With the free shipping cutoff looming, shoppers are turning to the streets to find last-minute gifts in stores. You can make your brand stand out after the shipping cutoff by taking advantage of the consumer’s companion this holiday season -- smartphones.

Mobile queries have spiked the week before Christmas (see chart below) for the past two years. In the retail category, “Black Friday” related mobile queries were over 200% higher in 2011 than last year, and Google Mobile Ads project that 44% of this season’s searches for last-minute gifts and store-locators will be done on mobile phones.1 So ensure your mobile site experience is on par with your desktop site as 40% of users will turn to a competitor if not.

Prepare for this influx of foot-and-mobile-traffic by doing the following:

Make it easy to find your store. 95% of mobile users will be looking for location-specific information, and 61% will go into stores after finding a store’s address.3 Promote findable and easily clickable links on your site to drive users to your store. If you’re an AdWords advertiser, take advantage of Location Extensions. When a user searches on Google or within Google Maps, your location will be displayed if your ad is the most relevant answer. Find more information at the Adwords Help Center.

Display your phone number. 59% of smartphone users call a store after searching.3 Smartphone users are ready to act, and if you don’t have a mobile-optimized site, or you know your users are more likely to convert over the phone, show your phone number in an easy-to-click format with Click-to-Call ads.

Promote other mobile-specific actions. In addition to viewing maps, calling stores, and purchasing, smartphones also encourage actions such as signing up for reminders, downloading applications, and looking for deals and offers. During this year’s Black Friday weekend, Google trends showed that searches for [mobile coupons] were up 90% in volume over last year. If you’re using ads to increase awareness, consider implementing Ad Sitelinks to help customers navigate to pages that promote important actions on your site.

Let shoppers share your deals. Beyond the 70% of mobile users who compare prices before purchasing, 90% of mobile users are social mavens, too.4 Don’t ignore this behavior as your customers can be trusted brand advocates. For example, they are 50% more likely to create content that will influence their peers’ shopping decisions.5 Try sharing your deals through various social platforms, such as incorporating Google’s +1 button on your site. Read about integrating a +1 button here.

Connect your devices. Finally, focus on the shopper, not just the device. Your customers use multiple devices to inform purchases -- desktop, tablets, and smartphones. Provide a cohesive shopping experience across all devices so your customers can find you easily at any time.

Happy Holidays, and Happy Shopping!

Posted by Julie Jin, The Google Mobile Ads Team

1. Google Internal Data, “Last Minute Shopping Analysis,” 2011
2. Compuware, "What Users Want from Mobile," 2011

3. Google "The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users," 2011
4. Lightspeed Research, 2010; Google "The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users," 2011

5. ROI Research, 2011, “S-Net: The Impact of Social Media”