Mitch Harper, co-founder and CEO of ecommerce platform Bigcommerce, says social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ are "mission-critical marketing tools, as well as powerful customer service and sales tools," for small online retailers. "Be sure to update social profiles with current links, photos or videos of featured products, plus contact information to make the engagement experience for customers as simple as possible," he adds.
How-To: Use Social Media to Create Business Value
Similarly, Constant Contact's Cates recommends integrating social media channels with email. This is particularly pertinent during the holidays, because consumers are looking at all digital outlets to find the best deals. Cates suggests promoting your most recent email marketing campaigns on Facebook and Twitter. Include direct links to your social media pages in the body of email marketing messages, too.
4. Wow Your Readers With Holiday Rewards
The fact that someone has subscribed to your mailing list shows that he values your brand, and Cates says there's no better time to reward him for his loyalty than during the holiday season.
"We often talk with our customers about the importance of 'wow' experiences," he says. "If you can provide an experience that goes above and beyond what consumers have grown accustomed to from other retailers, then you have a good chance of securing a new loyal customer."
While there's a lot of talk about free shipping and other "wow" promotions during the holidays, Cates says you have to make sure you can incur the accompanying short-term losses for the potential of a long-term gain. If not, then there are other ways to wow, including offering exclusive discounts to loyal customers.
Likewise, Vendio's Effle recommends offering social followers and email subscribers special exclusives during the holidays. Position these offers next to your website's social icons to build those valuable social media marketing channels, he says-and don't forget to follow up in email and in social with those exclusive offers.
5. Remember Your Mobile Customers