The holiday shopping season is off to an impressive start! Even with the data still flowing in, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are shattering online sales records.
With $6.59 billion in sales, Cyber Monday 2017 was the largest online sales day in history, an increase of 16.8% year-over-year (YOY), according to Adobe. Black Friday was up 16.9% from last year with $5.03 billion in sales.
While online sales volume on Thanksgiving was lower than last year ($2.87 billion), the day saw the largest YOY increase at 18.3%.
Early reports from Adobe also reveal that 53.3% of visits and 39.7% of sales over the Thanksgiving weekend originated from mobile devices. Smartphone traffic grew 21% YOY, while revenue from smartphones grew 41% over last year.
Acceleration Partners’ affiliate data showed similar trends, with Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday each seeing sales increase by at least 45% YOY.
Black Friday saw the most significant increase, with sales up 55.65%, followed by Thanksgiving (+ 47.72%) and Cyber Monday (+ 46.01%).
A reason for this increase is that retailers are releasing their holiday promotions earlier each year, contributing to the increase in online activity during Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
When compared to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving saw the largest YOY increase in clicks:
- Thanksgiving (+ 11.55%)
- Black Friday (+ 3.79%)
- Cyber Monday (+ 8.60%)
Clicks saw more modest growth rates than sales, which can suggest an improvement in campaign effectiveness and an increase in conversion activity.
The overall conversion rate for the seven day period leading up to and including Cyber Monday (11/21/17 – 11/27/17) saw a YOY increase of nearly 4.5 percentage points, increasing from 8.53% to 12.96%.
Ongoing optimization of affiliate partnerships and campaigns is a must for any affiliate program – not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year.
The larger increase in Thanksgiving Day traffic suggests that consumers aren’t necessarily waiting until Black Friday to begin deal hunting, as more consumers choose to shop online rather than in busy stores.
With this in mind, retailers should include compelling offers on Thanksgiving to capitalize on that post-turkey traffic.
Affiliate program costs increased in line with sales for Thanksgiving but saw more significant YOY increases for Black Friday and Cyber Monday due to program commission changes within a small subset of retailers since last year.
To ensure affiliates are compensated in accordance with the value of the traffic they drive, it’s an important practice to reevaluate affiliate payouts on a regular basis.
Program commissions grew 50.48% on Thanksgiving when compared to last year. Commissions increased 104.50% on Black Friday and 94.36% on Cyber Monday.
Tips and Trimmings
The holiday shopping season may be in full swing, but it’s never too late for digital marketers to capitalize on consumer activity. Here are a few tips to guide you through the rest of the season and help you make the most of your affiliate program:
Feature the right products and offers.
Focus on high-converting products and compelling offers that have proven successful during the holiday season. Examine past holiday season performance to determine what messaging worked well with affiliates (and what didn’t). Offers should also be attractive to price-conscious consumers who have come to expect deep discounts during the season.
Highlight shipping options, especially FREE shipping.
According to a consumer survey conducted by Radial, a whopping 97% of shoppers expect free shipping! Offering free shipping can help seal the deal with shoppers and serve as an effective conversion-boosting tool. As the holiday season unfolds, you want to ensure that your customers and your affiliate partners are aware of any shipping deadlines for guaranteed holiday delivery. Consider creating a holiday shipping landing page that details shipping options, deadlines and delivery estimates so customers can plan and purchase accordingly. And don’t forget to highlight store pick-up options, which can be a convenient solution for consumers.
Leverage the right partnerships.
While coupon and loyalty sites can offer exposure to millions of engaged shoppers, many retailers are expanding their definition of what and who an “affiliate partner” is. Explore opportunities with content sites and influencers that can help tell your brand’s story. Or, dive into the mobile space with app-to-app platforms. Embracing innovative partnerships can help you drive incremental revenue and stand out during the holiday season.
Communicate with your affiliates.
Let’s face it, the retail holiday season is a hectic time for everyone. Promotions can change quickly, inventory can go out of stock and website difficulties can occur due to the influx of activity. Whatever the case may be, ensure you have a communication plan in place with your affiliates to alert them of important issues or last-minute changes. Building quality relationships and staying in touch with affiliates goes a long way to ensure both retailers and affiliates have a smooth and successful holiday season.
Based on these Thanksgiving weekend results, the holiday shopping season looks merry and bright. Apply these tips and best practices to ensure your program brings good tidings and gets your New Year off to a successful start.
Be on the lookout in early January for our Q4 2016 – 2017 Benchmark Report. We’ll definitely have some good insights to share!
Want even more ideas?
Download our free guide to “Q4 Strategies to Sleigh Your Holiday Marketing.”
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Christina Polizzi is a Senior Manager, Business Analytics at Acceleration Partners.