BrightEdge Research Release: 2017 Holiday Shopping Report

The 2017 BrightEdge Holiday Shopping Report shows that ecommerce conversions spike on Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, and desktop still drives the majority of final ecommerce transactions over the holidays.

Consumers exhibit significant enthusiasm and buying power during the holiday shopping season. Like consumers, marketers have much to do during the festive period, but making the time to observe shoppers’ online behavior should pay attractive economic dividends. Over a holiday-packed eight-week period, shoppers in the US experience ubiquitous “buy buy buy” messaging, severe discounting, and general shopping euphoria. The BrightEdge Holiday Shopping 2017 Research Report provides marketers with invaluable strategic insights as they plan for the holiday season.

What are the key findings from the holiday shopping report?

The BrightEdge Holiday Report confirmed that Thanksgiving and Christmas are still the biggest shopping seasons of the year. The research underscores the importance of ecommerce strategy and proper website execution. Marketers can better serve their customers and maximize returns this shopping season by familiarizing themselves with the insights BrightEdge has prepared based on based on our findings from last year.

Purchase Intent is Maximized on Major Shopping Days

The BrightEdge Holiday Report investigated consumers’ holiday shopping behaviors and found that online conversion goes up by 2X on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and then returns to normal just before Christmas. This confirms the importance of maximizing the exposure of special holiday offers leading up to those two days.

Mobile Devices are the First Point of Entry for Black Friday Deal Hunters

Mobile traffic dominates Black Friday ecommerce as on-the-go shoppers research the best deals, locate that perfect gift, and navigate to the store with that product.

Desktop Dominates Share in Final Purchase Transactions

The research also found that while smartphone purchases have increased by 20% since 2016, desktop devices still account for 63% of online transactions. These two facts confirm that brands must make sure their content and user experience are optimized for both mobile and desktop.

holiday conversion indexed by device infogrpahic

What are the key takeaways for marketers?

Since most ecommerce sites are in code freeze during this time of the year, make sure you optimize the things you can still control.

First, build your optimization strategy around the psychological needs of your target audience. One of the critical decision making factors is free shipping. As the dates of a specific holiday parties get closer, the desire to place orders online dwindles as people fear their gifts won’t arrive on time. According to BrightEdge research from the holiday shopping report, conversion rates increased by 50% before and on the holidays, but dropped back to normal around one week before Christmas Day.

Test the impact of free shipping or expedited shipping, and optimize your messaging mix. Next, establish a thorough understanding of your site’s KPIs. BrightEdge StoryBuilder gives you a full range of flexibility to build a report that will help you understand how well your site captures the mobile search intent, and subsequently, mobile conversions. Given the research findings, and knowing that 57% of all searches now begin on a mobile device, it is critical to put mobile SEO and user experience at the forefront of your web development plans. A mobile-first dashboard will help you understand the trended performance along these key aspects:

  1. Site visits, conversions, and revenue for a 6-month period and the holiday season, as well as the year before, across mobile, tablet, and desktop
  2. Average order value by device type
  3. Bounce rate by device type and by topic (a group of contextually related keywords)
  4. Keywords or topics that you win or lose on the SERP by device type
  5. True competitive set at topic level

During the holiday period, it is essential that marketers create and optimize content for both mobile and desktop. For example, ensure your mobile configuration is correct and the mobile pages include images, icons, buttons, and specific seasonal calls-to-action as part of the experience. Since not all keywords rank the same on mobile and desktop SERPs, you may also want to check who your true competitors are on mobile by using the Share of Voice feature within BrightEdge.

BrightEdge Share of Voice for Mobile

Holidays offer consumers more downtime to browse on social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In addition to running targeted social media ads and extending offers to fans and followers you should check if your web pages have implemented Open Graph, which will ensure these pages render properly on Facebook when they are shared. BrightEdge ContentIQ can flag this issue with a quick website crawl. If you have not implemented Open Graph for this season, the number of Facebook shares might be lower than industry average. Consider how you’ll set expectations for the rest of the organization and prioritize to implement Open Graph after code freeze.

BrightEdge ContentIQ can flag Open Graph errors

The holidays provide plenty of opportunities to create more personalized content and deliver intelligent experiences both at the store and online. As online retail spending increases over the holiday season, marketers need to focus on creating smart content and shopping experiences to attract, engage, and convert customers. Consider developing last-minute landing pages to take advantage of the profitable topics surfaced by AI-powered BrightEdge Content. Trailblazing marketers have reported significant growth in website traffic and conversions from such newly created smart content.

brightedge content brief screen shot example

Doing everything over the next few weeks will be difficult. You may want to optimize your website content by first evaluating content gaps along the buyer’s journey. Watch this on-demand webinar to learn more about how to use BrightEdge to improve the content strategy and performance of your ecommerce website. Read the complete 2017 BrightEdge Holiday Shopping Report.

There is never a dull moment as a web marketing owner for an ecommerce website. However, this holiday season will be different from all other holiday seasons because you will be equipped with a holistic dashboard, forward-looking mobile-first technical and content optimization strategies as well as clear ideas on how to further enhance your website in the year to come.

Stay tuned for more exclusive BrightEdge research reports that will help you drive more revenue from your ecommerce website.