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It is fair to say that, for many small businesses, the holiday season is a crucial make-or-break period during which they earn the profits that they must live off for the slow first months of the next year. It’s an absolutely critical period for maximizing sales and profits and for squirrelling away the necessary cash to carry the business until after the first few months of the New Year. Good planning then leads to the kind of December that will set them up to go into the New Year in a strong position.

So how do you then distinguish your business during the holiday season, develop a sales plan for the holidays, and use marketing strategies—including online—to boost holiday sales?

Here are some online marketing strategies to consider when trying to boost sales during the holidays

E-mail marketing

The holiday season is a good time to use the e-mail list of customers that you have been compiled all year. But while the holidays may be a good time to send out coupons that they can share with friends,  it shouldn’t be the first time that your customers are hearing from you. If you’ve been doing the right things and building a list all year long, you should take advantage of that.

Online ads

There are a variety of ways to advertise your holiday promotions online. You can buy ads on websites frequented by your customers. You can also buy keywords from search engines, such as Google and Yahoo!, which will promote your website when someone searches the internet using those terms. In addition, businesses can target their online ads based on demographic information, such as location or age or gender. The major search engines now offer more customized options for ad placement, such as demographic targeting (age, sex, or ethnicity), geographic targeting, and contextual targeting.

Here’s why your business needs a solid value proposition (PART 1)

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Social media marketing

Social media, such as social networks and blogs, presents another opportunity for advertisers. Keeping customers engaged in issues using a blog is one good marketing tool. Alerting them to last-minute sales via Twitter and Instagram feeds might also be useful when it comes to the last few days of the holidays — and unlike so many other promotions, it won’t cost you anything.

Offer special discounts to loyal customers

Offer special discounts to your best or most loyal customers on the things they buy the most. Why not treat them to a holiday gift, from you to them? Remember, it usually costs you a lot more to acquire brand new customers than to retain the ones you have. So if you only really reach out to your all-stars once a year, make sure it is during the holiday season. One approach to increase holiday sales might be to offer these loyal customers an even bigger break when they refer your business to family or friends and those referrals make purchases.

[READ MORE: Seasonal SEO: Here’s what should be done to prepare your business for the holiday season]

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Cross-sell

The months leading up to the holidays are a great time to suggest items to go with the products or services your customers are already purchasing. Maybe they bought a beautiful set of earrings last year for mom. This year, suggest the matching necklace. When you sell a spa package, offer the premium at-home spa kit to go with it.

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Offer free shipping or special deliveries

Who doesn’t love a surprise? Don’t be afraid to think outside the box to increase holiday sales. What if that premium spa package and at-home spa kit were hand-delivered with a bouquet of fresh flowers or a box of chocolates?  Also, how you craft the customer experience around waiting for and receiving their purchase can make a big difference in how willing people are to shell out for shipping costs or wait longer than they’d have to if they bought from a competitor.

Send cards or gifts to current and past clients

Maybe staying in touch and top of mind is as simple as wishing your customers a Happy Holiday and thanking them for their business! Customers love to know they’re appreciated. Send them a thank you card or a special gift that has nothing to do with trying to sell them anything — they’ll love you for it!

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Create special landing pages

It is a proven strategy that you should create exclusive landing pages for holiday season sales like Christmas and New Year sale. These exclusive landing pages help users to easily know about your discounts, offers, products, and appeal them to purchase.

Follow these tips to make a perfect landing page for your products:

  • Your landing page must be simple and with the required details.
  • Don’t use too much content on the landing page.
  • Describe and highlight your holiday sale discount.
  • Use suitable call-to-action at suitable places on your page.
  • Use countdown-timer to create urgency.
  • Make it simple for the user to purchase easily.
  • The landing page must be mobile-friendly and fast to load.
SMEs, business
SME

Use limited-time offers and deals

Believe it or not, time-limited offers and deals still work: Although people know this marketing tactic well, the fear of missing out (FOMO) effect has a great impact on them, so customers hasten to buy from you during a certain period of time to get a reward. Many brands get great results when they include scarcity.

Run a giveaway or contest

The festive season is a perfect period to reward your customers for being with you. While it can be daunting to send personalized holiday cards to every customer, Instagram giveaways are another great way to reward loyal customers.

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[READ ALSO: Too many side hustle ideas? Here are 11 questions to help you choose your best option]

It’s psychologically proven that free stuff is hard to resist, so running Instagram giveaways helps to improve engagement, increase brand awareness, and boost seasonal sales. When you give away branded freebies, you highlight your holiday products and services, which means you have promoted them without much sales.

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