Guest Post by Angelique Rewers
According to industry experts, this holiday season is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in recent history. Thanks to the still-uncertain economy, budget-conscious consumers, and the fact that shoppers today are savvier than ever (thank you mobile phone apps), retailers are pulling out all the stops to get your attention.

While the clutter filling up our mailboxes can be frustrating, there’s also a ton we can learn about the marketing strategies these companies are using to not only get our attention, but also our dollars as well.

Here are 5 marketing secrets you can borrow from the brand name retailers to add some extra cheer to your income this year.

Marketing Secret #1: Increase your open rates by using “trigger” emails.
It’s harder than ever to get people to open marketing emails today. But according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), triggered email messages have a 96% higher open rate and a 125% higher click-through rate than other messages. Take advantage of these numbers by ensuring you pre-set welcome emails after opt-in, thank you emails after purchase, follow-up emails after delivery and even “don’t forget” emails for abandoned shopping cart purchases.

Marketing Secret #2: ‘Tis the season for social sharing!
By now we all know the importance of integrating social media into our marketing strategy. But according to a study conducted by Econsultancy, emails that include at least one option to share content via social media generated 30% higher click-through rates compared with those that didn’t. And click-through rates went even higher, to 55%, when the email included three or more social sharing links. So not only does including social share links mean that your readers are more likely to engage — but that you’re also going to benefit from increased exposure.

Marketing Strategy #3: Think mobile.
According to research company comScore, more than 55% of Americans now use a smartphone. With 70 million of them accessing email on their mobile device — and nearly half doing so four or more times every single day — it’s critical to optimize your emails so that they are easily readable and, said simply, look good on a phone screen. Be sure to send test messages to your own phone and even ask a few friends to view your marketing emails on their phones as well.

Marketing Strategy #4: E-mail + direct mail performs better together.
More than one study has shown that marketing efforts that combine e-mail with physical mail, such as letters and postcards, yield a much higher response rate from customers than doing one or the other by itself. In fact, depending on how the numbers are crunched, direct mail can have a response rate of 10 to 30 times that of email and, when the two are combined, you can get as much as an 80% lift in response. The best approach is to time your snail mail to arrive in your target’s mailbox within a day or two of sending a similar-looking e-mail.

Marketing Strategy #5: Get face to face.
Have you ever noticed that online retailers suddenly pop up at kiosks and temporary storefronts at the mall this time of year? There’s a reason for that. Ultimately cutting through marketing noise requires you to get face to face with your target clients. It’s not surprising that a study done this fall found that 48% of professionals said they prefer interacting with potential service providers in a tradeshow setting — far outpacing other marketing channels.

Here’s one last thought to leave you with. Despite the perception that sending e-mail is the magic pill to growing your business today, the DMA has found that email’s average response rate is a measly 0.12%. So if you’re still putting all your eggs in the “I’ll just send more e-mail basket” —and yet you’re not seeing the financial results you want — it’s time to take a different marketing approach.

Known as The Corporate Agent, Angelique Rewers, ABC, APR, teaches micro business owners and solopreneurs around the world how to grow their small business by working with Big Business. Get her FREE CD and articles at