Advertising 7 Min Read

Maximize Your Campaign Spend this Holiday Season

Written by Tim Edmundson

It’s common knowledge this season was going to be a big one for ecommerce. Predictions for total online holiday revenue ranged between $123 billion to $134 billion, and represent year-over-year increases from 2017. But those predictions are educated guesses at best, and we won’t truly know how it will go until it’s over.

That said, we’re well into the holiday shopping season now and data is rolling in. And from what we’re seeing, it’s going to be big. Maybe even bigger than we all thought. So we decided to take a breather from the frenzy that is the holiday shopping season, and get a gauge of how it’s going so far. Based on what we’ve seen, we have one bit of advice: increase your spend.


More Early Site Traffic, More Early Conversions

It’s no secret that the holiday shopping season starts earlier every year. October has become a major holiday shopping month, building momentum for the more famous Black Friday and Cyber Monday events. Even before those major shopping holidays, our data showed extremely strong momentum for ecommerce brands. Across our clients, we saw significant increases in not only site traffic, but conversion rates as well. The trends point to October’s growing strength.

Comparing our clients’ raw data from the first week of October to the beginning of November, we saw:

  • Unique site users increased an average of 262%
  • Average site conversions increased from 0.16% to 0.74%.
  • Taking these numbers into account, targetable user pools grew 2.6x, and those users are 4.6x more likely to convert.

October saw substantial, consistent growth in traffic and conversions. These increases warranted increased spend, which we urged our customers to do back in November to take advantage of the positive trends, and to prep for major shopping events. With increased spend, they would be well positioned to take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So how did those shopping days go?


Big Performance on Major Holiday Shopping Days

Not surprisingly, Black Friday and Cyber Monday were huge performers. Nearly 165 million U.S shoppers purchased either in-store or online. Brands who increased their ad budgets in the lead up to these massive shopping events were well rewarded.

To get a sense of how the industry fared as a whole, here’s how 80 of the top 100 U.S. retailers fared, according to Adobe Analytics via Practical eCommerce.

  • Thanksgiving | Turkey day saw online sales of $3.7 billion, representing a significant 27.9% year-over-year growth rate. One interesting side note — mobile shopping outperformed desktop on Thanksgiving for the first time ever.
  • Black Friday | People shook off the struggles of turkey-induced hangovers to drive over $6.2 billion in online sales, jumping 23.6% YoY.
  • Cyber Monday | The new reigning single day sales champion, Cyber Monday saw online revenues of $7.9 billion, representing an increase of 19.3% when compared to 2017. Mobile visits represented 54.3%, accounting for a crazy-high 55.6% YoY increase.

Aside from YoY increases across the board, the other interesting note is the surge in mobile commerce. This isn’t a new trend — mobile shopping has seen increases each holiday season — but this year was especially strong and more or less confirms the channel’s eventual dominance during the holidays. The ability to check things off a holiday shopping list by converting on a phone, while simultaneously enjoying/enduring Thanksgiving dinner at a relative’s house or standing in a checkout line, is just too good to pass up for more and more people.


Take Advantage and Start Spending

Last year, 58 out of the 60 holiday shopping days saw over $1 billion in revenue. This year’s numbers are looking good as well. That means marketers need to be prepared to seize this opportunity, which means increasing budget. And while it’s a no-brainer that marketers must increase their budgets during the season, many aren’t setting them high enough.

With October and November in the books, we turn our sights to December. There’s no reason the trends we’ve witnessed thus far will end before January 1st, and it’s up to marketers everywhere to take advantage of it. The best way to do this is to ensure your campaigns are competitive and can net as many customers as possible. There’s nothing worse than finding a rich vein of conversions and positive performance, only to have your budget run dry. Hopefully this didn’t happen to you during the past few weeks, but if it did, this advice should ring true.

Don’t leave money on the table — increase your campaign budgets to keep strong performance all the way up until a few days before Christmas (when shipping deadlines hit). There’s plenty of shoppers out there, so put yourself in the position to net as many as possible.