This is part three of a ten-part series of Direct Marketing trends for 2013. To read the original article with all ten trends, click here.

The total PC market is expected to contract by 1.2% in 2012 – the first decline since 2001, when experts predicted the saturation of home computing. At the same time, sales of smartphones and tablet devices are skyrocketing. Why? Price, convenience, and connectivity.

In an event introducing Apple’s new iPad, Tim Cook, Apple CEO, introduced the concept of a “post-PC” world. He explained, “We’re talking about a world where the PC is no longer the center of your digital world, but is just another device. The devices you use the most are more portable, more personal and dramatically easier to use than any PC has ever been.”

“Just another device” – a suggestion that smartphones and tablet devices will complement the desktop or laptop, keep consumers connected, and in turn, put consumers more in control of activities like shopping and product research - where and when they want.

Retailers and manufactures are racing for product releases and competing in an ultra price-sensitive market. Some, like Amazon, are discounting products like the Kindle Fire HD below cost. Why? Because these devices serve as an ideal portal for consumer shopping and consumption. Like Gillette’s model of discounted razors in return for a locked-in revenue stream of higher margin blades, these manufacturers are banking on future sales of apps, music, movies, and in some cases, embedded advertising. Amazon is one of the first to introduce an option for further discounts based on opt-in for targeted advertising.

A recent IDC study indicated that tablet users exhibit a preference for online shopping 30 percent over laptop users. And, according to IBM, this year’s Thanksgiving purchases with mobile devices rose 65.3 percent from last year. Smartphones represented almost 10 percent of mobile purchases, but as Forrester Research reports, 31 percent of mobile phone owners use their devices to research products - putting the smartphone a the top of consumer-enabled food chain.

What should marketers consider with all of this?

Mobile devices are becoming a primary method for consumer engagement
Mobile devices vary in screen size and input capabilities and users expect content to operate optimally on each device
Smartphones, tablets, and PCs are being used together as consumers navigate the path to purchase
Among the top frustrations of mobile consumers are web sites not optimized for mobile screens and slow response times
Mobile devices offer unique opportunities for marketers, including location-based relevancy, highly interactive apps, and persistence using cookies and other identifiable information

Bottom line, the next potential customer in “virtual line” will likely be using a mobile device to decide whether to purchase your product or one from the competition.

Ensure that your marketing and advertising efforts are optimized for each potential experience – smartphone, tablet, and yes, still the PC.
Utilize the features of each device – touch screens, geo-location, persistent apps, but vary the experience by device for an ideal experience.
Finally, consider methods to stay engaged ACROSS each of the platforms – SMS, push notifications, email all offer ways to ensure you’re in front regardless of the device or timing.