Mobile is growing dramatically, with about 50% of consumers accessing their emails from smartphones and tablets, and mobile-driven sales are now three times higher on average year on year, according to Neil Capel, founder and CEO of Sailthru, who here explains why mobile needs becomes a central pillar of the marketing tool kit, not just over the holiday season but for good. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

With the holiday season fast approaching now is the time for retailers to begin working feverishly to maximise the mobile experience for customers. Buying, and in bulk, needs to be a seamless experience without hassles and glitches, the checkout process should be easy and the web optimised site must be mobile friendly with pages, images and decks responsively scaled to fit smaller mobile screens.

While many shoppers still prefer to shop through a traditional browser, optimising the experience for consumers who now shift from device to device without will allow retailers to capture incremental revenue, not just during the holiday season but throughout the year. And as all revenue counts, what could be worse than losing a sale to a competitor because an experience was not optimised for today's screen agnostic consumers when the tools needed are well within a retailer's grasp?

Many marketers have claimed that they do not see the power or value of responsive design, but with mobile sales rising year on year it is obvious that brands must view mobile as a part of the total customer lifetime experience rather than just another channel available. Mobile devices are growing and extending beyond the traditional handset - tablets, e-readers, mobile gaming devices and Smartphones are now in the hands of an ever-growing population of consumers, so it is imperative that customer experience is optimised for these devices even if conversion rates are still behind.

So who's cracked the mobile nut? According to Forrester, just 3% of the top online retailers are actively employing responsive design. This means that most retailers are missing out on an opportunity to optimise the mobile experience, increase conversion and offer ease of use for their customers.

With the holiday season fast approaching, implementing responsive design for the entire mobile experience is not advised. But by testing responsive with email and elements of your site such as checkout experience and product pages, the retailer is able to determine if specific users convert higher via responsive design in the long term, thereby by making a case for implementing responsive design across your digital ecosystem. This testing may result in a short term dip in conversion and revenue generated by email, but it is proven that customers who receive the test template will often show higher customer lifetime value and increased purchase frequency.

If you're an e-commerce marketer armed with an app, the holiday season is the time to ensure that it is maxed to its full potential. Retailers with the right install base have the ability to produce 30% higher purchase conversion rates from their apps than from typical mobile websites. On top of that revenue, apps also produce valuable data that will add to the retailers' ability to further optimise the mobile experience and 1:1 communications.

Deep linking is the most effective method for increasing app engagement, especially during the holiday season when the volume of interactions consumers are faced with is increased. The most intuitive tactics to use include push notifications, SMS and email. It is recommended that over the holiday season push notifications are a main focus as all signs point to the retail market adopting this tactic as their mobile go-to. Technologies now offer rich push notification, which allows you to deep link your user directly to specific screens/pages within your app, which is a game changer for retailers who already have a strong sense of their individual customer's preferences.

A clunky, frustrating checkout experience is a death wish for ecommerce conversion. Without a streamlined, seamless experience customers will abandon their baskets and competitors will win valuable sales - this is particularly true for mobile-focused consumers.

Combining a simple, streamlined process with a few simple steps such as capturing an email address before checkout, can minimise basket abandonment and follow up emails, mobile notifications and other tactics can be sent in order to appeal to the customers with relevant offers to convert them into a sale.