Small Business Saturday is one of the greatest opportunities small businesses have to make a splash at the beginning of the holiday sales season. Every year, online sales comprise a larger share of holiday business, and if you're a small business with an online presence, you should be making the most of Small Business Saturday. If you take the time to prepare, you can boost your online sales by taking advantage of the spotlight on small, locally owned businesses. Consumers will be spending money online ... how can you make sure they spend it with you?
1. Email your deals to your customers. Email is the single most powerful marketing tool for online sales. Most emails are opened within 24 hours, so your best bet is to send an email that highlights your primary deals one day before the event, and send a follow-up email to remind folks of the savings available on the day of the event.
2. Give the VIP treatment online. This tactic is best for online shops with a real-world presence, and it should be reserved for your very best clients. Offer them real-time personal shopping via Skype. Imagine that you can walk your clients through the store, demonstrate your merchandise, answer questions and make the sale—all with a client via Skype. An added bonus is that you can handle international clients after normal business hours, when it’s easier to give them your undivided attention. It’s like having special, private shopping hours.
3. Use urgency and scarcity tactics. If your customers feel like they can shop around and come back to find the same great deals, they’ll leave your site without making a purchase, and another retailer will get their dollars. If they’re worried that the deals may be gone, then they’re going to buy right away. Give your customers a sense of urgency with limited-time or limited-quality offers. You can even show your shoppers a quantity-countdown. Scarcity creates a sense of urgency and is a powerful motivator to complete the sale.
4. Add killer images to your site. Save your thousand words; focus on the pictures. Bigger is better, and high-resolution is essential. A flowery description will not compensate for a grainy, lousy image that makes shoppers think that you don’t care about quality. High-quality images connote high-quality products. If you have to splurge on a professional photographer, or have to learn a few photography tricks, take the time to select great images for your website. Consumers feel more comfortable parting with their dollars online if they believe that you’ve accurately depicted your wares, and they know what they’re getting.
5. Put things above the "fold." No, not the top half of a newspaper, the virtual fold is the top part of your website—before consumers have to scroll down. This space is where you want the important stuff. English readers read in an F pattern: down the left side, across the top left to right, and across the middle left to right. We spend the most time in the very center—the middle part of that F. Use this knowledge to put your most attractive deals right in the center of the F, above the fold. Keep in mind that screen sizes vary, and you’re better off scaling for the smaller screens.
Once the holiday rush dies down, you'll want to follow these three tips to prep for higher sales year-round.
When in doubt, look at Amazon. Amazon’s website is heavily used, extensively tested and amazingly successful. If you’re curious about good tactics for creating urgency or closing sales, look at what Amazon’s doing and give their methods a shot.
Test, test and test again. This is a long-term strategy, but it’s a really important one. You will reap rewards from split testing and multivariate testing, and you’ll be able to adapt your website to suit the preferences of your unique customers. Google actually has a free split testing app that demonstrates how powerful this analysis can be.
A mobile version of your site is a must. Optimizing your shopping experience for smartphone users can help you net massive sales. Don’t miss the chance to reach the significant portion of the population that operates nearly exclusively on mobile devices.
Shoppers are ready. They’re primed to spend money, and they’re looking for bargains. Give them every opportunity to shop at your small business.
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