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Holiday digital-marketing strategies for small businesses

With the holiday shopping season approaching, Santa’s workshop isn’t the only thing buzzing with activity. Search engine activity spikes every year as the holidays approach. It’s likely that your current and potential customers are creating at least some of that online activity.

Search engine activity follows the same flow as in-store shopping during the holiday season. Volume starts to pick up around Thanksgiving, and high traffic occurs on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While some of that volume will be consumers making online purchases, many searches won’t directly result in a sale. In fact, Google says more than half of shoppers research their purchases online but do their actual buying in-store.

Managing your online presence is important all year round, but how well you accomplish that task can directly impact your bottom line during the holidays.

Refining your keywords is an ongoing process, and the holiday season may call for more adjustment. Tailor your keywords to match the categories and terms that are most popular for searches during peak holiday times. For example, if your keywords include "flatscreen TV deals" you might consider throwing a holiday-specific term in, like "flatscreen TV holiday deals."

Marketing to existing and potential customers through social media will also be an important aspect of your digital efforts during the holidays. Sites like Facebook and Twitter can help you communicate with consumers about holiday deals, provide special coupons and incentives, and let you know what your customers are thinking about your product or service. Be sure to regularly update all your social media outlets to help keep consumers engaged and aware.

If you haven’t been using a social media platform to help you monitor all of your social media accounts, give yourself an early holiday gift and start using one. Platforms like YourBuzz, a free social media monitoring and management tool from American Express OPEN, can help you manage your online reputation by consolidating your business listings and social media mentions in a single, easy-to-use dashboard.

Knowing what your customers are saying about you is more important than ever during the holidays. With YourBuzz, an easy-to-use business app, you can:

* Find out what customers are saying about your business
* Access and track your information on CitySearch, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and other popular websites
* Aggregate your customer reviews, ratings and online mentions
* Respond, retweet or create a new conversation
* See how you stack up to your competitors
* Get recommendations for actions to take

You can learn more and sign up for free at www.yourbuzz.com/results.

Social media, paid search and other digital marketing tactics can help you ensure the holiday season is bright – and profitable – for your small business this year. If you want to generate excitement around your business in the lead up to the holidays make sure to use YourBuzz to raise your online profile and take part in the discussion about your brand.

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