26 Tips to Get your App Ready for the Holiday Season

‘Tis the season to make sure you’re ready for the holidays. And what are we talking about when we say “the holidays”? Don’t look now, but they’ve already started. 

It’s this hyper-busy Q4, which includes celebrations such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, together with commerce-based dates such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  For many apps, the holiday season holds massive sales potential – some e-commerce businesses see as much as 40% of their annual sales during this time – but only if you do the groundwork.

So how can you prepare your app for the holiday season? We’ve made it simple, breaking your to-do list into App Store Optimisation, User Acquisition and Customer Relationship Management. Follow these steps (or even better, divide the list and allocate it to your relevant teams), and you’ll be in for a very merry holiday period indeed.

App Store Optimisation for the holiday season

Recognising seasonality, offering time-sensitive deals and presenting an updated app experience appeals to users. Offering a “Top 10 holidays gifts” can make their life easier, while adding some seasonal cheer to things like graphics and copy provides that warm glow everyone’s looking for in December. 

#1 Adjust your icon

Putting a seasonal slant on your app icon is really easy to do, either by redesigning the icon itself to feature something seasonal, or visually “peeling” one corner down to add a little seasonal nod, like a Santa hat. Nowadays, it’s the bare minimum seasonal shoppers expect when they browse the app store. 

#2 Switch up the screenshots 

If you’ve got enough time and resources, redesign your screenshots to add visual elements to reference the holidays. For example, you may want to add a light dusting of snow to your creatives. Your copy can be a powerful tool too to promote any seasonal promotions or features you might be running, such as a 12 Days of Christmas giveaway, so don’t be afraid to give that a bit of a jeuje.

holiday season screenshot examples

#3 Bow down to the algorithmic gods

Keeping your listing updated increases your app’s chances of being featured, because the algorithm prioritises those apps that are regularly updated. Making these kinds of changes helps to give prospective users that warm holiday glow and – perhaps more importantly – satisfies the algorithm’s need for optimisation. 

#4 Run in-app events

We’ve already discussed the importance of in-app events, and the power they have to engage users, increase brand visibility and bag more App Store real-estate – all without paid marketing. This is a particularly important move during the hyper-competitive holiday season, so get brainstorming some appropriate events for your app to get ahead of the competition. Think seasonal content premiers, Yuletide countdown challenges or the launch of a Christmas-themed gaming update. 

holiday season in-app events example

#5 Get creative with your promotional text

There are 170 unindexed characters on the Apple App Store for you to play with, which can be changed as many times as you want with zero developer input. You could change it daily (“On the fourth day of Christmas, my favourite app gave to me…”), or just pack it full of all the fun stuff you have planned for your users over the course of the season. 

#6 Consider a metadata update

In contrast, your metadata is longer and is indexed. If you have a big promotional push coming, it’s worth considering changing this copy. But be careful not to replace what works with something entirely untested.  

#7 Ring in 2023

If your app has a new year element, such as an education app launching with 2023’s new syllabus or a fitness app with a new year’s exercise plan, make sure you add “2023” as a keyword well ahead of time to give you that competitive advantage. 

#8 Schedule in customer service

Don’t be tempted to log off just as you’re about to see an influx of new users. Make sure you continue to respond to customer reviews in a timely manner during the holidays. Users may have more time to engage with your app and report potential bugs and issues.

#9 Review last year’s activity

The holiday season can have a massive impact on metrics in either a positive or negative direction, so remind yourself of what happened last year so you’re not caught off guard and can apply learnings from previous seasonal campaigns.

User Acquisition for the holiday season

Black Friday deals and Christmas gifts means new devices are being put in the hands of new users – users everyone wants to convert to their app. And of course, that means increased competition, making it particularly important that you’ve got your holiday optimisation plans in place. 

#10 Increase budgets

There are a lot of eyeballs to hit during a time where most people are off work and often on their phones. But there are also a lot of app marketers wanting to hit those eyeballs. In short, the audience is large but so is the competition, so you may want to consider  increasing your media spend budget if you want to get your app, promotion or offer seen. 

#11 Get organised

This may be obvious, but if you’re planning a seasonal campaign (particularly if it has a lot of moving parts, such as a daily advent calendar promotion), get everything signed off well in advance. That includes creative, ad spend and ad placement. This way you’ll avoid any unnecessary stress on the day the campaigns go live.

