If you own a local business, you can take advantage of Small Business Saturday by launching a cost-effective email campaign to boost awareness of your brand and generate increased profits.
The holidays are upon us, and they’re an essential time of year for retailers. American Express’s Small Business Saturday is your chance to take advantage of the biggest shopping season of the year.
Small business owners can increase customer engagement and sales by participating in this well organized and supported yearly marketing event. During this special event, email marketing can help you communicate with your customers effectively.
Why Small Business Saturday Is a Big Deal
Small Business Saturday is an annual campaign designed to support small businesses across the United States. American Express started the campaign in 2010. It takes place on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, right in between the bustling Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days—when consumers are primed for retail and ready to buy.
In 2016, 112 million shoppers patronized local businesses—setting a new Small Business Saturday record. You can take advantage of the holiday by trying a few effective email marketing strategies to make the most of the event.
Develop a Theme
A catchy theme can help boost business during Small Business Saturday. For instance, if your establishment sells video games, you could find a way to tap into the lucrative eSports sports vertical.
No matter what you’re offering, however, if you don’t promote your business, you’re missing out on profitable opportunities. In the store, you can pose signage detailing your Small Business Saturday plans and instruct employees to mention it to customers. For instance, it’s a good idea to have customer service representatives compel consumers to sign up for your email list so that you can keep people updated about the event.
Gearing up for the Big Day
Before Small Business Saturday arrives, make sure you have plenty of inventory and staff. You don’t want to build up to the big holiday and then disappoint your customers by not having the ability to fulfill your promise.
Also, think about your employees’ strengths and assign them responsibilities for the event based on their abilities. This planning will help to eliminate confusion when your store fills up with shoppers during the event.
If you’re a solopreneur, figure out what you need to do to keep everything running smoothly during a day where you may have customers patronizing your establishment from open to close. You can make a list to remind you of things that you need to do to keep your operation running.
Don’t wait until a couple of months before Small Business Saturday to start building your email list. To receive the best response, build your list year-round. This way, you’ll have more time to build your list and anticipation about the event. If you want to make the most of your email list, use an online management tool such as Constant Contact or Vertical Response.
When the day finally arrives, arrange to capture plenty of images of happy and excited shoppers. You can use the images in future email campaigns to remind the community of the awesomeness of Small Business Saturday when the season rolls around again next year.
Take Advantage of Official Signage
You should custom craft Small Business Saturday marketing materials for your business. You can even use the official Small Business Saturday image on your website and marketing materials.
You can also reach out to American Express to obtain complimentary Small Business Saturday signage for your store or digital assets for your website. You should use the digital assets to make regular blog posts leading up to the big shopping holiday while displaying the signage on your front window and around your store.
Call your Readers in with Engaging First Sentences
According to Dr. Dustin York, director of undergraduate and graduate communication at Maryville University, while many people spend ample time on subject lines, what’s often missed is the first sentence of the email. With some email platforms, you can see the first sentence. Engaging and eye-catching subject lines and first sentences are essential to engaging readers.
Test for Mobile Platforms
Studies show 79% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months. With shopping move more and more into the mobile vertical, it’s imperative to test that your emails provide a user friendly and appealing look and feel. Most email marketing platforms provide a preview mode for you to be able to see what your email looks like on a mobile device. Play with placements and buttons and make sure your email is optimized for mobile.
“Test your e-newsletter formatting for mobile capabilities and platforms. Being aware that the majority of people won’t be reading it on desktop, make sure e-newsletters are compatible with mobile formatting,” says Dr. York.
Leverage Marketing Segmentation
As you plan your Small Business Saturday promotions, don’t lump all potential buyers into one category. Practice market segmentation as you would, or should, during the regular course of business.
For instance, you may have both business and consumer client bases. In this case, you might advertise through social media, online advertising, pay-per-click advertising, and banner ads as well as an email campaign to reach consumers. For business buyers, however, you might still use social media advertising and an email list, but for social media advertising, you’d focus on a platform such as LinkedIn, rather than consumer-oriented platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Introduce an AI Component
Artificial intelligence has wide reaching uses in marketing efforts. It’s more costly and difficult to implement, but can leave lasting results.
According to Dr. York, AI in an e-newsletter requires time and financial resources, but if the organization has these, they can work to use AI to personalize their e-newsletters based on clicks, traffic and data sets in the past. It is important to note that the barriers to implementing this are a little higher here.
Add a Nice Finishing Touch!
American Express does a lot to support small businesses during the event, and you more than likely did your fair share of marketing planning to make the most of Small Business Saturday. Accordingly, it makes sense to get every promotional mile that you can out of the shopping holiday.
Plan a special event that aligns with your business goals as a pinnacle of the holiday. For instance, if you sell video games, you might host a local competition. If you operate a bookstore, you might host a reading by an exclusive author, and if you run an eatery, you may offer free wine or food tastings for your customers on that day.
If all goes well, your event will succeed phenomenally, and you’ll build your customer base for the coming year. However, you can make your customers feel extra special by following up on the event with a “thank you.” Collect the names and email addresses of customers who attended your small business Saturday event, and use that information to think customers for stopping by. This small nicety will go a long way to building a robust and loyal customer base for the coming year.