Preparations for the 2019 holiday season are well underway across the retail industry as digital marketers build plans that they hope will land them on shoppers’ “nice” lists this year. Here at Rakuten Marketing, our team of experts is working with clients to come up with effective strategies across all of their digital marketing channels to create a cohesive strategy that harnesses the best of both human and machine intelligence. Preparing for future success in any line of work involves learning from the past. With that in mind, we took a look at holiday performance from last year’s holidays and outlined four marketing insights to help prepare for the 2019 holiday season.

holiday mobile shopping, smartphone shopping1. Think mobile first

It’s no secret that shoppers are becoming more comfortable doing more of their shopping on their smartphones these days and because of that, brands must take a mobile-first approach when planning out their 2019 holiday marketing campaigns.

Here’s why:

  • eMarketer reports that consumers in the US spent $53.28 billion shopping on their mobile devices during the 2018 holiday season, up 31.7% year-over-year from $40.44 billion in 2017. While still a fraction of the overall retail pie, mobile sales growth was much more pronounced than any other channel.
  • eMarketer’s data also shows that holiday sales on mobile devices accounted for 43.0% of all ecommerce sales in 2018, up from 38.1% in 2017.
  • Smartphones are key in particular when it comes to reaching constantly-connected Millennials and Gen Z. The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that 88% of shoppers age 18-24 and 87% of shoppers age 25-34 used a mobile device to make holiday purchasing decisions over Thanksgiving weekend 2018, compared to 66% of all shoppers.
  • While purchasing on mobile devices continued trending upward in 2018, desktop remained the dominant online purchasing channel throughout the holiday shopping season within Rakuten Marketing’s affiliate network, where desktop accounted for 60% or more of all purchases every day from 11/21 through Cyber Monday (11/26) and Giving Tuesday (11/27). On Cyber Monday in particular, 67% of all purchases were made on desktop devices, compared to 28% on smartphones and 5% on tablets.

What this ultimately means is that brands must tailor their search strategies in order to get in front of shoppers who are seeking out products on their smartphones. Images in display ads that will be part of holiday campaigns must be tested now to ensure they render well on mobile devices and have a call to action that is clear enough to be seen by the consumer without sacrificing product image quality.

cyber week shopping trends, thanksgiving marketing2. Invite yourself to Thanksgiving

In the past after a Thanksgiving meal, people would either take a nap or watch a football game. Now? More are showing an increasing inclination to go on their phones and shop.

Data from the Rakuten Marketing Display network shows that the number of purchases made on mobile devices on Thanksgiving grew by 59% year-over-year while the amount of revenue generated grew by 51%, with both figures outpacing the amount of growth that took place on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The good news for brands and retailers is that it gives them another opportunity to get in front of shoppers who are getting more accustomed to starting their winter holiday shopping even earlier than ever before. Start working with influencers and publishers in your network now to build out Thanksgiving-specific promotions that will get your brand in front of more shoppers who are seeking out products as soon as they clear the dinner table.

holiday marketing tips, holiday shopper insights3. Don’t limit yourself to the major online sales holidays

In retail, as in everything, success is a matter of timing. When it comes to holiday shopping, shoppers aren’t limiting themselves to purchasing during Cyber Week or on major sales holidays.

Rakuten Marketing data found that shoppers are willing and able to spread out their spending throughout and are starting earlier than Thanksgiving. For instance, data from Rakuten Marketing’s affiliate network showed that total orders placed at department stores on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving grew by 40% compared to 2017. Likewise, when it came to both consumer electronics and video games, total orders grew by 132% and 56% year over year respectively on that Wednesday.

The lesson – Spread your wings and take an active approach to promoting your products early on so that you’re ready when consumers are looking to buy.

social media marketing, holiday social media marketing tips4. Fine tune your social messaging

Social media continues to have a major impact on retailer fortunes around the holidays. Rakuten Marketing data showed that social driven revenue grew by:

  • 39% on Thanksgiving 2018 compared to 2017
  • 48% on Black Friday 2018 compared to 2017
  • 63% on Cyber Monday 2018 compared to 2017

What this means is that not only are shoppers seeking out more product information on social media platforms during the holidays, they’re making more purchases because of social media influences.

Start experimenting now with emerging social media platforms like TikTok to come up with content that will engage and entertain your target audience throughout the holidays. Leverage Snapchat and Instagram stories to tease out holiday deals weeks or months in advance to build buzz. Shift some of your customer acquisition spend towards Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to get in front of customers who may not have heard of your brand yet.

Want to know more about how you can set yourself up for holiday success? Speak with a Rakuten Marketing expert today.