By Rieva Lesonsky
Text marketing: With more Americans using mobile devices and texting, text messaging (also called SMS) is going to grow in importance. One way it will be used is to target offers to customers more specifically by finding out exactly what they want. How would it work? For example, a clothing retailer could text customers an offer for a $5 off coupon if they answer the question, “What’s your favorite clothing item to shop for?” If the customer answers “Shoes,” you’d know to send them special offers for shoes going forward. You can also use SMS to send limited-time offers such as “flash” sales.
Mobile commerce: We saw during the holidays that mobile commerce is hot and getting hotter. The growth of tablet sales will only accelerate this trend. Even if your website is optimized for mobile use (and many still aren’t), there is more to be done, especially for e-tailers. Practical Ecommerce advises e-tailers to “integrate up-selling, cross-selling, and similar online merchandising into the smartphone-friendly versions of their sites.”
Subscription sales: Subscriptions aren’t just for magazines and newspapers anymore. The subscription model, in which consumers or businesses pay a pre-set monthly or annual fee for products or services, is great for businesses because it means a recurring income stream. Setting subscriptions up to renew automatically unless the customer turns them off can lessen attrition. While most of us are familiar with and use subscriptions for things like cloud storage services or cell phone minutes, the trend is moving into different arenas. Practical Ecommerce cites the example of Manpacks, a company that lets men subscribe to underwear, socks, shirts and shaving kits delivered at regularly scheduled intervals (kind of like an “underwear of the month club”).
Triggered emails: Triggered emails, which are sent in response to a certain customer behavior or interaction (such as abandoning a shopping cart), were a hot tactic in 2011 and promise to continue strong this year. You can trigger emails for all kinds of events, such as emailing customers offers for discounts on their next purchase if they review a recent purchase.
Video content: I’ve been reading about the importance of video content for a while now, but many small businesses still aren’t taking advantage of this marketing method. With YouTube the second most popular search channel after Google, and the average American watching 20 hours of online video per month, the demand is out there. Videos help your site rank higher in search engines and are popular on social media. Consider a video that demonstrates your product, shares your expertise or spotlights your loyal customers.
Image by Flickr user squidish (Creative Commons)