Part One: 2019 Recap

For your business, and millions like it around the world, the holiday shopping season is the most important time of the year. Success can be translated into serious growth, failure can set back an entire year’s growth. There is no such thing as starting too early to plan and generate ideas for your next holiday marketing season. Let’s start today. We’ll begin by pulling together everything you need to review your 2019 holiday marketing efforts, understand what worked (and what didn’t) and begin setting the stage for success in the 2020 holiday season.

Budget Review

Marketing around the holidays is a strategy game with your digital marketing dollars. High level questions to consider include:

  • How much did you budget? 
  • What did you actually spend? 
  • How many days, if any, did you run out of budget and leave potential sales on the table? 
  • If you budgeted by marketing channel, what shifts occurred along the way? 

Over the next 9 months we’ll examine what happened in your 2019 holiday marketing campaign and how to translate it into even greater success in 2020. Understanding your budget and utilization for 2019 is going to be a key consideration.

Recap 2019 Holiday Marketing Strategy and Goals

Hopefully you have campaign briefs, plans and other documentation that clearly illustrates what your 2019 strategy was (or have a photographic memory) and can detail the following: 

  1. Target Sales/Revenue
  2. Budget/Channel Breakdown
  3. Landing Pages used
  4. Offer
    • What was it? ($ or %?)
    • Promo code required? 
    • Banner/Modal?
    • Hero products, if any?


What we’re trying to accomplish is to document everything in one place while it’s relatively fresh in your mind. It’s helpful to review what your goals were throughout the customer journey from impression, to site visit to purchase (or not). By performing this exercise we set ourselves up for all of the next steps to come. Don’t skimp the data gathering and strategy recap! If you’re struggling to pull together all the details, start with what you know and then work on filling in the gaps. Anything that can’t be measured or found in reporting can be added to your to-do list for 2020.


Construct & Review Your Holiday Scorecard

Creating a scorecard for campaign performance can take any form, but if you want a little help in the design try #11 on this list of templates from Hubspot. The main thing we want to accomplish is having ALL of our primary and secondary KPIs tracked – inclusive of both marketing and business metrics. This means a scorecard to report on holiday performance shouldn’t just be as simple as this:


You need more than the basic marketing metrics to understand campaign success. Try organizing your scorecard like this.

  1. Show results by channel. Having raw data in other tabs to refer to when needed and using formulas in your scorecard to pull it all together is very helpful.
  2. Compare YoY data (where available).
  3. Have a flow from top level media metrics like impressions & clicks down to lead and revenue metrics.
  4. Use colors/borders and conditional formatting to clearly illustrate wins or areas of concern. 

By having already reviewed/written out budgets, goals and the overall strategy in the previous sections you should be able to construct the scorecard with the needed data to show how successful the holiday was. Upon review, try to determine the following:

  • Was the target budget hit? Exceeded?
  • Did we over or under-perform on media metrics? Sales metrics?
  • Did our marketing function as planned or were there strategic errors made?

These questions can create uncomfortable answers, but this is intended to spark honest conversation and reflection on any mistakes made while highlighting wins that can be duplicated in the future. The process of documenting goals and following through on measuring performance against them is essential to successful marketing. It’s tempting to move the goal posts after a campaign is over but it won’t help you in the long run. Our client Christmas Cottage Lights came to us in September with a clear objective, increasing sales for the upcoming holiday season through increased quality organic traffic (the holidays aren’t ONLY about ad dollars) and lead generation optimization. By planning ahead and partnering with Gemini to create a clear strategy for performance, outstanding results were reached including a 62% year-over-year increase in purchases from organic search. You can see more details about the campaign here.

How To Approach a Teardown of 2019

There’s a trendy practice in the marketing world called a teardown. A marketer that wasn’t involved in a campaign provides an analysis of how the brand ran it’s campaign, what worked, and what didn’t. The perspective part is key. Having an unbiased and fresh set of eyes can help make connections that weren’t apparent before. When evaluating your own efforts, it’s important to be open to feedback, and ready to collaborate with others to improve your future holiday marketing efforts.. 

How can you do this constructively and what steps might there be to effectively complete the process? Ideally, your team already has a great working relationship and understands how to communicate in a manner that says what needs to be said without being offensive. To be safe try laying some ground rules for how the discussion should unfold. For example, say you start off the session by having each team member present the strategy for the channel they managed and how it was executed before having a 5 minute brainstorming session; a rule could be to formulate ideas in a certain manner such as:

“In the (email) strategy where we did X I feel it might have been even better to do Y because Z. What does everyone think?”

Setting ground rules should help, here is a basic step framework to consider:

  1. Determine how data/strategy should be reviewed.
    • Individuals present or send in slides to be reviewed by the team beforehand?
  2. Set the format for brainstorming. (Group or individually via shared documents?)
  3. Establish any ground rules to keep discussion civil and constructive.
  4. Plan how to keep the atmosphere relaxed and fun. Remember, you’re tearing down your strategy, not your teammates.
    • Music?
    • Snacks?
    • Break for drinks?
  5. Clearly think through the path forward after a teardown session and share it with the team.

Conducting a teardown of your own efforts may seem like a big task, but if your team is up to it you’ll see amazing results when applying your findings the next holiday season. Remember, there is always the option to bring in an experienced agency partner to conduct the teardown – like Gemini!