THE BLOG
11/08/2013 04:02 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Why Mobile Is Your Money Maker This Holiday Season

Smartphones are at the top of Santa's wish list this year, but should mobile be a top priority for marketers? A study by Morgan Stanley reveals that 91 percent of U.S. citizens have mobile devices within reach 24/7. People can interact with businesses anywhere, at anytime, which makes mobile a fast and effective means for shoppers to deal-hunt or search for the perfect gift regardless of location. Make the mobile-economy work for you this holiday season and reap the benefits of customer loyalty plus a boost to your bottom line.

The International Telecom Union predicts that there will be more mobile phones on the planet than there are people in 2014. The proliferation of smartphones is not only changing how we do our jobs as marketers, but it is heightening the expectations of consumers, who now demand that brands offer an experience that is both personalized and convenient. Companies like Lover.ly, for example, have taken heed of this shift and have adjusted their marketing programs accordingly. The result? A major bump in traffic with mobile attributing to more than 30 percent of Lover.ly's overall site traffic, as well as users 'loving' or 'bundling' images 250 percent more on mobile devices. As smartphone usage becomes on par with -- and eventually surpasses -- desktop, marketers that incorporate mobile into their strategy stand to deliver significant business results.

Still not convinced? Last year's Cyber Monday is a huge indicator of where the market is heading and why you should be on board with mobile. According to ComScore's projections, the biggest online shopping event of the year generated $1.46 billion with more than half of that -- $750 million -- attributed to mobile sales. Invest in mobile before the holidays to turn consumers' mobile interactions into revenue-driving transactions.

To help you take advantage of mobile during the holidays, I've laid out three tips to guide your strategy:

1. Be Seamless Across Devices As simple as it sounds, consistency can go a long way. A Google study reveals that 90 percent of consumers use multiple devices to complete a task. What does this mean for marketers? It is critical that the end-user experience is not diluted as an individual moves from one device to the next. Consumers want to search for a product, read reviews, make comparisons and ultimately purchase on mobile just as easily as they can on desktop or tablet. Don't risk losing conversions simply because of inconsistency. Instead put the following best practices to work:
  • Provide a responsive design with improved load times and simple navigation. Take a tip from leading brands, like Nixon and HBC, which are known for flawless responsive designs and premium end-user experiences.
  • Cater to the limitations of mobile while being as seamless and complete as desktop. Fandango is an excellent example of a company that understands the size restrictions of mobile and combats this by removing non-essential text to arm customers only with the information they need.
  • Design mobile for mobile while being conscious of its desktop and tablet counterparts. Mobile activity varies distinctly from desktop and tablet use. Acknowledge these interactions and update your mobile site or app while remaining cohesive with other devices. Be aware of mobile specific needs such as click-to-call features and reservation booking capabilities.
2. Make Search Work For You (Not Your Competitors) On the most basic level, consumers visit your mobile site or app to find something. Whether it is to research a product or make a purchase, search is often becoming the first stop on their journey to completing a transaction. According to The Search Agency, mobile-based searches account for 25 percent of all searches, so make it easy for consumers to find what they are looking for on your mobile site by understanding how multiple devices play into the rank game. Mobile and desktop search are similar by nature, but require two distinctly different approaches. Mobile is largely dependent on location and characterized by immediate action following a search -- unlike desktop, which supports in-depth browsing with delayed action. Be smart about mobile search by taking the following into consideration:
  • Build a responsive web design that adapts to each devices unique format without requiring a separate site for tablet, mobile and desktop. This will ensure consumers get content how they expect it regardless of device and ultimately reduce your bounce rate and up your rank.
  • Create content for mobile and optimize images for mobile search.
  • Be in tune with how your site is performing through actively monitoring web analytics.

3. Compliment brick and mortar with mobile
Many marketers make the common misstep of placing mobile in a silo. In reality, your customers don't think about mobile as a separate 'channel' from your physical store. Hence marketers should focus on enhancing the in-store experience by pairing it with a complimentary mobile experience.

Take a page from CVS's playbook. With more than 7,400 locations across 44 states, the drug store has a large mobile presence, which contributed to an increase in mobile traffic in excess of 300 percent in 2011. To meet the needs of customers both in and outside of brick and mortar locations, CVS built a mobile pharmacy experience that allows customers to manage their prescriptions, fill out refills, find deals and submit orders that they can pick-up in store. Enhancing the customer experience regardless of device or location keeps customers happy and loyal.

Mobile incentives are another excellent way to enhance the in-store experience. According to Accenture Interactive, 72 percent of consumers, ages 20-40, use their mobile devices in-store to comparison shop. Reel in that 72 percent by utilizing location-based, real-time offers to send special discounts, limited time deals, or free shipping. Consider how each channel can compliment the other and orchestrate incentives across channels to maximize success.

Keep Optimizing All Year Long

Don't get caught out in the cold this holiday season. With November approaching, you still have time to invest in mobile and offer consumers a top-notch experience to rival your competitors. Of course, it doesn't stop there. After surviving the holiday rush, don't chalk it up as a good effort and call it a day. Take a step back to evaluate your successes and where you came up short. Understand consumers' mobile interactions and optimize the experience based off of these learnings. The key to ongoing mobile success is to listen to your customers and constantly optimize to match their needs.