Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now over -- here are the main takeaways from this year and tips for marketing effectively in 2014.
It's common knowledge: Black Friday deals hardly are, Cyber Monday deals are outdone by the upcoming holiday sales, and so on... and yet sales reached record levels again this year. Mobile browsing and shopping are evidently on the rise as social referrals bloom too.
Here's everything you need to remember to prepare for next year. Yes, already.
Work on Your Mobile Conversions
This year, if anything, confirms the rise of mobile traffic and sales.
According to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, online sales rose 19.7 percent on Thanksgiving day from a year earlier. On Black Friday, online sales increased 18.9 percent year-on-year, but the uptick remains somewhat softer than on Thanksgiving day, with the proportion of mobile sales also lower than on “turkey day,” culminating at 21.8 percent of total sales versus 25.8 percent the day before.
Figures for Cyber Monday confirm that despite being the fifth straight day of official shopping debauchery, it still is the strongest: online sales grew 20.6 percent compared to the same period in 2012. Mobile traffic accounted for 29.7 percent of all traffic, up a whopping 58 percent from last year, converting into 17 percent of total online sales, up 55.4 percent from a year ago.
It's easier, faster and so much more convenient for consumers to shop from their smartphones or tablets. So optimize your site for mobile consumption, pay extra attention to your mobile user experience, don't hesitate to use mobile as your main channel for communication for those days.
Get Proper Facebook Creds for Your Brand and Pin Away
This is a no-brainer, but worth emphasizing. The network confidence factor – read: friends and network recommendations – seems to have played a huge role in traffic referral and conversion, according to IBM.
Comparing Pinterest and Facebook, Zuckerberg's platform wins the conversion battle, hands down. Although its referrals drove higher order values both on Thanksgiving Day ($109.40 vs $106.35) and Black Friday ($92.51 vs $52.30), conversions from Pinterest were significantly lower: Facebook converted at twice Pinterest's rate on Thanksgiving day and four times (that's a whole four times!) more than Pinterest on Black Friday.
Cyber Monday saw an interesting twist in the average order value, with Facebook taking the lead at $97.81 and Pinterest weakening to $92.40 a pop. Facebook referral conversions climbed at a 38 percent higher rate than those from Pinterest.
Suffice it to say you need to be on both platforms but getting the consumers to interact, not just with your brand but with their peers, will be the key to boosting the confidence factor towards buying your products.
Advance Warning Plus Timing are Key
Why are consumers buying more eagerly on Thanksgiving than on the historically dedicated Black Friday or the more recently declared Cyber Monday?
The holiday sales start on Thanksgiving day and continue well beyond Cyber Monday, until after Christmas. Online sales and digital are definitely mitigating those dates, said Holly Pavlika, SVP of Brand Strategy at Collective Bias, the social shopper media company. Buyers no longer have to wait for that specific week to get deals: they are savvy and do their research online. Purchases on a date like Black Friday are often driven by the thrill of competition, as offers don't last and there is only a limited amount available.
Both online and offline, Black Friday is a full commando operation: consumers compare multiple sites ahead of time, they set up email alerts for the best offers and go for the kill to get the deal before anyone else does.
Give your audience all the information well ahead of time if you want to be part of the hunting game, online and offline. And please, remember that Cyber Friday buyers are still very much relying on email marketing, as evidenced by Wanderful's survey. Since we all get swamped by emails, the timing is key.
Retailers: Please Outsmart the Crowd
Which leads us to the fun part, creativity.
Dare to Set Yourself Apart From Your Own Crowd
It's easier said than done, but try to run your campaign in the opposite direction it's supposed to go.
Not just for the sake of it: make it coincide with a grand vision and values that will echo with your core audience. For example, Patagonia this year perpetuated their green stance by advocating for less consumption in favor of using and patching what consumers already possess, with their #WornWear campaign.
It may be confusing at first glance but it provides them with a high-value credibility capital with their target audience of adventurous, mostly well off, young, environmentally-minded consumers. Take a look at the video.
Let's bet that in the end, the non-buy advice will yield higher sales of apparel with the brand, which will have “proved” its vision.
You're set, now you have 364 days to get ready again. If you have other tips, we'd like to hear them so please feel free to share them with us.
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Liva Judic joined Search Engine Watch and ClickZ in May 2010 as a news blogger. She has lived and worked across the globe in Madagascar, Switzerland, London, NYC, Asia and is now based in between New York and Berlin.
Her background is in government relations and financial media where she started out as a journalist at Bloomberg and became senior editor at AFX news (now part of ThomsonReuters). Prior to forming her own consultancy Judic was head of international PR for a head of state.
Judic focuses on facilitating brand and marketing transitioning for European startups moving to the US. She has been named one of the Top 50 Industry Influencers of 2014 by AGBeat
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