Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Small Business Saturday. Yes, as the holidays approach, many retail establishments gear up for a major sales cycle. However, in addition to generating sales, the holidays provide significant small business opportunities that improve the foundation for your company.
Started in 2010, American Express promoted shopping local to finish your holiday shopping. Amy Marino, VP of Global Experiential Marketing, heads the Small Business Saturday initiative describes the objective.
“Our ultimate goal is to help small businesses do more business, and for Small Business Saturday that includes arming them with the tools to help make the day a success.”
Small Business Saturday continues flourishing every year. For example, last year, roughly 108 million shoppers spend nearly $13 billion at small business locations. And according to CNBC, the efforts provide significant awareness and produce tremendous sales, while building awareness within the community.
“70 percent of U.S. consumers are aware of Small Business Saturday, and 58 percent said they shopped or dined at more than one independently owned business this weekend. What’s more, support for small businesses went beyond brick-and-mortar with 35 percent saying they shopped online.”
As a result, prepare your business for Saturday. Business News Daily shares some high level guidance, which help provide the right mindset. For example, they recommend embracing the day and building awareness prior to Small Business Saturday. Some of those tips include:
- Telling customers about the day via email, mail and social media.
- Stocking up on popular items.
- Offering special discounts and offers.
But, do a little more as well. Take advantage of the influx in traffic and awareness by creating a game plan to grow your business into next year. In addition to Saturday, take advantage of some small business opportunities that provide a great digital marketing foundation.
Small Business Opportunities #1: Ask For Reviews!
Did you know that reviews meaningfully drive local SEO results? If not, now you know. Plus, now that you know review matter for SEO, then you can stop wondering why your company doesn’t show up in the MAP results!
For more, some basic info on reviews driving local SEO results. In particular, Google reviews contribute many factors towards SEO rankings based on combined “review signals” that drive local SEO rankings.
- Quantity – more reviews are better and potential customers start trusting business after 7 to 10 reviews.
- Velocity – a steady stream of reviews is better than adding 10 reviews at once, which harms your results.
- Diversity – although focus on Google reviews (and the other major platforms), work towards generating reviews on multiple sites.
- Keywords – if possible, reviews containing product or service keywords help (but don’t stress this or manufacture fake reviews).
- Authoritative – certain customers provide more reviews (in all of their interactions) and contain more credibility and influence.
So, during Small Business Saturday, take advantage of your traffic and ask for reviews!
If you are worried about people not leaving reviews, don’t. In a recent BrightLocal survey, 68% of respondents indicated that they leave reviews when asked!
Generating reviews remains an untapped (and inexpensive) market. Ultimately, a steady stream of reviews, likely starting with Google reviews and moving towards other authoritative sites (i.e., Facebook, Yelp) creates positive SEO results. If your business provides a great product, service or experience, customers will provide feedback that will improve your search rankings.
Small Business Opportunities #2: Grow Your Distribution List!
In addition to generating reviews, another opportunity exists with an increase in traffic that provides long-term results. Ask customers to sign up for your email list!
Email marketing may sound dated, but it works because it provides a cost effective way to reach customers. For example, according to MarketingSherpa, 91% of adults actually enjoy receiving promotional emails where they shop. Additionally, the consulting firm McKinsey notes that email remains almost 40x more effective than Facebook and Twitter in acquiring new customers.
So, if you remain lackluster on email marketing, stop and use Small Business Saturday to jumpstart future campaigns.
Constant Contact, a leading email marketing platform, shares plenty of successful stories about Small Business owners leveraging email. From improved communication and building brand awareness to generating sales leads and increasing site traffic, email marketing drives business growth. Ally Whittaker, PR manager for The Local Good, shares how their team leverages email.
“Email has definitely helped us with web traffic and attendance at our events. I like that after I send an email out, I can go back and see how many people clicked through on which links. That way I can tell people are interacting with our content and click through to our website.”
As a result, put an email signup front and center in your store. Plus, make email sign up a significant call-to-action on your site. Any low cost effort that potentially yields great returns makes sense for any business.
Small Business Opportunities: Focus on First Impressions
Obviously, a major benefit of Small Business Saturday is increased traffic. As noted, ensure that your popular items are properly stocked, but also make sure your staff is properly trained.
A successful day means lots of in-store traffic, which implies a very busy and hectic day. Is your team properly staffed? Are any new salespeople working? If so, are they prepared for the day?
For any retail establishment, making a good first impression remains vital. Entrepreneur describes how a company can ensure they are ready for the day.
“Run through scenarios that might occur at your store during a busy weekend and give your staff the tools they need and the words to say to solve problems and help customers who might not have visited your store in a while.”
Interestingly, although online shopping continues growing immensely, people still value an in-store experience. According to a Walker Sands Future of Retail report, which surveyed more than 1,400 U.S. consumers, revealed the shopping preferences of many shoppers.
However, although people may prefer in-store experiences, online shopping certainly continues growing (and not stopping). Just like in the actual store, the ability to connect with customers remains vital to repeat customers. As a result, in addition to training staff, review your site and ensure the shopping experience offers an intuitive flow. Plus, conduct a quick site review prior to Saturday ensuring that contact forms work and the checkout process remains error free.
Small Business Opportunities: Share Stories on Social Media
Social media builds brand awareness and facilitates engagement with existing and potential customers. Therefore, in addition to informing existing customers about possible sales, leverage your social platforms on Small Business Saturday as well.
For example, jump on the #SmallBusinessSaturday movement by adding common hashtags (#SmallBizSat, #ShopSmall and #SmallBusinessSaturday) to posts about the day. Entrepreneur provides some thoughts on generating awareness.
- Document your preparation for the day to get your customers rooting for you.
- Take photos of your displays.
- Share images of your best selling products.
- Shares how excited customers enjoying your store.
Plus, and this aligns with many other small business opportunities, ask for some social media follows. Increasingly, social media requires paid promotion to reach existing customers (not to mention potentially new customers). Therefore, increasing your social followers (especially on Facebook) helps improve the chances that your organic reach grows as well.
As many small businesses know, Facebook changed the algorithm that drastically reduced organic reach. The change shifted the priority of business and brand posts to friends and family. Adam Mosseri, head of News Feed, explained the decision.
“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.”
As a result, businesses must adjust, which primarily means producing more owned media and quality content. Provide content that matters to your customer base, and deliver it in a way that allows them to opt-in. This means they want to hear from you and are therefore more likely to consume (and ultimately convert!). And #SmallBusinessSaturday presents a great opportunity to showcase your content to an increased audience.
More Small Business Saturday Info
Interested in learning more about the #SmallBusinessSaturday activities? Take a look at some additional resources.