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December 5, 2011

Last Minute Marketing for the Holiday Season

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Audience: DIY marketers at small and medium-sized B2C businesses
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

I’ve got good news and bad news.

I’m four chocolates into my Advent calendar. Yum!

I’ve got four fewer days to shop for holiday presents. Yikes!

For businesses that means 20 days left to draw in customers and beef up the 2011 bottom line. If you want to attract sales over the next few week, think about these fascinating facts from an infographic on the Future of Online Holiday Shopping (based on 2010 trends):

  • Shoppers completed 83 percent more online transactions.
  • Retailers enjoyed a 60 percent increase in total online sales revenue.
  • Around 5.6 percent of Black Friday traffic came from mobile phones in 2010 – a 26.7 percent year-over-year-increase.

future of online holiday shopping

Now, just as Santa’s beginning to make his list so he can check it twice, take a moment to consider this list for last minute holiday-focused marketing.

Here are 5 measures you can take to squeeze the most out of your site and maximize sales before the lights go out on the holiday shopping season.

1. Sweeten the Deal: Offers that Pop and Email Subject Lines that Beg to Be Opened

Cyber Monday may be over, but shoppers are still ready to be convinced by a discount that can’t be passed up.

One way to reach consumers that I’ve noticed is working particularly well on me personally is a great offer via email. iContact put together a holiday marketing guide presentation including some tips for a sparkling email subject:

1. Useful
The offer of 20% off is valuable to the email’s recipient.

2. Ultra-Specific
The subject line is clear: the recipient can save on fall clothing for one more day.

3. Unique
This promotion stands out because instead of offering a discount at the end of the season like most retailers, Piperlime offers it at the beginning. Plus, the reference to “smokin’ slippers” is unusual and catchy.

4. Urgent
“Last day!” pushes the recipient to read the full email sooner rather than later

Check out 20 subject lines that stand out for ideas that might work for your business.

2. Don’t Forget Mobile!

One major way shopping behavior has changed over the last decade is the ubiquity of mobile devices. For small and mid-sized local businesses that means two things.

1. Make sure your local search presence is locked down and optimized.
2. And make sure your site is mobile friendly. A dedicated mobile browsing experience is preferred by people looking for answers on the small screen.

Your customers are on their mobiles comparing prices while shopping in a store. They’re searching for the closest brick-and-mortar store that caries a particular brand or product. And they’re pulling up websites on their mobiles.

As a result you should allow your business to be in the running during price comparison tasks. You must list your brands and products on your site and in your local business listings. And you’ve got to have a mobile-friendly site.

3. Appeal to Last Last Minute Shoppers

Turns out that the fastest growing holiday shopper subset is the power-procrastinator. According to a Search Engine Land report, “Consumers have come to expect stronger promotions late in the season, and even later ‘final shipping’ dates from their favorite retailers. Both these features encourage this strong finish to the season. Retailers who don’t offer these things will undoubtedly lose these late season sales to competitors who do.” You can take advantage of last-minute shoppers desperation without feeling dirty if you give them a great deal. Makes for a win-win winter wonderland.

4. Suggest the Perfect Gift for Fill-in-the-Blank

Kids’ imaginations go into overdrive this time of year – putting out cookies for the big man in the red suit and even some carrots for his hooved help. But cut back on the imagination when it comes to drawing in customers. Paint a clear picture of the kinds of people who would benefit from receiving your product or service as a gift. Position your product or service as a gift for the ___ (insert hard-gifters here, like the man who has everything or dear, sweet Mom).

I like this list of gifts to give the guys in your life because it spells out the kind of guy who would like these particular products. Do the same for your products, making clear why it’s the ideal gift for all the different consumer communities that apply.

Consider who your audience personas are or who your target communities are. Create a page or content dedicated to gift ideas for each that will serve your business year round.

5. Dress Up Your Site

You don’t have to makeover your whole site for the holidays, like a lot of big brands can afford to do. It’s not necessary to add a bunch of holiday related keywords to your whole site to rank this time of year.

But maybe you could add the website equivalent of a red bow or dash of glitter. By that I mean, consider including a graphic on the top of the site featuring a deal on shipping for the holidays, or a box on the home page that says something about gift ideas for different people who commonly are found on a holiday shopping list.

Any of those tactics sound doable? Pick a couple to help you boost your business’s online presence as you cruise down the final stretch of the shopping season. Just don’t fret. There’s no need to sneak in tomorrow’s calendar chocolate today. Unless you want to. Goodness knows I won’t judge.

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