Six ideas to help you use your website to make magic this holiday season

If you’ve stepped outside your house in the last few days, you know the holiday season is here. And while I wish we could all just simmer down with the holiday cups and Christmas lights (really? already?), I’m not the norm in this area. So, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em right? Here are six ideas for small businesses and nonprofits to use their website this holiday season and step ahead of the competition. If you want to increase your sales or raise more money before the end of 2018, keep reading.

Small Business ideas for the holiday season

Use a promotional pop-up on your website to offer an exclusive online deal

There is one thing we can all agree on -- people love a deal and love to think they are saving money. Come up with a really great holiday discount and offer it exclusively on your website through a pop-up or temporary landing page. Now, can we talk about 10% off? Is that really a deal? Our kids’ school did a discount card this year and one of the “deals” turned out to be about an average of 13 cents off. Seriously? Make it worth someone’s time and remember that while it might feel like you’re losing money, the math almost always works out in the business’ favor (i.e. that person probably wouldn’t have spent any money with you without the deal). Make your offer clear and concise and resist posting the code anywhere else. Your website stats will thank you.

Create a gift guide and only make it available on your website

I can’t be the only person already stressing about making that Christmas list. I get overwhelmed easily so if you’re going to give me ideas for everyone on my list that I can accomplish in one order or visit to your store, I’m in. To make your guide successful, remember these three tips:

  1. The guide needs to be mobile-friendly so either make it into a PDF to download or ensure your site is mobile-friendly. (Preferably, do both!)

  2. The guide should have all the information a person needs to make their purchase on the spot. Consider adding a page at the beginning or end with shipping deadlines, tax information, and your store hours/location if you don’t offer online shopping.

  3. It doesn’t have to be fancy but it should be professional and instill confidence in your brand, your product, and you. Be sure to edit for spelling and grammar, ensure photos are clear and good quality, and ask a friend to read it over before publishing it.

Think a gift guide won’t apply to your business? Be creative! Try to imagine how several different people could connect to your product or service and then build ideas around those.

For example, take photographers. Offer a guide on how you can give the gift of memories! Feature albums that can be filled with your own photos, gift cards for photo sessions, and a free download on what to wear on Christmas morning for the best DIY photo shoots.

Make the gift guide a focus on your home page and link to it throughout your site. Even consider a mini social media campaign to promote the guide and watch your website traffic spike!

Stop selling your product and start selling a solution to a common problem

When you turn on the tv, radio, or computer, we’re bombarded with the latest and greatest products. But unless we’re personally experiencing a need for those items, we typically tune it all out. The trick to standing out in this space is to sell a solution, not a product, and remind people that they do in fact, have a problem.

  • Tired of dry skin? My lotion is the only product you need.

  • Need the perfect holiday dress and short on time to shop? Our selection is the best and we offer free shipping.

You get it. Find the problem you solve, tell them why you solve it best and then make the link to the product before taking people to your shopping page, where you include actual customer stories of how you solved their problem!

Nonprofit holiday ideas that will set you apart

If you’re relying on sad eyes and a pitch that tells people their gift will keep your doors open, stop right there. You can do better! Here are three simple ideas to keep your cause front and center this holiday season and set you apart from the hundreds of other great organizations also hoping to meet those campaign goals.

Start a story on social media and then continue it on your website

This is the season for storytelling. Hopefully you’ve been consistent this year in collecting heartwarming stories from those you serve. It’s time to start sharing those stories to demonstrate the impact you’re making. Break the story into two parts and post part one on your preferred social network. Then post the story in its entirety over on your website and link to that specific page! Be sure to stop part one at a place that encourages a reader to find out what happens. And, tie the story back to how your services made all the difference (with a link to donate, obviously).

If you’re feeling really ambitious, create a little web series with stories and social proof for your organization. No need to buy fancy equipment — a simple iPhone will do the trick.

Stop asking for money and start giving people an opportunity to solve a problem with your help

Yes, people are feeling generous already and tis the season for people to pull out their checkbooks and decide how they will check that charity box. But the most successful nonprofits aren’t asking for money. They are asking people if they want to help them solve a problem. Why is your community better because of what you do? What problems are being solved through your work? Focus on those and how others can be a part of the solution (through their gift). Remember to include a secure link to give online and make it easy for donors to give, whether they are on a desktop or a mobile device.

Vary the voice - use multiple people to ask multiple ways

In a season where you’re asking for help multiple times in multiple ways, it’s helpful to change the tone of voice. Ask a board member to write the email appeal. Or, use a volunteer to do a series of guest posts on your blog or social media feed. As directors, we can get a little prideful in thinking our way of telling the story is best (I know, that was me some years!). But when we let someone else take the lead, we’ll often share a different perspective that might resonate with a new audience. Post the content of your emails or direct mail appeal on your blog, your website, and your social media feeds.

I hope you’ll implement one or more of these ideas this holiday season and track the results. Share with me what you’re working on, your strategy or questions in the comments or over on my social media sites (linked below). And if you would like to talk more about ways I can help you tell your story well in 2019, please schedule a free call with me. I love to talk through new ideas and help people find creative solutions to their biggest challenges.

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