According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend an average of $805.65 this holiday season -- the highest amount in 14 years.
Many of these purchasing decisions are made not in the store, but via laptops and smartphones as consumers zig zag around online, researching what to buy as well as purchasing gifts, decorations and even food for the holiday table. This consumer behavior shows it’s more important than ever for entrepreneurs to leverage mobile and digital marketing to the fullest extent.
Below are four week-by-week tips on what local businesses can do during this holiday season to make the most of their digital presence, promote their business and expand their audience.
Week 1: Review your online and mobile presence.
As the holidays approach, consumers will be online more and more, with 78 percent having used the internet for holiday research last year. It’s a great time to review your online presence and make sure your online listing has the most up-to-date information about your business. You’ll want consumers to easily find all of the information they’re seeking this time of the year -- address, any special holiday hours and description of your services. Also, update your website with any promotion you might be running.
Just as importantly, remember to double-check that your website is mobile-friendly for the on-the-go consumer. Last year, nearly $1 trillion -- 28 percent -- of all retail sales were influenced by shopping-related mobile searches. Fiftly-three percent of those who shopped online used smartphones or tablets, up from 41 percent the previous year. A mobile-friendly website that really captures who you are as a business and tells your story can make a difference. And equally important, it helps with your ranking in search engine results.
Week 2: Launch the campaign and promote specials on social.
It’s never too early or too late to capture a holiday shopper. The shopping season starts for some in September while 40 percent wait until November, and 15 percent of consumers don’t start until sometime during the first two weeks of December. Effective marketing tactics that can be up and running in a short period of time are search, display, email and social media.
On that note, there are two things holiday-shopping consumers are interested in -- social and specials. Social sites like Facebook and Twitter are a great platform to promote your best specials for your loyal brand enthusiasts. If you want to attract new customers, pay to promote your post and get those eyeballs, making it clear why your business is the right choice.
Week 3: Stay top-of-mind with authentic content, and encourage feedback.
Share authentic content -- blogs or videos -- about your business. Consumers love to watch video to learn more about your business, whether it’s professionally produced or filmed by the business owner (you’re the expert and can share your ideas). Of people who watched online videos to help with holiday purchases, 80 percent watched product reviews and ratings.
Make video a part of your online strategy this holiday season to connect with shoppers searching online, lead to your website or keep your business active on social channels throughout the holiday rush.
Also, remind customers where you can be found and encourage feedback. Positive reviews help inspire trust in consumers not only during the holiday season but also beyond. You have a large buying audience during the holidays that will consider reviews during their buyer’s journey. Positive reviews help to inspire trust in seven out of 10 consumers, and 51 percent of consumers will select a local business if it has positive reviews.
Week 4: Make one final push online.
Update your website to create more urgency such as a countdown to when a promotion expires. Be measured about the timing and frequency of ads especially for email and social marketing. Two or 3 emails leading up to the promotion expiration may suffice, whereas daily updates on social media outlets would be fine. Also, once the promotion ends, be prepared for returns -- update digital properties with regular hours, and continue to answer every call to close sales.