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The holiday shopping season is crucial for small businesses

Date posted:  11/3/14 08:15:00 AM Small businesses must lure customers during the holiday shopping season.

It's never an easy task for small business owners to come up with an effective marketing plan. With fierce competition in the retail industry and a struggling economy that is keeping many consumers from making extra purchases, a solid marketing campaign can give a company a serious leg up during the busy holiday season.

But how much will it cost for a business to reach consumers? According to Deluxe Corporation, a provider of marketing services and business products for small businesses, entrepreneurs and business owners don't need to break the bank to come up with a marketing strategy that provides immediate impact.

The holiday shopping season is crucial to the success of small businesses
More than half of all small businesses see a major jump in sales during the holiday shopping season, according to the Deluxe Annual Holiday Shopping Survey, which polled 501 small businesses owners around the country.

But this year, there are only 26 days between Black Friday and Christmas, meaning businesses must strike quickly while the iron is hot. Retail and service companies can do this by reaching consumers with a marketing plan that will lure them to their stores during the holiday season.

Malcolm McRoberts, senior vice president of small business services for Deluxe, said business owners can take advantage of the busy shopping season with limited marketing investment.

"Owners are so busy running their dream business that marketing can become an afterthought," McRoberts said in a statement. "This survey shows that, with only a minimal marketing investment, small business owners can capitalize on holiday sales and build a foundation for success in the coming year."

The benefits of a successful email marketing plan
One of the most cost efficient ways for businesses to reach potential customers is through an email marketing plan. Business 2 Community reported for every dollar a company spends on email marketing, the business sees an average return of $44.

The survey from Deluxe revealed 55 percent of small business owners in the retail industry spend less than $500 on holiday marketing promotions. Very few spent more than $5,000, as nearly 90 percent of respondents spent less than that amount. The survey found that the majority of small businesses rely on word-of-mouth to spread their holiday promotions.

When tackling an email marketing plan, it's best to make the emails feel as personalized as possible. The broader and more vague the email, the more likely the target audience will disregard the promotion or information as spam.

It's also generally a smart move to coordinate email campaigns with the look and feel of a company's website. When a company shapes its emails to look like its website, this helps promote brand identity and creates a look that customers can begin to recognize without much thought.

The Deluxe survey reported 37 percent of small businesses use customer emails for marketing campaigns. Social media is also very popular, with 46 percent of respondents stating their businesses use social media platforms to advertise sales or promotions.

It all goes back to what is affordable
David Shiba, general manager of VerticalResponse, a provider of self-service email and social media marketing tools for small businesses, spoke of the Deluxe Survey and stated a growing number of small businesses are utilizing email and social media as a marketing channel because they are more affordable than other marketing options.

"By using tools designed to coordinate the delivery and timing of their online marketing messages and promotions, small businesses will be able to more efficiently reach their customers and increase sales during the all-important holiday shopping season," Shiba said in a statement.