The holidays are nearly upon us and small businesses should be prepping for a great season.
There are lots of ways that local merchants can entice shoppers to visit their stores and websites: from offering free shipping to in-store pickup perks to running social media contests.
You can send out text promotions and ensure your mobile websites are optimized - if you’re a small business owner, your holiday to-do list just got a little bit longer.
Here’s how to make sure this holiday is a successful one:
1. Offer free shipping
This is an attractive perk for consumers. It not only saves them money, it saves them time factoring in shipping rates in their holiday budgets. If you offer free shipping and your competitors don’t, better yet. It means your customers are likely to skip over the retailers with shipping charges in favor of your store.
Even if they weren’t planning on buying more gifts at your store, they may decide to just for the free shipping. In fact, 36% of consumers list “cost of delivery too high” as the main reason they would abandon a shopping cart. And the number of items and the total amount of purchases also tends to be higher when free shipping is offered.
Customers are also willing to wait longer to receive products if the shipping is free, taking the pressure off the retailer during a hectic season. Yes, free shipping is that important.
2. Provide in-store pickup for online purchases
Or, you could go the other direction and increase in-store foot traffic by offering incentives for in-store pickups. Offering perks for in-store pickups such as free gift-wrapping or a free gift can increase visits to brick and mortar stores. Rodney Mason of Blackhawk Engagement Solutions encourages this type of promotion:
“buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) promotions will create a better connection between the online and in-store customer experience… This strategy is a win-win - shoppers get an attractive deal during the holiday season, and retailers gain more in-store foot traffic and increase the likelihood of incremental purchasing.”
3. Promote with SMS
Text messaging as a marketing platform is very compatible with small businesses. Its low-cost and efficiency make it an effective way to spread the word about your holiday sales promotions. Customers respond well to SMS: Coupons sent by text are redeemed 8 times more often than coupons sent by email.
Here are some ways to craft effective holiday messages:
- Personalize. This is where small businesses should really win out over bigger corporations. Use the information you have about your customer’s purchase history and preferences to send them a message that lets them know you’re paying attention to them.
- Use call-to-action buttons. CTAs result in higher conversion rates. Don’t just let a customer know about a promotion. Ask your customers to engage by telling them to click, redeem, sign-up and RSVP. This little push can make a difference between a customer who takes advantages of your promotion and one who ignores it.
- Sprinkle holiday cheer through your messages. Don’t shy away from using holiday specific jargon. Make sure to put customers in a celebratory mood as you share promotions, tips and invitations to holiday events.
4. Engage customers with social media
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and any other social media platform you use should be full of holiday cheer:
- Contests. People love to win things, so a holiday-themed contest is a sure way to win business and spark enthusiasm.
- Promotions. Let customers know what kind of holiday merchandise and discounts you’ll be offering this season.
- Photos & video. Images are the kings of social media, so make sure you’re sharing photos and videos so customers can see, covet and buy your holiday wares.
- Encourage customers to share. Let customers participate in the holidays by sharing things like their favorite Christmas cookie recipe, decoration ideas and other tips.
5. Make your website and checkout process mobile ready
Mobile sales are climbing every year. Last year, online holiday spending netted 56.43 billion dollars with mobile spending accounting for 12.65 billion. Besides making purchases on mobiles, people also do searches for holiday shopping on their mobiles.
That means businesses have to ensure a seamless mobile experience for their customers, otherwise, they’ll be seeing higher bounce rates and lower purchase rates. Some factors that contribute to a good mobile experience:
- Fast loading times. Nearly half of mobile shoppers want a page to load in 2 seconds or less with 40% likely to abandon a page for taking longer than 3 seconds to load.
- Intuitive maneuvering. Customers should be able to easily find essential information such as store location, products and cart check-out.
- Streamline that checkout. Mobile checkout should feature drop-down menus, keychain fill-in, and never ever ask for repeat information.
Get customers to buy both in-store and online this holiday season with these actionable tips!
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