Small Business Tips for the Holiday Season
Small Business Tips for the Holiday Season
The combination of online shoppers and in-store foot traffic provides many opportunities to boost your bottom line over the holiday season. As wonderful as this is, it’s also a long haul for small businesses. Between longer hours, extra inventory and smooth point of sale (POS) transactions, the month of December is a long stretch with not much time to breathe.
Larger businesses and organizations have entire departments dedicated to the holiday shopping season, but most small businesses do not have this luxury. Instead, you’re probably navigating your way through the holiday rush and trying to earn enough sales to hold you through the slower winter months.
The best thing you can do is prepare yourself for the holiday season. Below are some simple strategies that will help you survive the holidays with healthy sales and happy customers.
Test Your Website
During December, a lot of people visit your website to browse products, build wish lists and make purchases. You want to ensure that your website is fast and optimized, otherwise visitors may go elsewhere. The best way to know if your website is ready for the holiday crunch is by testing it on mobile and desktop.
Here are some tips for testing the performance of your website.
- Functional testing. Make sure your website is functionally correct. Check the database connection, links, forms, etc. Also have other people test your website so they can account for the user experience.
- Compatibility testing. Run your website in various browsers to ensure it loads properly in all of them. Different operating systems may display certain elements differently.
- Performance testing. Once you know that your website is functional and responsive, test it under different internet speeds and normal and peak loads.
- Speed testing. Use a tool like Google PageSpeed Insights to analyze how fast your pages load and recommendations for improving speed.
- Security testing. Because you’re asking for sensitive information like credit card info, your site needs to be secure. Make sure you’re using the latest versions of plugins, widgets and software. Your hosting provider should also run malware checks.
Invest in a Web Monitoring Tool
Web monitoring software is a great asset to have during the holidays. It allows you to keep a close eye on your business and discover what pages need to be redesigned and improved.
Below are the top benefits of investing in a web monitoring tool.
- Optimize website performance
- Prevent data loss
- Reduce shopping cart abandonment
- Know your audience
- Improve marketing campaigns
- Increase customer acquisition and retention
Add a Chatbot to Your Website
Everyone is talking about chatbots, and for good reason. These software programs interact with customers without consuming resources from your business. They’re a great asset for the holidays when you have more customers to serve.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for finding the perfect chatbot. To choose the right bot for your site, consider your budget and needs. Here are the three main options you have to build a chatbot of your own.
- Out-of-box chatbot. If you need something fast, a predesigned service linked to your live chat software should do. The benefit to these chatbots is that no coding is involved. You can also customize the wording, though the options are more limited compared to others.
- Build a chatbot through your live chat provider. Your next option is to build a chatbot using your live chat provider’s API. Although more costly, you can personalize the bot to be a skilled member on your team. These bots are competent enough to answer FAQs, send links and ask clarifying questions.
- Build a chatbot through a platform. This last option is good at answering questions and is scalable using plugins like Google Search. The downside is that it doesn’t have a live chat option where messages can be forwarded to human agents.
Use Pay Per Click Advertising
You can drive big results on a small budget with display advertising. Create small ads that promote your holiday sales and send traffic to a targeted landing page. Users should be able to find what they’re looking for in just a few clicks, so avoid sending them to a general product or home page.
To make the most of your PPC ads, make sure you are targeting your ads to the right people. Keep an eye on how well your campaigns are performing so that you can make changes if your views, clicks, visits, profits, etc. are not where they should be. We highly recommend using PPC ads when you have a specific promotion going on that entices people to carry through with an action.
Run Social Media Contests
An easy way to connect with your audience over the busy holiday season is by running social media contests. For example, you can give away gift certificates or prizes to followers who post the best holiday-themed images related to your product or service.
Social media contests are effective at gaining brand awareness, boosting your social media following and strengthening relationships with customers. Plus, they don’t cost much more on your part than the gift you plan on giving to the winners of the contest. Our only word of caution is to check contest rules for each platform, as they vary.
For successful social media contests, be sure to follow these steps:
- Set your goals and budget
- Choose your prizes
- Select the social network and entry structure
- Decide how long your contest will last
- Promote your contest
- Choose your winner
Our last tip is to stay organized over the holiday season. Staying well-staffed, managing inventory and dealing with customers will take enough out of you, so you don’t need any hiccups from disorganization. It’s imperative that the right orders go to the right customers. Many people will be interacting with your brand for the first time and you want it to be a positive experience.
Spreadsheets are your friend. Use them and other online tools to manage sales, inventory, shipments and customer information. Stock up on inventory, especially for the products you plan on promoting. But, be careful not to overspend, as you don’t want to be left with an excess of stock after the holidays. Analyze sales from previous years to give you an idea of what you should have on hand.
Every year, millions of small businesses survive the holiday season and you will, too! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. WSI Net Advantage is an internet marketing company that can help your brand enjoy a healthy holiday season. With our social media management, pay per click and search engine optimization services, you’re in good hands with us! Contact us today to learn more at 510-687-9737 or fill out our online form.