by Gil Ilani, CEO of Camilyo
Beginning on Black Friday, and increasingly so later on Thanksgiving Day, online and traditional retailers alike enter a period that can make or break their business’ overall yearly performance.
This is especially the case for SMBs without the cachet and powerful name recognition of the Amazons, Nordstroms, Macy’s and the like. While it’s true that at no other time are customers in as much of a shopping mood, SMBs cannot afford to sit back and follow a “Field of Dreams” business model. An operating website does not automatically translate into customers stopping by for a visit, let alone buying something.
SMBs, especially, must formulate a well-thought-out online presence and sales strategy that covers all of the bases. Even with the holidays less than a few weeks away, there thankfully is still enough time to prepare and reap the benefits.
When addressing his team for the first time, legend has it that Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi started with the basics by stating, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” Likewise, the first step for SMBs is to have a website. Laugh if you must, but many of the “Ss” within the SMB brotherhood go quite some time expecting customers to walk into a brick and mortar structure just because they’ve hung a shingle.
In this fully wired world, a wide array of web designers, service providers and marketing experts are poised to provide SMBs, and the agencies working on their behalf, with interesting and intuitive web formatting, fast and reliable service and captivating content.
The most advanced companies are able to provide integrated marketing suites to agencies with all of the necessary tools to grow their SMBs’ online presence, including cross platform website builders, ecommerce, web and social customer engagement add-ons, multi-network posting and built-in CRM for maximum efficiency at a reasonable cost.
Any new or existing website must also by optimized for mobile, whether for iPhone, Android or iPad, as anecdotal evidence shows a growing number of consumers forgoing PCs and laptops in exclusive favor of smartphones and tablets.
Next, SMBs, like their larger competitors, must devise and initiate promotional campaigns in advance of the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s season. Catchiness atop of truly informative text, sight- and sound-infused message is a good start; then comes accurately targeted promotional efforts through social channels including Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and, to a lesser extent, LinkedIn.
With the right amount of effort and creativity SMBs, and the agencies serving them, can dramatically increase ROI while generating new, ongoing revenue streams through social media that last and grow far beyond the holiday season. Facebook, specifically, is a strong lead-generation channel that allows advertising through promoted content that can yield better conversion than traditional ads.
The integration of Facebook into SMBs’ websites also enables the use of advanced remarketing and custom audience features that deliver great ROI. Other general social media marketing ideas include:
- Prioritizing posts with inherent user value, including tips and how-to information
- Promoting posts to new and existing users or “fans” that result in direct conversions such as contests, customer clubs and coupons
- Campaigns that reward existing users with special discounts and other promotional offers such as BOGO and free or discounted tangential products and services with purchases
- Adding “Facebook Connect” as an optional log-in for special “members only/preferred customer” offers and content
- Actively engaging on social media with customers and users
Other online strategies and tools for quick, pre-holiday implementation include SMBs setting up simple ecommerce functionality on websites, setting up email “funnels” to automatically send specific types of specials and promotions to various audience types, and thank you notes to prospects and customers. Another valuable tool involves creating remarketing codes that follow the number and type of users’ website visits from first visit until an online purchase is made.
Capturing prospective customers’ attention on Black Friday and beyond needn’t break SMBs’ bank accounts. Implementing a handful of the ideas listed in this article (and plenty more where these came from) can truly convert prospects into customers by Christmas and beyond.
Gil Ilani co-founded Camilyo in 2010, As CEO Gil is driving the company strategy and operations and played a key role in drafting and executing the Camilyo vision of giving web and online agencies that serve small to medium-sized companies a comprehensive toolkit for online success. An expert in mobile and web development, Ilani graduated cumma sum lauda from Tel Aviv University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Psychology.