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Introduction

For better or worse, marketing campaigns are always in season. While some may claim particular seasons are busier or more profitable than others, aligning your promotional and content calendars with the things your customers are thinking of and care about will make you a more effective—and thoughtful—marketer.

Chapter 1

When to start planning

Okay, so maybe you’ve opened this guide and are already overwhelmed by the things you “should be” doing, or alternatively, you’re exploding with ideas and want to implement them all right this second.

First things first: This is a guideline, not a to-do list. The things we’ll cover here are purely for your brainstorming benefit and our aim is to help you think seasonally in terms of your unique brand opportunities.

Whether it’s January or June, now is a great time to think long-term so your customers are surprised and delighted by a highly-anticipated and well-executed marketing campaign.

Chapter 2

Your brand’s seasonality

Begin by thinking about your product or brand in terms of one year. Maybe the need for your product rises and falls with the seasons, or maybe it’s evergreen all year long. Regardless, understanding your brand’s seasonality is extremely beneficial for your campaign’s cadence and when you schedule important messages to go out.

After all, 8 in 10 holiday shoppers are influenced by the internet before making a purchase.

For example, if your company specializes in handcrafted popsicles, summer is more than likely to be your best season for sales. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to stop selling or talking to your customers in the winter months—In fact, engaging with them in the off-season could be the one thing you need to boost this year’s ROI.

On the other hand, if you work in the hospitality industry, there may be an ebb and flow in your seasonal calendar, but there’s not necessarily an off-season. And if you’re marketing something like grocery stores with an ongoing need, you’ll want to take that into consideration, too.

Chapter 3

The customer mindset

Now that you’ve thought about the natural calendar for your product or brand, you also need to consider your target audience and the times when they’ll be making important decisions or purchases. For example, if you’re marketing to college students, you’ll want to incorporate the school schedule into your campaign plans. And the same goes for the parents who have kids in school.

Maybe your target market doesn’t stand out as one particular demographic, but you’ll still want to consider these nuances in your audience to make sure your message is heard.

Let’s say you work in the fitness industry, something that applies to many different demographics. Even still, you’ll want to segment your target audience into groups based factors like age, location, and gender, considering questions like these:

  • What do young professionals care about?
  • What parts of your membership are older demographics likely to take advantage of?
  • What is the weather like where they are?
  • Are they more likely to sign up for a gym that has a pool in the summer?
  • A young mom may care about morning childcare and afterschool programs, while a single man may be interested in after-work leagues or weekend events.
Chapter 4

Your celebration style

So now that we’ve covered the logistics of where your brand and your customers will be spending the holidays, you should go back to your brand’s core identity. Just like you have a specific voice and tone you use when talking about a new product or welcoming a new customer, you need to apply that knowledge to dates on a calendar.

This could look many different ways, like determining what winter holidays—if any—you’ll acknowledge, or if sending out event invitations or customized birthday wishes is more your style.

If your brand is whimsical and fun, you may celebrate the lesser-known holidays, like National Dress Up Your Pet Day (That’s January 14), or you could create your very own special day and invite customers to join the party.

On the other hand, if your brand tone is a little more serious, like the healthcare industry, you may not necessarily call out every calendar on the holiday in your marketing campaigns, but you can use them as an opportunity to show your own kind of genuine and warm thanks for your patients and their families.

Chapter 5

Start here for your campaign planning calendar.

Using the ideas you’ve come up with in the previous sections, you’re now ready to take a look at the dates we think every marketer should be aware of. Use this to plan campaigns long-term and make sure your current strategies remain relevant.

The following infographic is a reference guide that includes seasonal themes and annual holidays to jumpstart your brainstorming. Save it for future planning sessions, then scroll down to read a thorough breakdown and accompanying examples for each month of the year.

JANUARY

Most people consider January to be a fresh start—a new year, a new you! In this month, we’ll see a lot of campaigns about New Year’s resolutions, fitness and health, and out with the old, in with the new. What do you think your customers’ goals are in the new year?

Important dates:
1 – New Year’s Day
21 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

See how Headspace aligned their marketing efforts with the new year:

This email from Headspace features a vending machine gif that says "Choose your 2018."

Image: Really Good Emails

FEBRUARY

As we all settle into our New Year’s routines or forget them altogether, the second month of the year brings themes of love and romance, whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s, Galentine’s, or Palentine’s Day.

Where is your customers’ love directed this month?

Important dates:
2 – Groundhog Day
1st Sunday – Superbowl Sunday
Changes annually – Lunar New Year
14 – Valentine’s Day
3rd Monday- President’s Day (USA)

We love this Valentine’s Day campaign from Clear:

A Valentine's Day email from Clear.

Image: Really Good Emails

MARCH

March is a promising month that signifies winter is leaving and spring is on the way. While not all of your customers will be enjoying warmer weather right away, this month will more than likely have them dreaming about vacation getaways and sunny days.

What part of winter will your customers be happy to say goodbye to?

