Shopping Trends Will Affect Email Big-Time

$59 billion is a number that will ring in your head for some time.  247 million customers spent on average $423 each over Black Friday weekend (according to the National Retail Foundation Survey), adding up to that  $59 billion --  a whopping 13% jump over last year. 

Hang tight before you break out the champagne, though. Industry surveys tell you part of the story and don’t reflect “real” retail numbers, but directionally, most are attesting to a pretty successful in-store and online holiday weekend. While the weekend was a success, Cyber Monday capped the weekend off with a 30% jump from last year, showing retail peaks at roughly 11:23 a.m. EST.

Monday was a great day to use company time to get your shopping done.   Good news is, many were not using the company network to tie up traffic as there was a tremendous shift to mobile browsing and more importantly mobile shopping/commerce ( 2X over last year).

Several trends stuck out that I believe will drive some changes in how we, develop, deploy and optimize programs for 2013.  Some may be a bit late to implement this holiday season, but certainly noteworthy to file in your next-ideas vault.

  • Overall, the emergence of the “cloud” has allowed many to be better prepared for this season -- not just to handle the volume, but to spend more time on the experience vs. the implementation of the site and merchandising.   What does this mean for our world?   Mobile Web optimization and funnel optimization is even more critical. Drill really hard into this years’ site/mobile site conversion numbers and dig out your quant hats for an adaptive testing methodology that allows you to squeeze the lemon for the rest of the season.
  • Tablets will be the norm.  With over 7% of holiday retails sales attributed to some form of tablet purchase, online user experience will be all about touch-based navigation. Several insiders have touted the need to adapt email experiences to easier navigational link and calls to action, and provide more information (in the email), as the connectivity to a landing page may be suspect depending on geo-location. While our insiders tout email creative optimization, take both points one and two and realize that over 50% of your customers and prospects will be using gesture-based navigation.  This is the new norm, so you’ll need to begin to change your segmentation and creative strategy, along with your web/email and landing page thinking.  
  • Payment services are shifting with the mobile experience.  While mobile is shifting online behaviors, consumer adoption of mobile payment services is also rising. PayPal reported a 200% increase in transactions through this past weekend.  So you have a perfect storm, “one-click commerce” vision.  What does that mean for your world?  Refer to point one above. You must own the point of intermediation where purchase consideration is made. How do you strive to make the transaction a seamless process regardless of payment method, device, location?  This is the perfect opportunity to rethink how you segment your customers -- not just what, when or how much they buy, but  HOW they buy.  I believe many will re-apply segmentation and targeting strategies to mobile payment preferences.  It’s not too late to pull this off for the remaining four weeks of the year, just likely a bit too late to do this outside of the highest value customers.  I don’t think this is a one-size-fits-all strategy, but certainly another method to test within transactionally oriented segments.

These changing trends bring a metaphor to mind.  Imagine getting pulled over by a policeman for speeding -- and as he/she is mulling over your license, you say, “Couldn’t you have called me on my cell phone or texted me to slow down?”

Consumer patterns are changing, marketers’ practices are adapting, and engagement is the elusive middle ground where we gauge success.  How are you measuring success -- but more important, optimizing this to show progress?  You can’t attribute your success to economics and consumer shifts alone.

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