3 Things Black Friday Taught Us About 2016
As we edge closer to 2016, it's time to start thinking about your marketing strategy for next year. Columnist Jordan Elkind shares what marketers can learn from the Black Friday weekend.
Black Friday weekend is a unique time for retailers: The holidays are approaching, the shoppers are swarming and the prices are slashed. While the shopping extravaganza may come only once a year, the marketing trends we noticed through the weekend are unlikely to vanish as quickly as those 50-percent markdowns.
The 2015 holiday weekend saw several interesting new trends in e-commerce and online marketing that are likely to have a strong impact through 2016. Here are the three key lessons we uncovered in this year’s “holidata.”
Note: The stats below come from The Custora E-Commerce Pulse, a tool that tracks real-time online transactions from more than 200 US online retailers, 500 million online shoppers, and more than $100 billion in transaction revenue. (Full disclosure: Custora is my employer.)
E-Commerce Is On The Rise
During this holiday season, more and more shoppers are choosing to forgo crowded stores and long lines to shop online from the comfort of their own homes — a trend that will likely continue beyond the winter thaw.
This year’s Cyber Monday was the biggest day in US online shopping ever, with e-commerce revenues up 16.4 percent from 2014. The entire Black Friday weekend saw a similar boom online, with revenues up 16.2 percent from last year.
Comparatively, brick-and-mortar sales were tepid at best, showing a 10.4-percent decrease in revenue from 2014, according to ShopperTrak.
What it means for 2016: The stats from this holiday season reflect a larger trend in the rise of e-commerce. We’re rapidly approaching a tipping point where online transactions will become the norm for most shoppers.
In 2016, make sure that your marketing agenda is aligned with consumer preferences for digital interaction: Allow any in-store promotions to be honored online, and make hassle-free shipping and returns the standard.
Don’t Underestimate Mobile
Lately, there’s been a hot debate around mobile shopping and its conversion power compared to standard web traffic. This year’s Black Friday weekend laid the debate to rest, with mobile transactions accounting for nearly one-third (32.1 percent) of all online purchases.
This is a pretty large spike for the small devices; last year, only 26.4 percent of online purchases were made via mobile devices over the holiday weekend.
What it means for 2016: Mobile isn’t going anywhere. If your e-commerce site isn’t already optimized for shoppers on the go, now is the time to prioritize mobile.
Be sure to consider how to uniquely engage with small-screen shoppers via trending methods like targeted advertising, loyalty apps and mobile-optimized content.
Email Is (Still) King
With so much buzz around the latest social media trends, it’s easy to overlook the efficacy of email marketing. This Black Friday proved that it’s hard to beat a classic: Email marketing led the pack, generating over a quarter (25.1 percent) of all online orders.
Free and paid search were next in line, generating 21.1 percent and 13.3 percent of orders, respectively. (Social media trailed behind, with just 1.7 percent of transactions.)
What it means for 2016: Email is still one of the most effective ways to communicate with your customers. While it may be a tried and true channel, it doesn’t have to feel outdated.
With a variety of tools now available to help marketers tailor their email communications, 2016 is the perfect time to start optimizing those open and click-through rates.
Black Friday weekend gave marketers a taste of what’s to come in 2016. With the holidays nearly behind us, now is the perfect time to start leveraging the data to optimize your marketing strategy.
As customer preferences change across the board, it’s crucial to listen to your customers, learn how they might engage uniquely with your brand this year and tailor your efforts accordingly.
The year 2016 will be the year of old and new; email will likely continue as one of the most effective channels for customer engagement, as mobile transactions start a sharp ascension in user uptake.
With e-commerce on track to surpass brick-and-mortar sales revenue, make sure to prioritize your online marketing efforts through both traditional and emerging channels.