Why Smart Retailers Aren’t Waiting To Hit ‘SEND’ On Holiday Promotions

What started as Cyber Monday – when shoppers returned to their desktops at work on Monday with items still on their holiday lists – quickly became Cyber Week, a week-long marathon of savings (and spending). Digital interactions – estimated to impact 64% of all in-store retail sales by the end of 2015 – certainly played a role in this shift.

Even more rapidly, however, we predict mobile’s impact will soon turn Cyber Week into Cyber Month. Why? Because consumers are no longer confined to their desktop. They have in their hands the power to find a good price anytime and anywhere. Successful retailers have noticed this trend and will start engaging customers with mobile holiday promotions much earlier to capitalize on holiday spending – both online and off.

Consider this: in 2014, consumer engagement rates were highest the weekend before Thanksgiving. However, retail apps actually sent a greater volume of sales promotions and notifications on key shopping days—Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday—taking advantage of mobile’s “in the moment” immediacy.

Notification Send Volume - graph

Had retail apps focused more messaging on pre-shopping activities when consumer engagement rates were higher, they could have better determined shoppers’ interests and been able to tailor subsequent notifications to app users. Given that highly targeted notifications typically achieve a four to seven times greater response over messages broadcast to everyone, these retail apps might have seen a much higher return.

According to Deloitte Digital, mobile’s influence on offline sales has grown 500% over the past three years, doubling every year since 2012. Additional studies by Google validate the significant role that mobile plays in pre-shopping activities:

  • 87% of consumers perform digital research before entering a store.
  • 82% use their smartphone within stores to help them make product decisions.
  • 69% of smartphone users are more likely to buy from companies whose mobile sites or apps help them easily find answers to their questions.

Mobile’s huge, but that’s not the only reason we’re predicting Cyber Week is transitioning to Cyber Month. The nature of mobile as a more personal channel, compared to other digital channels, also makes an impact. Mobile is not just a broadcast channel; it requires greater relevancy. That’s why marketing over a longer period of time gives retailers a chance to really get to know their customers. So rather than just continually sending “50% off!” offers or sending messages that shout “Come on in!” to people passing by retail locations, marketers now have a chance to observe their customers and take note of their preferences and affinities to send them exactly what they want, when they want it. To do it right, retailers are quickly findings that it takes longer than a day or even a week.

With a greater focus on Cyber Month, retailers can more precisely know what’s on a customer’s list, check it twice, and pursue increasingly targeted strategies that have less to do with what day it is, and more to do with sending the right message at the right time.

Stephanie Capretto is the Strategic Consultant for Urban Airship

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