This year’s Cyber Monday was the biggest ever. Impressive as they are, the numbers for sales only tell one part of the story. The other is which brands invested in ads in kicking off the holiday shopping season and how customers responded and reached out to them.
Crunching through the numbers, Adobe Analytics reported that this year’s Cyber Monday Sales broke US sales records, thitting $7.9 billion, an amount that represent 19.3 percent YOY growth and which exceeded the predicted spend of $7.79 billion that would have translated into 17.6 percent YOY growth for the day.
Those represent just online sales, but some of the same people also spent money in stores over the Thanksgiving weekend. According to the National Retail Foundation (NRF) over 89 million gave business to both online and physical retail outlets, which represents an increase of close to 40 percent over last year.
Investing in the technology that enables multichannel shopping had a real payoff, according to the NRF. “The multichannel shopper outspent the single-channel shopper by up to $93 on average.”
So what role did marketing play in the billions of dollars of spending? Working with DialogTech, 4C Insights put out a report that presented the data on ads, social lift, and phone calls. What they found was that the top 10 advertisers were made up not just of retailers but also financial services, automotive and other industries. The impact of their TV ads appears in the increase in social media engagement that immediately followed their ads, as you can see from the graphs below:
Aaron Goldman, 4C Insights’ CMO, spoke to me about the revelations in the report. I asked him which aspect he found the most surprising. He answered that he is “always surprised to see triple digit in percentages increases on a YOY basis.”
He explained that as the numbers have grown so large that he wasn’t expecting to see that level of growth. However, the “fact that we’re continuing to see this growth shows that there is still a lot of room for continued innovation where marketers can separate themselves.”
Some brands appear to be thinking the same, as they put a lot into advertising this year even if they were not among the top ten advertisers last year, as you can see from the graph’s inclusion of which number spot — if any — the brand held the previous year. Another striking thing about the top ten is that it spans a range of different industries.
Goldman explained this time of year is when people get into “consumer mode,” which extends not just to “buying stuff” but to “consuming more media as they spend more time on devices.” Accordingly, Goldman says, “savvier advertiser” plan their ads to run “during these peak periods.”
As they’ve become “pretty sophisticated in tying their marketing across channels,” they seek to use them together to “drive more engagement,” Goldman said. In this way the TV ads are not just a means to an end of purchase, but also a means of feeding customer engagement on social media.
This isn’t just a quantitative change but a qualitative one. “It’s almost like each of the channels now can serve as the bridge to the call to action” rather than your one message that must drive the sale. “Now you can get from TV over to social and then to the call on the phone.”
Yes, he did mention phones. Thanks to the data gathered by Dialogtech, the report correlates increase in calls with these major shopping days. Even with the increasing use of digital communication, customers are still picking up the phone to talk to another person at the company. As you can see from the graph below, call volume actually increased YOY for the retail, automotive, and financial sectors:
Why are people still calling in 2018? Goldman attributed it to the increasing concern for fact-checking that pervades our learned skepticism. He believes people are into that mode and don’t want to rely on online reviews. That’s one reason people would call a company to ask about their concerns directly.
Using the phone as a channel offers brands a way to distinguish themselves in “thinking through the customer experience” in how responsive, helpful, and clear they are with the customers who call, he said. Of course to do that, they need to plan to have enough properly trained representative on hand to handle the peak call times, which brings us to what Goldman said marketers should take away from the report: prepare in advance.“These things don’t come together in days and weeks,” Goldman declared. Really, it can take “a whole year to optimize the multichannel effect.” The brands that show the biggest lift had set the stage for their holiday marketing from the beginning of this year.
So his advice to marketers is this: “Come January, it’s time to starting thinking about next year’s Cyber Week.”