The big winner in this year’s holiday media grab bag? Mobile and social, judging by the 2018 Holiday Season Predictions and Insights, a study by Salesforce.
Mobile phones will bring in 46% of all holiday sales, outranking computers (44%) for the first time, Saleforce forecasts. Tablets will generate only 9%.
In addition, mobile phones will deliver 68% of all ecommerce traffic this season — 19% more than last year. This will peak on Christmas Eve, when consumers use their phones to place 54% of all orders for that day and make 72% of all visits.
“Mobile is undoubtedly the most disruptive force in retail since the onset of ecommerce,” states Rick Kenney, head of consumer insights for Salesforce.
He adds that “even those in-store shoppers are mobile — 83% of shoppers aged 18–44 are using their phones while in a physical store.”
What does this mean for email marketers? Simply that promotions, announcements, nudges and greetings must be designed for mobile phones. But success depends on timing and the ability to personalize offers.
Salesforce expects the big digital shopping days — in driving global revenue — will be Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Sunday, Thanksgiving and Cyber Saturday. In addition, half of all holiday shopping will be done by December 2, a day earlier than last year.
The stakes are high, given that Salesforce estimates that ecommerce sales will grow 13% over last year. As for personalization, AI-based product recommendations will drive 35% of all revenue, Salesforce adds. And sales from those product recommendations will increase by 25%.
Drilling down to email, Yes Lifecycle Marketing reports in its 2018 Holiday Marketing Guide that Christmas is a sluggish day for email volume and response.
Last year, Christmas fell on a Monday, and that week, holiday email volume was heaviest on Tuesday — producing a 10.1% click-to-open rate — the high for the week.
“Messages sent on this day promote day after Christmas sales,” the report states. “In line with the growing trend of major retailers opening early on December 26, many emails in this group highlighted ways to spend new gift cards and credits from returned merchandise or promoted clearance sales.”
Emails sent on Christmas itself generated higher engagement rates than business-as-usual messages. However, “since they focused on celebrating the holiday and not driving sales, they generated low conversions,” the study continues.
For that holiday week, email open rates peaked on Wednesday, with an average 17.85. But conversions hit a high on Thursday — 10.2% — after hovering around 2% in the prior three days. They fell back to 4.6% on Friday and rose to 6.4% on Saturday.
Meanwhile, in another holiday finding, Marketing Land reports that mall businesses begin to work on their holiday ad messaging in autumn.
Of 260 owners and managers polled, 27.75% say they begin changing their holiday ad messaging in October, 20.42% in November and 19.37% in September. Only 4.19% do so in December and 10.47% in August or earlier.
Don’t think email is first on the holiday marketing wish list. Salesforce predicts a 51% hike in Instagram traffic, and a 5% hike in social traffic in general. And Marketing Land predicts that social will far outpace email in marketing spend by small businesses.