If you’re ho-ho-hoping for big sales this holiday season, your small business needs to have a smart marketing strategy in place. It’s no longer enough simply to advertise your sales on Facebook and send out the occasional “happy holidays” tweet. To stand out from your competitors, you need a unique, fun and creative way to catch customers’ attention, whether you’re touting your latest product or promising deep discounts for Black Friday.
Read on for a rundown on six can’t-miss marketing tactics for your small business this holiday season.
1. Run a Free Shipping Campaign
You’re undoubtedly familiar with Cyber Monday and Black Friday, but have you heard of Free Shipping Day
? Five years ago two entrepreneurs came up with the idea to band brands together to offer free shipping in mid-December, targeting the then-increasing number of shoppers who were doing their buying online. Each year since, the day has grown in scope and importance to include major brands such as REI, Harry & David, RadioShack and Bass Pro Shops. All participating businesses receive a link on the Free Shipping homepage, which can mean exposing your name and your product to millions of new users. What you gain in free exposure more than makes up for the shipping costs you swallow.
2. Use Retargeted Ads
Let’s be clear; you should be using retargeted ads throughout the year, but they’re especially important around the holidays, when people spend more time online shopping and scoping out deals. Retargeted ads are those that pop up only on screens of potential customers who have already accessed your web page once before. They include exclusive offers designed to turn uncertain browsers into buyers. If you add a holiday theme, there’s a greater likelihood your ad will be noticed and responded to this time of year.
3. Make a Holiday Mobile App
Mobile is the big buzzword in marketing these days, with more and more people shopping from their smartphones. If you want to up your mobile sales while also creating buzz with customers, a specialized holiday mobile app is a great way to optimize your sales. Sound too technical for a small business? Actually, there are a number of programs that will walk you through the creation of your new app, making it a project you can get done in a single morning.
4. Join a Location-Based
Again, the importance of mobile this holiday season cannot be overemphasized. Sign up with one of the location-based deal services, such as ShopKick or Shopify, which offers rewards in return for just stopping in at the bricks and mortar location of your store. The apps will alert users when they’re walking past your store, driving holiday traffic. Don’t forget to prepare your Google+ with great product images and testimonials and reviews from loving customers.
5. Start a Holiday Newsletter
According to a study by Visa, email marketing is the No. 1 way to entice returning customers to make another buy online. Offer a holiday newsletter that’s equal parts sales pitch and useful information. You could include a listing of local holiday events or tips for present wrapping. You can also offer discounts and special “flash sale” events available only to those who sign up for the newsletter. Promote it on social media and you’ll pack a double wallop, advertising to social media followers and former customers.
6. Sponsor a Pinterest Contest
This season Pinterest will be abuzz with people searching for gift ideas and holiday recipes. It’s a great place to sponsor a contest, especially if your small business targets women. Eighty percent of Pinterest users are women. How you carry out your contest depends on what you’re selling. For instance, a hobby/crafting store might invite people to pin the best gift wrapping ideas using items available in the store. Draw a winner at random from everyone who enters, with the prize being one of the items used for decorating.