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Use Email to Spread Holiday Cheer to Customers
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By Gail Goodman

Small business owners have a good reason to celebrate this holiday season. Consumers are expected to spread holiday cheer this year with increased purchasing – and many will do it online.

According to Constant Contact’s 2nd Annual Small Business Holiday Outlook* survey, 62 percent of U.S. small businesses said they anticipate a strong holiday season. The strong holiday season is good news for expected profits, as 78 percent of small business owners surveyed said the December holidays are important to their yearly earnings.

In addition to in-store shopping, 81 percent of those surveyed anticipate consumers will be making more purchases online this season. To better reach the increasing number of online consumers, many small businesses will use online marketing to promote their holiday offerings. In fact, of the 68 percent surveyed that will run online marketing methods to promote their holiday offerings, 82 percent will use email marketing and 50 percent will use other online marketing tactics such as online advertising and paid search in their promotional mix.

To capitalize on holiday spending, it is important for small businesses to stay in touch with customers on a regular basis. Email marketing is a fast, easy, and affordable way small businesses can do this. Sending special promotions and coupons via email marketing is a great way to get shoppers in the door and coming back – during the holidays and year-round. Nonprofits and associations can also tap into the spirit of giving during the holiday season by ramping up their email marketing campaigns to encourage donations and support membership drives.

Here are some creative ways that can help you, based on your business or organization type, incorporate email marketing into your holiday communication plan:

Retail and Restaurants: Get Customers through the Door and Online

You might already have plans to use email marketing this holiday season. Here are a few ideas that you can include in your communications mix:

Encourage gift card purchases: Gift cards are always a great present. Remind your customers that gift cards are available for purchase. One idea is to include a special promotion for those customers who purchase gift cards. For example, if you buy a $50 gift card for a restaurant, you’ll receive a 25 percent discount on your next meal.

Offer gift-giving suggestions: Shopping for family and friends can sometimes be difficult. A great way to help your customer in their quest for the perfect gift is to offer gift ideas for mom, dad, brother, sister, friend, etc. Everyone needs a great idea for the hard-to-buy-for person on their list!

Use special holiday promotions to drive sales: Offering a range of holiday promotions increases your chances of a profitable season. Free shipping might work best for one person, while incremental discounts might work better (spend $50, get 15 percent off, spend $100, get 25 percent off) for someone else.

Remind customers about your extended holiday hours: Most retail stores extend their hours during the holiday season. Making your customers aware of your new hours increases the chance that they will make it into your store. For those last minute shoppers, sending an email communication that your shop will be open on Christmas Eve can ease the stress of frantic last minute gift-buying.

Host special holiday events for your customers: Hosting a special holiday event can help secure long-term relationships with your customers that keep them coming back year after year. Including festive holiday music and snacks, such as cookies and hot cider, while offering free gift wrapping is a great way to bring-out the holiday spirit in your customers.

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Gail Goodman is the CEO of Constant Contact.
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