The key stats on online spending and digital trends to help you maximize your marketing budget during the holiday season.
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The holiday season is here and it’s the time for marketers to take advantage of the business opportunities the busiest time of the year has got to offer. And there are plenty of reasons to celebrate! We’ve scoured all our sources and curated the key trends and customer behavior insights to drive your Digital Marketing efforts through the season – there’s a lot of optimism for this year!
Holiday season = spending season?
After last year’s record-breaking holiday shopping season, analysts are anticipating that retail in general will have a slightly slower year compared to that of 2016. However, e-commerce sales growth during the holiday season is expected to accelerate and reach 16.6% (14.3% in 2016), according to eMarketer’s latest report. This will probably push November and December online shopping share of total holiday sales to 11.5%. The two months are also expected to account for 23.6% of the entire year’s ecommerce sales.
When it comes to actual spending, Adobe Digital Insights forecasts that online sales will increase 13.8% to $107.4 billion, while Deloitte predicts 18-21% growth, to $111-114 billion. With overall retail sales growth staying within 3.4-4.5%, these numbers show the online channels will clearly win at the expense of stores. A National Retail Federation survey also confirms that this year 59% of consumers plan to shop online.
Cyber Monday is expected to surpass the sales of Black Friday ($5.0 billion) and Thanksgiving Day ($2.8 billion) to become the largest online shopping day in history with a whopping $6.6 billion in sales.
The buying patterns
This trend gains particular significance when you take into account that consumers don't seem to wait until Thanksgiving to start their holiday shopping anymore. Last year, 40% of seasonal buyers started before Halloween, and a recent survey by JLL states this year’s online shopping has already kicked off for 30% consumers. This means increasing brand awareness before December hits is instrumental to achieving businesses’ goals for the year. And while your holiday strategy should be ready by September, it’s not too late - there’s plenty you can still do to profit until the end of the year!
The JLL report also provided interesting insights to online shopping behavior of different groups. While the majority of women are especially eager to turn to social media (62%) and retailer emails (62%) for shopping inspirations, the majority of men surveyed tend to rely on word-of-mouth in deciding where and what they will buy this holiday season. Women also seem to prioritize low prices above any other factor while men value customer service and product experts more.
When we look at demographics, it’s good news for non-traditional gift industries. Brands that don’t sell tangible products often struggle to participate in the season’s marketing. But it’s now known Millennials and Gen Z value experiential purchases over traditional material ones and are contributing to the growing number of shoppers who plan to gift experiences (27%) or host or attend events (24%).
Higher conversion on desktop
Online retail visits have been stagnant in the last two years - an estimated 92% of holiday shoppers go online to either research or purchase gifts and nearly a quarter of U.S. shoppers did half of their holiday shopping online in 2016.
While mobile visit share is expected to overtake desktop by almost 0.09% in Q4 2017, revenue might still be driven mainly by the latter – smartphones accounted for 41% of online retail visits in 2016, but only 21% of sales. And if you thought email marketing was dying, look again: 37% of shoppers say email remains their favorite way to receive an offer on their mobile device, even if they turn to desktop for actual purchases. Email was also the marketing channel which generated both the highest revenue and conversion last year.
Moreover, eMarketer’s report notes that online shoppers plan to spend 70% more than their in-store shopping counterparts this year, so make sure your digital campaigns are optimized for both devices and your online experience is set to delight customers.
Irrespective of what the key digital marketing predictions foresee, the truth is that you probably already have the most important resource you need: the data you have collected in the past years. Trends are important to consider and you can get easily involved with the holiday spirit that you overlook your most important asset: your customers. Actually looking at past campaigns and how well (or poorly) they performed with your targets is essential to design your future strategy and can even give you a competitive advantage against new competitors in your market segments who don’t possess this valuable insight.
If you don’t have your holiday Digital Marketing plan set, jump on it this week! Leverage today’s data and mark the key dates so that you can time your marketing in order to maximize your budget and exposure during the most profitable time windows. Don’t forget to prioritize your marketing activities carefully to take advantage of the most wonderful time of the year – make sure it’s your brand that consumers find online, and not your competitors!
About the author
Inês Pimentel is Content Manager at AMPLEXOR, based in Lisbon. With broad experience in marketing and communication in tech, service and non-profit contexts, Inês joined AMPLEXOR in 2016 and specializes in marketing content for digital experience and enterprise collaboration solutions. She's certified in Inbound, Email and Content Marketing.