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The Secret to Reeling in Holiday Shoppers?

Gagun Kanwar
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Every year, consumers break out their wallets on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and spend, spend, spend. Retailers splash out on big ad campaigns and promotions to attract holiday shoppers on those days, and all throughout the holiday season – because holiday sales represent about one-quarter of most retailers’ yearly sales.

But what if the real secret to capturing holiday sales isn’t steep discounts, national ad campaigns, and opening stores at midnight? Based on recent research of online retail sales during the four days after Thanksgiving, it appears one simple trick boosted sales for many retailers: retargeting.

According to ComScore, consumers spent $4.8 billion online during the four days after Thanksgiving.

Black Friday Revenue Data from Marin

What’s interesting is that people spent more on the two days following Cyber Monday than they did on Black Friday.

So, how do we know that retargeting had a big impact on online sales during the four-day shopping blitz? To dig a little further, we looked at a broad set of data. The chart below shows the changes in impressions, clicks and conversion from Thanksgiving Day through to the following Wednesday.

Black Friday Revenue Data from Marin

All of the above are self-consistent, and yet contradict ComsScore’s reports of higher online revenues on Tuesday and Wednesday when compared with Black Friday. So what’s the missing piece? We think that this inconsistency can likely be attributed, in large part, to the effective use of retargeting. Once a consumer decides to purchase a product, what gets them through the last “digital” mile to the shopping cart? This is where the widespread adoption of retargeting is playing a role. High search volumes over Thanksgiving weekend provided advertisers a huge pool of ‘cookies’ on consumers with clear purchase intent, making retargeting that much more effective. Revenues were high but clicks were not, further adding weight to the idea that retargeted ads minimized the need for additional clicks by consumers researching products.

This is exactly how effective retargeting should operate. By finding consumers near the bottom of the marketing funnel, retargeting matches interest with intent and gently nudges customers back into the purchase path. So there you have it. Welcome to the future of search – personalized retargeting.

Now perhaps we should consider renaming the billion-dollar days that follow Cyber Monday. How about Retargeting Tuesday and Conversion Wednesday?

After all, they did beat out Black Friday.


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