The Holiday season is when many small businesses make a sizable chunk of their yearly profit. And, with the 18.1 percent spike in online commerce in 2017, it is essential for your small business to tap into this growing online mindset. The reason is simple, consumers are adopting it.

Even companies that aren't part of the holiday shopping season (mechanics, doctors, accounting services, and more) need to adapt to this change and adopt the tools to prosper during the holidays. Surprisingly enough, this doesn’t always equate to online sales through a website. This mindset encompasses mobile messaging that any traditional brick and mortar store can do.


The Benefits of Messaging

Mobile messages can be tailored to fit a specific theme, like the holiday season. Booktopia is an excellent example of how messaging benefits businesses during the holidays.  The book company used texts to push elf and Christmas themed gifts which got customers to associate the brand with the holiday. The holiday vibes made the customers more receptive to buying from them. 

Messaging can be done on several different platforms, with each offering their own unique strengths and uses. Many companies are using tools such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or traditional SMS to reach potential customers on their primary channels—their mobile devices.

Businesses aren't limited to just one platform either. Each one can be leveraged to their ultimate advantage, based on what the company wants to accomplish. 


Facebook Messaging Apps

One good example of a comprehensive platform with business-friendly features is Facebook Messenger. This app has relatively easy-to-build chatbots that a business can use to communicate with customers 24/7. Facebook Messenger also has 1.3 billion users, and messages sent to users have an 80 percent open rate.

Casas Bahia, a Brazilian retail chain, created a sales strategy using Messenger on Black Friday. The result was a 50 percent higher order rate from those customers who purchased products via Messenger. There is a lesson that small businesses can learn from Casas Bahia. Creating a holiday helper chatbot made explicitly for the holiday season can help shoppers find the perfect gift. And, helping customers goes a long way in creating long-term relationships.


SMS Messaging

One of the main strengths of SMS messaging is that it doesn’t require a smartphone. In fact, 17 percent of cellphone users still don't use smartphones. This is more common among the older demographics.

SMS Messaging is excellent for a small business because it is affordable, accessible to use, and generates solid results. It is also used to provide better customer service by allowing an easy way for customers to reach a business to ask questions, set up appointments, or resolve a complaint.

If used correctly, an SMS marketing campaign can bring in the customers. Tao, a Los Angeles nightclub, sent out 2,000 texts with a special offer to customers as a way to promote an event.  The results were astounding: 11 percent of these offers were redeemed, and those 220 people spent over $4,000 on drinks.


Push Notifications

Most apps have the default setting of sending the user push notifications. Get a new device, download a couple of apps, and between those and what’s pre-installed, your phone will be buzzing with push notifications in no time.  In fact, Apple boasted that in 2013 7.4 trillion push notifications have moved through their servers.

The key to a successful push notification campaign is value. Constant reminders of information they already know or are not interested in are also annoying. Push notifications absolutely must have relevance, value, and not hit users like a spam tornado. Also, a little personalization goes a long way.

One excellent example of a small business capitalizing on the power of push notifications is eXtra Electronics. The online retailer was struggling with its targeted email campaign. So, it turned to push notifications to help grow sales. The result of their push campaign saw mobile sales double, and it saw four times more returned visitors to their website.

Customers want to feel valued. Personalizing push notifications can go a long way in achieving this. Using the customer’s name and “pushing” a special offer or discount on their birthday will make them feel that they are more than a potential sale.


A Break from Traditional Marketing

The key to traditional retailers and businesses getting their piece of the e-pie, so to speak, comes down to one thing—mobile devices. It’s a fact that 95 percent of Americans have cell phones, and  77 percent of these phones are smartphones. And, the truth is that more than half of people with smartphones start using them as soon as they wake up. These people start their day seeking out information and connection, and business should be part of that.

North Face knows the value of these numbers. And, the company used mobile to its advantage to drive traffic to their stores. With the customer's permission, North Face used a device's GPS to be able to tell when someone was close to one of their stores. The customer would get a text letting them know they were close that also mentioned seasonal items. The results of this tactic was  65 percent of users ended up purchasing something because of these messages.


With this in mind, don’t forget to start planning now for your holiday marketing and promotions. The holidays are a prime time to use messaging to drive sales. Even though online sales keep growing and grabbing the headlines, online retailers still run out of stock.  And, until the same-day drone delivery becomes an everyday reality, items still take a day or two minimum to ship. Plus, same day or overnight shipping can get ridiculously expensive.

You can’t overlook the fact that 65 percent of holiday shoppers wait until the last two weeks to get their shopping done either.  A quick text message, push notification, or chatbot reminder of a sale or offering a special discount to customers in a loyalty program can bring in these procrastinators, and give everyone a reason to smile during the holidays.