What are some online Christmas promotional tactics for small business owners?

Christmas is just around the corner, but there is still time for small business owners to leverage the season when it comes to sales. There are some last minute promotional tactics for small business owners that can measurably increase sales while also jump-starting customer loyalty and brand recognition.

Email Marketing

One of the most straightforward ways to accomplish a good online presence is to send out a blast email to your customer base. You can build an entire holiday message around a compelling promo or a special limited-time offer that your customers won’t want to miss. Among the most successful email marketing campaigns are those that include “existing customer” discounts or free gift cards with purchase. Not only does email marketing increase sales, but it truly help build customer loyalty and referrals.

Content Marketing

Content marketing goes hand-in-hand with email campaigns and other forms of online marketing. Everything you put out there for your customers to read should be engaging and not just a mere sales pitch. Interesting content can be shared not only via email, but blogs, social media channels and articles like press releases, videos and more.

Discounted Shipping

Customers who are juggling busy work schedules and holiday events appreciate the convenience of online ordering. Unfortunately, many of them will not place orders until the final days before Christmas. Of course, they still want the gift under the tree in time.

Instead of being frustrated with the last-minute shoppers, do what you can to accommodate for their needs. It may be worth while to contact your shipping provider and to ask for a discounted overnight shipping rates. This savings can be passed onto your customers. This is a great way to stay competitive while offering a “Special Savings” to those who are working on those last minute gifts.

Social Media

If you’re an online retailer and you don’t use social media, you are missing out on a substantial amount of opportunities to promote your products and your brand. Social networks include places such as facebook, twitter, pinterest, and instagram. These places can give you immediate access to customers and their online communities in real-time. And, social media is truly more important during this time of the year than any other time.

Here’s a few things you can do in social media:

-Cover Photos
-First you still have time to upload a holiday-themed photo to your social media accounts. Not only does it spread good cheer, it also sends a clear message to your customers that you are proactive and relevant. These images can be holiday-themed stock photos, images of your office decorated for the holiday or a product shot set in a holiday setting.

Social media use goes up during the holiday when everyone is checking out photos of trees, kids on Santa’s lap, and holiday parties. With this uptick in full swing, make sure you’re taking advantage of it by providing regular updates on sales, promos and shipping cut-off dates. Pepper in some fun to keep it light and in the holiday spirit.
-With the recent changes to facebook which now give any business the ability to run a contest on their business account without a third party app, a holiday contest can both capture customer information and generate more sales. This can be anything from a photo contest celebrating the holiday to a trivia contest with thoughtful holiday questions.

-Customer Service
-More and more customers are using social media to convey their opinions of your business and the service they receive. This is definitely a double-edged sword. One one hand, a customer can complain if something is done correctly or if a product is defective. A lapse in good service or a problem with a product can be broadcast far and wide. However, it also give you the opportunity to make it better proactively on a public platform that is being read by other customers.

While you many not always get an opportunity to use all of it or enough time, these are some great tactics that you now have to maximize this bountiful time of year. Many of these will also be useful once the holiday is over. With a little extra initiative and some advanced planning, you may just make 2014/15 the best year for your business!