The Evolution of Cyber Month

The Evolution of Cyber Month: How to Optimise Engagement Over the Black Friday Period. 

We dive into the data to find out what we can be learnt from last year’s ‘Cyber Month’.

As retailers let out a collective sigh of relief, it’s a sign that one of the busiest trading periods of the year is done and dusted. Each year, November kicks off a chain of holiday and seasonal promo campaigns, and as the usual suspects churn out the bulk of the sales, a quiet yet disruptive sales trend is emerging as the key to a successful holiday season.

With a stacked sales period filled with seasonal and holiday offerings such as Halloween and Christmas, Black Friday and Cyber Monday add a much needed sales spike at the end of November.

Cyber Weekend is now a date firmly established in the sales calendar for retailers and customers alike, this increasing popularity has prompted us to dive into the data, highlight the key trends, and lay out some important learnings for this year’s ‘Cyber Month’.

What was trending

Making sense of the Black Friday and ‘Cyber Month’ data in Australia, Practicology Asia Pacific routinely refers to their monthly industry benchmarking report. The report aggregates data from around 50 retailers in the region and provides insights into market trends that allows participants to measure their performance against the wider retail-set. 

In just four days, Australia’s ‘Cyber Weekend’ sales generated one third of the revenue for the entire month of November, highlighting that retailers need to be site and stock ready for the increase in traffic.

With traffic numbers only slightly behind the more popular Cyber Monday sale, this year’s Black Friday sale gained considerable traction in the Australian market with more retailers and customers participating in the event than ever before. Unfortunately, this popularity did not necessarily translate to the sales that retailers were expecting. A lower conversion rate of 1.54%, compared to last year’s 1.62% shows there were some missed opportunities when it comes to how retailers are talking to their audience, and how they are delivering their key promotional offerings.

The conversion rate was lower still (1%) for retailers that ‘opted out’ of the event, indicating that customers were looking for cyber-led offers, and were less inclined to purchase on websites that were not partaking in the promotion.

Bringing it home strong, Cyber Monday was the strongest day across our participants’ sites and saw the biggest growth in traffic, with a 56% increase on last year. This was combined with a strong conversion rate of 2.72% (+50% on last year) and delivered a huge uplift in sales of +156% compared to 2015. This proves how valuable this part of the promotional period is to retailers and their customers.

Shop online, anytime

Black Friday saw an uplift in traffic on Friday as early as 7am, indicating customers were ready and waiting to grab a bargain. These early hours in the sale converted well, with 10am seeing the highest revenue period of the day and generating a 1.92% conversion rate. This activity was likely an outcome of early morning marketing communications. Further proof that timely and engaging customer content is a key component for a successful sales campaign.

Cyber Monday had an entirely different curve with sales remaining consistent throughout the day and sharply peaking between 7-12pm and 10% of sales from the four-day period being generated between this timeframe. As each hour of the Monday evening went by, the conversion rate increased, peaking at 11pm at 4.62%.  

The majority of year on year growth across all metrics has come from more customers shopping on their mobile devices, the mix of revenue driven from mobile grew from 26% to 39% and mobile conversion increased to 1.36%, up 0.94% from last year. 

What was on offer

The most common promotional discount was 20% off, with 4 in 10 retailers using this offer, the second most popular discount was 30% off.

The most popular user experience tool seen was the ‘was/now’ pricing mechanism, 68% of retailers that we reviewed used this functionality, and 20% of retailers used functionalities that applied the discount at the checkout via a promo code. 

Most retailers participating in Black Friday extended their offer and refreshed their content on Monday, changing all Black Friday content to Cyber Monday messaging. With the change in communications, they also increased their offers with some retailers going from 30% to 40% off, or promoting extra incentives, such as free delivery. 

Making the most of ‘Cyber Month’

Customers are beginning to start their Christmas shopping earlier, and are looking for discounts. In light of this, it’s likely we’ll see a shift from a weekend of promotions to an entire month of cyber sales. Last year, Amazon launched ‘Countdown to Black Friday’, offering daily deals two weeks before Black Friday, this enabled them to secure market share ahead of their competitors and maintain momentum throughout the rest of November. 

Spreading promotions across the month allows retailers to adjust campaign offerings and reduce stock or site pressure within their internal structures. Being able to react to sales, promotions and stock levels enables the retailer to capitalise on the increased engagement at these peak periods. 

Takeaways

While analysing both Australian and global retail markets, we found some clear trends underpinning a successful ‘Cyber Month’ period.

It’s becoming evidently apparent that a multichannel approach is key to increased engagement, especially around promotional periods. Somewhere between 50% and 60% of all retail sales are instigated online, whether prompted by email, social alert or SEM or SEO – it’s a key consideration when planning your promotional campaigns. 

It’s definitely worth considering the choice of sale or promotional mechanic you use on your site, as mentioned previously, the was/is price tool has been used effectively for most retailers in this case. If these types of tools are available, it would be beneficial to test your audience throughout the year to ensure smooth sailing when your site is at max capacity. 

Finally, as evident in the numbers, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become a key ‘pulse’ moment on everyone’s promotional calendars and the key to a well-executed campaign is in the planning – it’s never too early to analyse your 2016 performance to determine what can be implemented for this year’s campaign.

If you would like Practicology to review your performance over peak trading periods or help optimise your promotional activity for 2017 please contact us today.

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