Top Location Based Marketing Tactics for Thanksgiving Travel

Marketing Tactics for Thanksgiving Travel

Whether or not you want to accept it, the time has come to accept the inevitable…Thanksgiving is here. While some businesses and marketers might skip right to Christmas the day after Halloween, it’s important to take a step back and give thanks for all the marketing opportunities that present themselves throughout the Thanksgiving holiday week.

The potential goes far beyond just the Black Friday shopping and Cyber Monday deals. Thanksgiving is one of the weeks with the highest volume of travelers, and with that, increased opportunities for location based marketing as new audiences flock to different regions throughout the country. It’s important to take advantage of these geographic strategies because people are on the move throughout the entire week – traveling, spending time with family, and of course, shopping.

With the increase in mobile popularity, people are making purchases on the go. Black Friday is no longer constricted to the walls of your nearest mall. Instead, these deals are coming directly to the customer rather than drawing them into the physical store. According to a study done by eMarketer, 30% of all Black Friday online revenues in 2014 were from mobile devices, a 48% jump up from 2013. It is clear that there is a lot of potential in this platform, so let’s take a look at some of the ways you can make the most out of both your business’s holiday budget, and Thanksgiving travelers.

Location Targeting Using AdWords

A business’ paid efforts are one of the best and simplest ways for a company with an existing digital advertising effort to leverage location based marketing strategies. If you’re a business that has set locations or knows where most of your users are going to be during Thanksgiving traveling, you can build out campaigns to target countries, cities, regions, or even postal codes to catch users on mobile devices, tablets, or desktops and laptops based both on relevant keywords and geotargeting location options. You can decide whether or not you want to target people who are searching for or showing interest in a target location, or if you’d rather just target people who are physically in a specific location. This is particularly helpful if you think people are interested in your product are trying to find information about a place, or if you just want to target people who are waiting in or near an airport or travel destination that falls within a designated area. If you want to take it one step further than geofencing, you can now even leverage true latitude and longitude options to target customers in more specific areas, using third-party networks like Mosaic.

Location Targeting on AdWords
For display in particular you can use retargeting banner ads to serve to audiences who have already come to your website with great effect. Specifically for Thanksgiving travelers you can not only use location based targeting to select where your retargeting display ads show, you can also dictate the locations in which your display ads show and what sites they show on. You can effectively exclude websites that aren’t relevant to your business and hone in on specific areas like postal codes, or places of interest like airports, to geofence areas that are particularly compatible with your business. Particularly during the Thanksgiving travel season, this can pay massive dividends for your business when done correctly.


For your email campaigns, segment your lists and organize them by location or time zone. This allows you to have them sent out at the optimal time for the respective location of each person on your list. You want to make sure that your content is reaching these individuals at peak hours, while taking into account the changes in behavior of these people during this holiday week. According to a study by eMarketer, 2014 saw greater open rates of email marketing efforts across both desktop and mobile platforms in Q4, than in Q3. While some industries may suffer throughout the later parts of the year, people are definitely still checking their email, and they are investing in the opportunities presented to them through their inbox this time of year.

thanksgiving marketing - emails
Make sure your emails and your mobile website are optimized for people who are on the move and trying to make a purchase, and be sure to have follow-up emails sent to shoppers who may not have finished their purchase during their travels, but could still be interested in your product. Your pages should be responsive across different devices, have clear navigation, fast loading times, and large buttons to make the shopping experience easy. You want your audience to be able to complete their purchase faster than they can finish their Thanksgiving dinner.Having festive and Thanksgiving-themed mailers wouldn’t hurt either. All of Thanksgiving weekend is filled with titled shopping days like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. ‘Tis the season to take advantage of each opportunity, and retarget your emails to reflect the holidays.


Public Relations
You can spend the rest of the year targeting larger publications and news outlets. However, during the holidays, it’s important to weigh the benefits of marketing towards more localized publications and businesses. Everyone is going home for the season, and not consuming the same media that they do throughout the rest of the year. Take advantage of this by targeting reporters in specific locations with events and news that is relative to their local area. Publications like Newsday cater to the Long Island area on a daily basis, while The Daily Record is one of New Jersey’s main outlets.

Stores and brands that are only native to certain parts of the country should take advantage of location based marketing and those consumers who are traveling to their areas throughout the holiday season. Regional chains such as In-N-Out Burger, who can be found in the American Southwest, can use location based marketing and geo-fencing to attract people in the area aside from the usual local crowd. It doesn’t necessarily have to be holiday shopping that the marketing focuses on, it can just be targeted towards the influx in travelers in general.