Important dates:
8 – International Women’s Day
Changes annually – Daylight Savings Time
14 – Pi Day
17 – St. Patrick’s Day
20 – First Day of Spring

Uber Eats celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with a themed email:

Uber Eats sends a promotional email to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

APRIL

You know the saying, “April showers bring May flowers,” and that’s the main theme of the month. Campaigns will be in full swing as customers look to the season for Spring Breaks, spring cleaning, and spending tax returns.

What are your customers most excited about during the spring?

Important dates:
1 – April Fool’s Day
Changes annually – Good Friday
Changes annually – Easter
15 – Tax day
22 – Earth Day

Plated advertises fresh produce for the season:

Image: Really Good Emails

MAY

By this time, May flowers are hopefully in full bloom and it’s time to think about the end of school, Mother’s Day gifts, and Memorial Day plans. We’ll see campaigns surrounding school graduations, and lots of promotions for the holidays that happen this month.

What gift ideas could you help your customers with this month?

Important dates:
4 – Star Wars Day, “May the fourth be with you.”
5 – Cinco De Mayo
2nd Sunday – Mother’s Day
Last Monday – Memorial Day

Under Armour gets in on the Mother’s Day fun with this promotional ad:

JUNE

June is when summer is in full swing and your customers can be found going on vacation, grilling out, and trying to find the perfect gift for Father’s Day. Keep in mind that this is usually when school is out for the summer, which may change your customers’ online engagement.

See how this affects your business and plan your campaigns accordingly! What content would your customers click on while they’re scrolling on their phones from a tropical location?

Important dates:
14 – Flag Day (USA)
3rd Sunday – Father’s Day
21 – First Day of Summer

StubHub gets in on the Father’s Day spirit by offering some unique gift ideas:

Father's Day event promotion from Stub Hub

JULY

If you’re an American, July is all about the red, white, and blue—but what if you’re not? As always, consider your audience and where they are located. If you’re an international company, be sure to keep tabs on the holiday calendar that pertains to your customers!

This month, we’ll see lots of Independence Day promotions, but what can you do to help the customers feel celebratory all month long?

Important dates:
4 – Independence Day (USA)

The Nashville Sounds baseball games are a perfect July activity, and their emails make us feel all of the sunny summer vibes:

AUGUST

August is the month when families start shopping for back-to-school supplies and enjoying the last weeks of summer. In a month that can feel like the “last hoorah” in many ways, many of us still get to enjoy longer days and warmer temperatures for a little while longer.

Are your customers headed back to school this month? If not, it’s still a great excuse to have a promotional campaign!

Barnes and Noble bookstore is quick to take advantage of the back-to-school season:

A back-to-school email campaign from Barnes and Noble

SEPTEMBER

Following Labor Day, September brings football season and the first breeze of fall. Regardless of occupation, it feels like the month when things kind of get “back to business.”

Will your customers be feeling this tension during September? See what you can do to help make any of their decisions easier!

Important dates:
1st Monday – Labor Day
22 – First Day of Fall

Illustria gets in on the end-of-summer celebration with this gif:

This gif shows two characters going from the office to a beach vacation for Labor Day Weekend.

Image: Really Good Emails

OCTOBER

October brings fall in full-throttle and everything associated with the season with it, including Halloween and cooler temperatures. Even if you don’t celebrate Halloween, fall always seems like a welcome theme to consumers (Pumpkin spice everything!), and it’s a versatile season that’s easy to acknowledge, regardless of your brand.

What do your customers love most about fall? Celebrate it with them!

Important dates:
31 – Halloween

Target speaks to all of our favorite things about October in this campaign:

NOVEMBER

The holiday season is here! Not only do marketers need to know about Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the festivities in-between, but you also can’t forget the promotional days following Thanksgiving.

Kicking off with Black Friday and onto Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday, there’s plenty of opportunity to join the marketing fun. What promotions will your customers be expecting this holiday season?

Important dates:
Tuesday after Nov 1 – Election Day
2 – All Soul’s Day/ Day of the Dead
Changes annually – Daylight Savings Time
11 – Veteran’s Day (USA)
4th Thursday – Thanksgiving (USA)
Friday after Thanksgiving – Black Friday
Saturday after Thanksgiving – Small Business Saturday

We love this Thanksgiving-themed ad from mattress company Casper:

Image: Really Good Emails

DECEMBER

‘Tis the season for marketing and more promotions! December brings many winter holidays, most of which are gift-giving occasions.

Customers will be shopping and checking all of their loved ones off their list. How can you make sure they shop with you this holiday season?

Important dates:
Monday after Thanksgiving – Cyber Monday
Tuesday after Thanksgiving – Giving Tuesday
21 – First Day of Winter
Changes annually – Hanukkah
25 – Christmas
26 – Kwanzaa begins

We love this cozy winter gift guide from Hunting For George:

A winter holiday gift guide from Hunting for George

Image: Really Good Emails

Other sources to follow

Staying relevant should always be a marketer’s priority, which is why this list will never be completely comprehensive. After you’ve created your initial campaign calendar, pinpoint other resources you can continue to look to over the year, like local event calendars, pop culture, sports games, international news, and arts and entertainment releases.

Chapter 6

Wrap up

When creating your campaign calendar, the most important goal is to meet your customers where they are. Once you’ve done that, the rest is up to you, just show up and help them celebrate! Confetti and balloons optional.

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