November 7, 2023 By Caitlin Rose

A recent report from Celigo® reveals that half of U.S. consumers plan to start their 2023 holiday shopping before Halloween, with many beginning as early as November. This trend toward earlier shopping has been increasing in recent years. 

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The report also found that traditional seasonal sales days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday are diminishing in importance, as fewer than half of respondents said those days are integral to their holiday shopping plans. 

Despite ongoing economic uncertainty, forecasts by Deloitte® predict holiday retail sales are likely to increase between 3.5% and 4.6% in 2023. Overall, Deloitte’s retail and consumer products practice projects holiday sales will total $1.54 - $1.56 trillion. In 2022, holiday sales grew by 7.6% in the same period. 

Don’t miss out on this excellent opportunity to increase revenue and elevate your brand heading into the holidays. Here are some strategies to help support your ecommerce efforts:

Begin your campaign early

Now is the time to launch holiday programs. Look at the current landscape in your industry and how your competitors might have pivoted over recent years. Determine your holiday budget for marketing, staffing, and inventory ahead of time.

Strive to launch your holiday campaign as soon as possible, ideally before November and no later than Thanksgiving. Although many still shop at the last minute, more consumers are shopping earlier each year. 

According to the Celigo report, “Consumers are increasingly embracing the convenience and value of early shopping, seeking to avoid the holiday rush and secure the best deals. Retailers must adapt to these changing trends, offering pre-holiday promotions, extended sales events, and a seamless shopping experience to cater to the needs of early bird shoppers.”

Reward these early shoppers with special discounts and easy shopping experiences for the holiday season, and hopefully that will encourage them to shop with you year-round.

Refresh your website

A small business website should be regularly updated with fresh information, products, news releases, blog posts, and more. Fresh content not only keeps your visitors coming back, it can also boost your SEO rankings. 

And, considering online is the number one channel for holiday shopping, with more than 75% of survey respondents stating they will rely on it most this year, it is especially important to make sure your website is updated for the holidays, highlighting products and specials.

The following articles from our Small Business Blog offer actionable strategies to help you enhance your website before the holidays:

Elevate your profile on Google®

Before you start improving website user experience, it is important to ensure that your prospects are finding you easily on the search engines in the first place. If they can’t find you, the chances of them ever getting to your website are minimized significantly. 

Employ ways to optimize your site for SEO. For instance, if you are a gym owner, a good SEO for gyms starts with determining the most searched keywords by gym enthusiasts. You can then create valuable content using these keywords to raise your ranking on the online search engines. In addition, you can use a Google My Business® page, usually featured in the ‘Map’ section.

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Provide free incentives

Everyone loves “free”, and the holidays are a great opportunity to give regular and new customers a benefit. For example, consider giving a bonus product with purchase or free shipping. This is generally an excellent way to spotlight new products or those you’re trying to phase out.

For your loyal customers, create personalized offers in addition to traditional deals and savings (according to the Celigo report, 69% of consumers expressed a desire for more personalized offers.). Consider putting exclusive deals, bundles, savings, and free promotions in place and promote them to improve your profits this holiday season.

Launch email marketing

Email marketing remains a strong customer outreach tool for small businesses. Launching an email marketing campaign might sound overwhelming but the payoff may lead to increased brand awareness and holiday sales.

Customers don’t want to have to hunt for bargains and holiday specials. Aim to deliver the information they would want to know via targeted emails.

Check out the following blog posts for more information about the benefits of email marketing:

Create fun social media advertising

The most economical way to advertise in this digital age is via social media. Consider following these guidelines to increase attention and engagement:

  • Style your posts with festive content (it’s a holiday season, fill your customers’ feed with magic)
  • Create gift guides (show off your products and offer unique ways of gifting to your customers)
  • Use holiday hashtags (many people browse social media via hashtags to find what they are looking for, for example: #topgifts, #christmas2023, #giftideas)
  • Highlight any specials, such as discounts, free shipping, and other promotions

Retarget customers

According to the Baymard Institute®, more than 70% of online shoppers abandon their shopping cart before completing a purchase. Customer retargeting is a marketing strategy for online businesses geared toward those who have bounced from their websites. You can place a tracking pixel on your website that follows customers when they leave and then places an ad for your business on another unrelated website that they land on.

Market your brand

While highlighting your products and services is key, it’s also typically a best practice to promote your brand during the holiday seasons. Branding is a way of identifying your business. It is how your customers recognize and experience your business. A strong brand is more than just a logo — it's reflected in everything from your customer service style, staff uniforms, business cards and physical premises to your marketing materials and advertising. These blog posts may help you get started:

The bottom line

One of the best ways to scale for the holiday season is to get an infusion of funds. Extra cash flow may help with increasing inventory, hiring seasonal staff, and increasing marketing efforts. SmartBiz® facilitates both SBA loans and Bank Term loans from lenders in our network. Our streamlined application process and dedicated team are here to help you achieve a successful holiday season, and beyond.

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