Does Santa need an online marketing strategy? |

Does Santa need an online marketing strategy?

By Shaad Hamid / December 18, 2012

A few years ago, this blog brought you ‘Online marketing tips for Santa’. Well, this year (to guarantee our place on the right side of the ‘naughty or nice’ list), we’ve looked again at how he could improve his online presence.

Frankly, it’s not looking good. Father Christmas needs to rank for some incredibly competitive keywords, like ‘Christmas’, ‘present’ and ‘Santa’. So does the jolly fat man need to ditch his old routine and find a dynamic new online identity that’ll be easier to drive up the SERPs? For a bit of fun and for a bit of a laugh, this article takes a tongue-in-cheek look…

Should he rebrand?

On some occasions, it’s worth considering dumping a name that’s simply impossible to rank for. Too many other organisations use his branding; he’s everywhere this time of year. That makes it very difficult for the genuine item to rank highly for his own brand, because there’s such a lot of competition. He could consider a new name – Doc Frost, or the Gift Geezer perhaps – but there’s plenty of positive sentiment and goodwill surrounding his existing name, and he may not want to ditch it.

Of course, once the online community recognises that he’s the real deal, he’s likely to get a tonne of inbound links and will soon be considered a high authority site, pushing him to the top of the SERPs.

But how to find that initial audience… Here are some ways he could increase his brand awareness levels, without changing his name or selling his soul to Coca Cola.

Local Search

Services like Google Places are a useful way to make your location known to customers who need to visit you, so Santa should make sure he has Place pages for each of his offices in Lapland and the North Pole.

Once these are established, long-tail geographic key phrases, such as “Christmas presents in Lapland” or “Christmas presents in London”, should help him to rank for location-specific searches without harming his rankings for shorter terms. Those shorter terms, where used, should adopt a scatter-gun approach to cover all likely variations and synonyms – it’s no good ranking for ‘Christmas presents’ if your customers are searching for ‘Christmas gifts’.

And of course, anybody searching for those longer phrases should find his location-specific landing pages highly relevant, helping to get them engaged with his content more quickly.


It’s a mobile world these days, but responsive web design can make sure web pages look right on any kind of device, without limiting access to content. Google recommends using responsive web design, and it makes sense from a visitor’s perspective as it lets you show all of your content to visitors on PCs, laptops, tablets, and phone handsets, with full control over how it appears.

If Santa doesn’t have the technology or know-how, there are plenty of agencies that would be happy to give him a good deal. After all, a recommendation from Father Christmas probably goes a long way…


Penguins may be more Antarctic than North Pole but they’re still something for Santa to consider. A well-stuffed turkey is a Christmas tradition, but a keyword-stuffed website is definitely out, along with way too many keyword-stuffed anchor text backlinks from low quality and irrelevant websites.

Fortunately, there are a lot of variations on Santa’s name (Father Christmas, Saint Nick etc.) so he can fill his website with his brand without spoiling the site for humans. Google’s Penguin update began to penalise websites for containing too many keywords within a website’s text fields. Varying the key phrases and setting up targeted outreach activities and link-bait campaigns that attract natural and high quality backlinks is a good antidote to this.

This actually turns Santa’s diluted brand name into a strength, as there’s no reason why he can’t perform well for all of the names people commonly use for him, bringing that fairly disparate audience together in one place – his new, branding-heavy website – to deliver a clear and cohesive message to the world as one.

Coming to Town – Fighting Duplicates

With a Santa impersonator in every high-street store, Saint Nick needs to reclaim his true place as the face of Christmas. A few well-timed flash mobs, guest appearances on the news, and holding press conferences for the print and television media could quickly make the headlines, winning him some high-quality mentions.

If he’s persuasive with his gifts, he could potentially get links back to his website from high-authority news sites – not bribes, obviously, but perhaps a couple of well-chosen items for column editors to review.

In a fast-moving world, genuine brand heritage is still something that many consumers appreciate, not to mention good customer service. Santa not only has centuries of brand-building behind him, he also has a reputation as never failing to deliver, even against the world’s tightest deadline.

Nobody can do it as well as he does, and that’s always a powerful brand message.

Going Social

Santa’s a busy man, but he has a full-time team of elves to manage his Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ profiles. He can use foursquare to keep his followers updated on his every move. He can also share photos on his social media profiles and also use his video channel on YouTube to build a global community.

All of this will help him create true engagement, allowing this long-time absent figure to return to the 21st century Christmas gifts market with a bang and stake his claim as the true brand identity for the festive period.

For good little girls and boys all over the world, sending a tweet or a Facebook message is also a slightly more reliable method of reaching Santa directly than simply throwing a letter on the fire and hoping the smoke reaches him at the North Pole.

Social Marketing

As Santa is looked up to by children the world over, he can align his brand with good causes, such as support for vulnerable children all over the world. Aligning his brand with social causes will not only help him increase brand equity, but help create a sustainable solution to global issues all year round – transforming Santa into a brand that’s for life, not just for Christmas.

This type of socially responsible marketing, often referred to as ’cause marketing’, is a win-win situation for brands that want to give something back, their customers who want to shop ethically, and for the good causes they help.

Who knows, Santa – whose ‘naughty or nice’ policy has set his brand ethics in stone from the very start – might make social marketing so successful it could come to be known not as ’cause marketing’, but as ‘Claus marketing’ in the years to come.

What advice would you give Santa? Share your opinions in the comments below. You never know, Father Christmas might take your advice, which has got to be worth a place on the ‘nice’ list.

Image credit: PepOmint

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