As the internet and online shopping have become more popular over the last few years, today, the first Monday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday, has earned the designation as Cyber Monday. This is the day when many e-commerce websites have 24 hour sales to lure shoppers to spend their money online instead of shopping in local stores.
Every year comScore.com reports the sales figures for different shopping days through the holiday season. Although the calendar date of Cyber Monday changes every year, they've been tracking the online sales since 2005 as shown here:
|Non-Travel (Retail) E-Commerce Spending
Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases
Total U.S. – Home & Work Desktop Computers
Source: comScore, Inc.
|Cyber Monday Sales
In a few days, comScore will probably announce the figures for 2014, and it's sure to continue to be the highest single day for online sales.
But stop and think about what drives all those online sales. Like most drivers of sales, there needs to be some type of initiator. People just don't flock online to buy stuff, they need to be motivated, or at least reminded. That motivation comes from online marketing.
When running an e-commerce website, you need to carefully consider what types of online marketing will create the biggest return. Based on your previous tracking, you should share your advertising budget between your top performing methods.
Depending on your target audience , you can drive traffic to your e-commerce website using email, video, photos, and animated graphics. You'd want to choose your social media network according to your previously measured results. Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook all have different results based on your audience and level of engagement.
There are so many easy-to-use tools that make posting to social media very simple and attractive now. It takes very little time to post to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, while it takes a lot of time and thought to compose and send an email. But you shouldn't be giving up on emails as a main driver of website traffic and e-commerce sales.
According to CampaignMonitor.com, consumers prefer permission based email notifications from businesses 72% more than any other method. In other words, trends show that email is more important than social media.
In October 2010, I started aggressively signing myself up for different email lists to follow email marketing trends. That year, I signed up for nearly 200 different lists ranging from small independent retail jewelers to regional jewelry chain stores. I also subscribed to national jewelry chains and large e-commerce jewelry sites. Since 2010, I've monitored about a 40% growth in sent email marketing campaigns every year. I'm not measuring the effectiveness of these campaigns, just the trends of how they are being used.
It seems like email is an profit driver for your e-commerce website, but what about Facebook and other social networks?
Right now I'm monitoring a steady decline in the number of people who see business posts to Facebook. They've forced a "pay-to-play" scenario on everyone now. Meanwhile, Google+ is currently the wild and untamed social network that is gaining the most traction and delivering the most traffic to your website. Naturally Google has made it easy for social posts to Google+ to appear in search results.
Twitter can also produce results as long as you learn how to use appropriate hashtags to attract an audience. Just be warned that what you tweet will not have a very long socially visible lifespan.
Instagram also uses hashtags, but like Twitter, the lifespan of your image posts is fleeting.
On the other hand, the boards built on Pinterest can be effective for quite a long time.
So when it comes to strategically planning for Cyber Monday sales, or any future event, you need to consider your different online marketing methods and how to use them. Here's a cheat sheet for you:
Used the day of your event
* Email to your existing customer list
* Twitter with appropriate hashtags
* Instagram with appropriate hashtags
* Posts shared to circles on Google+
* Boosted posts to Facebook, because non-boosted post get nowhere
* Build a Pinterest board
* Events on Google+
* Plan and test the email
Depending on your past experience, you will want to allocate your time and money into the different social networks that work better for you. Now, if you haven't been tracking your ROI for each marketing type then I have to say "shame on you." Unfortunately, now is not the time when you should be trying to figure it out. The best option is to use several different methods and start tracking your results now so you can approach this more wisely next year.
It's not wise, or profitable, to continue to sink money into marketing methods that have not proven their worth, or worse, have proven to be a waste of time.