Cyber Monday was originally defined as the first Monday after Thanksgiving by Shop.org and picked up by popular media as “the biggest online shopping day of the year.” DoubleClick Performics’ data indicates this is just the first of a series of four or five significant holiday peak “Cyber Mondays” (http://blog.performics.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/09/18/cybermondays3.jpg). These Mondays between Thanksgiving and Christmas generate major e-commerce sales peaks for online retailers, but the first Monday following Thanksgiving is generally not the busiest.
In 2006, the third Cyber Monday was the peak day of the season for DoubleClick Performics clients. This year, with an early Thanksgiving and a Tuesday Christmas, we have an extra Monday; the fourth Cyber Monday could well be the peak of the season.
The Monday peaks–and a possible season peak on the fourth Monday have some obvious implications for search. Search marketing teams should maximize exposure on these Mondays by allocating a generous budget for their most important campaigns. If budget caps are set too low, ads won’t be served to all searchers. If a keyword is performing at a healthy ROI, a low budget cap results in lost profitable sales. In fact, we recommend programs being actively managed to a healthy ROI have no budget caps during the holidays, especially this season with an extra Monday to cover.
Looking deeper into the intra-week patterns also provides some valuable insights for planning holiday marketing strategies. Let’s consider a typical December week for an average holiday shopper.
Most offline holiday shopping happens on the weekends, but not everyone buys what he or she finds in the stores. Many go online Monday to purchase what they couldn’t find over the weekend, price check with competitors, and pursue deep discounts and deals. That covers the weekend-to-Monday connection, but what about the gradual falloff of online sales throughout the week?
Studies suggest nearly everyone who makes an online purchase searches prior to doing so, and many of those searches lead to purchases in categories outside the initial search. The same is true of offline sales. A lot of statistics released during the past year point to the important role of online research—much of it via search engines—as a contributing factor to offline purchases. Recently, DoubleClick Performics confirmed both connections when it partnered with Microsoft and ROI Research to survey online moms:
- 70% of respondents said they search before making any online purchase; 57% do so before making any offline purchase
- 64% use search engines to find out where to purchase products offline
Consider how this concept plays out in a typical December week. Online buying peaks on Monday and tapers off as shoppers move away from using search engines for online purchases and begin researching future offline purchases. Each of these dynamics presents opportunities for marketers to boost holiday performance.
Online media for offline sales
Shoppers use search to research in-store purchases or find local stores offering certain products. Search teams should consider “brand + location” and “product + location” keywords to connect online with these local shoppers. Geotargeting can also help.
Category keywords also prove valuable for search teams considering the online-to-offline opportunity in their ROI calculations. General terms like “blender” or “diamond earrings” may not convert well in the online channel through an isolated one-click view, but they often pay out in the form of offline sales.
Our clickstream analysis for the 2006 holiday season also shows that generic keywords often generate subsequent brand searches that lead to sales. Marketers should bid on these search terms to introduce their brands to consumers and become part of the consideration set as consumers move through the purchase process.
Closing the deal offline; owning the deal online
Encourage your teams to consider that, when consumers shop in stores over the weekend, many will quit before completing their purchases, go on the Web Monday and buy online. Retail managers should sweeten the pot to seal the deal in the store. Consider low-price guarantees to remove some of consumers’ perceived risk about getting the best price. Encourage retail staff to ask shoppers if they found everything they needed, or put a more formal customer satisfaction/up-ell training program in place.
And when you can’t seal the deal in the store, try to own that purchase should it happen online, most likely on Monday. Give shoppers handouts directing them to your site for follow up purchases or special incentives and deals. Leverage your retail presence by collecting opt-in email addresses and communicating with shoppers.
You should also consider dropping “most popular products” or “special deals” e-mails Sunday night to provide everything they need to buy on Monday. And be sure to blanket relevant keywords with your search ads, becoming ubiquitous in the consumer’s mind with the specific products they seek, wherever and whenever they search this holiday season.
Cam Balzer is vice president of emerging media at DoubleClick Performics (www.performics.com). Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.