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6 Online Marketing Tips for Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday & Beyond

by Margot Carmichael Lester, Staples® Contributing Writer

The stockings were hung by the computer with care...

That’s not exactly how Clement Clarke Moore wrote it, but here in the 21st century, that’s kind of how it works. Time-crunched shoppers rely on the Internet for gift ideas, money-saving opportunities and more. That’s why it’s smart to harness the power of online marketing to drive sales on Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Reach Them in Their Inboxes

Email marketing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to promote Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. “To ensure success, the key is more relevant messages, not just more email,” says Nathan Richter, strategic services director for Monetate, an online customer experience company. Increase relevance with helpful content like gift suggestions (10 Gifts Under $10, Ideas for the Guy Who Has Everything), specials tied to specific days, and invitations to in-store events and exclusive purchasing opportunities. Include explicit calls to action that promote visiting the store, buying online and connecting via social channels.

Leverage Facebook & Twitter

Generate interest with free and paid promotions on Facebook and Twitter. Continue to ask people to “like” your business’s Facebook page and follow you on Twitter, and be sure to give them opportunities to engage regularly by posting new content. This keeps your customers informed and you on their minds. Bonus: Every time your fans and followers “like” or retweet a post, their friends see it, too — and that extends your reach.

“Post more often during the holiday season or you risk being lost in the shuffle,” advises Carolyn Evans, social media professional and cofounder of Stock the Shop in Columbia, SC. “Spend some time with your Facebook and Twitter analytics to see when your posts have the most views, and schedule more for those times.”

Use social media marketing to get folks in the door on Small Business Saturday by promoting a small product giveaway (with or without purchase), a special event or a product demo, or offer an exclusive discount coupon. Evans suggests putting “an expiration date on whatever you do, because if your customers don't have a deadline, the chances of them actually coming in drops dramatically.”

For Cyber Monday, consider promoted posts, which vary in cost, to drive people to your online storefront. “These are highly targeted, so your product is in front of someone who has a high likelihood of becoming your customer,” says Evans. “With promoted posts, you're reaching a lot of folks who are likely not your fans, but should be.” Both channels are great venues for limited-time Twitter- or Facebook-only deals and contests that engage users and build loyalty.

Don’t Forget LinkedIn

LinkedIn has more than 259 million members — and a lot of them are shopping for the holidays. “A great starting point is to create a free Company Page,” suggest Lana Khavinson, group product marketing manager for LinkedIn. It’s kind of like your Facebook page, she explains: “Members can follow your Company Page, allowing your business to reach an interested, engaged audience with a constant stream of rich and insightful content. Share relevant content that will help members during the holiday season or provide news and updates about what you’re doing for these important retail days. You can also connect with Groups…that may be interested in your business.”

In addition, LinkedIn Ads help you reach a targeted audience based on demographics, job title or job function, and geographic area.

Share Photos

Instagram and Pinterest are great ways to showcase pictures of new merchandise and document holiday activities. But even if you don’t have accounts on these channels, you should use the power of photography to drum up interest. In the week leading up to the big day, post photos of your Small Business Saturday signage and some pics from last year’s event on Facebook and Twitter, and then on the day of, share photos of happy customers in your store enjoying themselves and making lots of purchases.

That’s exactly what Alex Taylor, “go-to dog” at Woofables, a dog biscuit retailer and wholesaler in Coralville, IA, does. He posts photos of customers on his business’s Facebook page to show people and their pets having a good time in his store.

Likewise, you can share pictures of new products, hot picks and special deals to promote your Cyber Monday offerings.

Shoot Video

According to comScore, retail Web site visitors who view videos stay on the site 2 minutes longer on average and are 64 percent more likely to purchase than other site visitors. If you have a decent cell phone and a steady hand (or even better, a tripod), you can take advantage of this trend and create videos to share holiday greetings from you and your team, demonstrate featured products for Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday deals, or share your customers’ third-party endorsements.

Be sure your video has a call to action, like encouraging viewers to visit your site, learn more about certain products or make a purchase. In addition, posting your videos to sites like YouTube and Facebook makes it easy for viewers to share with friends or repost on their own Web sites.

Go Mobile

Kick up your Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday promotions with a mobile app. “The most effective — and profitable — apps are not those that cost money or include in-app advertising, but those that encourage a real community and lasting customer loyalty,” says Li-at Karpel Gurwicz, marketing director of Conduit Mobile. “Local businesses can significantly grow their customer base by creating a seamless experience between their app and retail store. And with an engaged and active community, you can push out special offers or promotions on Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday through app notifications.”

You don’t have to be a code jockey to create a mobile app, either. “For most small businesses, a do-it-yourself app maker platform is a cost-effective and reliable option that offers a wide selection of mobile features,” she says. “These platforms are very customizable without needing to learn coding or other technical know-how.”

Your Audience Wants to Be Engaged

Using even just one of these online marketing tips will help you promote Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. “It’s really about amplifying your seasonal campaigns and messages to heighten awareness,” Khavinson says. “These two retail days can be reminders that there’s a rich audience waiting to be engaged.”

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