The 3 Best Emails to Send for Holiday Season Sales

Whether you’re ready or not, the holiday season is just around the corner. Besides extra staff on site, what are the best ways to make the most of the record-high number of shoppers?

Sending the right message at the right time is one of the best ways to capitalize on national trends like holiday shopping. Here are four of the best kinds of emails you can send to get more people coming in even as the temperature drops.

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The 3 Best Emails to Send for Holiday Season Sales

1. Purchasable offers like gift cards and discounts

The best email businesses can share with their customers are offers that they can purchase for their friends and family. Almost everyone is looking for gifts for friends and family – take advantage of these opportunities to sell by sending gift certificates or offers they can share as a gift.


2. Gift guide newsletters

If you’re trying to steer clear of sending too many offer-like emails, another great alternative are newsletters that point your customers in the direction of excellent gifts they can buy for their friends and family. List your top 10 favorite products of the year or special local events that you’ve heard about for the holiday. Just remember to keep the information useful – what is something you could share that your customers wouldn’t know?

3. New product announcements

The holidays are also a great time to announce any new products or services. People are looking to give gifts that are new and exciting, making the next few weeks a prime time to release and share any new offerings you have.

If you don’t have any new products or services, this is a good time to brighten up some of your old offerings. Send out a newsletter with your most popular services that feature a customer testimonial. Think about promotions that link back to the holidays, like a “12 Days of” promotion featuring a new discount for the first 12 days in December.

The holidays are often the busiest time of the year for businesses and consumers alike. It’s more important than ever to give some extra time and effort to a dedicated holiday marketing plan that puts your business top of mind.



Are You Ready for Small Business Saturday?

For a few years in college, I had a weekend job at a small gift shop in downtown Ann Arbor. Between the Michigan football games and our prime location on Main Street, we always had plenty of foot traffic. But nothing could compare to the huge volume of customers we saw around the holidays, beginning with Small Business Saturday.

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Small Business Saturday is a national holiday founded by American Express dedicated to helping small businesses with their biggest challenge – getting more customers. The official celebration includes rebates for American Express cardholders, promotional material for registered businesses and day-of local events.

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A map on the official Small Business Saturday website, showing all participating businesses.

Unofficially, Small Business Saturday is the counterpart to Black Friday which is often regarded as the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Even if you don’t register with American Express, you can still take advantage of the fact that many consumers are now out and about looking for holiday deals and offers by adding extra staff to your front desk and running big purchase promotions that feature new holiday product (“15% a purchase of $50 or more! This weekend only!” or “Free Holiday Gift Set with a purchase of $30 or more!”)

To learn more about getting registered for Small Business Saturday, visit the official American Express website.



Why Nobody Is Opening (Let Alone Reading) Your Emails

Sending emails to your customers can sometimes feel like shouting out into a big, black abyss. When no one comes in excited about the discount you just emailed out it begs the question, “Are people even opening my emails?”

A good first step to understand and resolve this problem is by checking something called your email open rate. This is the number of people who open an email out of the number of people who received your email. If you’re using an email provider like MailChimp or Constant Contact you can view your email open rate from your dashboard.

Healthy email marketing plans that drive revenue and retention clock in at an open rate of 20% or higher. If your open rate is below 20%, there are a few quick fixes you can address to get people opening and reading your emails.

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Why Nobody Is Opening (Let Alone Reading) Your Emails

1. Your Emails Aren’t Optimized for Mobile Devices

In 2013, more than 50% of all emails were opened on a mobile device. This means that it’s more important than ever to write and design emails that look good on a mobile phone – otherwise they’ll go right in the trash. Keep your subject lines short (about 30 characters or so) will make sure that your customers can easily read the whole thing on their minimized screens.

2. It Looks Like Spam

It’s tempting to try and create a sense of urgency with email subject lines like “FREE gift today only!” or “HUGE sale!!”. How could someone not open that email? In today’s world of email spam, these subject lines look suspicious and unverified even if they’re from genuine subscribers. The problem is that spam senders use titles like these all the time and will create a false sense of confidence with your customers.

There is still some value to sending emails with subject lines like these but you should make sure to provide more context around what it is that you’re provide to demonstrate that you’re a legitimate business. “FREE gift today only!” could be “A free birthday gift from [your business name]”.

3. Your Email List is Bad

A bad email list is one that is bought or collected without the permission of the email address owner. As you can imagine, people are very reluctant to open emails or let alone read emails from people they don’t know or have ever given their information to. Not only will your email go straight to the trash, but you may face some brand tarnishing or even legal issues.

