In 2019, the 10th Annual Small Business Saturday hit an all-time high with an estimated $19.6 billion in reported spending. What’s this going to look like in 2020? No one really knows for sure, but with the era of social distancing comes opportunities, and there’s no one more resilient than the small business owner.

While it is critical to prepare early, the most significant opportunity is to kickstart and upgrade your digital transformation efforts and look for ways to do more with less. So we’ve pulled together eight tips from leading experts to help you do just that by leveraging brains over budget.

After reading through the tips below, you will see a few trends: social proof, creative targeting, and, most importantly, delivering a Fantastic customer experience. These opportunities up for grabs are not only here to help you to increase conversion and drive revenue, but also to build stronger relationships and learn more about your customers.

Without further ado, let’s boogie.

Ramon Ray – Editor and Producer, Smart Hustle

Understand that most of your customers will have no clue what Small Business Saturday is.

“Use this as an occasion to encourage them to CELEBRATE their relationship with YOUR BUSINESS. Also use it as an occasion to express your thanks for them being customers.”

“As business owners, we’re in a constant, revolving door to build trust with our customers and get attention from new customers. Small Business Saturday can be a great time to YET AGAIN, remind customers why they chose you and that you’re there to serve them. Turn it around and make it ALL ABOUT THEM, and they’ll make it about you!”

Yoni Solomon – Director of Product Marketing, G2

Build out a wealth of reviews that go wide and deep across your entire product suite

“I think the most important piece of strategy in regards to Small Business Saturday or any holiday, for that matter, is to make sure you’ve collected reviews before that holiday hits.”

“Because now, especially in the time that we’re living in, e-commerce is everything. That’s how people are going to be buying products and by not having reviews, you’re actually going to put yourself at risk of taking a hit on conversions if certain products aren’t covered.”

“It’s not a matter of after, because of course you’re going to follow up after those purchases happen. It’s critical to make sure that those reviews are covered in the weeks and months leading up to Small Business Saturday, Black Friday or any other big holiday season.”

Andy Crestodina – Co-founder, CMO at Orbit Media Studios

Everything you say is marketing. But when your customers say it, it’s social proof.

“Move your best review for your top products up into the product description. It’ll be much more visible. One of the biggest tricks in marketing is to put the most compelling message in the most visible places. And the most compelling message isn’t written by you. It’s written by your customers.”

Heather Kelly – CEO, SSPR

PR can be a cost-effective tool for your small business to take its marketing strategy up a notch before Small Business Saturday.

“The holiday shopping season can be a difficult time to cut through noisy big-box retailer updates but a solid PR strategy fit for a small business can help to connect with potential customers. Start by building relationships with local reporters – reach out and introduce yourself and your business. An initial introduction or casual call over (virtual!) coffee can go a long way. If you’re doing something new and innovative for Small Business Saturday, share those updates with local reporters. Receiving coverage in local news increases your business’s brand awareness and provides third party credibility to new customers making this a worthwhile effort ahead of a competitive Small Business Saturday.”

Alex Gammalgard – Sr Director of Product, ActiveCampaign

You’re either killing customer experience, or it is killing you.

“Whether you invest in it or not, you have a customer experience, and it is impacting your brand for good or for bad. It’s not possible to be “just okay” anymore, because “just okay” means forgotten. You are either good or bad in the eyes of your customers, there is zero middle ground. If you’re doing this well, you’re going to be set up well through the next year, as people remain very open to brand swapping, especially if they find brands that provide a more personalized and tailored experience.”

“The good news is, even if you are a small business, technology makes it possible for marketing to emulate that 1-1 experience that consumers are starting to not only expect, but demand. Whether you’re talking to customers through social media support tickets, your web chat, or in person, it is possible to create one long, ongoing personal experience that connects all of those different touch points.”

Austin Distel – Head of Marketing, Proof

Social proof gets a boost by adding urgency and scarcity

“One-time, one-day events each year are a form of scarcity. And when you add social proof with the urgency of that scarcity, it is magnified.”

“For example, you have another form of scarcity, which is inventory. So if you say, this deal ends at midnight, and then add that there are only 400 units left, T-shirts, books, boots, whatever it is, and then you add that there are 800 people looking at this product right now, you think that they gotta click? Heck yeah, they are.”

“That’s what the value is if you show how many people are buying along with how many people are considering buying. Add testimonials and reviews all on that same price page you’re going to get the highest conversion you’ve ever had because it’s compounded the scarcity.”

Aleks Shklyar – SEO Engineer, iPullRank

Whenever you can, leverage the content from last year.

“If you have a page dedicated to Black Friday or Small Business Saturday deals for your products, there’s no reason you have to create that page from scratch every single year and then try to get Google to rank that page. It’s just not going to happen that way. It’s better to have a dedicated page with a theme that you can reuse year over year.”

“If you’re trying to do something tied to current events and create a URL that’s tied to this one thing, that’s one point of history. It’s not gonna work. Think more holistically, think long term and think of things that are going to withstand the test of time.”

Dan Dillon – VP of Marketing at RevealMobile

Creative targeting brings together the offline and the online

“By virtue of people carrying a phone in their pocket every day and flowing in and out of stores, you can access custom audiences based on mobile ad IDs. That’s where geotargeting comes in. To leverage this data for Small Business Saturday, you can geofence your locations at the same time last year. Go look at November and December for your locations in 2019, take those audiences and upload them to your social media platform of choice or your demand side platform of choice. Your DSP.”

“You can now market your new e commerce offerings to those people because they are the ones who are going to come back to your store, whether it’s physical or digital.”

“Advertisers need to move from offline to online right now to meet their customers where they are. You can do this with your targeting because you can look back upwards of a year to see what your audiences were doing at the same time in 2019.”

Bonus Tip: How to Get More Customer Reviews

Several of the tips above mentioned how critical customer reviews are to your business. The answer for how to get more reviews is quite simple, just ask! This is where follow up is key and if your customer is happy with their experience, then making it as easy and frictionless as possible to leave feedback is going to be critical.

While I’m no expert here, my wife works at Twilio and mentioned a very interesting use case for leveraging SMS to help. Twilio allows for you to communicate with your customers via SMS. Not only can you send them reminders, or update them on their order status, but you can also send a link to them asking for a review. There are a couple of ways you can do this.

  1. Leverage a platform like Podium to help
  2. Leverage the Twilio integration with ActiveCampaign

Our Twilio integration lets you send SMS and push notifications from directly within your ActiveCampaign account. You can automatically send important notifications about order status, appointment reminders, and more – wherever your customers are. And you can connect Twilio and ActiveCampaign in just a few easy steps – all without leaving your automation workflow.

A Final Thought

It’s going to be a Small Business Saturday unlike anything we’ve seen before, and this year is primed for opportunities. Reviews, retention, social proof, PR, and most importantly, customer experience will keep your hard-earned customers coming back. Oh, and don’t forget to infuse a bit of holiday cheer into everything you do for the remainder of the year, you might just make someone’s day!