Holidays? There’s an app for that?

You can feel it in the air, Christmas time is finally here. The still cold night lit only by the moon’s reflection on the snow below. Inside, the stockings are hung, the tree is dressed, and little Timmy is curled up by the fire… browsing on his Smartphone. He isn’t talking or texting, but frantically searching for gifts to buy. And he isn’t alone. In fact, Google has found that 67% of consumers research online prior to purchasing during the holiday season.

The holidays are rapidly changing. Mobile is becoming an increasingly integral part of consumers’ holiday experiences as people use their Smartphones for a wide variety of activities including finding store locations, comparing prices, getting information, obtaining coupons, and accessing social media.[1] But the holidays aren’t only for consumers.

In some ways, Mobile has been the greatest gift an advertiser could hope for. With 70% of Smartphone owners using their phones while shopping, and nearly half of all users looking for product information in-store[2], advertisers have a direct and incredibly valuable channel through which to communicate their message – All while consumers are actively receptive! The fact that 44% of total searches for last minute gifts will come from mobile devices this year is just the kick in the proverbial eggnog.

However, the secret is out. Many advertisers are starting to pick up on the potential of Mobile Advertising, and their numbers are only growing. According to eMarketer, Mobile ad spending will grow 47% to $1.8 billion in 2012. Clearly this channel is becoming more and more contested. If you’re going to successfully leverage Mobile to maximize your holiday shopping potential, you must be aware of consumer and industry trends, or even Saint Nick himself won’t be able to deliver a return for you.

One way to benefit from Mobile is to focus some of your efforts on social media platforms, where only 36% of retailers currently say they plan to spend most of their holiday marketing budgets, up from 27% in 2010. This growth isn’t altogether surprising as over 75% of consumers now rely on social media when researching new products.[3] Another interesting trend is one of timing. Those who regularly use social media platforms often invest in their Facebook and Twitter accounts in advance of the holidays. Leave the last minute shopping to consumers.

With all the opportunities created by Mobile, more traditional approaches are often forgotten. Some, however, might still be valid. Just remember to update your approach to best accommodate consumers’ habits. Take, for example, couponing. Consumers are always looking for deals to maximize the value of their purchases, and 55% of them plan to use coupons this year. Something as simple as sending an instant coupon to consumer’s Smartphones as they pass a storefront can be a powerful motivator.

The importance of diversifying your online marketing campaigns is highlighted by the multitude of options available for your marketing campaign. Just remember that your strategy should include Mobile, Search and Social components to truly maximize your returns this holiday season. Happy Holidays!

This blogpost was co-written by Temujin Louie and Genevieve Couture.

[1] Deloitte’s 2011 Annual Holiday Survey

[2] Briabe Media, 2011

[3] IBM Report, 2011