mobile phoneThe latest research from the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) confirms
what most advertisers should already know: More consumers will use their
phones to search for gifts and deals this holiday season than in 2009.
But how much of that searching will actually translate into mobile-based
buying?

Not much, according to the October 2010 US Mobile Consumer Briefing. Nearly 60% of consumers are planning to use their phones for “holiday shopping and celebration-planning” (which doesn’t include making calls). But just 13% of those shoppers expect to use their phone to actually purchase items. 

That’s partly because simple, scalable mobile payment systems haven’t yet become commonplace in the US market (although the carriers are working hard to get there). Still, even if shoppers aren’t ready to buy using their phones, the study highlights specific ways retailers could use mobile to encourage purchases online or in-store:

  • Using local keywords and information (Zip codes, city and neighborhood names) in mobile search campaigns 

The MMA said “searching for locations where a gift is sold” was one of the most common holiday-related mobile tasks. With limited “shelf space” in the mobile browser window, including location info in mobile search ads is one way to gain more visibility during those searches – especially if retailers aren’t sure they’ll rank high enough organically.

  • Make sure location info is updated with local review sites like Yelp and Citysearch

With thousands of links and hundreds of thousands of pages of content, hyperlocal review sites often rank extremely well in location-based mobile searches. (In some cases, better than the retailer’s own site).

This makes it important for retailers to “claim” their listings on these sites. That means validating the location info, phone numbers and holiday hours of operation – because if time-strapped consumers can’t tell whether a store near them is open, they’ll quickly click the next link or review.

  • Include an easy-to-remember mobile URL or an SMS option in print, billboard and TV ads

The survey also found that 12% of consumers expected to use their phones to respond to newspaper, billboard and TV ads. Including a phone number in those ads is a no-brainer, but some consumers may not actually want to make a call. Having a short, easy to remember mobile URL, or even a “send coupon via text” option, could be an alternative way to reach more tech-savvy shoppers.