For small businesses: 4 steps to boost holiday sales

Taking time today can pay off in both the short-term and longer term

Saleswoman supporting a customer in a christmas ornament store

With just a few weeks left in the holiday shopping season, it can be challenging to focus on driving sales while balancing customer service, inventory, and a myriad of other tasks. But it’s important to spend some time to ensure you’re maximizing your online presence to reach new customers while servicing existing ones during hot sales period.

At minimum, you want to be sure customers can find you. As a recent small business shopping report by QuickBooks noted, more than three in five consumers said they use online sources to find local small businesses.

Step 1: Review and optimize your Google listing

With more than 90% of searches conducted through Google, your business listing on the search engine should be an important component of your online strategy.

While creating a Google listing is relatively easy, you also need a Google My Business account to be able to access and optimize your listing. This allows you to add details about your business while allowing you to respond to reviews and monitor your listing’s performance. Plus, by actively optimizing your business profile, you may be able to improve your ranking in the search results for longer-term impact.

*TIP* If you haven’t already set up and verified your Google My Business listing, Google shows you how.

Step 2: Check your other business listings

Next, check out your business listing on other popular search platforms. Depending on your type of business and location, these could be nearly as critical.

*TIP* Check “Top Sources” under “Page Views” on your Business Facebook Page to help determine which external sources bring you the most traffic to help prioritize your search efforts.

Yelp. Review your business description to ensure you’re making the greatest impact. Look for tips here. It should also be updated to include any pertinent information about special offers or holiday business hours. Note items that help differentiate your business, such as being a minority business enterprise (MBE), offering gift wrap, or having free parking.

NextDoor: If you’re a local business with a NextDoor business page, one of the most effective ways to use this resource to drive sales is to ask for recommendations from satisfied customers or create a Local Deal for your neighbors.

Step 3: Use insights to fine tune social media messaging

In a recent study, Forbes found that almost two-thirds of shoppers use social media as part of their shopping strategy. So it’s worthwhile to ensure that you have the basics covered and make adjustments based on recent results. Be sure to use:

  • Large, attention-grabbing visuals
  • Clear calls to action
  • Call-outs to differentiate your business from competitors (MBE status, local affiliations, community sponsorships)
  • Local and industry-specific hashtags (#) in Instagram and Twitter

Use Facebook Insights or other social channel performance dashboards to help target your content to your audience’s preferences. In Facebook, check Likes and Reach. The “Reach” tab shows the number of people your posts were served to, broken down by organic and paid traffic. The more likes, comments, and shares a post gets, the more it shows up in the News Feed.

*TIP* If you notice a spike in reach on a certain day, click on that point of the graph to see the specific content and note how people engaged.

And remember, if it starts to feel overwhelming, you can use the same content on multiple platforms, although formatting will differ.

Step 4: Use timely content

With consumers fears about shipping delays and out-of-stock items heightened this holiday season, consider highlighting your stock availability on a daily or even real-time basis. Be sure to mention gift cards or certificates if available to attract last-minute shoppers.

*TIP* You can use Facebook Live video to capture your inventory or showcase unique items or services. While it may feel intimidating to produce a live video, it is one of the most effective marketing tools on social media. People spend three times more time watching live video compared to pre-produced ones.

Even small moves can make a difference

While time is getting tight, even a few tweaks to your online efforts can help you meet your holiday sales goals as well as help prepare for the year ahead. And don’t forget about your internet connection – it’s especially important your service keeps you up and running during the busy holiday season. Viasat Business Internet is a great solution for businesses where cable or fiber may not be available, and it can also serve as a secondary connection to keep your business online if your primary connection goes down. Learn more.

Lisa Lowe is the content manager for Viasat’s U.S. Global Fixed Broadband segment.