of my marketing budget, time and effort are geared toward this holiday campaign where I have this awesome concept with Garfield as Santa Claus. And he's chasing the chicken around and delivering presents to the people. That idea is free as well for you creatives out there. But in lieu of the important holiday campaigns, what are other things that we should be considerate of come holiday time? So a really good example that I'm going to start with, and then Jess, I'll pass it over to you to highlight any others you might be considering. IP warming is a really important issue that we speak with clients about a ton. It is the process of making sure that we have a high deliverability rate, making sure we're getting to the inbox to the right customers at the right time. Because the email service providers, even audiences are far more sensitive around holiday times because they're being bombarded by emails, texts, etc. The holidays are not an advantageous time to do IP warming because there's so much more sensitivity, and there's a higher risk of being marked as spam or not being accepted with some of the practices you might be putting in place. So if you're wondering, " Do I need to spin up a new IP to deliver more messages? Do I need to start a new IP for this new product or new geography I'm working with?" If the answer is, " I need to set up a new IP and it needs to be around the holiday times", you need to reconsider things. Because that is going to be challenging and ultimately you may not meet your goal of being able to send those messages during the holiday time. So if you think there's any chance of that, make sure you plan well ahead so you can have that IP warmed and ready for the holiday season. Not starting it during the holiday season. So Jess, that's my IP warming rant. Do you have anything else that we should be considerate of around holiday time for marketers?

Jess Endl: Yeah, another important technical one to keep in mind would be short code acquisition timing. With how busy the carriers are going to be during holiday time, you're going to probably be really frustrated to try to do that in those holiday month windows. So let's stay away from short code acquisition, and that's an easy solve, right? We think about it ahead of time and just don't need to do it in those months. Another one that is kind of an important consideration that we think about, and I want to highlight it because it's a little bit backwards of what you might think. But we've talked a lot about retail companies in this conversation, which is obviously really important in holiday. But what if you're a B2B company? What if you're a bank and you're trying to decide how to finish out your strategy for the rest of the year? We actually are going to say, " Let's consider not running campaigns during holiday time if they're not business critical." If you've got a whole slew of campaigns... There's a slew, technical term for you. If you have a whole group of awareness campaigns that you're running that are not business critical, like I said, maybe it makes more sense to turn those off for your business. You're going to be competing with a lot of messages. You're going to get lost in a lot of noise. And it's going to be more expensive because prices in the paid media space are going to up during holiday. And sometimes the smartest strategy is sometimes to do nothing. And I think it would be really beneficial if you're in a non- retail environment to consider if that's right for your business.

Tyler Williams: Yeah. So often and especially around the holidays, you can make all the jokes about American or Western maximalism. We always have a rush to be busy or do the biggest and best thing. I love that advice of not only does it not does a holiday campaign makes sense for your business or not, but even looking at all the rest of the things you do around evergreen paid digital campaigns. Or journeys that you always have on, do some of those become less critical because there is so much noise? Can you save a little bit of money if it's not a business critical time for you? Does your audience need a breather from you? I would hope not. Hopefully you have a good marketing partner who's working with you to make sure your audience is not getting fatigued of your messaging. But Jess, I love that. That's really good advice. This is all focused on holidays, but if we think about non- holiday campaigns and considerations there, that's good. That's why you get to hang out with our clients and tell them what to do. You just flex your brilliance. I think that's about all I got in the world of holiday campaigns and whatnot. Jess, any final thoughts before we get out here together?

Jess Endl: Yeah. I just wanted to add one more comment in general. But I think that there's this element of, we really leaned in during Covid to focus, to drive up pickup and whatnot. And we're seeing brands that have maybe tapered off that a little bit in terms of advertising as the world is back to normal. But I would consider that we've all gotten used to the convenience of those things, and they're not going away. We were introduced to them through Covid and kind of trying to make it work, but now that we've introduced this value add of convenience for the customer, it's not going to go away. So we would recommend that if that's something that you maybe haven't talked about in a while, I think there's some value to be had there. And just continuing to use those tools because the customers want them, right? We're going to perpetually try to figure out how to do more in our lives every day, with or without a screaming year and a half year old, as in my case. Thank you for joining us for this episode of Level Up. We're looking to continue to level up your knowledge on the latest news, technology, and marketing trends affecting marketers day- to- day. We have new episodes of Level Up coming out every other week on Spotify and Apple Podcast. Until next time, thank you for leveling up your marketing knowledge with us.


In this Level Up episode, listen to Tyler Williams, Managing Director of Sales, and Jess Endl, Marketing Strategy Manager on Lev's Creative Services team, discuss their favorite holiday campaigns and dissect what makes each unique and successful. In this episode, they explore how to maximize holiday campaign success,  from omnichannel campaign strategies to technical considerations like IP warming and data utilization. You'll gain expert insights, tips, and real-world examples that will empower you to thrive during the holiday season and beyond.

Today's Guests

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Jess Endl

|Manager, Marketing Strategy | Creative Services at Lev
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Tyler Williams

|Managing Director, Sales, Lev