Mobile Drives Sales on Black Friday

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Strong sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday are creating optimism among retailers, especially those with strong online-to-offline programs. But with a holiday buying season that’s nearly a week shorter than usual, retailers are feeling the pressure to drive sales each day and connect with consumers in a way that ensures continued loyalty past the season of heavy discounts.

A record 189.6 million Americans shopped on Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. In surveys of shopping centers over the holiday weekend, Target, Best Buy, Walmart, and Lululemon all came out on top as leaders in their respective categories.

Data from ShopperTrak showed a 3% decline in traffic at physical stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday even though sales were up overall. That’s because retailers with strong online shopping programs saw significant gains, with a reported $9.2 billion spent on Cyber Monday alone.

In an analysis of holiday shopping campaigns, the people-based marketing platform LiveIntent found that brands had a “robust” performance on Black Friday weekend. Total conversions during Black Friday weekend stood at 36% higher than that typical time period. Retailers that pushed mobile shopping saw the greatest gains, as LiveIntent’s analysis found that mobile drove the most traffic. (To conduct its study, LiveIntent examined Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns that ran on the company’s platform, which reaches 250 million people monthly.)

“Phones were the devices most often used when a person engaged with an ad they saw in the platform,” explains Kerel Cooper, senior vice president of global marketing at LiveIntent. “While tablets had a higher rate—percentage—for conversion than phones, phones had more actual conversions than any other device because of the reality: we are on our phones all day.”

Although phones saw the most traffic in the weekend after Thanksgiving, LiveIntent found that tablets actually had better conversion rates. Tablets had a 25% higher click-through-rate and 9% higher conversion rate than phones, even though phones saw the greatest number of clicks.

Brands in the style, technology, and shopping advertiser categories saw the greatest relative performance on Black Friday weekend, with 10x higher clicks and 4x conversions as compared to average.

Given that there are still weeks left in the holiday shopping season, Cooper says the data reveals that retail marketers would be smart to continue leaning into their mobile shopping campaigns.

“In order to succeed, every single marketer must make every single marketing effort easy to convert on a phone,” Cooper says. “Skip the bells and whistles if it makes it un-phone friendly.”

Social media was more of a mixed bag over the post-holiday weekend. Analyzing the sentiment in social media posts that mentioned Black Friday or Cyber Monday, the social media analytics firm Talkwalker found that although Black Friday generated more posts than any of the recent shopping events of the season, more Black Friday posts were negative compared to posts that mentioned the other shopping days.

Outside of social media, email still appears to be the channel most likely to have an impact on holiday sales. It’s not too late to start working on email campaigns, either. LiveIntent’s analysis found that holiday campaigns were most successful in newsletters devoted to “shopping” and “news” with 11% higher click-through-rates and 10% higher conversion rates compared to other categories.

“When people are engaging with an ad that is within email, they are predisposed to email: meaning they are more comfortable handing over their email address when the effort to get it originates in email,” Cooper says. “Marketers who are running campaigns in email should understand the mindset of an email reader and capitalize on it.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.