By Kelly Meeneghan, Manager
1&1 Internet, Inc (www.1and1.com)
The holiday season is ideal for businesses to take advantage of the shopping frenzy and drive sales. However, the thought of hostile crowds and fierce competition can be overwhelming for even the veteran business owner. Facing the busy season with a list of “to-do’s” for the business will ensure that you are on track to creating a profitable holiday season.
Before the Rush
1. Make Your Voice Heard
With so many advertisements and expensive marketing campaigns in effect by larger corporations, small businesses are susceptible to getting lost in the crowd but there are ways to stand out. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as well as email newsletters allow businesses to deliver strong messages and content effectively and affordably. These marketing avenues give the SMBs full control over the messages distributed.Being present in customers’ inboxes will reiterate the efforts you are making during the holiday season and remind them of your business.
2. Get Online
Creating a professional website can showcase important information and increase your visibility to possible customers. A business site acts as a one-stop-shop for visitors to get all of their questions answered and needs met, without having to take up your valuable time on the phone or over email. However, it is essential that your website stay fresh with new information. Special holiday hours, limited-time products or services, seasonal sales or promotions and contact information all available online will prove to be lifesavers for the consumer rushing to get their shopping list completed quickly and conveniently.
1. Don’t Crash
According to American Express’ Spending & Saving Tracker, consumers are expected to spend $1,260 this holiday season, which is up $400 from 2012 with a large portion estimated to be spent online. As you see your website traffic and business start to increase, it is important to be sure that your company’s backend can process the demand. Operating in “the cloud” is a great alternative where your business demands can be flexible throughout the year, adjusting your online requirements at any time. For example, during the holiday rush you can increase your website’s RAM, hard disk space and CPU as needed and only pay for what you use. Once the rush is over, you can then reconfigure the resources back down. Not only will you ensure the site visitor will have a great experience online, but you will also only pay for that level of performance for a limited time rather than the entire year.
2. Be Open To Suggestions
A positive consumer experience is a primary goal for any business and the winter rush is a great opportunity to gather a vast amount of consumer feedback. Though not all will be possible to implement right away, they are useful to consider for the business strategy in the long run. Installing a suggestion box in your store or offering a feedback form on your website allows customers to anonymously share their thoughts and opinions on how great their shopping experience was or how it can be improved.
1. Relax and Reflect
Now that the holiday rush is over, it is time to determine what worked, and perhaps most importantly, what flopped. Reviewing the financial reports and inventory lists will of course help determine the profits of the season, but what about the marketing strategies? Most Web hosts offer an analytics tool free of charge with hosting packages. This is a great tool to evaluate what product pages were most popular, how long people visited the site and what search engines were used to find you. Additionally social media statistics allows you to see which posts gained the most impressions and interactions.Using the two together, you can conclude the reasons behind surges in traffic based on different promotion, product features, or general posts via Facebook or Twitter.
The holiday shopping season is often more stressful for the business than it is for the consumer, rushing to get as much accomplished as possible. However, preparation and reliable resources can help improve efficiency and reputation to make the most of this year’s shopping season.
About the Author:
As a manager for 1&1 Internet, Inc., Kelly Meeneghan is an industry specialist providing expert advice on how SMBs can grow their business online through websites and online marketing methods. 1&1, a global leader among Web hosts, provides companies with the tools necessary to get online and be successful. For more information visit www.1and1.com or learn about how you can drive success for your business at www.success.1and1.com