Ask the Experts: The secrets to a winning Christmas appeal  

By Megan Ashdown, Senior Digital Account Director

It sounds a little ridiculous when we’ve just celebrated the first days of spring. But in charity land we’re already talking, planning, and breathing Christmas campaigns.  

With this in mind, The Kite Factory and Consider Creative invited British Red Cross and Crisis to join a webinar unpacking what it takes to drive a winning Christmas appeal.  

The webinar was centred around three core topics: evolution, innovation, and predictions. As with anything in marketing, it’s all to play for, but that’s not to say we haven’t got some juicy takeouts to share with you to ensure your Christmas campaigns soar in 2024.  

  1. How are Christmas campaigns evolving? 

The British Red Cross and Crisis stressed that the key to success is centred around building connection and loyalty. With Covid and Cost-of-Living contributing towards declining returns; ensuring campaigns have relevancy and tangibility in today’s troubled world was top of the priority list. This was highlighted by the BRC’s move away from incentivised giving, as well as Crisis’s evolution to a hotel offering as opposed to it’s previous “reserve a place” campaign.

Something all parties agreed on was the essential nature of integration. That championing seamless and integrated campaigns – both channel and product – is vital to all fundraising performance, not just Christmas.

We highlighted that the use of econometrics –a statistical mathematic function which correctly attributes the full funnel impact channels, campaigns, competitor activity and economic baselines – has allowed Crisis to evolve their channel planning to be truly holistic. Giving them the capability to tactically allocate budgets to “real value” channels, as opposed to employing informed estimation, which has been media planners bread and butter in times gone by.  

1.  Integration is your best friend – for Christmas and beyond!
2. Relevancy is key, across both marketing and product.  

How are marketeers innovating at Christmas?  

From our perspective, it was all about the ongoing evolution of AI and machine learning being a constant evolver and player in the digital space, with the likes of Advantage Plus and Performance Max becoming more entrenched as performance driving options. Testing and learning across both buying methods and emerging channels (CTV &Tik Tok) was also mentioned as a critical element regarding growing your Christmas campaigns. 

Building on that point, Consider Creative stated that you should not only test throughout Christmas, but also through year-round offerings. For clients, testing everything during Christmas can be scary, so the advice was also to de-risk. Test ahead of Christmas and test on different audiences – if they aren’t your core audience but a potential growth area – test on them… what have you got to lose? But as Consider highlighted – have the right process in place. Don’t test for the sake of testing. Have a roadmap across the whole year – and stick to it!  

Crisis and BRC then moved on to product innovation and something that came through clearly in regards to the current economy was price point testing, with Crisis pointing to its Christmas Stocking product as a successful element of recent innovation.    

1. Test and learning all year round is crucial to Christmas success.
2. Innovating products that remain relevant to economic consumer struggles.  

What were our Predictions for 2024? 

The first, and crucial highlight is that our audience will be tired. Crisis fatigue will get worse, and the COLC shows no signs of slowing which Consider predicted will likely impact Christmas income (again!) in 2024.  Economic factors are also predicted to further increase media costs – with TKF anecdotally informing they’ve seen steady increase in buying costs every year, and that Charities are going to have to make their budgets work smarter and harder to hit their targets. 

Crisis predicts a Christmas campaign election and will be highlighting the relevancy of their campaign within an election climate, while BRC reiterated that relevancy will be key and that while there will be many contextual moments to play on, ensure to pick those that make most sense for your brand and audience.  Be adaptable was also mentioned as crucial with both charities – as well as not planning too far ahead – to allow for relevancy message pivots. Ensuring that your business is aligned on a reactive mindset will allow this to come to fruition quickly.  

We rounded off the conversation with a nod to planning for the looming 3rd party cookie depreciation – which will affect all marketing systems, including reporting, targeting, and planning towards the backend of this year – and how this needs to be addressed now to avoid catastrophic drop offs in capabilities as we roll into Christmas.  

1. Remain relevant, considering audience sentiment and contextual moments with activations.
2. Plan for a drop off in cookies – and chat to your agency or developers if you don’t know where to start!  

If you want to watch the whole conversation you can access it here or contact us directly if you want to chat about how we can help build holistic media solutions for you this Christmas.