A review of last year’s affiliate shopping trends and what they mean for holiday 2018.
One of the best guides to anticipate what will work for this year’s holiday season is a look back at the trends and shopping preferences from last year. Each year, CJ Affiliate releases its key strategies for the holiday season ahead in the Holiday Intelligence Report.
We’ve pulled out the key findings from that report and paired them with some tactics for Advertisers to keep in mind while putting the finishing touches on their 2018 holiday planning. Smart marketers this year will be focused on:
- Shifts in the timing of shopping
- Recruiting and optimizing content
- Search and social Publishers
- Maximizing reach on mobile devices and considering the cross-device customer journey
Go Beyond Black Friday & Cyber Monday
High double-digit growth early in November 2017 and late in December 2017 underscores a growing need for marketers to keep pace with shoppers’ interest to buy at the moments convenient to them. A shift in the timing of holiday shopping occurred during holiday 2017. Across all global markets, there was an increased rate of sales happening both earlier and later in the shopping season. This is a strong signal that shoppers in the US are less inclined to think of Black Friday as the official start of the holiday shopping season.
Growth in orders was highest during the second week of November and third week of December. Promotions before “Peak Week” (the Monday before Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday) and after Free Shipping Day (Dec. 15) found ready buyers who were either set to kick off shopping early or wait until the 10 days leading up to Christmas. Count on the second week of November and third week of December as high conversion time periods—conversion rates during these week’s increased 18% YOY and orders grew 29% YOY.
What you can do now:
- Expand Promotional Opportunities: Publishers can take advantage of changing consumer needs by releasing holiday gift guides, targeted placements, and seasonal promotions even earlier in November and later in December.
- Capture Last-Minute Shoppers: Advertisers can cater to late-season shoppers with express shipping offers and highlight stores with fast-shipping or no-shipping needed gifts (IE: gift cards, subscriptions, event tickets, etc.)
- Secure Peak Week Coverage: Despite shifting shopping trends, Peak Week and traditional key shopping days remain king. Align strongest offers and media support for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Free Shipping Day, etc.
Enhance Content, Search and Social Relationships
Across the global network, the orders and revenue of content, search, and social Publishers grew at a high rate during holiday 2017. As a result, these Publisher types earned top spots in terms of growth across the network during Peak Week 2017. In addition, eMarketer predicts that holiday shopping this year will be more greatly influenced by social platforms than last year.
Here’s how to leverage that in 2018:
- Invest in Content and Social: Achieve broad reach of your brand’s promotions by forging, or deepening, relationships early with content and social Publishers, such as influencers or social shopping networks.
- Drive Product & Brand Discovery: Identify ways in which these Publisher types can authentically write about your brand’s products to engage shoppers browsing for gift ideas or comparing products before buying (IE: social exposure, sponsored posts, etc.)
- Utilize Cross-Device Insights: Cross-Device tracking supports the growth of all three of these Publisher types by capturing high-value orders starting on a mobile phone, for example, but completing on another device.
- Promote Gift Guides: Featuring and participating in holiday gift guide opportunities benefits everyone. Advertisers can highlight top performing holiday products and Publishers can attract additional brand partnerships.
Leverage Mobile & Cross-Device Insights for Growth
Cross-Device shopping paths show there are important differences in shopper’s device usage on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and that smartphones play a key role on both days.
Follow these tips:
- Leverage Heavy Mobile Usage: Given mobile orders accounted for a third of all holiday orders in CJ’s global network last year, Advertisers and Publishers can take advantage of mobile-focused promotional avenues to capture this growing market (emails, newsletters, etc.)
- Focus on Black Friday & Cyber Monday Device Usage: Leverage Black Friday’s heavy smartphone usage for both browsing and purchasing with a promotional and exposure strategy that provides a strong mobile presence and coverage. Since more Cyber Monday sales complete on desktop, and even migrate between desktops (IE: home & work computers), keep in mind that shoppers will be juggling work and shopping “duties”. Focus on desktop promotional opportunities for these shoppers.
Target, Recruit, & Activate New Relationships Prior to Holiday
By providing new reach and/or tools for shoppers, Publishers can place brands in more places where customers discover brands, review sites, and search results.
Here are a few strategies to boost your program’s reach during critical shopping times:
- Increase and Diversify Partner Mix: For many Advertisers last year, incentive and coupon Publishers drove a high rate of both clicks and orders. However, in terms of share of orders, many brands saw an increasing number of clicks and orders from content, search, social, and shopping Publishers.
- Discover New Partnerships: Utilize the CJ Account Manager Advertiser and Publisher search functionally to identify additional recruitment opportunities prior to the upcoming holiday season. Search by respective category, vertical, and focus to find perfect fits.