Content Marketing
The fun thing about the holidays, is that there is plenty to write about. There is never a shortage of content topics, and you should use the travelers’ curiosity (and copious in-transit reading time) to your advantage while planning out your content. The end of the year provides you with the flexibility to be a little more creative with your content than usual. Try targeting longer tail keywords that are more specific, and are answering an individual’s interests. You can focus on content that addresses location-specific topics, and answering questions within posts like “How to,” “Why,” or “What.” You can even incorporate some popular list posts into your calendar that will be about targeted demographics or specific regions, cities, or neighborhoods.

According to a study by eMarketer, 7.1% of digital retailers in the United States are adjusting their seasonal marketing content by incorporating more geolocal content into their strategy. Help people figure out what to do when they’re visiting a certain area, or how they should entertain their guests and family while they are visiting for the holidays.

thanksgiving marketing - content


Twitter and Facebook have become essential tools in the digital marketing world and are paving the way for other social media platforms to take advantage of this evolving opportunity. You can utilize paid social opportunities to target your holiday marketing towards specific demographics or locations. Individuals may be sitting and watching football in a post-turkey food coma, scrolling through social media and looking at everyone’s drum stick Instagrams, and find your targeted ads in their feed. There are also a number of growing opportunities to have your audiences make purchases directly through the advertisements. We see examples of this through Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook, and can expect to see that increase in the coming years.

When it comes to your organic efforts, similar to your content marketing, you can be a little more creative but still strategic. Time your content accordingly, taking into consideration everyone’s changing schedules and traveling times. You can also incorporate location specific hashtags that are relevant to what you are posting, or who you are targeting based on a geographical area. Also, try reaching out to influencers who are based in some locations if there are in areas you are interested in making an appearance in, or audiences that you want to try and connect with.

Mobile is Key for Travelers

If you’ve ever traveled on Thanksgiving you don’t have to be told that most travelers are not on desktops or laptops. They’re on mobile devices like tablets and phones, and clearly any digital marketing efforts you create should take this into consideration. This is particularly true if you want to capture the attention of individuals as they travel in order to sell them a relevant product or service that they might find particularly useful as they struggle to get to their final Thanksgiving destination.

There are a number of ways you can effectively make the mobile experience with your brand more successful. We’ve already discussed the power of using location based marketing tactics for paid advertising like geofencing, but there a few more simplistic things a business can do.

The first, and most obvious, is having a website that has a fantastic mobile experience. People have a lot of time during Thanksgiving travel – whether that is sitting on a bus, waiting for an airplane, or just sitting in the backseat of a family car. It is one of the few times that people have enough time to just sit and look at a mobile device and this allows them time to get through an entire purchase process on their mobile device. Having a responsive website that takes people all the way from the top of your conversion funnel to a product purchase is a great way to make sure that people do everything they need to in order to convert with you right on their mobile device. The value of this should not be underestimated.The second is to consider your email marketing campaigns. If you need to reach people on mobile devices these campaigns should be fully responsive and show correctly on tablet and mobile devices. When this is coupled with a responsive website design it makes for a seamless user experience from inbox to website to product purchase and helps make users feel more at ease buying from you while they’re on the go.

The third has to do with banner advertising on mobile devices. While banners in standard sizes do resize down for mobile displays they aren’t inherently “optimized” for mobile devices – they are simply smaller versions of larger banners that were intended for desktops. A great way to provide better creative is to consider designing separate mobile-only campaigns with this in mind while creating larger calls to action and easier-to-read messaging. While these banners might look ridiculous on desktop devices, they make it much easier for a user to interact with when on-the-go.

Finally, if you’re a business that has the luxury of having locations in key travel areas like airports, bus terminals, or tourist-heavy areas, consider the value of using beacons. While they have largely been overlooked, beacons can be a great way to target users who are in or near your store with advertising that helps them come to your brick and mortar locations to make a purchase. A particularly helpful thing to do with this tactic is to use something like a discount to help facilitate greater interest in what your business can offer passersby.

Almost all of the internet use that happens while users are traveling for Thanksgiving is happening on a mobile device. Take the time to create a coherent strategy specifically for these devices and your business will have a much more successful time reaching this key demographic in a targeted and helpful way that will help strengthen your business’ bottom line.


Thanksgiving weekend is the kickoff to the holiday shopping madness, so making the most of your online marketing efforts during this week is definitely something that should not be overlooked. There are a lot of options when it comes to targeting your customers based on location and demographic, so try incorporating some of them into your existing strategies. It could end up being the gift that keeps on giving for you and your marketing team.

After traveling, eating, and shopping your way through the weekend, you can be thankful that you have a minute to relax. Don’t get too comfortable though, because Christmas is right around the corner…