Now that the rush of the summer is over, it’s time to prepare for the upcoming holiday season. With Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas, all happening in relatively quick succession, small businesses often neglect their marketing to keep up with customer demand.
Fortunately, there’s never been more support available for small businesses looking to automate their holiday digital marketing campaigns, giving these companies more time to focus on their customers and products.
Running a marketing campaign on autopilot might sound counterintuitive, particularly for people who have been told that digital marketing only works if someone is willing to adapt at a moment’s notice. However, during the holiday season, there’s a lot that small businesses can do with their digital marketing without needing to check their metrics continually.
So, let’s take a look at the best strategies for automating digital marketing campaigns during the holiday season.
Social Media Posts
Small businesses often thrive on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but these platforms can be too time-consuming. As more companies have taken to using social media to advertise their products and talk to their customers, there is a wide range of tools available to help small business owners automate their holiday posts.
While these automation tools can’t replace the personal connection businesses have with their followers – and they certainly shouldn’t – they’re a great way to help business owners to reduce the time they need to spend on social media each day.
Hootsuite is a fantastic social media scheduling tool that works with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and more. Not only can business owners use Hootsuite to prepare all of their social media content ahead of time, but it also monitors the performance of posts and makes it easy to monitor incoming messages.
Using social media scheduling tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Tailwind helps to take the stress out of holiday social media marketing. While business owners will have to plan their social media content ahead of time to use these tools, it helps to free up time to have meaningful conversations with customers.
What Social Media Posts Should Business Owners Schedule?
The best thing to remember for social media automation is the 5-3-2 rule, which can help give business owners direction when wondering what posts they should schedule. According to this rule, for every ten posts that are shared to a business page, they should be broken up in the following way:
- Five posts should be content from other sources that are relevant to customers,
- Three posts should be content from business owners that aren’t focused on sales,
- Two posts should be personal to humanize the brand.
Of course, this will vary depending on each business and what works for them, but this is a great place to start.
Social Media Automations to Avoid
Despite this method offering to save hundreds of hours on social media throughout the holiday season, small businesses should never automate customer interactions on social media. While some minor automation can help businesses – such as Facebook’s auto-response to a first message sent through Messenger – anything more than this can come across as impersonal.
Landing Page Changes
Landing pages are a powerful way to capture new and old customers’ attention, particularly for small businesses over the holiday season. However, with so many holidays running back-to-back between October and January, manually redesigning landing pages to reflect each offer a business runs can be a significant time sink.
Tools such as Unbounce and Instapage offer the solution to this. With a simple drag and drop functionality, these tools make it easy to build, clone, and schedule landing pages. Unbounce even offers a marketing suite that helps you to customize content for keywords and other search campaigns, making it a great way to automate holiday landing pages to run alongside other holiday digital marketing efforts.
Landing Page Automation: Best Practices
As with other forms of automation, business owners need to understand that not everything should be done on autopilot. Landing page automation still needs to be carefully matched to other keyword and search campaigns. Otherwise, they will either generate very few leads or only poor quality leads.
Before publishing a landing page, business owners should have some form of quality control policy. While they should be matching landing pages with target keywords, targeting too many keywords can come across as spammy or low-quality, which harms a business’ reputation.
Business owners also need to be aware of Google’s Doorway Pages policy. This policy means that having too many landing pages that are too similar to each other can lead to a website being penalized. Crucially, these landing pages have to show up in search results for a website to be penalized under this policy.
To avoid a possible penalty by Google, small businesses should ensure that their automated landing pages use the following HTML tag. This code needs to be placed under the <head> section of the HTML code.
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>
This tag tells search engines not to list that page in their search results, which avoids websites being penalized for having too many landing pages.
Web Banners and Scheduled Design Changes
Small businesses don’t often have the luxury of having a dedicated employee or team to take care of their website, making scheduled web design changes harder to manage over the holiday season.
Time-sensitive offers are often a business’ most effective sales tactic during the holiday season. Many companies rely on advertising those promotions with website banner changes, additional theme elements, and other web design features that help promote these special offers.
For small businesses that want to automate design changes to help with their digital marketing through the holiday season, there are various options depending on their budget.
