There’s nothing small about the holiday season when it comes to small businesses.
According to the National Retail Federation, 20 to 40 percent of yearly sales for small and mid-sized retailers take place within the last two months of the year.
Hopefully you’ve already started thinking about how you’re going to make this year’s holiday season worth celebrating.
As you start your holiday planning, there are a few things you can do that are guaranteed to improve your results:
1. Participate in the “big” shopping days
Aside from the usual rush around traditional holidays, don’t forget the big shopping days that kick off the season:
• Black Friday – November 29th, 2019
• Small Business Saturday – November 30th, 2019
• Cyber Monday – December 2nd, 2019
Bottom Line: As a small business, Small Business Saturday will likely be one of the most important days of the season. It’s a day when people are looking to shop small and discover locally-owned businesses in their area.
But there’s no reason you can’t look for opportunities to take part in all three. Your customers will be looking for great offers throughout the extended shopping weekend, so don’t miss out on an opportunity to fill your store or boost online sales at the start of the holiday season.
2. Go mobile!
Here’s a snapshot of what happened in the world of mobile this past year:
- Smartphone usage in the U.S. increased by 50 percent (Kleiner Perkins)
- The number of emails being opened on mobile increased by 330 percent (Litmus)
- Tablet usage doubled in the U.S. (Pew Research Center)
Bottom Line: More people are using mobile devices to inform their purchase decisions. If a potential customer can’t easily find and consume the information they’re looking for from their mobile device or if you send an email that doesn’t look good on a smartphone or tablet it could cost you business.
3. Pay attention to what people are saying
Over 90 percent of consumers now read reviews before making a purchase. They trust them too! In one survey, 78 percent of participants said they trusted peer recommendations over ads.
Bottom Line: In addition to review sites like Yelp, consumers are also relying on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to help with holiday shopping research.
As the holiday season approaches, make sure to pay special attention to what people are saying about your business on all of these social networks. Look for opportunities to engage with your most loyal fans on Facebook, respond to a customer’s question on Twitter, or thank someone for a positive online review whenever you get the chance.
4. Refresh your online listings
Along with reading reviews and recommendations, consumers will also rely on search engines like Google or Bing, city guides like Citysearch, and mobile apps like Foursquare to discover new businesses throughout the holiday season.
If you haven’t taken the time to review the information that’s available on these sites, now is the perfect time to do it.
Bottom Line: Take the time to identify the places that your target audience is turning to when searching for businesses similar to yours. The best way to do this is to search for your business on a site like Google and see what type of results show up. Be on the lookout for any publishers that specialize in your particular industry, as they will offer the biggest opportunity to reach your next great customer.
5. Come up with a holiday offer
It’s no secret that deals and special offers have become a major part of the holiday shopping season.
With so much competition from the “big guys” and other local businesses, coming up with a compelling offer could be the secret to this year’s holiday success.
Bottom Line: Think carefully about your promotional tactics and the terms of your deal. Just because customers expect to receive a great value, doesn’t mean you need to offer an outrageous discount to get them to act. The key is finding a balance. You can also look for opportunities to offer additional incentives like free shipping, complimentary gift wrapping, or bundle products together and sell them as a holiday set.
Not sure what to offer? Here are 12 great deal ideas.
6. Remember what works best
According to new data from Monetate, email continues to be one of the biggest drivers of conversions for businesses with an eCommerce presence.
The study, which analyzed more than 500 million shopping experiences in the first quarter of 2013, found that the conversion rate for email was 3.19 percent, compared to 1.95 percent for search, and just .71 percent for social media.
Bottom Line: While social media and other online marketing tools will also play an important part in this year’s holiday promotion, your email contact list will continue to be one of your most valuable assets. Keep that in mind as you start your planning.
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Editor’s note: This post was updated for accuracy and relevance on September 17, 2019.