Holiday Marketing Tips to Attract Last Minute Shoppers

Holiday marketing at the last minute is just as important as at the beginning of the season. Use these helpful tips to attract last-minute shoppers.

For many small businesses, holiday marketing starts in earnest well ahead of the actual holiday season.

Other businesses — that are more attuned to the buying habits of their target audience — typically focus on last-minute holiday shoppers: those individuals who rarely do their holiday shopping ahead of time and rush days before to get it all done. People lead busy lives and often can't get to holiday shopping until it's almost too late.

Savvy businesses get this, and tailor their marketing message to reach these anxious customers. Here are holiday marketing tips you can keep in mind to attract this significant chunk of the holiday consumer market:

Get Your Website in Order
Frantic last-minute shoppers will click on your site in haste to find the right product or service, so it's imperative all contact information (phone, email, address, etc.) is up-to-date and clearly visible on every page. Hours of operation and driving directions are also convenient resources to feature prominently. Speaking of contact info, do a check of local search sites (like Google Places) to ensure online accuracy about your small business and to include details about sales or special holiday discounts.

It's also a good idea to create holiday-themed content that solves your customers' late buying problems, such as last-minute buying tips, gift suggestions and DIY holiday gift ideas. Additionally, you should make sure your site is optimized for users who do all their gift searching and purchasing through their mobile devices. Also consider adding an informative banner to your website that assures visitors your business is stocked, staffed and ready to accommodate customers in-store and online (even those patrons who need one- or two-day shipping) in time for the holidays.

Spread the Word on Social Media
Your business probably has a strong following on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere, so use it! Days before big holidays, announce a special "flash sale" with specific start- and end-times. Feature gift ideas on your Pinterest and Instagram feeds, and create a hashtag to make it easy for customers to find your offers, as Volume Nine suggests.

Twitter offers these additional ideas for motivating last-minute consumers:

  • Add a "ticking-clock" element. Tweet your followers about a "24-hour-only" steep discount on your products.
  • Share gift-selection ideas. Shoppers appreciate any help they can get when deciding what to buy.
  • Add images. Including photos (but not generic imagery) in your tweets increases the likelihood of an actual purchase.

On the day of your special offer, blast customers with a specific email headline. Being more direct is sometimes more effective than cleverness. Title the message with something like "Starts Now: 40% Off Everything" to get people's attention.

Explore the Use of Custom Cards
Social media and email are effective tools, but perhaps nothing resonates as much with consumers as a personalized or custom card. If possible, send out a holiday card (handwritten is best!) thanking loyal customers for their business and informing those last-minute shoppers of a sale your business will be holding late in the season. You can also distribute postcards announcing special discounts or advertising a "free gift with your next purchase" offer.

For greater impact, print the cards on high-quality paper stock or design a digital holiday card with the help of a graphic designer. People get excited when they receive a personalized message, either through snail mail or digitally.

Texting Works, Too
Provided you have their permission, texting customers about last-minute sales events is also effective. Again, adding a photo of your retail store or your featured products can entice shoppers to take the next step in their purchasing journey.

Many people do their holiday shopping only when they absolutely have to. The key for your small business is to take advantage of this shopping tendency and make sure customers are aware that you're fully equipped to serve them in this last-minute capacity.