When the dust settles on this hectic holiday shopping season, many business owners will want to take a break from swiping credit cards and restocking shelves. But a successful holiday retail season doesn’t end when the festive decorations are taken down around the store.
To truly grow their business and expand their consumer base, entrepreneurs should implement marketing strategies such as using social media and offering loyalty programs, among a variety of other paid advertising methods.
Here are a few strategies business owners should consider to turn seasonal shoppers into year-round customers:
Communicate with customers on social media
One of the easiest ways to engage consumers every day is through social media. Business owners can promote new products, advertise new sales and interact with customers through social media channels to foster trust and loyalty among consumers at every stage of the buying cycle. But brands shouldn’t constantly bombard customers with sales pitches via social media.
Instead, companies should curate content that appeals to its target demographic. Designating days to post advice for consumers about topics that are relevant to a business’s consumers is a great way to build credibility and expertise with customers without alienating them with blatant sales pitches. But this content won’t get much traffic unless entrepreneurs throw some money behind their campaigns. Paid posts are an effective use of money that gets consumers involved with a company’s product at a higher rate than more traditional marketing platforms such as TV or web ads, according to a 2015 eMarketer poll.
Sixty-one percent of social media users said marketing on these platforms were more effective than other mediums such as TV or traditional web advertising, eMarketer reported. In fact, out of the top 10 highest ranked mediums in the poll, nine were social media platforms, the source noted. Social media is also a great way for brands to continue their relationship with a consumer after they have made their holiday purchases.
Responding to customer feedback – both positive and negative – is a critical function of social media. If consumers reach out about their experience with a product, ask questions about a product or service or are curious about an upcoming store promotion, it is important that a company representative respond in a timely manner to address any concerns the consumer might have. This will show potential buyers that the brand cherishes individual customer relationships and its commitment to delivering the highest quality customer service.
If business owners are concerned about using company funds to ramp up their social media marketing, they should consider applying for a small business loan from an alternative lender. Unlike traditional banks, applicants can get approved and have their money in as little as 24 hours, and those with lower credit scores also have a greater chance at getting approved than they would at a bank.
Offer perks to get consumers coming back
Customers love the feeling of getting rewarded. Loyalty programs cultivate a sense of trust and goodwill between consumers that will keep them coming back long after the holiday rush. To get customers on board with the perks program, businesses should offer holiday shoppers a chance to experience what a membership is like. This could mean offering an extra discount on certain products, running a buy-one-get-one-free promotion for specific items or other enticing deals that will make customers want to commit to the loyalty program.
Even if a business loses money in the short term by running these deals, they are likely to significantly boost their sales overall by driving in more return traffic as time goes on, according to Small Business Trends. Fifty-five percent of consumers are influenced where to shop based on whether a company has a rewards program available, an eMarketer study found. Brands can continue to drive sales through the membership program year-round by offering limited time deals, which will bring a concentrated amount of traffic into the store over a short period of time.
To compensate for any short-term decreases in revenue due to increased product promotions or sales, business owners can take out an alternative business loan to help them make sure they have enough capital to keep business operations running smoothly.
Embrace online reviews
Don’t tell consumers you’re the best in the business, let others do it for you. Ninety-two percent of consumers read online reviews before buying a product or using a service, according to USA Today. Furthermore, these reviews help potential buyers foster more trust between a shopper and a brand 68 percent of the time, the source reported.
That means businesses should add this to their arsenal of marketing weapons to reach out to more customers. Especially during the holiday season when traffic is at a high point for the year, garnering rave reviews will benefit a business during slower months throughout a year by helping to draw in skeptical customers. Adding this important feature to a business’s website could mean hiring a web developer to ensure everything is user friendly and optimized for the web.
Incorporating customer reviews into a company’s digital marketing strategy is also a nice safeguard against becoming complacent. To ensure a business doesn’t receive a negative review, an employer and his or her employees will make sure to deliver the best customer service they can day in and day out. Word of mouth is also an effective way to expand a business’s consumer base because customers have a tendency to trust other shoppers over brand messaging, which they might view as less honest.
Web-based marketing is critical to the success of any business in the 21st century. Business owners shouldn’t hesitate to apply for a alternative business loan to ensure they can run the most effective digital marketing campaign around. For those who opt out of because of the cost, it might be the difference between winning and losing to the competition.