After all the family/feasting/football feels of Thanksgiving have faded, our tryptophan-soaked minds drift towards the holiday season. And no longer is Black Friday the only way to get the best deals out there. Cyber Monday (and the surrounding days - more about that below) has grown rapidly to become one of the top sales days of the year.
How big is it? Read on to see what a difference a year makes, and to see if your strategies are in line with the data results.
Big...and Getting Bigger
First, let's crunch some numbers. According to CNBC, Cyber Monday 2015 was the biggest online sales day in US history, with over $3 billion in sales recorded, handily beating Cyber Monday 2014 by about $600 million. That's approximately a 20% increase in a rapidly expanding digital world. Wow.
The largest spending age demographic was 35-55 years old, firmly in the career/parent zone, where deals and convenience matter most. Also worth noting that consumers bought equally from both home and work on that day, showing savvy deal-seekers are tuned in no matter where they are, while the peak conversion time was after 9 pm.
All of this suggests that Cyber Monday this year is likely to exceed even the most optimistic expectations, so it's time to get ready snd establish your marketing plan.
Get Mobile. Fast.
You've heard it a thousand times before: Ensure your brand is targeting mobile users - it's the fastest growing sector in sales, etc.
If you're not yet addressing mobile sales you're not alone - research indicates that less than half of digital marketing professionals have specific mobile objectives as part of their strategy, or have identified a way to use mobile analytics to generate insight or optimize consumer experience. In short, most have missed the bus.
So why should you catch up? Mobile sales on Cyber Monday exploded last year (over 50% from 2014), and the ability to tag and watch the consumer experience throughout the buying process has given brands almost unlimited capacity to mine powerful sales data, even during in-store experiences. Research from PricewaterhouseCoopers indicates that scouting products, monitoring deals, checking out and tracking deliveries via mobile device has all increased dramatically.
Think of how many people you know that have their mobile device in hand at all times. Now picture all those folks establishing this kind of buying experience for Cyber Monday, and year-round after that. Think you might want to catch that bus now?
Everything Must Go: Take a Hint From The Big Dog
Let's be honest. Cyber Monday is all about the deals, discounts and sales.
So how do you offer deep discounts and raise brand awareness without busting your bottom line? Take a hint from the big dog and check out what Amazon is doing.
First, Amazon has done away with a single day of discounts and introduced multiple day deals. This hooks both the early-bird and last minute shoppers, and engages the consumer to watch for their deal to come down the pipeline (likely grabbing a few more stocking stuffers while they wait).
Next, Amazon offers "lightning deals": quick, exclusive and deeply discounted offers and alerts (sometimes only 5 minutes long) that drive urgency and vigilance throughout the process.
Finally, Amazon funnel the whole shopping and sales experience exclusively through their app. This increases revenue, cements a platform for future sales and optimizes the consumer experience.
Using any piece of this model would seem to be a good direction to go in for any business looking to capitalize on Cyber Monday or beyond.
Small and Local Businesses Don't Fret
Based on a lot of these findings, a local retailer might despair that they're inevitably going to lose a big chunk of sales to online sources and the bigger brands, and simply ignore or endure Cyber Monday as a temporary nuisance.
This would be a mistake.
Owners of smaller and local businesses would be wise to check this study out. The research shows that 40% of consumers make weekly in-store purchases, as compared to 28% online. Consumers are also likely to comparison shop and "test-drive" products online, then go to the store to make the purchase. This bodes well for many stores, and even the smaller, niche brands can benefit. By offering deals and emailed coupons on Cyber Monday, and joining curated virtual marketplaces with like-minded brands, even local brands can benefit from the buying craze.
This comprehensive study shows that younger shoppers, who are far more likely to participate in Cyber Monday deals, value and purchase more crafty boutique items and support more environmentally and socially responsible brands than any other demographic. Seventy five per cent of these shoppers plan to buy from local retailers this year. Going digital can pay big dividends, even for the little guys.
Social For The Holidays
It's important to remember that despite all the Cyber Monday blockbuster deals and over-the-top advertising that accompany them, most consumers are drawn to one thing when it's time to buy: authenticity. From Millennial moms to Generation Z kids, reviews and opinions from fellow shoppers and social influencers matter most to the prospective consumer. This report proves it.
Ninety per cent of Gen Z and millennial shoppers (born after 1996, and 86 million strong) relate personally to an influencer's review or cause, while over half of those surveyed have bought a product that an influencer recommended. The study also points out that more than 80% of Millennial moms, one of the mightiest purchasing groups out there, avoid traditional advertising and rely on social media, blogs and consumer reviews to seek out seasonal deals online.
Engaging consumers who leave a review with a personal response, and working with influencers to try out and talk about your brand, are two simple ways to grab your piece of online attention while organically reaching out to millions of shoppers in a way that they trust. Who's talking about your brand?
Cyber Monday is clearly a big deal. Putting all the pieces in place to build your strategy takes a lot of research and planning, but the payoff can be incredible - for Cyber Monday and far beyond. Are you ready for the main event?
Main image via IntelFreePress/Flickr