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How to Increase Mobile Sales for the 2018 Holiday Season

Erin Azar
Erin Azar

The 2018 Holidays spell “opportunity” for mobile-focused  brands that can drive engagement, retention, and sales with personalized push notifications, timely in-app messages, and relevant SMS offers to deserving segments.

The holidays carry obvious opportunity for digital-driven, mobile-ready retail brands. If you’re anything like me, you (quite admittedly) rely on your mobile device to accomplish most of your daily tasks. When it comes to seasonal shopping, as with the majority of consumers, it begins and ends with my smartphone.

I wasn’t surprised to learn that U.S. retail mobile commerce sales were up more than 40% in Q4 2017 (comScore Inc.). It’s also no shock that retail sales made via a mobile device are expected to grow about 33% in 2018 (eMarketer, 2018).

But what about during the holiday season?

In 2017, sales on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) yielded $35.9 billion during the holidays — a 28% Y-o-Y increase (Adobe). Sales made using smartphones accounted for 23% of all holiday purchases, and mobile sales on individual holidays is also increasing by the year.

Mobile ad conversions on jumped 40% on Singles Day, 28% on Black Friday, and 35% on Cyber Monday from 2016 to 2017. Source: eMarketer

Holiday sales made on #mobile devices are increasing by the year – 2017 mobile #holiday sales were up 28% from the year prior      CLICK TO TWEET

Simply enabling a responsively-designed mobile website or having a mobile app or building in-app mobile pay options (which were turning heads 7 to 9 years ago) is no longer enough. So how can you optimize your mobile strategy for maximum Holiday sales? Well, the most important aspects for smartphone shoppers during the Holidays include ease-of-use, safe and secure payments, saving money with coupons and deals, and being able to quickly, easily find whatever they’re looking for.

mobile holiday sales

Help satisfy mobile shoppers’ desires by offering relevant in-app notifications, personalized push notifications, and helpful SMS messages during the Holidays. (Source)

This season, we’re going to show you how to capitalize on these desires. So, instead of playing catch up, you’ll be ready to own the 2018 Holidays.

Use Cross-Channel Customer Data

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To add to changing mobile technological capabilities, marketers find themselves caught in the middle of an evolving web of finicky online behavior being unwittingly spun by “mobile-assisted” consumers. “Mobile-assisted” shoppers constantly “showroom,” jump from one device to another, and decide, ad-hoc, to abandon one purchase in lieu of another. Consumers are armed with a multitude of channels to research, price-compare, and purchase products. They will quickly hop off of your app to their tablet, desktop, or other device to research (or worse, purchase) an item on a competitor’s website with a more affordable price point.

Yet it’s precisely this proliferation of options that affords you the valuable cross-channel data they’re generating, and that’s your secret weapon. Driving engagement, retention, and sales during the Holidays starts with quality data.

In a digital landscape defined by greater technological chaos than ever, it will take a novel, calculated approach for mobile marketers to drive more sales in Q4. In order to rise above the noise, you can leverage customer data in conjunction with the right marketing technology to:

  • Personalize Holiday offers and send right-time push notifications to encourage engagement
  • Deliver strategic in-app notifications
  • Send text messages to re-engage customers

Let’s talk about how you can capitalize on these trends to boost more sales than ever this Holiday season.

Master Holiday-Related Push Notifications

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Push notifications are a fantastic way to target consumers with last-minute promotions, deals, and unique campaigns.

► Use push notifications to create urgency

Countdown cadences or “deals-of-the-day” perform especially well around the Holiday season. These campaigns carry a certain “act now, or miss out” nuance that can be especially action-oriented when you need it most.

Over time, you can test which notifications have the best opt-in and response rates to make changes to the copy, CTA, or timing.

Deliver In-App Notifications

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85% of shoppers prefer to make purchases on a retailer’s app than the mobile website. Conversion rates on apps are also 120% higher than on mobile-optimized web or desktop. So, inspire actions when users are in your app with in-app messages.

Did You Know? An estimated one in four people download an app, use it once, then abandon it forever. This phenomenon is common during the holiday season – when people are looking to price match, use a discount, or try a business’ app for an easier one-time checkout. In order to combat this trend, ensure your app offers easy usability, a clean interface, and differentiated value for the user.

► Target customers based on distinct in-app behavior and history

Mobile behavior tracking data will lend insight into how users are engaging with your app – what pages they’re looking at, what buttons they click, when they take certain actions, and when they bounce.

This is a picture-perfect opportunity to dazzle with personalized incentives that re-engage users at various stages within their app experience. In-app notifications can be set up to fire based on certain action-triggers, and can be automatically deployed with personalized content aimed at driving behavior during  that important  in-app moment.

Pro Tip: Retarget across social media. On Black Friday 2017, 74% of online conversions from Facebook referrals in the US were on a mobile device, compared with 53% in 2016, with similar growth the rest of Cyber Weekend (eMarketer, 2018). Use data that customers are sharing with you to bring them back to your platform when they’re browsing social sites with CRM ads.

User SMS to Drive Action

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During November and December – when many companies are shooting out mass marketing to their entire database or broad segments – the more personalization you use, the better.

Connect with customers with texts containing personalized messages — like coupons, incentives, and promotions.

► Use SMS for holiday-related personalized coupons

Data from eMarketer reveals that more than 90% of people will redeem a coupon or code via their mobile device while shopping this year. Coupons were the most used tactic by mobile marketers last year.

Over the past two years, mobile coupon usage has spiked a combined 30%, and continues to rise. Nearly every (98%) SMS message is opened in the first minute, too, so texting is a great vehicle to send coupons.

“Calling” You to Action

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While customer needs and preferences should greatly influence your mobile strategy, many B2C brands subsequently find themselves in the position of having to catch up, keep pace, or unfortunately, guess what customers want. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Mobile has recently reached a tipping point in the U.S. where more people are buying on mobile apps than in a browser or on a desktop computer. Mobile marketing has, always will be, about driving customer loyalty. The way in which marketers must forge loyal users is changing each day – the ubiquity of the mobile phone has fundamentally changed the dynamic of the business-consumer relationship.

The biggest challenge during the Holidays is delivering dazzling, individualized messages at the perfect time, to each of your users.

Retailers that understand how to drive app downloads, then engage with customers based on in-app behavioral data (with timely, personalized push notifications and SMS messages) can set themselves apart and potentially drive crazy revenue this upcoming Holiday season. ◾

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About the Author


Erin Azar leads the mobile product lines globally for Emarsys. With more than 15 years of experience in both Dubai and the U.S., Erin has led omni-channel marketing strategies, product development, business enablement and scaling, and digital transformation. Erin is passionate about using innovative technologies to transform companies and customer experiences. Erin lives in Indiana with her three children and husband, where she enjoys gardening, cooking, and competitive tennis. She holds an MBA from The American University in Dubai and a technology Masters in Systems Analysis from Miami University.

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