For more information on bad email lists read:

6 Reasons Local Businesses Should Never Buy an Email List

The Three Tell-Tale Warning Signs of a Bad Email List

When you’re not seeing the results you want, it’s easy to throw in the towel and believe that email marketing is simply not worth the time or effort. It turns out that email marketing is still one of the best channels out there for communicating with customers – 77% of consumer prefer to hear from a business via email. Combine that with the fact that more than 90% of consumers check their email every day and it becomes hard to say no to email marketing. Even if it’s a simple newsletter or annual discount, email marketing is an important and beneficial strategy to growing any small business.


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3 Incredibly Powerful Tools to Help You Boost Web Traffic for Free

Growing your organic web traffic is no simple feat – you have to be willing to put lots of time and effort into getting near or to the top of Google searches. But before you start pouring money into a paid SEO consultant, consider trying out these 3 free resources to help you boost web traffic.

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3 Incredibly Powerful Tools to Help You Boost Web Traffic for Free

1. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free tool that keeps track of almost anything and everything about your website – from page visits to average time spent on your site to bounce rate. Work with your webmaster (or do it yourself if you know how) to insert a short piece of code that allows Google to keep up with your site.

Once you have that installed, Google Analytics will be able to tell you lots of very important information that can help you determine what needs to be fixed on your site. Are people leaving your site soon after arriving? Which pages are they visiting most frequently? How are they getting to your site? Google Analytics can tell you all this and more. With this information, you can build a marketing plan that plugs any holes in your leaky bucket.

Note: While we love Google Analytics, it can be pretty daunting to understand, let alone use. Even though this post by Buffer is nearly a year old, I go back to it time after time when I need help with Google Analytics.

2. Google Ads – Keyword Planner

Another great free feature from Google is their Keyword Planner tool. This resource is primarily used for advertisers looking to create and manage ads on Google. Once you sign up, you can use the tool to find out what people are searching when they come looking for a business like yours – even if you don’t want to run ads on Google. This is probably the most powerful tool on this list because it gives you insights into how people are (or are not) finding you. Once you know your popular search terms, you can start incorporating those keywords into your website and social media to appear more regularly in those searches.

3. Moz Local – Check my Listing Score

Can your customers find you on the web? Simply enter your business name and zip code and the Moz Local Listing Score tool tells you what you can fix right now to get in front of the right people. This handy tool checks your listings on several common websites like Google, Yelp, and social media and lets you know if there are any problems that are barring you from appearing in common web searches.

These three tools are great starting points to understand and analyze your web traffic for improvements. Once you have a good idea of how you’re appearing to your customers, you can start optimizing everything from your social media pages to your website be the obvious choice in web searches.



Sending Out Offers to Your Customers? Get Them to Buy More with This One Trick

A majority of our customers use LocBox to send out offers to their customers without sharing any revenue. When working with our Success Managers a big question is “What can we do to get more people to buy this offer?”

There are a lot of factors that go into building an effective and attractive offer such as an interesting image and an easy purchasing process. But what about the language? If you’re running an offer, what is the best way to talk about it for the most purchases?

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For example, which of the following do you think converts the best?

  1. 50% off
  2. Half off
  3. Buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO)
  4. 2-for-1

If you picked option 3, you’d be correct. Even those all of these options offer a similar if not exactly the same product, studies show that BOGO offers perform better and get more purchases when compared to 50% off or half off offers.

The big question now is: why does BOGO work so well when sending out offers?

1. Customers can’t (or won’t) do the math

Customers today are constantly bombarded with advertising and promotions. Instead of choosing to do the math every single time, more and more people are making purchases based on a gut reaction: am I getting the best deal possible? BOGO offers do so well because it’s much easier to understand getting something for free than it is to try and figure out just how much you’re saving with the discount.

2. Getting something for free is much more enticing than paying

Everyone wants to get a good deal. The idea of getting twice as much for one simple price is hard to pass up. This is especially true when you compare that to a 50% off or half off offer, which only guarantees one good for one price.

3. It’s not just about the goods – it’s also about the time and effort

When a customer is contemplating a purchase, they are not only thinking about how much they’re going to have to pay – they’re thinking about how much time and effort it’s going to cost them to make the purchase. With BOGO, they understand it as double the product for the same amount of time and effort.

When it comes to increasing your conversions, it’s all about perception: how do your customers interpret what you’re showing them? How does it make them feel? Once you start appealing to their needs, they will instinctively want to make a purchase.

Have you sold offers to your customers? What have been your best practices? Do you prefer BOGO or 50% off? Share your thoughts in the comments below!