Although the beginning of a new school year isn’t an official holiday, it can still be a very important time for local businesses. Not only are parents and kids preparing for this time by purchasing items like clothing school supplies, sporting equipment and teacher gifts, they are also spending on services like daycare and after-school programs, salon services, and health checkups.

A new school year can also mean the beginning of a season of specials. And if your business offers seasonal discounts and promotions, you may already know some basic do’s and don’ts for running promotions online.  But if you’re planning any seasonal offers this year, here are a few lessons to help your online promotional marketing make the grade.

Language Arts: Writing an Effective Ad Campaign

When advertising your seasonal offer online, there many tactics you can use. Two effective strategies include display advertising and search advertising. Individually, they can help get your promotion in front of consumers, but used together, text ads and display ads can often boost conversions from potential customers. So, here are a few key lessons you should consider when creating your ads:

  • Both text ads and display ads have a very limited amount of space, so they should include language that is descriptive yet concise so that the reader can easily identify who you are and what product or service you are promoting.
  • Targeting is important for each type of ad. For text ads, you should target keywords that directly represent the products or services you are promoting, and always include these keywords within the text ad itself. And, to make sure your display ads are shown to the right audience, strategies like geographic and behavioral targeting can help place your ads in front of consumers in your area who are already searching for products or services like yours.
  • Another important element each should have is a strong call-to-action. You should always direct your consumers on what action they should take, especially when it comes to online seasonal promotions. Actionable statements, like “Start Saving Today,” “See Our Special Pricing,” “Sign Up for a Free Gift”, can convey the value of your promotion and influence consumers to click.

Extra Credit: 5 Text Ad Best Practices, 5 Elements of a Good Display Advertising Campaign

Social Studies: Promoting Offers Across Your Social Media Sites

There’s no doubt about it: using social media to connect with your consumers is necessary to your Web presence. And, while you should use social media to share content about your products, services, and business, you can also use it to promote sales and seasonal offers. Here are some ideas on how you can use social media to extend your promotion to your fans and existing and potential customers:

  • Facebook Offers provide you the opportunity to share discounts on Facebook by creating a special offer and posting it to your business Facebook wall. When a fan clicks to receive the special, Facebook emails the offer to your fan and they redeem the offer at your business location. Your fans can also share the offer in their newsfeeds, raising awareness about your business and potentially generating new customers for you.
  • Sharing exclusive offers with your social media fans and followers is a great way to thank loyal customers and to engage new customers as well. Creating a special catch phrase customers can use when they come into your business is one way to do this. For example, a popular cupcake store can promote a phrase related to a particular flavor, for example “Go bananas!”, with the message that the first 50 people who go to the store and say the phrase will get a free banana cupcake.

Extra Credit: 7 Ways to Reward Your Facebook & Twitter Followers, Top Social Media & SEO Tips 

Web Mastering: Adding Your Promotion to Your Website

When consumers visit your website, whether from search, text ads, display ads, or social media pages, there are several important elements your website should have. For example, your website should identify the products or services your business offers, a way for visitors to contact you, and your competitive differentiators. One way to convert your potential customers is to display special seasonal promotions on your website or landing page. Keep these important details in mind:

  • If you run seasonal search and display ads, make sure to have a unique landing page for your seasonal offers.  Also, when you drive consumers to the seasonal landing page, make sure that the messages align. If consumers see one offer in a text ad and the message on the landing page is completely different or missing altogether, they may see your business as misleading and you could miss out on getting a new customer.
  • If your promotion lasts for a limited amount of time, make sure to include the details about the specific dates your offer is valid. It’s also important to remember to take down seasonal promotion advertisements once the promotion has ended. Keeping these elements up-to-date will ensure that you set positive expectations about your promotions.

Extra Credit: Do I Need a Landing Page for My Online Advertising?, How To: Build an Effective Lead Management Process

Math: Measuring and Tracking Your Results

No matter how you choose to advertise your promotion online, you should always measure and track your advertising results in order to see the true ROI of your online campaigns. Tracking how each campaign performs can help you make informed decisions about future promotions and advertising tactics, as well as give you valuable insight into what types of promotions work best for your business. Here are a couple of tools you can use to help measure the performance of your seasonal promotions:

  • Google Analytics is an analytics tool that tracks clicks to your website. By understanding the paths consumers take to get your website, you can adjust your online marketing strategy to target the right consumers from the right places.
  • Another great tool you can use to see the effectiveness of your online marketing is call tracking. By having a unique tracking number for each type of online advertising, you can identify what kinds of advertising are generating leads for your business. Also, by listening to recorded calls, you can make important decisions about customer service and employee training.

Extra Credit: 5 Ways to Improve Conversion Rates on Your Website, Sales Leads: What to Do After the Call 

What grade would you give your seasonal promotions? Are there any other online advertising strategies that have worked for your small business? Let us know in the comments!