#12 Use Custom Product Pages

Direct those users that click on ads to purpose-built pages promoting your seasonal content (especially if there’s any specific content or feature you’re trying to highlight). There’s no need to overdo it, just one or two Custom Product Pages will do the job.

#13 Add keywords

If you’re advertising using Apple Search Ads (and you totally should), include relevant keywords such as “Black Friday deal”, “Christmas offer”, “New Year sale” etc. as these will be highly searched by your potential users during the festive months.

#14 Add Ad Groups

For Google Universal App Campaigns, create a new Ad Group for holiday campaigns. This separation from your standard ads will allow you to turn them on and off easily, and see the results separately. 

#15 Add channels

If Christmas is a particularly important time of year for you, now is the time to supercharge your effort to reach new users. Expand your reach by adding an additional media channel  – you can read about the benefits of each here. 

#16 Engage copywriters

Don’t make your ad copy an afterthought. Make sure your creative fits with your copy, and refresh your ad text to fit with the season. 

Marketing Automation (mCRM) for the holiday season

The point of marketing automation is to increase efficiency, allowing you to deliver more relevant messages to your users with less need for human input. Given the holiday season’s revenue potential, increased competition and decreased working days (you’ve got to stop working at some point…), getting your mCRM plans in place is crucial for a successful Q4. 

#17 Formalise a plan

When is the best time to plan for Christmas? Six months ago. The next best time? Today. There’s so much to get finalised, from campaign types to creative to offers to budgets, it’s absolutely essential that every member of the team is clear on the overall plan and their role within it.

#18 Keep in mind your competition

During holidays there will be a lot of apps fighting for users’ attention. To stand out, give your users a genuine reason to engage with your app. No one likes being bombarded with unnecessary comms. 

#19 Review your key segments

Well thought-through segmentation is key to creating a personalised user experience. Consider how you’re going to target your personas and audience groups to deliver the highest impact and ensure they take a desired in-app action. 

#20 Consider your teams

Given how busy things get from November onwards, it might be necessary to reallocate resources (particularly if people are likely to take holiday during this time). Consider whether it’s worth temporarily creating sub-teams to lead on certain campaigns e.g. Christmas BAU only, Christmas Lifecycle, Offer campaigns, etc.

#21 Align with the product where you can

Launching a new feature, such as a seasonal game, during the holiday season is a great way to give your users more reasons to engage with your app frequently. It also makes it easier for them to keep your app in front of mind, whether they’re early or last-minute Christmas present buyers. 

#22 Tweak automation

Update your automated journeys and triggers to reflect your Christmas creative. If you’re heavily reliant on seasonal high points, make sure it’s easy to add in different template variations without affecting the standard template. 

#23 Drip feed early

The more reliant you are on seasonal sales, the earlier you should start promoting. You can start adding secondary modules within emails as early as July or August, especially if you consider the content – “What Black Friday deals would you like to see this year?”, “We’re already preparing for Christmas! Click here to get early access to our special deals” etc.

#24 Be mindful of geography

Localise your activity based on the cultural norms for each region you operate in. This includes everything from not using snowflakes in a creative targeting Australia (where Christmas is in summer), to promoting around Diwali rather than Christmas in primarily Hindu and Sikh countries. 

#25 Evaluate

Spend time working out what worked and what didn’t as a priority in the new year. ​​When you do this, focus on the cost/benefit of campaign performance and conversions vs staff resources and efficiencies.

Here’s a bonus tip – the 26th December Boxing Day edition, if you will:

#26 Set a reminder to reread this article on 1st February 2023

Once you’ve finished your evaluations, revisit this list midway through Q1. By putting plans in place early for 2023 holidays, you can tackle next year’s activity well in advance, replicating what worked this year and adapting what didn’t.  Talking Christmas in February? We’ll admit that it sounds brutal, but you’ll be glad you did.

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If you want to find out more about how improving the mobile customer experience can impact your app marketing campaign or you have any app marketing questions feel free to reach out to the Yodel Mobile Growth Team. Additionally, you can sign up to our newsletter for exclusive industry updates and app marketing insights from the ASO Agency of the Year. Want to find out more about optimising your app? Make sure to subscribe to our Mastering Mobile Marketing video series. Follow us on LinkedIn, chat with us on Twitter @yodelmobile, and join our #AppMarketingUK LinkedIn group.

About the Author:

Agata is the Marketing Manager at Yodel Mobile, a leading mobile app marketing company. Assisting the agency growth efforts, Agata regularly shares insights on the latest app marketing strategies, promoting sustainable and long-term growth.

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