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Set for the Holidays: Online Marketing Tips for Small Businesses
By Kristen Gramigna, BluePay
The National Retail Federation predicts that the average consumer will spend about $935 on gifts and holiday-related items this season. Six out of 10 consumers say they’ll spend about $140 on themselves. For small businesses, the holidays represent a prime opportunity to connect with existing customers and new audiences who may be on the search for the perfect gift, and as result, be willing to buy a from a business they have not shopped with in the past.
Here are four online marketing tips that can help your business capture its share of attention (and revenue) during the holidays.
Ease concerns about perceived costs of buying local. There are several websites, apps and browser add-ons that help consumers identify where they can find the lowest price for an item, and offer codes they can use to apply discounts on their order, and the majority of consumers surveyed by Deloitte will research a product online before they purchase.
Your business may not be included in the search results of popular price comparison sites, but you can use online marketing to compete with the holiday offers that major retailers put in the market: Use price comparisons, customer reviews and price match campaigns to promote the fact that your business is just as competitive as other retailers. If you sell custom items, online marketing strategies like social media storytelling or customer testimonials can appeal to holiday shoppers’ desire to make gift recipients feel that they put thought and effort into finding the perfect item.
Add value to stand out. Holiday shopping goes hand in hand with images of crowded malls, long lines and parking lot battles. Design online marketing campaigns that promote value-added services that solve the specific challenges holiday shoppers face. Though free shipping is a common promotion during the holidays (and one you may want to consider), there are other resourceful ways to create perceived value for holiday shoppers: You might offer buy-online/pick-up in-store shopping options during the holiday season, “concierge” services like valet parking, courtesy gift wrap services, or “VIP” extended shopping hours. These value-added benefits create a unique selling proposition that’s easy to promote in holiday-themed social media campaigns and online ads to help draw more holiday shoppers to your business.
Customize your web pages with their holiday lists in mind. Research by Deloitte indicates that clothing is expected to be the most popular gift this season, followed by gift cards, electronics and books. Optimize your website to help holiday shoppers find exactly what they need for the many recipients on their holiday list; consider holiday-specific categories that designate gifts for “him” and “her,” and for teachers, co-workers or holiday party hosts.
Cater to mobile users. Deloitte predicts more than half of consumers will shop online this season. Online sales present an opportunity for small businesses to reach a wider audience than a physical retail presence allows — but also demands that website functionality is optimized for a variety of devices. While the majority of consumers who will buy online plan to do so using their desktop or laptop computer, according to Deloitte, the number of customers who will use a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet to shop online is steadily increasing.
Test the functionality of your website’s search, checkout and payment features on a number of mobile devices, before the holiday season is in full swing. Incorporate tools like mobile payments into your website to ensure customers can securely and seamlessly complete their purchase on either a desktop or mobile device, using a credit card or debit card. (For holiday shoppers who visit your physical store or pop-up shop, mobile payments also empower you to process customer payment from anywhere in the store, to eliminate long lines).
The holiday shopping season is an important business opportunity you can leverage to deepen relationships, increase brand awareness and capture additional revenue, regardless of what you sell. Design your online marketing messaging and strategy to appeal to the unique behaviors and challenges of holiday shoppers, and you could be celebrating your most successful season to date by the time the New Year arrives.
Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a credit card processing firm. She has more than 20 years experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management and marketing. Follow her on Twitter at @BluePay_CMO.
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