Using Web Design Contractors
Small businesses that have a larger digital marketing budget available or want to save time managing their website might consider hiring a web design professional. While this should be planned months in advance, it’s a great idea to get all design changes finished and ready to be deployed ahead of the holiday season.
One of the main benefits of using a web design professional is that they can often offer more advanced and professional-looking promotional graphics, which elevate a business’s online presence. This method saves business owners a lot of time and hassle when designing their graphics, which can be the perfect solution for small business owners without technical or graphic design expertise.
For small businesses that use WordPress to power their website, it’s easy to schedule design changes in the native Customizer feature. PublishPress has a great tutorial on this for WordPress users who aren’t sure how this feature works.
Business owners who are confident in or have experience with graphic design may find creating and scheduling their website design changes is a better option for them. Not only is it free, only costing the time it takes for them to create, upload, and schedule the graphics, but it gives them more control over how and when design changes take place.
Email marketing has always been more widely supported by automation tools, mainly because it’s one of the most accessible forms of marketing to automate. However, because it’s an easy tool, almost every business uses email marketing, which makes it harder for small business emails to get noticed in the flooded inboxes of customers over the holiday season.
Emails tools, such as MailChimp, are a great way to automate your holiday digital marketing strategies. Small businesses can create email campaigns that link with their website analytics to design different automated marketing campaigns for different demographics. It’s also easy to set up trigger events with these tools to send out automatic welcome, promotion, or cart abandonment emails.
These tools are invaluable for promoting seasonal campaigns and time-sensitive offers and keeping customers in the loop with stock changes, opening hours, delivery information, and other important information.
Email Marketing Automation: Best Practices
As with all forms of holiday marketing, emails must be somewhat personalized to stand out against other automated marketing campaigns. Studies show that 90% of consumers find personalized content very appealing, while 91% of consumers said they were more likely to shop at businesses that provide personalized recommendations and offers.
With email automation tools, small business owners can set up campaigns that target previous customers with related products and services, new customers with personalized welcome coupons, and even entice inactive customers back with special deals.
Over the holiday season, small businesses have to fight against large corporations to get their customers’ attention via email. That’s why personalized marketing through email is vital to give customers the feeling that they’re valued and essential to the business.
However, small business owners need to avoid over-emailing their customers. In a survey by TechnologyAdvice, 45.8% of US adults said they flagged emails as spam because the business emailed too often, and 43.9% wanted to see businesses sending emails less frequently. This shows that less truly is more with email marketing, particularly over the holiday season, when almost every business is trying to get customers’ attention with repeated emails.
Like emails, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is one of the simplest forms of digital marketing to automate. Because PPC advertising works on a bidding system for advertising slots, it’s easy to set up a rolling campaign in which bids are placed automatically.
Google Ads, the largest digital advertising platform, offers a smart bidding feature to certain advertisers that allows them to set monetary targets and automatically place bids that achieve those targets. However, their basic platform also allows advertisers to set a monthly budget and automatically bid on chosen keywords and search terms until that budget is filled.
For businesses that plan on advertising on websites through the Google Display Network, Google’s dynamic search ads can save time by generating ads based on their website’s content. While this does give businesses less control over their ad copy, keywords, or search terms, it can be a fantastic tool that helps small business owners save time over the holiday season.
If PPC is a key part of a business’s digital marketing strategy, then they might also consider hiring a PPC account manager to take care of their advertising for them. A PPC account manager offers more of a customized service than some other automation tools. However, it does come with an additional expense that some small businesses may not be able to justify.
PPC Automation: Best Practices
The most important thing for small business owners to cover when developing an automated PPC campaign is is to ensure that it’s optimized for mobile. As most shoppers in 2020 are estimated to use their phones to browse products over the holiday season, small businesses must be prepared with PPC ads that function just as well on mobile devices as they do on a computer browser.
With the growing popularity of smart speakers and smart home assistants, voice search will become a more significant trend this holiday season. To get ahead of the curve, small businesses need to remember to optimize their automated PPC campaigns to take advantage of voice search keywords. These tend to be long-tail keywords, and most often, are in the form of a question.
PPC automation tools will also allow small businesses to utilize remarketing to target voice searchers with additional PPC advertising. These should be set up and automated ahead of the holiday season. Remarketing is a powerful PPC tool that business owners can use to market to existing customers or people who have visited their website before, which gives them more options for displaying personalized advertising.
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