The holidays are fast-approaching. Are you ready? If you’re not, it’s time to get started. Shoppers are most active during holidays and eagerly looking for the best propositions every year. And small businesses that are ready for it will win out over the stragglers.
Besides getting an early start, here are some other ways to make sure this is a successful holiday season for your small business:
Marketing for Small Business:
Optimize Your Mobile Site:
Mobile holiday shopping increased by 59% in 2015 vs. 2014. Marketers are arming themselves with mobile strategies and there’s no reason why small businesses shouldn’t be on board. Here are some important factors in mobile optimization:
- Loading time. People have less patience on mobile than they have on desktop, and that’s already not very much. 50% of smartphone users expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less. Make sure your photos and images are light enough for fast mobile-loading so you don’t risk shoppers skipping over your slow site for a faster one.
- Make sure your check-out process is geared for mobile. Enable autofill and keychains, use drop-down menus and ask only for the most essential information. Mobile shoppers are prone to interruptions from the very devices they’re using to shop, so the more seamless you make your mobile checkout, the lower your cart abandonment rate.
Online shopping means that customers don’t have to wait until businesses pull out their Christmas merchandise. Holiday shopping is starting earlier and earlier with some retailers courting shoppers as soon as August. In 2015, 56.6% of shoppers already started making purchases by the beginning of November, a 2.2% increase from 2014 and a whopping 17.6% increase from 2008. Though peak days are still Black Friday through Christmas, businesses who are holiday-ready early can increase their overall sales.
Use Texting and Social Media for Customer Service:
Many small businesses do customer service the old fashioned way. That’s fine, except while you’re dusting off your landline to call a customer, they’ve moved on to higher technological ground. By using SMS for time-sensitive customer inquiries and making it easy for customers to reach you on social media, you offer customers more convenience and better service.
When clients hit pre-holiday madness, good customer service becomes even more essential. Consider these stats:
- 72% of Americans own a smartphone.
- 77% of consumers who text aged 18-34 are more likely to have a positive perception of a company that offers text capability.
- 91% of retail brands use two or more social media channels.
- Failure to respond via social channels can lead to a 15% increase in churn rate.
- 33% of customers prefer to contact brands using social media rather than the telephone.
Promote Your Brand with Social Media:
Engaging customers on social media is essential to marketers for businesses large and small. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat can help you advertise your holiday wares.
Post videos with subtitles – Photos are great, videos are better. Even if you’re working with a small marketing budget, there are lots of DIY video platforms out there to spruce up your social media pages. Two hot video trends right now are vertical videos and videos with subtitles, so people can watch them without volume (when they’re at work, late at night, or in a loud place).
Run contests – Contests are a fun way to get shoppers to interact with your brand. There are lots of different ways to run contests:
- Ask customers to share photos. Whether it’s a holiday-themed photo or a photo that’s related to your brand, this type of contest increases customer engagement.
- An essay/recipe contest. Get people to share essays on what they’re thankful for or their best holiday recipes. The apparel company Hero Box increased their email address list by 1,443 clients by running an essay contest on social media.
- Give away discounts and merchandise. People love free stuff and if all it takes is signing up to your page, sharing or tweeting, then it’s easy for customers to participate.
- Referral rewards. This is a great way to increase your customer database. Offer rewards, discounts or merchandise to customers who refer friends to your business
Advertise Small Business Saturday – If Black Friday is the day when customers trample each other at Walmart, then Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) is the day when they come out in droves to support their local retailers. The movement was launched by American Express in 2014 and resulted in $143 billion in purchases from 88 million shoppers.
Small businesses should take advantage of this day dedicated to them and hype it up on social media with photos of new merchandise, promotions and links. Make sure all your information is filled out and that call-to-action buttons such as “Call Now” and “Get Directions” are working properly. Allow customers to contact you on your page and give prompt responses to customer queries.
Small businesses don’t have the over the top marketing budgets that big businesses do. In a way, this gives them an edge during the holiday season when people are looking for something special for their loved ones and not something generic. Advertise your store’s originality, especially if you offer unique products that customers will be hard-pressed to find other places.
Help your customers out by creating gift guides and making suggestions on who would like different products and wares. The homey, family-oriented climate of the holidays works in favor of small businesses, so providing personalized customer service and connecting with your community are great ways to market yourself during the holidays.
Small businesses can do well this holiday season by preparing early, optimizing their mobile sites, making good use of social media and text for advertising and customer service, and playing up the uniqueness of their products for holiday shoppers.