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Marketing Tactics for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is here and for small business owners this time of year can make-or-break when it comes to sales.

According to the National Retail Federation retail sales will climb 2.3% during the 2010 holiday season. How can you grab your share of those purchases?

More than ever before consumers will be researching products, comparing prices and purchasing online. According to the 2010 Consumer Shopping Habits Survey by ChannelAdvisor, 58% of consumers are “very likely” to purchase gifts online in 2010, while only 41% said they are very likely to buy at brick-and-mortar retail locations. That means even if you own a physical store, you also need to be selling / marketing online if you want to stay competitive.

What tactics should you expect this holiday season?

Email Spam

Heavily frowned upon by most professionals, this tactic is projected to rise by 15 to 20% according to Experian’s 2010 Holiday Marketer report. They will be trying to trick people into replying to emails with the following offers:

•Free shipping, rewards points, discounts or free gifts;
•Refer-a-friend e-mails that include a link;
•Reactivating inactive customers on your email list;
•A call to action with a time-limited offer or a countdown to shipping deadlines.

Reviews

With growing numbers of consumers going online to read other people’s reviews and ratings before they buy, online reviews on blog websites like Product Reviews Canada can be essential to small business success.

•Add your business to local search sites like Local.com and CitySearch, as well as shopping comparison sites.

•Monitor reviews of your product or service + respond quickly to bad reviews.

•Link to reviews from your website, or post them on your site.

Mobile

The % of consumers who make purchases with SmartPhones is still small (13% according to ChannelAdvisor) but it’s growing among people in the 18 - 34 bracket.

•Use location-based services like Gowalla, Foursquare, or Facebook Places;

•Offering limited-time discounts or special deals to mobile users only;

•Sending targeted e-mails or text messages to customers’ smartphones (spamming them is rude however!).

Timing

The busiest day for online retailing will be America's Thanksgiving Day; Boxing Day will come in second. More consumers have been shopping for deals earlier this year, and are still very price conscious so continuing sales after that actual date could pay off.

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