Getting Serious About Cyber Mondays

Dec 19, 2007 4:53 AM  By

In his Nov. 26 NY Times article, “A Gimmick Becomes a Real Trend,” Bob Tedeschi discusses Cyber Monday from the perspective of online retailers by diving into findings from a recent Shop.org survey of retailers and consumers about the phenomenon.

Although the consumer findings were interesting in their own right, the survey showed that retailers are more effectively embracing consumer behavior as part of their merchandising strategies, or at least this particular example of consumer behavior. Tedeschi reported that nearly three-quarters of retailers reported plans to offer discounts for Cyber Monday.

When consumers shop online in droves and in patterns that can be predicted, retailers should do all they can to earn a larger share of the results. It’s good to see that they’ve acknowledged the online consumer surge of Cyber Monday and begun to approach this more proactively, but there’s plenty more opportunity where that came from.

Several Cyber Mondays – not one
Cyber Monday finally appears to have reached mainstream recognition among consumers and retailers, but most industry discussion of this concept oversimplifies what we know about consumer behavior and confines this phenomenon to one day, the Monday after Thanksgiving. After tracking holiday search and shopping patterns throughout the holiday season for years now, we know the Cyber Monday phenomenon actually spans multiple Mondays between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with the second and third Cyber Mondays consistently outpacing Cyber Monday 1.

I explained this concept in greater detail and provided specific intra-week merchandising strategies to help multichannel marketers in my Oct. 24 Multichannel Merchant article, “Multichannel Strategies for Monday through Sunday.” Retailers that take the time to understand this more complex but holistic view of Cyber Mondays will capitalize not just once but throughout the holiday season by adjusting strategies to better suit consumer behavior.

Still, progress is good, and knowing that three quarters of online retailers arranged special promotions for Cyber Monday 1certainly suggests heightened understanding and growing awareness of the opportunity at hand for marketers.

Tactical considerations
Convinced of the potential but not sure about how to design a search-engine-marketing plan for the holiday season? In addition to a better understanding of consumer behavior, marketers must also consider such tactical decisions as seasonal keywords, copy selection, and other important factors if they hope to capitalize on this improved understanding. I’ve covered many of these topics in my Multichannel Merchant column, including seasonal strategies, unified search, tracking offline conversions, benchmarking and more.

Continue to capitalize into the new year
It’s always advantageous for marketers to think about, understand, and respond to what they know about consumer behavior. And yes, integrating this process into their online and multichannel holiday strategies could help a lot of marketers extend their Cyber Monday 1 success from this year much deeper into next year’s holiday season. Even more immediate, marketers should apply the same approach to more effectively sell products after Christmas too.

In some ways, the post-Christmas shopping rush resembles the Cyber Monday phenomenon, especially this year, with Christmas falling on a Tuesday. Just as consumers largely shop offline during pre-Christmas weekends, few will shop online on Christmas day. Most of us, though, return to work on Dec. 26, and this could limit the offline bargain hunting that often follows the Christmas holiday. Some savvy marketers will bet on this concept, understanding that consumers are still quite likely to seek out the bargains but may be more apt to hunt them down online.

The Shop.org survey found retailers preparing for Cyber Monday 1 this year like never before. They can take this success to the next level by thinking less about one day in the season and more about the many opportunities that exist to leverage what they know about consumer behavior to prepare for likely spikes in traffic and sales. The consumers will be shopping either way, and it’s in the best interests of retailers to tap into this opportunity as well.

Cam Balzer is vice president of emerging media at DoubleClick Performics (www.performics.com) and a monthly contributor to CHIEF MARKETER. Contact him at cbalzer@doubleclick.com.