Posted on Sep 25, 2020

10 Holiday Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses on a Budget

The holidays are a time of celebrating with loved ones, giving thanks, and brainstorming festive holiday marketing ideas. 

However, due to the 2020 pandemic, many small businesses have had to reallocate their marketing budget elsewhere. Marketing budgets are usually the first to be cut during economic downtimes. 

So, how can you promote your holiday offerings on a tighter budget?

Here we’re sharing 10 holiday marketing ideas for small businesses:

  1. Send Holiday Cards
  2. Deliver Holiday Gifts
  3. Run Holiday Promotions
  4. Do Holiday Email Marketing
  5. Conduct a Social Media Contest
  6. Offer a Webinar
  7. Partner with a Local Business
  8. Share Holiday Tips
  9. Promote Gift Cards
  10. Use Pinterest

1. Send Holiday Cards

Holiday cards are an excellent way to share your best products, give out promotional codes, and stay top of mind with your customers.

Although email is still one of the top marketing channels, don’t dismiss direct marketing. When it comes to grabbing your customer’s attention, direct mail has some serious advantages over email. 

Take a look at open rates. Direct mail has an average open rate of 90%, trumping the 20-30% open rates for most emails.

Furthermore, 60% of people who receive a company’s catalog will visit the business’s website.

This doesn’t mean you should give up on email. Research shows that combining email and digital marketing with direct mail results in more website visits

The most effective holiday marketing strategies use emails alongside direct mail.

For best results, be sure to send any catalogs or promotion codes early, so your customers have time to shop.

However, if you’re sending a card that doesn’t have promotions attached, you can send these closer to the actual holiday.

Either way, if there is ever a time to use direct mail in your marketing, the holiday season is it. 

2. Offer Holiday Gifts

Sending gifts is an excellent holiday marketing idea for businesses in the service industry or those that maintain large multi-year contracts. 

Giving a gift tells your customers that you appreciate them and their business. 

Since gift-giving is a bit more expensive than the other options on this list, it makes the most sense for small businesses with a higher average customer value. Even then, gifts might only be reserved for top-tier clients.

If you’re going to invest money into sending holiday gifts, be sure they are well-received. Send gifts that are genuine and generous — not a marketing ploy. 

Think of your gifts as a part of relationship-building, rather than a marketing tactic. Don’t make your gift self-serving by printing your logo on it. Instead, look for thoughtful presents and find ways to personalize whenever possible.

3. Run Holiday Promotions

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If individual gift-giving isn’t right for your business, consider offering holiday promotions to increase your overall sales. 

Holiday Promotions:

  • Free holiday gift with purchase
  • Branded customer gifts
  • Trial size products
  • Incentives to purchase more
  • Promotional holiday calendar
  • Holiday countdown sales

Holiday offers and festive promotions are among the best holiday marketing ideas for e-commerce or any business selling physical products. You can even tie in the concept of gift-giving by offering promotions that involve a free gift with purchase. 

Unlike gifts meant for high-value clients, a gift with purchase doesn’t need to be personalized. You can even brand the gift or offer trial sizes of your products.

Aside from gifts with purchase, you can offer special holiday pricing or incentives to purchase more (buy two, get one free). 

When using promotions, your goal is to increase your customers’ average cart value. However, you can also use promotions to drive more traffic to your website during the holidays with a promotional schedule

For example, creating holiday countdowns or offering different promotions for each day of the week generates curiosity and encourages repeat visits. Keep people coming back to your website to increase sales.


When it comes to themes and design, there are plenty of options for your promotional holiday marketing ideas. 

Don’t be afraid to get creative with it. The holiday season was meant for fun and festivities!

4. Holiday Email Marketing Ideas

Email should be part of any holiday marketing strategy. You can use most of the other ideas on this list in conjunction with your holiday email marketing ideas. 

For example, emails can be used to share promotions or help drive traffic to a webinar.

However, keep in mind that most brands (large and small) will also heavily use email marketing to increase their sales during the holidays. So, you want to craft emails that will stand out in a customer’s inbox. 

There are two things to pay particular attention to: subject line and mobile-responsive design. 

Your subject line determines the open rate of your email. Make sure that you’re using power words and creating curiosity. 

Secondly, more than 60% of Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails were opened on a mobile device. Therefore, you want to select mobile-responsive email templates and test them on a mobile device before sending out your campaigns.

Overall, email marketing has many uses in a small business marketing strategy because it’s so cost-effective. Even if you’re new to email marketing, there’s no time like the holidays to get started.

5. Run a Social Media Contest

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When it comes to budget-friendly marketing channels, social media tops the list. Social media platforms allow brands to reach millions of potential customers for free. 

The key is to figure out which holiday marketing ideas can help your brand get more social media engagement. 

One of the best ways to foster engagement is by incentivizing it through a social media contest. Of all of the holiday marketing ideas on this list, social media contests are especially useful because of the wide range of goals you can accomplish in one campaign. 

A social media contest can simultaneously help you grow your following, increase engagement, and drive website visits. However, we recommend that you focus on one specific goal to get the best results. 

Your contest’s goals will help you determine the rules of entry. After that, it’s just a matter of finding the right giveaway strategy and then testing which social media platform performs the best.

Bonus tip: It’s helpful to align your contest with existing shopping days like Black Friday or Small Business Saturday. This way, you can leverage popular hashtags and discussions on social media to increase your reach.

