Category Archives: Retail

Black Friday, Cyber Monday statistics highlight the importance of mobile marketing

Black Friday, Cyber Monday statistics highlight the importance of mobile marketing

Long before Thanksgiving weekend hit, industry experts were predicting that Black Friday and Cyber Monday would be landmark days for mobile purchases. Now that the kick-off to the holiday shopping season is in the rearview, the statistics have begun to flood in from a variety of sources. And although some of the results vary across different reports, one thing is for certain: The uptick in mobile shopping not only met but exceeded expectations. The trend is so widespread, in fact, that marketers simply can't ignore the need to reach their email marketing list contacts on their mobile devices.

Smartphones, tablets beat out desktop shopping
A recent report by Moveable Ink revealed that mobile devices were more popular than desktops for shoppers who took advantage of this year's Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales. In fact, only 26.5 percent of consumers made their purchases on personal computers the day after Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, smartphones were the device of choice for 57.5 percent, and 16 percent opted to shop on their tablets. 

Perhaps in reflection of the inherently rushed nature of Black Friday, Cyber Monday shopping saw more desktop-based purchases than its counterpart, Moveable Ink found. Yet PCs still didn't account for the majority of transactions, claiming only 40.2 percent. With 45.5 percent of online retail activity, smartphones still beat out laptops and home computers, while 14.3 percent of Cyber Monday shoppers chose tablets to carry out their shopping.

Mobile also won out over personal computers in terms of email opens during the retail-centric holiday. On Thanksgiving Day, smartphones accounted for nearly 60 percent of all opens, according to Moveable Ink. Black Friday wasn't far behind, as 57.5 percent of emails were opened on a smartphone. The weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw a surge of tablet activity, with slates accounting for 19.3 percent Saturday's email opens and 18.7 percent on Sunday.

Know the mobile marketing best practices
In light of such figures, it's only natural that marketers will want to embrace smartphone and tablet email reading. In an interview with Biz Report, iContact Senior Product Manager Eddie Howard insisted that the mobile craze is great news for those who engineer email campaigns.

"No longer are emails only consumed in front of a computer screen during certain hours. Now consumers are reading emails during the day, when in bed, at bars, while commuting and while watching TV," Howard told the news source.

Of course, marketers have to tailor their strategies to the trend. Howard went on to tell Biz Report that he believes emails have to be able to adapt to different types of viewing environments. As mobile marketing means reaching consumers on the go, firms should also use analytics and take a look at their customers' habits in an effort to create more targeted email lists.

Ride the wave of responsive design
Creating emails that will look good no matter what device a customer opens them on can be tricky, not only because of the variety of mobile operating systems, but also because marketers can't simply ignore desktop viewers, either. Mashable recently highlighted the importance of responsive design as a way of crafting email layouts that can adjust themselves based on the parameters of a variety of screens.

"Understanding devices and associated technology features is necessary for design purposes. We determine what our sites and our emails need to be designed for from a size, browser and operating perspective," Cathy Gribble, TeamOne's associate director of digital analytics, told the news source.

Mashable went on to note that responsive design is particularly vital for firms that use image-heavy layouts. If visuals are a key part of your branding strategy, deploying adaptive design may prove key to your mobile efforts.

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Online, mobile sales prove key to early holiday shopping trends

Online, mobile sales prove key to early holiday shopping trends

The holiday shopping season presents a complex, dynamic challenge for email marketers. While the basic principles remain the same each year – people are out in droves shopping for gifts for their loved ones, and companies must take advantage of the rush by reaching their email marketing list contacts with alluring offers and promotions – many other factors create something of a moving target. For instance, what will the top purchasing trends be? Will consumers increase their spending on tech gadgets relative to clothing? And in an age defined in many ways by the prevalence of smartphones and tablets, will shopping prove more lucrative via digital or in-store channels?

Mobile, ecommerce hit record highs
Marketers who prepared for a shopping season defined by mobile and online sales may already be seeing their efforts pay off. Recent statistics revealed that the Thanksgiving shopping weekend was characterized by purchases made on electronic platforms.

