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SEO Web Design / SEO  / SMB’s guide to marketing: Stand out and boost sales during the holidays

SMB’s guide to marketing: Stand out and boost sales during the holidays

30-second summary:

  • Generate highly personalized and engaging campaigns to drive conversions.
  • Segment your contact list by analyzing historic customer data.
  • Remind customers you are appreciative of their support.
  • Leverage the power of social media to grow your lead base.
  • Create a sense of urgency to drive sales.
  • A/B test campaigns to determine top-performing content.

A study by Mastercard shows that 77% of Americans will choose to shop local this year, while 82% of them are likely to shop online. To make the most out of this surge, small businesses will have to focus their holiday marketing effectively on digital channels. This guide will take you through all the necessary steps to drive sales and customer engagement during these holidays. [1]

A. Take advantage of email marketing

1. Choose the right subject lines

As the holiday season is one of the busiest for your inbox, it is important to keep your subject line both impactful and festive. Your subject lines essentially determine whether or not a subscriber will open your email. A flawless subject line is both direct and urgent. By being direct you’re telling your audience what you have for them, such as a percentage discount or free shipping. The offer itself would be attracting their attention. Consumers will scan hundreds of sales, which would mean your offer has to be good enough to convince them. The holiday season creates the urgency itself hence it is such an effective time for the year for any small business. The urgency will be signaling to your customers what your campaign is related to. It’s ideal to use catchy phrases such as “holiday season[2]” or “holiday sale” as they will increase your open rates. As you personalize the subject line copy during the holidays, you can increase your open rate by 50%[3]

2. Drive your CTAs with personalized content and on-brand email designs

Holiday content has to be clear and conversational. SMBs[4] should capitalize on emotion-driven campaigns during the holidays as they create a sense of positivity that can be a powerful sales technique. Using an emotion-driven tone allows you to utilize limited-time language in your email subject lines and call-to-actions (CTAs). Similarly, on-brand email design captures the attention of your audience and guides them to your main message, and drives the desired CTAs. This is a savvy way to create a sense of urgency and increase sales. Take advantage of short paragraphs and bullet points, as you want to maintain the reader’s attention. Most email service providers have free email templates, as well as easy-to-use editors to guide you in the process of making eye-catching email designs. 

B. Use segmentation to send promotional emails for your holiday campaign

Email always provides better results when you tailor the message to the recipient. By targeting a smaller subset of your email contacts you can align the content with exactly what they need. An example of this could be sending an email to subscribers who have opened your last two emails, live in the US, and identify as women.

1. Understand customer purchase history

Targeting subscribers based on what they have purchased previously allows you to promote complementary products or suggest other products that could be of interest to them. Using the purchase history is an effective way to segment customers, as you can customize email sends to appeal to their purchase behaviors.

2. Customer preferences 

Customer-defined preferences guide you in creating email content that will appeal to subscribers. Empowering subscribers to set topics and frequency preferences at initial sign up give businesses a higher engagement rate than sending generic emails to your entire list of contacts. A common strategy for clothing businesses is to collect information about gender so they can tailor email content accordingly. However, depending on your business there may be other relevant fields you want to add, such as geographic location, age, etc.

3. Customer engagement on previous campaigns

Your subscribers’ level of engagement on previous marketing campaigns is another way to segment your contact list. Not only does this allow you to reward subscribers who have shown a higher level of interest in your business but it also lets you take a different approach with less engaged subscribers. This is a great practice to improve your email deliverability and increase overall engagement from your subscribers. 

C. Create a sense of urgency through email marketing and automation

The sense of urgency is a very powerful marketing tool, as email promotions creating urgency can increase sales by over 300%. To create a sense of urgency, consider planning a time-limited, flash sale campaign, and offer free shipping to entice customers. Using phrases such as “seasonal offer” or “last chance” in your email marketing campaigns can also drive customers to open your emails and purchase your products or offerings. During this time if your audience does not interact with your email campaigns, you can take advantage of marketing automation and send them reminder emails in hopes to re-engage them.[5]

It’s important to remember when you opt for this strategy to make sure the messaging is crystal clear. If not, you run the chance of encountering disgruntled customers. After successfully defining and finalizing the urgency messaging, test it across different customer segments. Once you identify the copy that drives the most conversions, share it broadly with your subscriber base.  

1. Use promotional discounts to attract shoppers

A survey in January 2020 asked online shoppers how their habits have changed compared to last year, the most popular answer depicted that consumers are purchasing from websites offering the lowest price. This holiday season shoppers will look for the best deals, though slashing prices won’t be the only way to attract customers but also looking at discounts that could be enticing such as a percentage off orders over a certain amount, complementary products with the purchase, or a simple discount on multiple products. If a product discount doesn’t seem feasible, exploring other options such as free shipping could be beneficial as well.[6]

2. Engage shoppers with abandoned carts through automation

There will always be shoppers who don’t complete their purchase and abandon their cart. Setting up automated abandoned cart emails during the holidays becomes an important tactic for small businesses to engage and win back these potential customers. Offering discounts and other promotions are an effective way to bring shoppers back to your site and finalize the sale given they are most likely browsing the different deals available.

To make the most out of the holiday season, small businesses should plan their campaigns early, test different strategies, and appeal to their audience by showcasing their appreciation for their support.

Steffen Schebesta is CEO at Sendinblue.


  1. ^ Mastercard (
  2. ^ holiday season (
  3. ^ increase your open rate by 50% (
  4. ^ SMBs (
  5. ^ creating urgency can increase sales by over 300% (
  6. ^ online shoppers how their habits have changed (

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