Retailers can expect mobile devices to impact sales and play a greater role in buying decisions this holiday than last. Mobile as a percentage of site traffic on Black Friday shot up to 24% in 2012 from 14.3% the previous year. Sales over smartphones and devices on Black Friday rose to 16% in 2012, up from 9.8% in 2011.
Given mobile's increasing momentum heading into the holiday, the pressure will be on for retailers to deliver a superior mobile experience. Indeed, retailers are investing in a multitude of site features and services, marketing programs, mobile initiatives and more to maximize holiday results, according to a survey by shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation.
The "Pre-Holiday Retailer Survey" conducted with Prosper Insights & Analytics, showed that mobile is weaving its way into all aspects of digital retail. More than half of retailers surveyed said that a mobile-optimized website is one of their most important investments this year.
The survey found that search and email are key ingredients for holiday marketing. Close to half (46%) of retailers are investing in Google Product Listing Ads for this holiday, while another third (38%) want to deliver personalized emails to their customers.
In other findings, free shipping will be alive and well again this holiday. In late 2012, Google found that nearly half of all shoppers will leave a site if it does not offer free shipping. Retailers aren't taking any chances. More than one-third (38%) of retailers surveyed are analyzing and investing in free shipping offers that include a minimum purchase threshold.
With mobile a top-of-mind priority, here are some recommendations from IBM's "Sixth Annual Online Retail Holiday Readinesss Report" on how retailers can maximize their mobile marketing efforts:
• Mobile email: Marketing emails can render attractively on one device, and messily on another. Use an email rendering tool to preview how mobile email displays across different devices, browsers and email clients.
• SMS text messaging: With high open and response rates, text messaging is a great way to get your message in front of on-the-go consumers. The range of potential communications is broad, from one-way broadcast messages to two-way interactions with coupons, text-to-win promotions and more. Securing opt-in is essential, and is best achieved by promotions through conventional email, website and display ad channels.
• Location-based targeting: This type of targeting enables brick-and-mortar retailers and others to reach consumers via SMS text messaging and other means with immediacy and geographic precision.
• Digital ads and recommendations: Mobile devices offer a way to retarget shoppers after they've left your site with either brand or product-specific ads that link to a mobile-optimized landing page. Analytics can tell retailers what sort of content most interests mobile users, allowing for customized communications.