In fact, online sales on Cyber Monday increased by 20.6 percent over last year, thereby setting a new record, according to IBM. Furthermore, the stretch between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday was the most active five-day period to date in terms of digital purchases.

Perhaps even more staggering, however, was the increase in mobile commerce. IBM reported that smartphone and tablet shopping grew at a year-over-year rate of 55.4 percent, accounting for more than 17 percent of all retail transactions.

"The mobile device has become the shopping companion of choice for consumers, driving record mobile sales with 55 percent growth over last year," remarked IBM Smarter Commerce Strategy Director Jay Henderson.

Adapt your holiday campaigns for mobile
In light of these statistics, email marketers simply can't afford not to optimize for mobile when they plan their holiday promotional campaigns. Companies that ignore mobile shoppers risk losing revenue to competitors, as many retailers are already learning to adapt to the smartphone generation. IBM noted that retailers upped their sending of push notifications – which send brief messages about sales or available products directly to customers' mobile devices – by 77 percent during Thanksgiving weekend, in comparison with the previous two months.

One of the key challenges that email marketers face in mobile optimization is how to design their messages' layouts for the different mobile operating systems used by customers on firms' targeted email lists. Android and iOS are the two most popular, of course, but Windows Phone is also the choice of a growing segment of consumers, and Blackberry hasn't totally fallen off the map, either.

To this end, responsive design can be a key asset. Leveraging the adaptability of HTML5 coding, this technique can create layouts that will change based on the specific parameters of each operating system – how large the mobile email viewing window is, for instance, and where images are placed.

If you'd rather focus on one mobile OS, however, consider targeting Apple product users. According to IBM, iOS accounted for 14.5 percent of online purchases compared to Android's 2.6 percent. iPhone and iPad users also seem to be higher spenders than those who prefer the Google platform. iOS purchases averaged $120.29 – considerably higher than Android's $106.70, especially when you take volume into account.

Consider video
Of course, you won't be the only marketer on the block who's set his or her sights on mobile shoppers. As such, you'll need to get creative if your marketing emails are going to stand out in consumers' mobile inboxes.

The holiday crunch might be a great time to consider video, a growing trend in email marketing. According to a study by Reel SEO, 82 percent of marketers found video effective, and 60 percent said it improved conversion rates. Of course, you'll also need to make sure the footage will look good on a mobile screen.

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Study provides holiday email marketing insights

Study provides holiday email marketing insights

The holiday shopping season is vital for email promotions, with marketers filling the inboxes of their email contact lists with news about product releases, last-minute sales and a host of other offers they can take advantage of as they shop for their loved ones. As much stress as consumers find themselves under during this time, marketers are undoubtedly feeling the pressure, too, as they attempt the final, make-or-break push to achieve the return on investment their firms have been seeking.

However, there may be more flexibility when it comes to hitting end-of-year ROIs than many marketers believe. Email marketing solutions firm Custora recently released statistics that help put the holiday promotion rush into perspective.

Holiday customers not as valuable long-term
Don't value those who make purchases during November and December too highly: The Custora report found that holiday customer acquisitions have a lower customer lifetime value (CLV) than customers acquired during the rest of the year.

The drop occurs across marketing channels, the study found. Email had a relatively low 5 percent decrease in holiday CLV, while paid search dropped by 13 percent and display advertising by 12 percent.

Perhaps the decrease in CLV reflects the increase in the volume of marketing efforts over the holidays, with quantity being prioritized over quality. Noting that Forrester recently predicted 838 billion marketing emails would be sent in 2013, the marketing team at McKinsey emphasized in a recent post for Forbes that more personal emails are likely to be the most effective.

"Given this backdrop, it's no wonder why relevancy should be a priority for every marketer," the McKinsey marketers wrote.

Think mobile
On the other hand, failing to prioritize mobile sales may get marketers into trouble this holiday season. Custora found that on Black Friday in 2012, total mobile sales increased by 50 percent in a single day.

As such, it's imperative that marketers make sure their promotional emails and websites are mobile-ready, as customers will surely want to utilize these tools on their smartphones and tablets in order to make purchases.

