What Did We Learn From the Holiday Shopping Season?

I can hardly believe it. We’re spiraling towards the end of another calendar year. I mean seriously, I’m pretty sure I just digested my turkey and mashed potatoes. In the age of social media, it seems as though time is constantly accelerating. So it comes as no surprise that we’re completing yet another holiday shopping season.

As we take a look back over the holiday season, there are certain undeniable trends that we as digital marketers cannot ignore: Mobile is king. Unless you live under a rock, you already know this. I’m currently in limbo at the San Francisco airport. As I look around, of the 10 people close to me, eight are staring at their cell phones, one at a laptop and one is immersed in one of those archaic things called a book.

Depending on whose statistics you look up, the holiday week of Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday brought in 12 billion dollars of sales. 3 billion of that occurred on Cyber Monday. 3 billion in one day, that’s a 12% increase YOY. All of this occurring while brick and mortar saw anywhere from a 3%-10% decrease in sales. Is this because we have a generation who cares more about the principle of thanksgiving being a holiday about family and friends; or is it because we have a generation who deems it completely unnecessary to sacrifice time and sleep just to have a shot at a deal that they could have found online? I’m going to take the latter.

According to the National Retail Federation there were roughly 103 million people browsing online on Black Friday. Nearly 75 million of those made purchases. For the entire week desktop and tablet sales were up 18% and conservatively speaking, mobile sales were up 33% with some researchers saying as large as 38%. I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but those numbers are astounding. 50% of all sales took place without anyone having to leave the comfort of their own home.

So what does this mean for us as digital marketers?

  • If our marketing campaigns and websites aren’t optimized for mobile platforms, we’re leaving an astronomical amount of money on the table. The numbers seem clear. What does every client want to know? What was their return on ad spend (ROAS). If you’re hitting ROAS targets, you typically have a happy client. So simply put, if we’re not hitting mobile for the appropriate clients, we’re leaving a ton of potential revenue on the table.
  • We as digital marketers are going to face tougher competition and potentially bigger budgets. If brick and mortar sales continue to decline, it stands to reason that major companies are going to begin entering the digital market place (if they aren’t already there) and try to drive out competition. This means that we have to continually develop and strategically think through our campaigns. The folks over at cpcstrategy found success by aggressively bidding on a select few keywords for their smaller clients competing against large retailers.
  • As digital marketers, what better way to pitch to potential clients on the fence? The proof is in the pudding. Maybe they already have a modest account going but are neglecting mobile. At the end of the day, money talks; and there’s a lot of money talking over the holidays.

Our industry is fast paced and ever changing. However, in an ever changing landscape mobile advertising has thrust itself to the front and doesn’t appear to be letting go for a long time.

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  • Ryan Weiss

    Great write-up, Matt. It seems to me that optimized mobile browsing is, surprisingly, lagging behind quite a bit. Even some of the biggest hitters in the game have very poor mobile sites. It will be interesting to see how digital marketers lead the charge in optimizing mobile sites for clients in the future.

    December 22, 2015 at 2:43 pm

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