Make the Most of Mobile

Sparked Joseph_headshotThis year, mobile retail sales are estimated to reach $34.2bn (£20.9bn). That’s an increase of more than $13bn from 2012, a year when mobile users already spent six times as many minutes on mobile retail sites than they did in 2011. What’s more, 16 per cent of eCommerce sales are now happening on mobile, convincing companies of the increasing need to optimize their mobile sales efforts. All that is to say, it’s going to become increasingly difficult to stand out during this busy holiday season. Here are a few pointers on how companies can increase their mobile engagement this December.

Optimize mobile site performance
When customers are engaged through a mobile site, using responsive design will ensure that customer engagement will appear optimally on any device. Unsurprisingly, having a bad first experience due to poor navigation or usability is one of the leading causes of customers not returning to a mobile app or website. In fact, 57 per cent of viewers are likely to drop off if page loads take three seconds or longer.

Make way for “web-rooming”
Approximately 88 per cent of shoppers now prefer to browse products online or on mobile, but make purchases in the store. Otherwise known as “web-rooming,” this trend is becoming more and more commonplace as people take advantage of browsing products from the comfort and privacy of their homes to draw upon that online research when buying products in store. Although it may seem simpler for consumers to simply seal the deal on their purchases from home, marketers shouldn’t forget the inexplicable pull that comes from the “spirit of the season” that drives people to bricks-and-mortar stores. Generally, consumers still want in-store experiences to enjoy the sentiment of holiday shopping.

So, how can marketers make a smooth transition from in-home browsing to in-store purchases? Consumers know which products they want to see, feel, and try on, in person. 55 per cent of parents who own smartphones expect to check availability of items on mobile before going to a store to make purchases. By showing customers whether the merchandise they’re interested in is available in store, and ensuring all promotions and prices online match those in store, web-rooming can be accommodated by strategic tactics that make it easy for customers to add items they can access in store to their holiday wish lists.

“Push” customers Into stores
One of the best ways to catch the attention of target audiences during the holiday season is with push notifications. But in so doing, marketers must walk a fine line between engagement and annoyance. There’s no need to blast everyone with the same message, as marketers can now send highly targeted push notifications to more effectively drive engagement. These notifications can be custom sent to target groups based on purchase history, website visit behaviour, and individual interests.

In this new era of mobile engagement, consumer shopping continues to evolve in unimagined ways. Customers are diversifying their shopping habits now more than ever, and this trend is especially apparent during the holidays. With this shift in shopping, there has also come a shift in marketing to accommodate a burgeoning eCommerce industry. Now, marketers have the unique opportunity to harness mobile to transform engagement between consumers and brands this holiday season.

Use holidays to drive sales all year
Family members and friends know that the best gift ideas for loved ones are conceived well before November and December, and marketers should realize that, too. While the holidays are a unique and crucial moment for marketers to engage shoppers and take advantage of this prime season for revenue, top companies will pay close attention to their customers throughout the year.

Companies that employ a year-round engagement strategy will not only have a leg up on the competition, but will be more fully equipped to understand which discounts and products their customers are most interested in for the upcoming holiday season. Marketers will have the most success in driving revenue when they have already built a relationship of connections and engagement through mobile devices and social media throughout the year. If marketers can succeed in doing that, companies will be able to move away from tactic-driven holiday strategies and move toward holiday shopping that develops as a natural result of engaged customer relationships.

Joseph Pigato is managing director at Sparked