The year’s most exciting promotional period has extended to fill almost the entire month of November as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday converge. It’s more important than ever for retailers to execute strong, timely and effective digital marketing strategies during this critical selling season. But how can small independent retailers get their piece of the plentiful holiday shopping season pie? Here are eight tips to help:
1. Go mobile. Based on last year’s significant increases in mobile traffic, expect a higher percentage of visits to your site from smartphones. Have a carefully crafted mobile experience that recognizes and meets the different needs of mobile web visitors. Your phone number, hours and directions should be front and center at all times, not buried in the footer or on the Contact Us page, as is often the case when viewing a website from a desktop computer.
2. Manage your online reputation. While it’s always important to monitor and respond to online reviews (positive or negative), the stakes are higher during the busy holiday season. Responding to a negative review shows all of your potential customers you care. This can earn you a lot of business; not responding could cost you a lot. Don’t let one bad customer experience ruin hundreds of potential sales because you didn’t respond publicly until the holiday season passed.
3. Leverage national promotions. Your vendor partners are spending huge advertising dollars this holiday season. Leverage their investment by highlighting their promotions on your website. Make sure to use their official artwork for maximum recognition.
4. Don’t hide pricing. It’s not always easy, but it’s always important to show pricing on your website. If you don’t provide prices, research shows more than 80 percent of consumers will leave your site and go elsewhere. Minimum advertised price (MAP) policies are increasingly complex, especially during the holidays. Make sure to check your brands’ MAP policies carefully for exceptions that may only be applicable during the holiday period.
5. Direct your online pricing strategy. Don’t assume it’s business as usual; plan to review and adjust your website pricing strategy. If you don’t have tools that allow you to set and adjust complex pricing strategies — which help you to remain competitive and in compliance with vendor policies — it’s time to consider switching to more intelligent software that can do this for you. If you find yourself ill-prepared to handle the complexities of online pricing during this busy season, commit to solving the problem before next year!
6. Prioritize multiple promotions. Every vendor has holiday promotions, but that doesn’t mean they’re all equally as important to your store. Review their offers and identify which ones will help you win the most, then elevate those in your digital strategy. For example, put promotion banners first in the rotation on your homepage, promote those posts more often than others, concentrate paid media buys, and pay attention to and adjust those brands’ pricing strategies first in case you run out of time.
7. Consider marketing automation. Your prospects know every retailer — not just you — will be offering promotions. Consumers will compare multiple retailers before deciding which to buy from. If your digital strategy works harder to connect with and re-engage prospects during their research than your competitors, you’ll win more often and keep your store top of mind.
8. Update your store hours. With holidays come special holiday store hours. Expect prospective customers to check your store’s website and social media pages before taking time out of their busy schedules to visit you. Make sure your holiday hours are up to date on your site and social media pages. The same goes for Google, which displays your hours in Google Maps; sign into Google My Business to update your holiday hours and any other information.
Jennie Gilbert is the chief operating officer of Retailer Web Services, a company whose mission is to help independent retailers realize their dreams through the promise of technology.