Top Online Marketing Tips for SMBs This Holiday Season
The holiday season is certainly the busiest time of year for retailers, both brick-and-mortar and online. This seasonal boost in business brings added pressure for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to compete with the decorated storefronts and deep discounts offered by national retail chains.
So how can smaller retailers and mom-and-pop shops increase their visibility during the seasonal shopping rush?
One solution is to increase online marketing activities — a strategy that's easier and much less expensive than some might think. In 2009, 40 percent of consumers started their online holiday shopping before Halloween. In response to this behavior, retailers nationwide have added emphasis to online marketing efforts and began the process much earlier in 2010.
For those small businesses that are looking to boost their online presence but are worried about the expense of online marketing, fear not. Often overlooked, the following steps are critical to improving a small business's online presence. More importantly, these steps are simple and free.
1. Update your website with holiday-specific products and services. As simple as it sounds, add holiday product and service information to online spaces, including websites, social media pages and business directory profiles. Often brushed aside, this step is incredibly valuable to making sites appear more frequently in searches for seasonal gifts and services.
2. Add seasonally relevant keywords to website content. Modify or add seasonal keywords to content and listings, focusing on specific products and services. The more precisely these keywords are defined, the better chance that online searchers looking for something specific or unique will find you.
3. Make these updates early. When is almost as important as what. Making updates early allows sufficient time for search engines to index and rank new content. Updating information well in advance of the holiday season will help ensure products and services are more easily found throughout the busy shopping period.
4. Take advantage of free, online business directories. Online directories offer intelligent marketing tools that help small businesses distinguish themselves in increasingly competitive markets — including search engine optimization, customized tagging and categorization. Small businesses have the opportunity to include information and images on products and services, as well as maps and other relevant information to connect local customers with their business. Updating listings and taking advantage of free online tools are easy and affordable ways to increase website traffic and improve your online presence.