How SMBs Can Stand Out This Holiday Season

The internet has revolutionized holiday shopping. No longer are consumers confined by their nearest physical retail stores; nor are they restricted to items that are in stock. Now consumers can research and buy items without leaving their homes, which is a great relief to those who hate long lines and in-store madness during the holiday shopping season.

While this forces many retailers to rethink their holiday marketing strategies, it also levels the playing field for SMBs. Although smaller in both size and ad budgets, SMBs that reach consumers during their holiday research and shopping efforts can occupy just as much real-estate in consumers’ minds as larger national brands or retailers. SMBs have a major opportunity to stand out against big brand competition and drive revenue this season, provided they take advantage of mobile advertising, online retail and social media trends.

Consumers have done their research online for years, but the growing trend is in mobile research, meaning that they can now hunt for offers at home, as well as when they are already out browsing and including when they are in-store. A 2015 report from GPShopper/comScore found that 28 percent of shoppers will use their mobile devices to locate stores where they want to shop, meaning that SMBs need to take advantage of geo-targeted ads during the holiday rush to make their physical locations well-known to prospective customers.

It’s crucial to also build mobile-friendly websites, so consumers who see ads can visit to learn more about special offers and sales. To that end, SMBs should work closely with their web and marketing services providers to develop holiday-sale-themed websites, creative and landing pages that will help them stand out.

Online retail is very important to remember as well, considering that many ecommerce records are already being broken. Black Friday sales hit $3.34 billion for 21.6 percent year-over-year growth, according to Adobe, and $1.2 billion of that was via mobile -- a 33 percent increase! Shopping has clearly changed so, in addition to online and mobile ad campaigns that draw consumers into physical stores, SMB retailers need to make sure that their mobile-friendly websites can handle purchases.

And if consumers aren’t researching on their mobile device, they’re probably scrolling their social media feeds while waiting in lines to check out, which presents SMBs with another important opportunity to promote themselves. Both paid advertising and earned media will come into play during the holidays, but brands may have to customize some of their creative and messages for the season.

Rather than heavy-handed sales pitches, consumers are looking for “holiday cheer” this time of year – that’s what 38.8% of consumers said they want from brands during the holidays, based on research from Sprout Social. Brands that leverage social channels should work with their marketing partners to develop unique holiday creative that ensures they’re giving consumers a combination of savings and good wishes during the busy shopping season.

Another social tactic that may come in handy is live streaming video, which gets preferred treatment over other types of posts in Facebook’s feed, according to StreetFight. Live streaming video is a great way to showcase physical locations, as well as products on sale. With a little planning about what they’re going to show and say, SMBs can shoot and promote videos every day until the season’s end.

Consumer behavior may be changing, but that should be a positive development for businesses of all sizes. SMBs that take advantage of these tactics can appear in the same space as larger retailers and brands that are trying to reach the exact same consumers. By working closely with their advertising and marketing partners, SMBs can: 1) deliver holiday-themed ads that are geo-targeted to specific audiences, 2) drive visits to mobile-optimized ecommerce sites, and 3) establish social media presences and live streaming video capabilities. The combination of these tactics can result in increased foot traffic and increased sales despite the highly-competitive season.