Summary:

Mobile will play a bigger role than ever during the U.S. holiday season, according to IDC. It’s crucial then, that retailers tackle a few key challenges — from building a mobile site to understanding location-based services and rewards — to effectively target consumers on their phones.

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IDC last week said 28 percent of this year’s U.S. holiday spending will be driven by mobile in some way, accounting for a whopping $127 billion in sales. So in my weekly column over at GigaOM Pro, I discuss how retailers — from big-box chains to mom-and-pop corner stores — must tackle these key challenges:

Build a great mobile site. This sounds like a no-brainer, but I’m constantly amazed at how retailers and publishers continue to screw up when it comes to building a site for mobile. Simply shrinking your traditional online destination to make it fit on a phone is huge mistake.

Build your own apps. Mobile sites are a lowest-common-denominator solution that can be accessed by a wide range of mobile devices, but smartphones can support a more sophisticated, immersive user experience through a downloadable application.

Use third-party apps. Campaigns that feature things like location-aware promotions and scannable coupons not only encourage new consumers to visit the brick-and-mortar stores, they also cultivate loyalty among existing customers.

Embrace social media. Take a hint from Chipotle, which recently offered free burritos to users who checked in on Facebook Places (a move that even drew the attention of Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley).

Don’t forget SMS. Text isn’t the sexiest medium — unless maybe you’re Tony Parker — but it’s still an effective and cost-productive way to communicate with a huge number of consumers. Sending unwanted messages is a mistake, but creating a dialogue with users who’ve opted to receive texts is a great way to build relationships.

Integrate your marketing campaigns. The full potential of mobile marketing can only be reached when it’s integrated with interactive campaigns and traditional advertising platforms. Advertise on the mobile web to entice users to visit your mobile web site and to download your application. And encourage users to sign up to receive text messages through print ads, TV commercials and even billboards.

Read the full post here.

Image courtesy Flickr user Andrew Stawarz.

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