Santa is Making a List and Checking it Twice: From His Mobile Device

October 13th, 2011 by

mobile shopping during the holidayIt’s already October, and the rapid succession of fall holidays is well underway. According to the Mobile Audience Guide, 50% of mobile consumers view their mobile devices as holiday shopping resources for product, store or sale information, and in a recent survey by PayPal, 46% of respondents said that they plan to make holiday purchases with mobile devices this year. Furthermore, Google predicts that more than 1/3 of smartphone and tablet users plan to start their Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving.

The holiday season is a unique time of the year due to shoppers’ frenzied focus on purchasing. There is no concept of “if” in their shopping plans; only “when,” “where,” “what,” and “how much.” Ultimately, if you don’t have your mobile holiday plans together, you’d better do it soon or you’ll miss out on a huge opportunity. This post will give you some tips and tricks to consider as you plan your holiday mobile marketing strategy.


According to Google, 15% of “Black Friday” searches and 44% of searches for last minute gifts and store locations will be from mobile devices. Furthermore, for the last two holiday seasons, mobile search queries for top retail brand terms peaked on the weekend after Thanksgiving and the weekend immediately before Christmas. By targeting mobile users during these time periods, you will get the most bang for your buck. For example, last year Target gave its customers access to Black Friday deals via their mobile devices on Thanksgiving Day.


For bricks-and-mortar retailers, getting customers into their physical stores is the holy grail. The hurried shopper has no time for research and is using a device with a small screen:  you should bid for no lower than the top two search positions. In addition, location-based targeting combined with locator information can help brands focus ad dollars on the customers who are nearby and more likely to visit their physical stores.


For most holiday shoppers, it’s difficult to get information about products; the display tags give minimal information, and the sales reps are too busy. Giving shoppers an easy way to access product information while in the store is imperative. This is best accomplished via QR codes or SMS triggers that drive customers to your mobile site, where more detailed product information is available. The site, whether accessed by in-store or couch shoppers, should enable a desirable experience or customers may abandon their research. According to Google, 61% of mobile users who get frustrated with non-mobile-optimized sites are unlikely to return, and 40% will visit competitors’ sites instead. Don’t forget to optimize for tablets:  according to the Wall Street Journal, consumers using iPads for online shopping make purchases 4%-5% of the time versus 3% for PC users, and eBay claims that tablet users spend 50% more than PC users.

How Much?

Retailers must be aware of the prices their competitors are advertising and be able to react to them. Of the 20% of shoppers who used smartphones in their shopping during the 2010 holiday season, 56% used their phones to check prices. This had so much of an impact that retailers believed 39% of store walkouts resulted from consumers conducting price checks from their mobile devices. If you can’t react to the deals your competitors are offering, you may be on the receiving end of an abandoned shopping cart. Furthermore, the more you can leverage your mobile site to offer discounts on your products, the more success you will have getting customers to visit your store and fill up their shopping carts.

Taking all of the above into consideration, we can look at 2010 for ideas to incorporate mobile into holiday campaigns for 2011. For example, Sears ran several mobile banner ad campaigns called “Guaranteed White Christmas” and “Be the Santa You Want to Be.” Both of these ads sent consumers to mobile-optimized, campaign-specific landing pages, where users could enter a sweepstakes, view helpful holiday information, and access the Sears website to shop. Target made the mobile web an integral part of its holiday marketing strategy; from the mobile site, customers could use holiday-themed search and browse capabilities to find gift ideas and get product information, sign up for text alerts on sale items, and join the mobile coupon program. Both of these campaigns encouraged additions to the retailers’ marketing database and enhanced the customer experience (and ultimately revenue) by making it easy to find and purchase gifts.

The reality is that if you haven’t yet finalized your holiday mobile marketing plans, you’d better hurry up. The holiday season turns shoppers into personal elves; if you don’t give the elf an enjoyable shopping experience, you might just end up on the naughty list.

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