Cyber Monday can be as much of a boon to online merchants as Black Friday is to traditional ones. Small businesses that sell goods and services via the web can boost their sales and exposure by creating a campaign in time for Nov. 26 (the Monday after Thanksgiving).
“As one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, it’s vital that businesses of all sizes have a visible presence online or there’s a risk of missing out on a key selling period,” notes Mike Essex, online marketing manager at Koozai.com, “People are already in a shopping mood, and if you can reach them with the right message and price, then there’s a good chance you’ll turn them into not just customers that day but also potential long-term customers.”
So, how can you take advantage of Cyber Monday?
The Intuit Small Business Blog recently asked Essex and Marjorie Asturias, president of Blue Volcano Media, for a few pointers. Based on their insights, here are four steps to quickly create an effective Cyber Monday campaign.
1. Think outside the box. Companies that sell products directly to consumers may easily see their connection to Cyber Monday. With a little creativity, other businesses can get in on the action as well. For example, service professionals could offer online discounts for house cleaning, painting, or yard care. Businesses that sell to other businesses could create Cyber Monday deals to encourage new customers to sign up (perhaps among companies trying to use up their budgets by the end of the calendar year).
2. Develop an effective campaign. The main purpose of discounting products and services on Cyber Monday is to bring in new and repeat business. Consider ways you might reach potential customers with your campaign. You want your discounts to be big enough to stand out, and you want to offer deals on products that will help increase your long-term revenue. For example, offering a discount on a new product (or one that existing customers use regularly) can be an effective overall strategy. You could also incorporate the message of buying locally made goods into your campaign.
3. Get the word out. You could offer the world’s greatest deal, but if no one knows about it, then you will not sell any products or get any new customers. Use your email list, social media accounts, and website to spread the word at least a week before Cyber Monday. Google AdWords and Facebook ads can be an effective way to broadcast your sales to a targeted group of shoppers in a short time. Contact websites that post Cyber Monday deals, such as CyberMonday.com, to get your offers listed. “For a few hours work, you’ll get free exposure on lots of websites, especially if you have really good deals,” Essex notes.
4. Make sure your website is ready. If new customers visit your online store and are frustrated by slow response times or errors, it’s unlikely they’ll return. Asturias recommends getting your website ready by testing its shopping cart, adding a subtle holiday theme, and highlighting the deals on your homepage. “Don’t forget to capture email addresses, so that you can continue to market to them long after they purchase,” Asturias says.