3 Ways Mobile Shopping & Email Marketing Help Win The Holidays & Beyond
Email and mobile have been major players this holiday season, and columnist Jordan Elkind discusses what this means for marketers.
It’s been a big holiday season so far for online shoppers, with over 20% growth in sales this year vs. the holidays in 2013 according to the Custora E-commerce Pulse.
But knowing that sales are up isn’t nearly as interesting (or useful) as knowing what’s different about holiday shopping habits and what those differences mean for online stores for the rest of the season and beyond.
Read on for three ways that email and mobile have come to the fore of Holiday 2014 and what their prominence means for marketers.
The data for this analysis comes from the Custora E-commerce Pulse, which tracks the U.S. e-commerce industry based on aggregate data from over 100 U.S. retailers, $40 billion in transaction revenue, and 100 million shoppers. Full disclosure: Custora is also my employer.
1. Email Marketing Is A Major Driver Of E-Commerce This Holiday Season
Black Friday e-commerce revenue was up 20.6% compared to last year’s retail holiday, and email marketing was responsible for driving 27% of those purchases this year.
This gave email the highest percentage compared to other paid marketing channels, beating out the typical leaders organic search and paid search (which drove 19% and 18.5% of Black Friday online sales respectively). Email was also the leading channel on Cyber Monday, sparking 24% of orders.
Takeaway: Email’s strong performance on Black Friday and Cyber Monday speaks to its inherent strengths as a channel — it’s a direct, personal line of communication between a retailer and its customers, and on busy days with lots going on, shoppers still rely on email.
Great marketers use this opportunity to get smart about what they’re sending, especially given the high volume of email that shoppers are likely to receive on these competitive days.
Retailers should focus on sending personalized, highly segmented messages, targeting customers only with the sorts of products and offers that they’re most interested in. This segmentation can be as simple as grouping customers based on past purchase categories.
More advanced teams use methods, like predictive product affinity or Customer Lifetime Value analysis, that let them build more detailed shopping personas and segment accordingly.
2. Thanksgiving Weekend Went Mobile
Mobile shopping (e-commerce orders made on phones and tablets) was a major factor throughout this year’s Thanksgiving-through-Cyber Monday long weekend, with 26% of e-commerce sales coming from mobile devices (peaking on Black Friday, where 30% of sales came from mobile). This is up from 20% of sales coming from mobile during the same period last year.
Takeaway: This mobile growth is additional confirmation that shopping on phones and tablets has developed into a central way for customers to connect with and shop from retailers. Mobile traffic already represents well over a third of retail site visits (37% per an earlier Custora Pulse mobile report), and with these further increases in mobile orders there is no sign of mobile’s growth easing.
Smart retailers recognize that 2015 should be another banner year for mobile and continue to make it easier for shoppers to buy on their phones via mobile-optimized sites, native apps, and more integrated payment options.
3. Mobile Shopping & Email Marketing Go Hand In Hand
Mobile and email have both shown strong growth throughout the holidays, so it’s worth taking a broader look at how marketing emails perform on mobile devices.
Custora’s Mobile Report from earlier this year found that through July 2014 email marketing generated 26.7% of sales on mobile phones, compared to only 20.9% on desktop, and 23.1% on tablet.
This is a bit surprising given the difficulties of displaying email properly on mobile devices, but it shows the strength of the connection retailers can make with consumers on the go.
Takeaway: As a device’s screen-size shrinks, there is a corresponding uptick in the power of email marketing. Marketers can take advantage of this by devoting more time and resources to optimizing emails for mobile by first taking a longer look at how standard emails perform on desktop vs. mobile.
Then marketing teams can test mobile-specific creative to improve mobile engagement. And for retailers that see a lot of their sales coming from mobile, it can be worthwhile to build mobile-specific email segments to target those customers directly with mobile-only content.
There are just about two weeks of holidays remaining, so there isn’t much time left to fine tune emails and segmentation. This is a good reminder to keep focus on mobile and segmentation infrastructure throughout the year so that when shopping milestones roll around, the pieces for success are already in place.
Every retailer’s 2015 plan will consider steps for long term growth, so now is a good time to think about ways to improve shoppers’ mobile experiences and start working on more advanced email segmentation programs, such as those that incorporate predictive Customer Lifetime Value and product affinity. It’s competitive times like the holidays where these investments make a difference, so it pays to plan ahead.