Keeping the Turkeys at Bay: Avoid 8 Holiday Promotions That Don’t Work
Tying your marketing to a holiday is a tried-and-true approach to boosting sales. But with the holiday season fast approaching, small business owners shouldn’t think it’s a no-brainer.
Here are eight of the biggest mistakes to avoid in your small business marketing this holiday season:
1. Focus only on givers
Sure, people buy lots of gifts for family and friends during the holidays, but they also pick up quite a few items for themselves. Listrak’s 2014 Holiday Email Campaign Look Book found that 47percent of women and 52 percent of men admitted to shopping for themselves during the holidays last year. So, create campaigns that encourage your customers to stuff their own stockings.
2. Make the customer do all the work
You have plenty of great items on your website, so that’s enough to attract customers who can browse to their heart’s content, right? In reality, busy customers prefer that you do some of the leg work and provide a "gift guide."
Experian, a global information firm, says companies enjoy "48 percent higher transaction rates for gift guide emails when compared to other promotional mailings." Another Experian tip for getting some holiday cheer: the gift-guide mailing is almost twice as likely to be opened if the subject line contains the words, "best gift guide."
3. Forget your existing customers
"Out With the Old, In With the New" might be okay for a New Year’s toast, but when it comes to promotions, don’t focus all your efforts on acquiring new customers to the exclusion of your existing customer base. Dan Hutmacher, a senior digital consultant for LYONSCG Digital Strategy, points out that returning customers are more likely to convert.
Create some promotions directed only at your current customers, as a holiday "thank you" for their business all year long. Promotions such as free shipping, free gift wrapping, and the like are just the way to ensure they’ll be around in spring, summer, and fall.
4. Quit promoting inside the store
Small businesses are known for personal service, so give sales associates the power to close the deal. "In the store, retail associates can be engaged to drive loyalty rather than just completing transactions," says Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and retail & distribution sector leader.
"The most successful retailers are empowering their associates to become devoted brand advocates who are knowledgeable, connected online, have the authority to price match, and are aware of products available through other channels."
5. Be a price cutter
Customers are increasingly price conscious, but slashing margins to gain sales is a losing game for most small businesses, who can’t compete on price with massive retailers. Besides, cutting prices in the holiday season could cannibalize sales all year long, as customers wait for the prices to come back down again.
6. Overlook the mobile shopper
A Deloitte survey found that most of the people who own tablet computers use them in their holiday shopping. About seven in 10 tablet owners shop or browse online; 58 percent check and compare prices, and 58 percent get product information. And people who use smartphones while holiday shopping can make registers ring; they spend 27 percent more on holiday gifts than non-smartphone owners.
That means it’s time for responsive design—having a website that can easily be read on different types of devices.
7. Create boring subject lines
People are inundated with email promotions during the holidays—28 percent of all U.S. email volume last year took place during the holiday season, according to the 2014 Holiday Email Campaign Look Book. You need to make sure your messages stand out from the crowd.
As you develop your small business advertising, Ryan Pinkham, a content marketing specialist at Constant Content, suggests an intriguing question for a subject line: "Have you seen our perfect holiday [gift]?" Or cater to the holiday pressure: "Stress-free holiday shopping is possible at [your store name]." The key is to understand and speak directly to your target audience.
8. Ignore last-minute shoppers
A "snooze-you-lose" attitude—where you focus most of your marketing early in the season—could cost you a lot of business. More and more shoppers are waiting until the last minute to buy their holiday gifts. Last year, the amount of revenue generated online on Christmas Day jumped 16.5 percent, according to Listrak.
Jay B. Lipe, author of The Marketing Toolkit for Growing Businesses, suggests you do promotions for last-minute specials and products to grab a bit of the latecomers' business. (How about promoting a gift certificate for those Christmas Day online shoppers to print out and give the recipient?). And keep up your efforts after the holidays; a post-holiday promotion can reap benefits.
Catch holiday shoppers on the move
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