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Only 49pc of retailers harnessing mobile marketing this holiday season: report

Despite reports of mobile?s growing importance for consumers during the recent Thanksgiving holiday weekend, only 49 percent of retailers are planning to include mobile technology in their holiday marketing strategy this year, according to a new report from BDO USA. 

While the number of retailers leveraging mobile is up from 38 percent last year, the findings suggest that holiday results could be even higher if more retailers were harnessing the power of smartphones and tablets to engage customers and convert online sales. Those retailers who are already leveraging mobile are happy with the results and plan to increase their spend on mobile to 14 percent of their marketing budgets, up from 6 percent in 2012. 

?What surprised us the most is that only half of retailers are using mobile marketing this holiday season,? said Natalie Kotlyar, partner in the retail and consumer products practice at BDO. ?While the year-over-year jump from 38 percent of retailers to 49 percent is substantial, mobile is still the last great frontier for retailers to fully tap into. 

?Mobile coupons, daily deals and mobile apps are all popular tricks in retailers? arsenal, but the biggest surprises in the years ahead will be the game-changing mobile tactics that will emerge as different players experiment with new technologies and retailers? entry costs continue to fall,? she said. 

Social media
The report is based on the most recent edition of the BDO Retail Compass Survey of CMOs, which examined the opinions of 100 chief marketing officers at leading retailers located throughout the country and was conducted in September and October. 

When it comes to social media, more retailers are jumping onboard, with 84 percent using social media in their holiday marketing. These retailers say social media will comprise an average of 19 percent of all marketing efforts, up from 14 percent in 2013. 

Overall, retailers' marketing budgets this holiday season will increase 1.1 percent, compared to a .98 percent decline last year. Additionally, 72 percent said they expect to spend the same amount on marketing and advertising as last year. 

Target is investing in mobile marketing this holiday season. 

While budgets are not growing significantly, retailers are intensely focused on determining the right mix for staying in front of customers as retailers compete for shoppers during a holiday season that is expected to see only a slight increase in sales. 

Omnichannel experiences
One way retailers can stand out from the competition is by offering a convenient, consistent and dynamic shopping experience, something that mobile can help deliver. Many of the largest retailers, including Walmart, Macy's and Target, recognize mobile marketing's strengths and make it an important part of their holiday marketing strategies. 

Retailers are investing more in mobile as they increasingly recognize that mobile is table stakes for winning over new customers and converting sales in November and December. 

BDO forecasts that the most successful retailers will be those that are out in front, experimenting with new technologies and developing the convenient shopping experience demanded by customers.

Retailers are also more focused on delivering an omnichannel shopping experience, with one in four saying they have changed their holiday marketing strategy this year in response to consumers? demand for a more seamless experience across channels. Additionally 71 percent of retail chief marketing officers say they are familiar with the concept of an enhanced omnichannel shopping experience. 

Of those retailers who are more focused on omnichannel experiences this holiday season, 100 percent are using consistent pricing across channels, 95 percent are using consistent promotional strategies across channels and 86 percent are expanding product delivery options for customers.

Data breaches
Additional findings include that 17 percent of retailers say concern over the risk of data breaches is their number one challenge pertaining to the vast amounts of consumer data, up from 2 percent in 2013. 

When it comes to social media, 76 percent of retailers will be featuring Facebook campaigns this holiday season, while Twitter and LinkedIn remain the second and third most popular social networks among retailers, with 27 percent and 21 percent, respectively, using these platforms. 

?Mobile has been on the radar for years, but this year?s numbers point a stronger commitment from retailers to leverage it as an effective marketing vehicle that?s able to engage more customers and convert more sales,? Ms. Kotlyar said. ?Their growing investment in mobile this year is reflected in the fact that retailers will spend 14 percent of their marketing budgets on mobile, a leap from just 6 percent in 2012. 

?What?s clear is that retailers are latching on to customers? wishes for convenient, on-the-run shopping - anytime and anywhere - and mobile is the game-changer that makes that possible,? she said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York