'Tis the season for holiday advertising: Cyber Monday gains steam

From the day after Thanksgiving, lovingly dubbed Black Friday, to the day after Christmas, when present recipients look to cash in gift cards and return merchandise, the holiday retail market is working full-steam-ahead. But as an increasing number of consumers look to avoid long lines and congested foot traffic at stores, a major shopping day has emerged.

Cyber Monday, observed the Monday after Thanksgiving, is expected to be bigger than ever this year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). In fact, consumers plan to do 36 percent of their shopping online in 2011, compared to 32.7 percent last year. No matter the size of a business, it is smart to have an e-commerce presence this holiday season.

In response to the growing trend, small business holiday advertising must adapt to the internet platform. Local SEO strategies can help entrepreneurs get on the radar of eager online shoppers, and once those consumers have clicked through to a business' website, advertising efforts must continue. Commonly, businesses of all sizes try to offer customers incentives that can set them apart from the competition and force an individual to make a purchase on their site, such as free shipping or time-sensitive deals.

According to the NRF, Cyber Monday is growing exponentially year after year for a number of reasons. For example, 35.1 percent of consumers surveyed by the organization said that 24-hour shopping convenience was the top reason they preferred e-commerce, while 33.5 percent were swayed by free shipping offers, 33.1 percent said it was easier to compare prices and 30.8 percent said they didn't want to fight the crowds at stores.

Utilizing social media platforms is another great way to drum up buzz about upcoming web promotions. Entrepreneurs can regularly update posts, interact with customers and even "invite" social media "friends" to their Cyber Monday events, says NuWire Investor.

However, before embarking on an aggressive holiday advertising campaign, "check in with your web host provider to make sure there is enough bandwidth," Joe Silverman, CEO of New York Computer Help, tells NuWire. "The last thing you want is for website visitors to not be able to view your site."

Marketers must not forget their mobile efforts in the holiday advertising realm, according to BGR. The site explains that this year will be the biggest yet for mobile shopping, with nearly 60 million mobile users expected to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday using their web-enabled devices.