How To Turn Mobile Browsers Into Mobile Buyers This Holiday Season

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Last year, Cyber Monday was the single biggest online shopping day ever, with e-commerce growth overtaking brick-and-mortar sales growth. Yet, according to IBM’s 2013 Cyber Monday Report, mobile only accounted for 17 percent of sales, and a mere 5.5 percent of those came from smartphones.

Despite that, mobile devices are still the way most shoppers choose to go online, even if they aren’t clicking the “checkout” button quite yet. Last year, mobile traffic accounted for nearly 32 percent of Cyber Monday’s online traffic (which was an increase of 45 percent from the previous year) and 40 percent of Black Friday’s online traffic. That means people are increasingly checking out retailers’ offerings on their phones — they’re just not buying on them.

Instead, the majority of the sales from that traffic still come through physical stores. This phenomenon is often called “webrooming” — or researching the product online and visiting the physical store to make a purchase. This means that your online mobile presence is just as important as your physical one, and good design, easy accessibility, and updated information are key to building a successful purchase path for the rest of 2014.

Tailor Your Experience to the Mobile Shopper

While m-commerce is undoubtedly growing, shoppers are still primarily buying goods in brick-and-mortar stores. Macy’s knew this when it previewed its Cyber Monday deals with in-store banner ads on Black Friday last year. However, there are several ways that you can prepare for the holiday season with a streamlined, effective mobile marketing strategy. These include:

1. Using owned media. While there will be no shortage of advertisements this holiday season, shoppers respond best to campaigns in owned media channels such as brand websites, email, and social media. These represent brands’ and retailers’ biggest opportunities because these platforms provide the best information about potential shoppers and enable companies to personalize their content. But remember: Too much personalization is just plain creepy, so make sure shoppers opt in to your messages.

2. Perfecting your email. Email marketing accounts for 16 percent of orders, so it’s crucial that you incorporate clear calls to action and utilities that cater to shopper preferences. Those preferences include shopping in a retail location. Start with a simple “find a store” call to action, then take it a step further by incorporating dynamic locations into your emails directly, showing potential shoppers the closest physical location based on where they’re reading the email.

3. Tailoring your search. Search is still a major gatekeeper for e-commerce sales, with more than 40 percent of e-commerce orders coming from organic and paid searches. Segment your desktop, tablet, and mobile strategies, and be sure to send your mobile users to dynamic landing pages to show them the nearest store location. First and foremost, present mobile shoppers with the location; offer m-commerce as a secondary option.

4. Remaining aware of discount fatigue. Use discounts sparingly to solidify a sale once you have some signal of purchase intent — whether it’s in search or through a store locator visit.

5. Embracing webrooming. Create great mobile product pages and showcase reviews, but don’t try to convert browsing to a sale unless the shopper is on a tablet. If the shopper is on his smartphone, make it easy to find a location, get directions, find out whether a product is in stock, and view store hours.

This will give the brand a new power that it didn’t have when considerations and purchase decisions were made completely in-store. For instance, it allows retailers to provide product reviews and information that can incite brand consideration from consumers stuck in the research and early consideration phases.

Making your mobile experience easy to use is important. But it’s even more important to keep customers coming back by offering an experience that’s tailored to their habits. This year, Lancôme is already promoting its holiday gift sets by doing two smart things on its mobile site: highlighting free shipping to encourage buying online and acknowledging its customers’ preferred purchase path by placing “find a store” front and center.

Don’t fight what customers want. Instead, make it easy to browse and buy the way they’re already shopping, and you’ll see great results.

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