The holiday shopping season is almost here. You are about to enter the season of sales and special promotions, starting with the Black Friday exclusive offers and ending with the early January sales.

But running a sale can be tricky, especially when you are battling against the special offers and incentives your competitors are putting together.

How can you promote your sale without getting lost in the noise and without racing to the bottom with unsustainable promotions? Getting it right isn’t easy. That’s why we put a checklist of the best practices for advertising a sale, just in time for the holiday rush.

1. Get creative with your content

Content marketing is one of the most powerful tools you’ve got at your disposal because it works for various stages of your funnel. One simple way to use it to advertise your sale is to create content for customers at these three stages of awareness:

  • Problem aware. Customers are looking to buy, but they don’t have anything specific in mind. You can create content around the best type of products to buy this season.
  • Solution aware. Customers know what result they want to get but don’t know what product provides it. Work backwards from what people want– to decrease the stress of shopping, to be known as the gift whisperer, to save time– and create content around that.
  • Product aware. Customers know the type of product they want. Now you need content that shows them why buying this from you is in their best interest.

After you’ve mapped out the content based on prospect stages of awareness, create a custom Call to Action (CTA) for each post that ties your sale to the blog post.

You can create a short downloadable checklist for problem-aware customers with 10 unusual gifts for their parents. For your product-aware customers, you can offer 25% off a product of their choice. This is an effective tactic: 93% of consumers would shop with a retailer if they get a good deal.

Beyond your own blog

You can reach new customers and discretely advertise your sale by publishing articles in publications your audience reads. This tactic does require a bit more work and relationship building. Here’s how you can get started in two steps.

  1. Research the publications your ideal customers read and find out which ones accept guest submissions.
  2. Build a relationship with the editor or marketing manager and pitch them a piece of content that benefits their audience. At this point, you can also speak to them about creating a special offer that ties into the content: something that will make the editor look really good and benefit their readers.

By creating a relevant special offer you can drive people to your site, store or email list. In the next few tips, we’ll show you how to use those to advertise your sale.

2. Include your sale in your social media updates for the season

Create social media updates that focus on different part of the sale. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Highlight key products. Build posts around specific products or group of products on sale. Highlight why those products are such a great deal by focusing on the benefits.
  • Highlight the causes you help. 84% of consumers will share brand information if it helps causes they favor so tell your audience about the things you do. You can even offer to donate a percentage of every sale to a specific cause. This can make your customers feel good about buying and increase conversions.
  • Offer special discounts to your social media following. Run special timed offers for your audience.

Experiment with different approaches and then use UTM tracking to measure the results. Keep one crucial thing in mind: your customers care about themselves. So focus on how your sale benefits them. This will increase the number of shares and general engagement around your posts.

3. Tap into your existing network

You’ve got an existing network of customers and business connections. Use both to advertise your sale.

One of the easiest ways to get your existing customers on side is to offer them some personalized attention. You can:

  • Offer special discounts based on purchase history. Research indicates that 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from you if you offer a personalized experience.
  • Run a competition. Offer an increasing number of entries to win an awesome prize by sharing content around your sale with friends and family. Just keep in mind that for this to work, the content needs to focus on the benefits to the customer.
  • Send something through the mail. The personal touch still holds a lot of sway. Create a cool, branded postcard with a special discount and a personalized message.

If it’s good for me…

Don’t forget to tap into your existing business network. Consider partnering up with complementary brands that attract the same audience. This is a great way to promote each other’s products to your respective audiences so both of you can reach more people.

4. Run ads where your customers are

Running ads where your customers are likely to see them is still one of the best ways to grab their attention. You can run ads:

  • On social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Use audience targeting to narrow down your audience to your best prospects.
  • Through Google Adwords. Make a list of popular long-tail keywords and incorporate them in your ads so that they come up while prospects are scouring Google.
  • In publications they read. You can use programmatic advertising to target groups of popular publications.
  • On digital signage. Tap into out of home advertising by running ads on the digital signs your customers see every day on their commutes.

5. Use your email list

Put together a sales sequence for your email list. When this e-commerce store run a holiday sale, sending three emails to their list over a three day period got them 250k+ in sales.

List segmentation can make your “ads” a lot more effective. If you’ve segmented your list, create special offers for each segment based on purchase history or other behavior: 76% of customers feel that receiving personal discounts based on past interactions is important.

6. Don’t forget your website

Use your site to advertise your sale. You can create a sale-focused lead magnet– which doubles up as a way to grow your email list– that helps your readers navigate holiday shopping.

You can also add a holiday theme or UX elements that highlight the sale without distracting from everything else.

Whatever you do, track it

One of the best things you can do for your business is track your efforts. Make a note of each method you use to advertise your holiday sale and track just how effective it is. This will give you specific data you can use to improve your holiday sale next year.