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Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2011: Lessons Learned

Published: December 7, 2011

Author: 3Q/DEPT

In 2005, the term Cyber Monday was coined in a Shop.org press release whose headline read, “‘Cyber Monday’ Quickly Becoming One of Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year.” Six years later, it is undeniably the biggest online shopping day of the year. In 2010, consumers spent over $1 billion on Cyber Monday, and early numbers suggest the total could be even bigger this year – and that a number of trends, like mobile and tablet shopping, are gaining significance.
A 26% increase in e-commerce revenue on Black Friday points to the increasing importance of digital sales with regard to holiday shopping. Physical stores also saw a 7% increase in turnout for Black Friday’s massive sales nationwide, but the increasing hazards of braving the crowds combined with the opportunity to snag the same deals online without losing one’s life has bolstered sales for online-only retailers and the online stores for companies like Sears, Macy’s, Best Buy, and Target. Because the Thanksgiving weekend sales are such an important economic indicator and more sales are occurring online, this has a direct impact on SEO.
High volumes of Internet traffic and Google searches are a proving ground for online marketing campaigns. Email marketing goes into overdrive, remarketing techniques are being stretched to the limit to entice customers back to their abandoned shopping carts, and SEOs working for retail clients can see whether their efforts have driven deserving brands to the top of SERPs, or if they have fallen by the wayside. Convincing stores to get customers through the door is one thing, but when it comes to Cyber Monday, SEO plays a huge part in the numbers.
People are searching more than ever on Cyber Monday. They may use specific terms to find an exact deal they saw advertised, or cast a wider net on “Xbox 360 cyber deals.” Whatever the case, SEOs need to be ready to predict those phrases and build for them, because with the incredible volume of searches being run, the top search results are going to get a lion’s share of the traffic.
In order for stores to pull in record-breaking numbers this time of year, they engage in customer-tracking research. This data helps retailers cater their deals and advertising toward as many demographics as possible to ensure the highest yield and revenue on Black Friday.
Something we learned this year is that opening a store earlier on Black Friday guarantees more customers. The flagship location for Macy’s in New York saw a line of over 9,000 for the midnight opening of the store – a full 2,000 more than waited last year. Other retailers, eager to increase their bottom lines and “make provision for” consumers, opened as early as 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day to extend the timeframe for the discount frenzy.
Cyber Monday has surged, but another trend developing, as reported by Darcy Travlos at Forbes, is the growing demographic of mobile shoppers and the popularity/impact of mobile in general. Here are a few stats from her article:

  • Tablets in high demand: Amazon Kindle Fire was the top-selling product on the Amazon website. Tablets are expected to be the hottest consumer electronic product this holiday season, and it is the only product category with buzz and innovation.
  • Mobile traffic was an increasing percentage of online traffic:  14.3% of total, versus 5.6% a year ago.
  • Mobile purchasing as a percentage of the total more than tripled:  9.8% of online sales, versus 3.2% last year.
  • iPhones and iPads accounted for the most mobile traffic:  10.2% of the 14.3% mobile traffic (or 71%) was done by an Apple product.
  • Mobile payments soared:  Mobile payments increased by 538% year over year, according to PayPal.

The numbers speak for themselves. Physical locations have certainly improved their gain, but it’s clear that shoppers are taking a more digital position than they have in past years. Given the demand for tablets and increasing penetration of smartphones, the percentage of sales done online via mobile devices will only grow. Savvy SEOs recognize this trend and have been at the grindstone devising strategies for mobile SEO. It may take time before those efforts come to fruition, but I can guarantee you that the mobile numbers and statistics will only grow next year.
It’s our job to be ready for it.
Joseph Baker
Questions? Comments? Email us at blog at ppcassociates dot com.

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