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This holiday shopping season, Big Brother may be watching - and emailing - you

70 percent of today’s online shoppers are viewing promotional material from mobile devices, meaning either a phone or a tablet.

This season's holiday shoppers should be aware of the ways retailers and manufacturers are trying to anticipate - and influence - their maneuvers. While customers will predictably be scouring the commercial landscape for certain recently released and featured products, sellers and marketers will be attempting to take advantage of research analysis that they believe will lead consumers right into the lion's den.

Retailers will be operating "more like Big Brother," says one Forbes article examining the most pervasive digital shopping trends for the upcoming holiday season. Specifically, that means certain department stores and manufacturers will be strategically blasting out emails to prospective customers based on patterns of buying behavior they've been monitoring for some time.

Increased internet incorporation
It's no secret that businesses are employing the services of social media platforms to increasingly infiltrate their customer bases. Retailers such as The Gap and Zappos, the internet shoe giant, have been particularly successful in expanding their respective influences online. Now, other stores and online outlets are following their lead, reaching out to customers via Facebook, Google Chrome, Twitter and email. And because they generally know what's going to catch their audience's eyes, their success rates are generally pretty high. Heading into peak purchasing season, the streamlined strategy will be put to the ultimate test.

Retailers will specifically be pushing more internet-related products, not coincidentally, via the internet. Not only are technological advancements among the most-desired and sought-after holiday gift ideas, but their advertising has become infinitely simpler - in some cases even impossible by any other means - with the help of social networking.

"One of the coolest things from a retail perspective are products that are connected to data," said Kyle Lacy, the senior manager of marketing and research for digital marketing software-solutions provider ExactTarget. "{These include} a scale that gives you information on how healthy you're being, an app-connected toothbrush that keeps track of how much you're brushing, or a General Electric appliance that will text you when you need something fixed."

Such innovations are more easily displayed in email or social media form, and some of their advertisements are even equipped with demonstrations. The theory goes that if a customer can see the product or application at work without having to leave their home (or phone), they'll be more likely to purchase it on the spot.

Making it easier for you to buy more stuff
Much of the research being done by companies such as ExactTarget centers around the constantly evolving methods by which customers do their shopping. And by constantly evolving, that means continuously streamlined and simplified.

According to one ExactTarget testimonial, 70 percent of today's online shoppers are viewing promotional material from mobile devices, meaning either a phone or a tablet. Tablet users are said to be more likely to proceed with a purchase after viewing such material than those using their smartphone, presumably because they're less on-the-go. Mobile checkout functions, therefore, have been tweaked in an effort to ease the process for users of all interfaces, as retailers look to maximize the marketplace.

Perhaps most indicative of the expanding reliance on social media communication by retailers is the rate and manner with which their contact is becoming personalized. Through a trend many industry analysts have termed "the Amazon effect," more consumer-directed emails feature suggestions or offers specifically tailored to their valued shoppers. Data compiled through not only consumers' purchasing history, but also their social media connections, page views and countless other tendencies contribute to the trend - and probably the Big Brother feeling as well. It may sound creepy to those being targeted, but for those pushing the products it's just creepily effective.

"That's because retailers are becoming more effective at analytics and management of personal data," Lacy said. "Retailers see an estimated 15 percent to 26 percent increase in sales in the transactional email features personalized product recommendations."

There is also no longer any holiday offseason, or for that matter, any off hour. Thanks to Twitter and Facebook users who are perpetually logged in from their phones, retailers view every hour of the day as a potential buying window, and their promotional material is distributed accordingly. Their customer service teams are also closely monitoring anything being said - both positive and negative - regarding their products, their competitors' products and anything else that has people Tweeting and Facebooking. And if you, the consumer, sent something out into the blogosphere about a certain product or application, don't be surprised to receive feedback on your feedback - probably sooner than later.

The corporate orchestrators at Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter are hardly immune to such psychological ploys, either. They're implementing with greater frequency specifically customized and aimed advertisements that are "embedded" with optimal impact in mind. Retailers have determined that subtle online-shopper engagement is quite effective, and they're constantly tweaking their manners for its employment.