As we head into an unprecedented holiday season where e-commerce will undoubtedly dominate the shopping landscape, it’s more important than ever for small businesses to focus their efforts on digital marketing tactics to reach their customers. Online shopping has skyrocketed within the past few months with consumers increasing shopping online by 28%, and retailers are accommodating holiday shopping earlier than ever in hopes to ramp up sales after a sluggish year due to the pandemic.
For many small businesses who relied on brick-and-mortar sales, especially during the busy holiday shopping season, now are having to pivot their marketing strategies to incorporate more digital channels to reach and engage their customers. In order to stay competitive and at the forefront of customers minds, businesses can leverage the following digital marketing tactics to stay afloat during the shopping season and keep a competitive edge.
Tactics such as these keep website traffic flowing, businesses to remain at the top of Google searches and overall help the digital footprint of the business amid the busy online shopping season.
SEO is the process of optimizing a website so that Google’s algorithms drive organic or unpaid traffic to your website through search result rankings. With the massive amount of search engine information available at consumers fingertips, it’s easy for your business to get lost in the shuffle. A business with a strong SEO strategy will stand out among thousands and thousands of competitors in their industry.
SEO is a powerful tool that can improve a company’s ranking in search results in the more than 85,000 searches per second Google processes. Without an SEO strategy, a business won’t be found for the 93% of people who begin their online experiences with a google search or by the 4 in 5 consumers who use search engines to find local businesses.
With the help of SEO, when a consumer searches “Christmas gifts for kids” for example, the search engine will populate results based on location and search result rankings. Because of strategic SEO programs, small businesses can generate more revenue, build a more impactful website that ranks higher on Google and more effectively reach their target audience this holiday season.
Overall, websites need to have a de-cluttered feel and need to be easy to navigate—especially on a mobile device. With the number of smartphone users in the United States estimated to reach 275.66 million this year, optimizing the company’s website for mobile viewing is no longer a nice-to-have but a must have. Small business owners should focus on ensuring that visitors to their websites have the same high-quality user experience across all devices including smartphones. This involves developing a website that is functional and aesthetically pleasing on mobile devices, automatically adjusting sizing, layout, and proportions to display easy-to-read website content on these devices as well as making the shopping and checkout experience seamless.
Load speeds can also make or break a website. The longer it takes a webpage to load the higher the bounce rate, which has a negative impact on a company’s search engine rankings. A survey conducted by Retail Systems Research revealed that 90% of shoppers will abandon a site if it is too slow.
Businesses should focus on the key areas that provide Google’s algorithms with the data it needs to recommend that business to people searching relevant inquiries. This includes using relevant keywords in content that customers use to search, which boosts the website in search rankings. Local business owners should also make sure to include the local area as a key word. Other methods owners should use is having a strong, active social media presence, staying up to date on reputation management and always providing up-to-date company information on the website including address, hours of operation and contact details.
In addition to providing quality products and services, customer reviews are a crucial way for businesses to reach new customers and build company credibility this holiday season. Studies show that 90% of customers want to read 5-10 reviews before making a purchase decision about a product. When unable to physically touch or see the product in person, online reviews let a customer know if an item is worth buying and gifting to someone for the holidays.
Prominently displaying positive customer reviews on the business’ website shows to other customers the positive beliefs and trust they have in the brand in a non-intrusive way. After all, 83% of American’s say they are more likely to buy a product after having it be recommended by a family or friend. In the digital era we live in, online customer reviews are the next best thing to this and can be just as effective. Reviews can also be highlighted in email newsletters, as well as on social channels. Customers like to see when a product has received good reviews and ratings, which can easily be highlighted and found through social media. By leveraging these reviews and testimonials, businesses can make their holiday offerings more appealing to shoppers and increase brand trust and credibility.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is one of the most overlooked, yet very simple to use, marketing opportunity for small businesses. By capturing and utilizing customers email addresses and phone numbers, businesses can re-engage with them this holiday season and offer them unique holiday promotions and deals. Acquiring a new customer can be five to 25 times more expensive than retaining your existing ones. A CRM database allows a business owner to have basic information on their customers and provide them an opportunity to target customers with new offers. A CRM allows a business owner to focus on their repeat customers and give them promotions that will keep them coming back.
Besides leaving reviews on the businesses website, review platforms are often used by customers, with Google Reviews being the most commonly used. In order to receive reviews, businesses have to set up a Google My Business profile—a page where customers can easily leave reviews and look up past ones as well as learning more basic information of the business.
Businesses should continually create Google My Business posts which can act like a mini advertisement or blog within the Google profile that lets people know what products or services are being provided this holiday shopping season. A booking button can be added into the profile to easily schedule an appointment as well. Businesses should continually update this with new holiday hours, curbside pickup or COVID-19 safety measures put in place, especially when business openings and restrictions can fluctuate based on state and city pandemic guidelines.
Using these critical tools can help launch a business’s digital footprint and open doors to reaching new customers and more sales. With American’s spending a combined $11.6 billion dollars last year on Thanksgiving day and Black Friday, many are wondering how this year’s holiday shopping will compare as big box retailers have already begun their holiday promotions online. Through the use of SEO, customer reviews and setting up a Google My Business profile, small businesses can utilize the influx of online shoppers as an opportunity to leverage digital marketing and break away from some of their competition. These tactics provide more insight and data into what customers are saying and what they are looking for when shopping this holiday season. With this information, small businesses are more well equipped to reach customers directly and put their businesses on the map.
About Steven Clayton, CEO of NetBlaze: Steven Clayton worked in the Information Systems field within Corporate America for 19 years. He had many roles during that time including: Chief Information Officer for a public company and ended his corporate career as a Vice President for a Fortune 500 company. After leaving corporate, Steve became a serial entrepreneur. He started and/or co-founded six different startups, four of which are in business today (the two oldest are now over a decade old) and running profitably. His companies employ more than 60 people all around the world. To learn more about NetBlaze, visit www.NetBlaze.com.