6. Offer a Webinar

Webinars are part of a comprehensive content marketing strategy that aims to educate your prospective buyers. You can create a webinar for any part of the customer journey. 

For example, you can conduct webinars that cover topics that are industry-related and don’t mention your business until the end, or you can run webinars that help existing customers get the most out of your product. 

In the first example, your goal is to increase sales qualified leads. In the second example, you’re improving your customer experience and possibly increasing the product’s value.

With the 2020 pandemic limiting in-person interactions, webinars might be one of the holiday marketing ideas that makes a big difference for your business this year. 

Webinars work especially well for software companies, allowing them to showcase when and how their software provides value to their customers.

Moreover, webinars are not expensive to put together. On average, a webinar costs $100 to make

That’s not even the best part. You can increase your return on investment by converting your live webinars into on-demand webinars.

However, if you choose to run on-demand webinars, it’s best to make someone available for a Q&A session during or after. The Q&A is where your guests get the most value, and you get the most engagement.

7. Partner with a Local Business

As a small business, you’re not alone when it comes to brainstorming different holiday marketing ideas. The holidays represent an immense marketing opportunity for all of the companies in your community. 

So, why not work together?

Partnership marketing (also known as co-branded marketing) is a tactic that involves working with other businesses to launch a mutually beneficial marketing campaign

Partnership marketing can be extremely profitable for small businesses, in particular.

Small businesses usually contend with a lack of marketing resources. But, when you combine forces, you also combine resources — including budget, personnel, and reach. 

If you’re considering partnership marketing, look for a local business whose offerings and target market align with yours. Ideally, you’ll also find a partner that has similar brand values. 

Examples of partnership marketing include:

  • Co-hosting a webinar
  • Publishing a social media contest with another brand
  • Product placement or sponsorship
  • Distribution partnerships

8. Share Festive Holiday Tips

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach where you provide free value in the form of content that can bring customers to your website or sales funnel. 

Like social media, content marketing is one of the most affordable holiday marketing ideas. If you have someone on your team that can create written or video content, then content marketing can be virtually free.

One of the challenges of content marketing is figuring out precisely what type of content your target market wants and needs. However, during the holiday season, consumers and their needs are far more predictable.

People will need help with any of the following:

  • Finding the right gifts
  • Making holiday travel plans
  • Managing time with family during the pandemic
  • Finding holiday recipes
  • Gift-wrapping
  • Decorating
  • Holiday marketing 

Figure out which questions you can answer, then create high-quality content around it. Tools like can help you discover holiday-related questions that people are searching for answers to.

Whatever topics you choose, always commit to producing great content. No content at all is better than content that has no value. Additionally, consider the relevance of your brand to these questions being asked and if it serves your brand to create content around holiday-related questions.

9. Promote Gift Certificates

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Finding the perfect holiday gift for everyone in your life can be a real pain point for customers. That’s where gift certificates and gift cards come in handy. 

Although most businesses offer gift certificates year-round, use your holiday promotions to give them special attention during the holidays. 

Releasing gift certificates and gift cards with a holiday-themed design is an excellent way to bring more attention to them. During the holiday rush, it’s easy for your customers to forget that gift certificates are even an option — so make sure you remind them.

When you’re designing your cards, take inclusivity into account. Not everybody celebrates Christmas, specifically. 

Include gift card options for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and holiday-agnostics. Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings designs are both neutral, appropriate choices.

Additionally, you can combine gift certificates with the other holiday marketing ideas on this list. 

For example, offer a gift certificate as a prize for a social media contest or write a blog post about how your gift certificates might be the perfect gift for a friend.

10. Use Pinterest

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Pinterest is often referred to as a social media platform, but it’s better described as a visual search engine.  

What’s unique about Pinterest is that its users have more buying intent than other social media or search platforms. That is to say, people use Pinterest to find inspiration for future purchases. 

In 2019, Pinterest began to show it’s true potential with shoppable ads. After the platform introduced dynamic retargeting, they saw a significant increase in ad-generated revenue.

What’s more, compared to Facebook and Google, Pinterest ads are typically much more cost-effective.

Do you want to know the best part? 

Holiday content performs exceptionally well on Pinterest. This is because people use Pinterest for significant moments such as life milestones and seasonal activities (including holidays.)

So, how should you use Pinterest in your holiday marketing strategy?

The key to an effective Pinterest marketing strategy is to remember that Pinners are also planners. 

Pinterest users typically pin content 30-45 days before going back and making a purchase. So, make sure you have your Pinterest campaigns planned out well ahead of time for the best results.

Final Thoughts: Holiday Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses on a Budget (2020)

Holiday marketing for small businesses in 2020 will require a little more creativity to accommodate leaner budgets. But, there are plenty of effective, budget-friendly strategies that can help you increase brand awareness, drive more website traffic, and increase your overall sales. 

Find ways to support your customer, whether it’s through helpful holiday tips, promotions, or providing the perfect gifts.

It’s also important to prepare your website for the holiday traffic surge. This is even more important in 2020 since it’s more difficult for people to shop in-store. 

Double-check your website’s user experience and make sure that you have fast and reliable hosting services that won’t crash when traffic spikes. 

Explore iPage’s web-hosting features today, including scalable bandwidth and online selling support.