Some 52% of small businesses participating in the fifth annual Small Business Holiday Outlook Survey by Constant Contact reported that they expect holiday sales to increase compared to last year.
This statistic marks a large increase over last year, when less than one-third of survey responders were similarly optimistic.
More than 35% of the survey’s respondents expressed optimism about the state of the overall economy (up from 25% last year). While these respondents expect holiday revenues to increase compared to last year, small businesses polled also noted holiday sales are less important to annual revenue this year than in previous years.
The survey also found small businesses are using more Internet-based marketing strategies since both last year and February of this year when Constant Contact conducted a similar survey.
This year, 89% of small businesses plan to use holiday-related email marketing this year compared to only 60% last year and 43% expect to increase online holiday sales compared to 38% in 2008.
In a noticeable shift since February, more small businesses are using the following digital platforms and tools to market their products and services, in order of popularity: email marketing, online advertising, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, and YouTube. The only platform small businesses are using less today than in February is MySpace.
“Small business owners have again proven their resilience
by surviving one of the toughest years in decades. They have clearly told us that marketing plays an important role in keeping strong connections with their existing customers and attracting new ones,” said Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact. “Consistent with their generally optimistic outlook, these business leaders now look toward a more promising future, because they have learned how to promote themselves through new platforms and developed habits and practices that will serve them well in any kind of economy.”
Constant Contact recommends polling customers to determine which products should go on sale, and using social media to extend your reach. Letting a popular vote determine sale items will give recipients an incentive to send friends and family your survey, spreading awareness of your offering and extending your reach. It recommends attaching your company name and logo to all messages and keeping the tone consistent from one communication tool to the next, to help reinforce brand recall. Include links to your Web site, blog and social networks throughout all your communication channels. It also suggests hosting holiday-themed customer appreciation and shopping events with discount incentives. Use an event-marketing tool to manage your event, and promote it via your social networks.
Constant Contact Inc. is a provider of email marketing, event marketing, and online survey tools for small businesses, nonprofits, and member associations.