Social media is growing, and businesses, both large and small, need to participate in the online conversation to stay front of mind. But doing that doesn't mean giving up one of the most powerful tools for contacting others: email.
Statistics continue to show the strength of email. It leads the way as a method of conversion, turning contacts into customers. It's a winner because the people on your mailing list have already shown an interest in your business, by specifically allowing you to contact them.
Benefit by reaching out to customers
To ready yourself for the holiday season–from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas–reach out to your customers and clients through Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn and ask them about their holiday wish list.
That will do several good things for you: it will help you engage with your fans and followers; it will allow you to ramp up merchandise in areas whose importance you might not have recognized, and it will serve as the basis of your email campaign.
Use Email to Engage and Convert
When you send out your emails, let people know what others find hot this year, so they'll be able to buy while there's still availability. Provide gift suggestions and let your contacts know about gift cards, layaway (if you're offering it), as well as inexpensive stocking-stuffers.
Of course, you want to send out coupons, info on special offers like BOGOs (buy one get one) or two-for-one opportunities, as well as other promotions that are available in-store or online. Since shoppers tend to purchase more in-store, you might offer the option to buy products online and pick them up at your store, or create an online holiday contest, where the entry form has to be dropped off at your brick and mortar location.
Promote specific events you're sponsoring. For example, if you're a small business supporting Small Business Saturday, get the word out through social media and email.
As far as shipping, you want to email customers to make it clear the last possible day they can make a purchase so that goods will arrive on time for the holiday. Also, let shoppers know if you're offering free shipping on certain days, or throughout the holiday season. Ditto on gift wrapping.
Activating your email list will help ensure you reach your sales goals and achieve the profits you've been working toward all year.
How important is email to your business? How do you use it to bring in more traffic?
Laurel Tielis is a former retail reporter at WWD, HFN, the Miami Herald, People Magazine and others. She is a sought-after speaker on the topic of how retailers can increase sales, and is the author of "Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales."