As marketers and small businesses know, this is the time of year to start planning holiday promotions. In order for them to be successful and effective, there is a great deal of planning that needs to go into the process. What some businesses might be unaware of is where to factor social media and mobile strategies into this plan.

For businesses to consumer companies, the holidays are an optimal time to attract new customers and sales. Based on IBM’s annual Holiday Readiness report social media and mobile promotions have the potential to increase sales. Both platforms already have increasing trends in conversion rates and do not show signs of slowing down.

Since 2010, overall online sales have increased up to 15.6% in November, and up to 7.5% in December. December shoppers are cutting it close based on shipping costs and time, which could account for the difference in the months. Regardless, both November and December have proved to be incredibly important months for online sales transactions, and businesses must start planning now in order to fully take advantage of this audience.

Furthermore, Black Friday and Cyber Monday both saw record highs – Black Friday sales increased 24.3% with Cyber Monday up 33%.  Mobile device use for researching and purchasing goods doubled since 2010 and continued high rates into Spring 2012. In general, online sales are expected to grow 62% between 2011 and 2016, as illustrated by the graph below.

Online Retail Forecast 2012

As the IBM study explains, the connected consumer now interacts with brands and businesses across more touch points than ever before. This constant engagement makes it imperative that brands do proper research to determine and understand consumer preferences in order to connect with them at the correct time and about the proper information.

In terms of the breakdown between mobile device sales and social media, mobile is continuing to lead the way with sales doubling in March 2012 since the previous year. Social media sales are moving at a slower pace but have still shown signs of increase. Despite the slow growth in sales across social platforms, social driven sales exceed social driven visits, and the social visitor conversion rate is higher than the overall conversion rate.

Social Conversion Rate

This is information is supported by data that explains users and fans on a social media platform are more likely to interact with and buy from businesses and brands that a friend has recommended. This word of mouth advertising that eventually leads to sales may be harder to track than hard mobile device statistics but it should by no means be ignored. Social media is a huge power player in promoting a brand or business with qualified and targeted leads.

For now, businesses should plan their strategies for the holiday season effectively by taking advantage of these rising markets. All sites should be optimized for mobile devices if they are not already and provide personalized interactions across all platforms. Furthermore, businesses should be tracking the true impact of social media – that is the reach that social media marketing has beyond the initial sales. By enabling social media sharing across all mobile platforms businesses can create an integrated approach for this holiday season and beyond.