Prepare for Cyber Monday

Black Friday existed before the Internet; now we also have Cyber Monday, the day when holiday shoppers go back to work and make their gift purchases online. It’s a real trend, so how does a savvy and budget-conscious e-commerce marketer make the most of it?

As Siddharth Shah noted on Search Engine Land, it’s a tricky balance. “Spend too much too soon and you might suffer a lower ROI and not have money left for Cyber Monday. Spend less and you might be missing out on consumer volume,” he observed. Crunching the numbers for the days surrounding Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving in the US) and Cyber Monday (the first workday after the Thanksgiving holiday) can prove quite enlightening. It turns out there’s a tempo to the spending.

Holiday shoppers hold back on the week leading up to Black Friday, and then spike on Black Friday. They hit another spike on Cyber Monday. How big? According to Shah, the return on investment for marketers went 20 percent over the baseline for Black Friday…but spending increased 50 percent over baseline on Cyber Monday, and the return on investment more than doubled. Likewise, conversion rates on Cyber Monday came in at more than double the baseline.
So what’s the best way to take advantage of this? Start by looking at your own figures over the last three years for the two weeks before and the week after Thanksgiving. If you spot spikes in the same places, and you’re on a limited budget, you might consider decreasing your ads a little on Thanksgiving day and stepping things up on Cyber Monday “to get the consumer who is twice as willing to buy on that day than the preceding week,” suggests Shah.

Before you rush out and do this, though, Shah points to a few things you need to keep in mind. “Cyber Monday conversion rates are higher because many retailers lower their prices,” he states. So you might get more revenue out of this approach, but see a small squeeze on your margins. If you really care about your margins, you need to measure the performance of this strategy by paying attention to your margins for each day.

Indeed, Shah points to the Cyber Monday price drop as a possible reasons that conversions are higher that day. He theorizes that consumers spent the weekend researching the products they wish to purchase and used the day to put what they learned to work – and take advantage of the price drops, of course. 
Ultimately, of course, you’re the only one who can decide whether this strategy makes sense for your e-commerce website. But if you have three years’ worth of numbers, it’s worth doing the analysis. You might find that you’ve been leaving money on the table. And if a simple change to the timing and frequency of your AdWords, SEO and other marketing campaigns can help you to collect that money, you just might have a happier holiday season this year. Good luck!

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