IBM’s Strategy Director on Lessons from Black Friday

Posted on by Patricia Odell

The Black Friday weekend tells us a lot about shoppers: where they buy, what devices they use to aid the shopping experience, what times they shop and beyond.

Mobile continues to dominate, setting records in terms of traffic and its use in stores as a shopping aid. And consumers are shopping online—and in stores—more than ever before. In fact, the total number of Black Friday weekend online and in-store shoppers hit new records for the holiday weekend.

With all that shopping going on, it's important for marketers and CMOs alike to offer a seamless and engaging experience across all channels to best market to consumers throughout the holiday shopping season. Consumers have total insight into every marketing channel, whether it's online, in-store, through their mobile device, or even through social networks and CMOs must find a way to keep up and deliver that ultimate experience.

Jay Henderson, strategy director, IBM Smarter Commerce, shares five tips based on trends and research from the Black Friday weekend gleaned from the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark:

1. Optimize for mobile, including tablets. Statistics from the Black Friday weekend show that mobile is both smartphones and tablets and just how different the website designs need to be for each of those individual devices.

“Marketers need to understand who their audiences are and which devices they are using,” Henderson said.  “Small screens need simple menus and navigation. Tablets have to have beautiful images online. The key here for marketers is to optimize for all of these different channels. Over this holiday weekend the real winners have been the ones who enabled consumers to shop in whatever way that was most convenient to them.”

2. Bring the best of online shopping into the store Integrate in-store experiences with online experiences through QR codes and bar codes that customer can scan, taking them to additional product information, consumer reviews and price comparisons.

“The big overarching trend is that mobile is having a breakout year,” he said. “We saw for Black Friday almost one-quarter of all online traffic came from mobile devices. The big lesson is that marketers can integrate some aspects of the online experience in with what is actually happening in the store.”

3. Make it easy for customers to share posts and messages about their purchases and the deals they find. Many retailers are including share links at the end of the checkout process to increase brand awareness. Enable and incent sharing of purchases via social networks, worry less about “likes.”

“We saw marketers invest less this year in promotions through social media sites and followers with a shift to be more focused on making it easy for consumers to share with their friends and networks that they had purchased a product,” Henderson said.

4. Measure the value of your marketing channels with attribution modeling. Marketers are investing a lot in marketing activities, one key to judging success moving forward is to understand how marketing activities are contributing to conversion.

“Marketers are generally using relatively simplistic methods, assigning the last marketing touch for the conversion,” he said. “But there are more sophisticated techniques to figure out a weighted contribution for all of the different marketing activities. It could point to one or more likely it will contribute to a whole sequence of marketing activities that cause someone to purchase. The important thing is that this helps marketers tell which marketing activities to continue to invest in and which ones need adjusting.

5. Coordinate marketing across multiple channels to drive success. Deliver a consistent experience across all channels to your consumers.

“Be excellent in all channels,” Henderson said. “The marketers who create that multichannel experience attractive to consumers will be the big winners.”

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