Don't get stuck on Black Friday
That said, marketers can afford to take a wider-lens approach rather than focus exclusively on the day after Thanksgiving. In 2012, the four-day period between Dec. 1 and Dec. 4 brought in more revenue than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, Custora found, while the days between Dec. 10 and Dec. 13 were just shy of the two major shopping days' joint revenue.

Taking these insights into consideration, marketers can feel empowered to target their emails in a more sophisticated manner than they may have in previous years.

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With holiday shopping season around the corner, retailers are prepping their email distribution lists.

Retailers prepping email marketing lists for the holidays

With the 2013 holiday season primed to begin, retailers are already readying their email contact lists to maximize success. In fact, according to a recent article from Retail Customer Experience, store owners and ecommerce sites are preparing to kick off the shopping season before kids are even going door-to-door to collect candy. So, how are brands planning to stand out in the holiday melee?

Timing is everything               
A recent survey from Experian noted that nearly half (49 percent) of retailers plan on launching their first online holiday campaign before Halloween, yet most won't begin in earnest until two weeks out from Thanksgiving, MarketWatch cited.

The majority of retailers plan to funnel their marketing budgets into online channels, with 55 percent saying they will be leveraging their email marketing lists to reach shoppers. Some of the promotional tactics they plan on using within these messages include free shipping, e-coupons and deal-of-the-day offers.

Customizing the consumer experience               
One of the biggest trends retailers are expected to leverage is consumer customization, i.e. sending out specific deals, discounts and news based on customer purchase and browsing histories. According to the news source, while shoppers have now come to expect deep discounts – punishing those who don't offer them – businesses are looking for additional ways to catch their attention.

For example, some firms will be sending out business emails with tailored gift recommendations for existing customers. This can also work for how they offer discounts. If a shopper regularly purchases cooking supplies throughout the year, this may be a prime time to send him or her an email with a special coupon for these goods, and this can have a lasting effect, Retail Customer Experience noted. 

"Marketers who come up with creative ways to connect with customers this holiday season will not only increase sales in Q4, they'll also improve brand loyalty and continue to enjoy the payoff in 2014," stated the news provider.

To get started, it's important for retailers to take a hard look at their email marketing lists. Have they been updated recently? How active are recipients? Is it time to get help from professionals in the business? The answers to all of these questions could make or break a brand this holiday season, as pressure to see high returns increases.

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Promote clicks with personalized email communications.

Ecommerce retailers: Personalize messages for greater success

Email distribution lists have helped ecommerce retailers reach shoppers more effectively than is possible with other channels. However, new research suggests it may be time for online sellers to update their business email strategies.

According to the latest Ecommerce Quarterly from Monetate, email marketing referral traffic and conversions rates leading to ecommerce sites have declined since last year. Specifically, while Q2 2012 experienced a referral rate of 3.75 percent, this figure dropped to 2.36 percent for Q2 2013. Additionally, conversion rates fell from 3.56 percent to 3.34 percent year over year.

However, ecommerce outlets that use email marketing shouldn't despair. The channel still remains the most effective in terms of conversion and referral, with only social improving year over year. Furthermore, Monetate suggested personalizing emails.

Amazon already does this, sending out marketing messages to consumers based on past purchases and browsing behaviors. Monetate termed this "open-time personalization," as it requires online businesses to behave more intelligently and responsively. For example, if a blizzard is in the forecast, this may be a perfect time for sporting goods retailers to mail missives advertising coats, boots and other weather-related gear.

Personalization may grow increasingly important, as the number of retailers opening up shop on the Internet only grows and begins to push into shoppers' inboxes. In fact, another study from Daily Deal Media reported that 71 percent of merchants tout email as their most effective marketing channel. However, only 17 percent are satisfied with their online marketing strategies.

A good place for ecommerce businesses to begin is with a comprehensive and targeted email marketing list. With this resource, online sellers can make sure their efforts to create personalized content aren't going to waste, and their messaging is being delivered to those most likely to open and click.

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