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Black Friday officially claimed its name and its reputation as a formidable shopping day in 1961. Today, Black Friday has expanded from a one-day event to a weekend-long shopping experience that ends with a slew of Internet bargains on Cyber Monday. That single weekend is easily the most important annual shopping event in the United States. It also functions as a microcosm of the country’s buying habits and provides the perfect data set to analyze for expanding your business. Data from 2012 show that more consumers are shopping via mobile devices these days – and they may be more interested than traditional computer-users in buying your product.

The trend

During the 2012 holiday shopping season, web traffic and purchases from mobile devices surged. On the weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, 21 percent of web traffic came from smartphones or tablets. More importantly, conversion rates for mobile shoppers are increasing. Last year, 5.84 percent of consumers who used mobile devices to browse products ended up buying those products. The conversion rate for shoppers using a traditional computer was 5.51 percent, reflecting the first time mobile sales outpaced purchases made via a traditional computer.

Individual retailers are also reporting significant increases in mobile purchases., for example, experienced a 128 percent increase over the previous year’s mobile sales. These statistics highlight the fact that American shoppers are looking for a satisfying, simple mobile purchasing experience. Set up your business to provide just such an experience, and your company could claim a percentage of these growing sales.

Optimize your site for mobile devices

Websites designed for PCs aren’t always compatible with mobile devices. Rows of text are too long, and images are too large. These technical drawbacks can ruin the shopping experience and can deter a customer who’s using a tablet or a smartphone from making a purchase. Hire a website designer to create a mobile site that won’t require egregious amounts of scrolling or intolerably long loading times. Research shows that making the investment in a mobile site might pay dividends. Customers report that they’re more likely to buy your product if your site is compatible with mobile devices. They also state that, if your site doesn’t work on a mobile device, they’re more likely to buy the product from another mobile optimized site. Mobile devices now account for 8 percent of all online purchases, so securing your portion of the market through a mobile site is becoming increasingly crucial to success.

Use time-targeted social media updates

Americans are shopping online using mobile devices during the evening, when, presumably, many of them are home. In fact, research has shown that 22.34 percent of Black Friday web traffic came from mobile devices during night hours. This number is significantly higher than the daytime mobile traffic rate of 16.6 percent. If your business isn’t already active on the most popular social networks, open accounts. Then, schedule social media updates during evening hours that promote sales, special events or free shipping promotions, when consumers are likely using mobile devices. You can post updates manually, or you can streamline the processing by installing software that will automatically post pre-programmed messages on a variety of social media sites.

Start texting

Short Message Service texting allows you to send concise, timed messages to mobile buyers. If your business doesn’t already have an SMS messaging system, start developing one now. Open an email account with a provider whose system allows you to send emails, in the form of texts, to mobile numbers. Furthermore, time your SMS marketing to capitalize on consumers’ sense of urgency; advertise flash sales, free shipping and new discounts as they happen, focusing on the evening hours. Texting is an immediate form of communication; most texts require only a few seconds to read. Accordingly, SMS marketing has the potential to lead to quick conversions.

Data from the 2012 holiday shopping weekend demonstrates that American consumers are increasingly interested in making mobile purchases. Capitalize on this trend by designing a mobile optimized site, sending out texts and posting updates to social media networks. Establish a meaningful mobile presence and take your first step toward claiming a share of America’s burgeoning mobile sales.