Did affiliate marketers steal Black Friday by turning traditional shoppers into savvy deal hunters? After reviewing the numbers from Black Friday 2016, I think there’s a good chance. More than ever, the data shows that the ball is in the affiliate marketer’s court when it comes to holiday shopping.
Online In the Safety of Your Home, or In the Thick of It?
While in-store shopping still plays a key role in the holiday frenzy, a survey released by the National Retail Federation showed that
- 52% of shoppers did their shopping online over Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend.
- And, 56% used smartphones to purchase or assist in purchasing products.
This indicates that some research is being done online, perhaps on affiliate websites, whether the shopper was in a physical store or not.
In fact, 35% of sales made in the AvantLink network on Black Friday were made with mobile devices, and we saw an overall conversion rate of 6.53%. That means there’s a lot of affiliate influence going into Black Friday shopping, and a good amount of the overall sales are happening online.
In addition to the numbers pointing to more online interaction, the dark side of Black Friday is becoming a factor. There’s a website, blackfridaydeathcount.com, that compiles stats and links to stories about the Black Friday “battlefront” where people are actually dying or sustaining injuries as a result of the frenzy.
This may not have a direct impact on shopping trends right now, but these kind of stories certainly make me wary of going for in-store sales, especially considering that even the most traditional brick and mortar stores are now ramping up their ecommerce strategies to compete with the likes of Amazon.
Furthermore, the holiday sales and special shopping days are starting to blur into holiday shopping months. Holiday sales are starting as early as September 1st. And holiday sales performance is spreading out across the months of November and December.
- Our average sales per day from Novemeber 1st through December 14th are 32% of what we brought in on Black Friday.
- And the same average adds up to 24% of sales made on Cyber Monday (which had the highest sales by far).
So the overall sales spread over the last month and a half add up to a lot more than Black Friday and Cyber Monday alone, and even Thanksgiving day nearly matched the performance we saw on Black Friday.
Also, the surge of new customers in the network on Black Friday–45.7%–suggests that more and more consumers who were shopping in stores ended up staying in, or buying from their mobile device when they found a better deal online.
- Also, Black Friday sales are up 30% from what we saw in 2015.
- Cyber Monday sales grew by 25%!
- And for the month of November, we saw overall sales growth of 26% from 2015 to 2016!
So more than a quarter of sales for 2015 were made online in AvantLink’s network in 2016! Affiliate marketers and online retailers, you’re doing something right.
Your Job In the Future
With these changes in performance pointing toward more online and mobile shopping, the affiliate marketer’s job becomes even more important for marketing. We need to stay ahead of the changes and the growth so we can continue to see this success each year. Here’s a list of important takeaways from the 2016 data that can help you steer your marketing strategy into the trends.
- Optimize for mobile: With mobile traffic like we saw this year, your site has to be optimized and catered to a mobile audience. If your site is difficult to navigate on the smallest of screens, that would be a great investment to make in 2017.
- Emphasize deals all the time: As you produce content, especially over the holidays, emphasize deals offered by your merchants. Be the private eye for your shoppers, and give them realtime updates on promotions, and heads up on upcoming discounts. This is relatively easy with AvantLink, if you search for “current promo” using the merchant ad tool and integrate the ads you find into your content.
- Optimize for the quick-draw search: With shoppers searching for deals last-minute on their phones, you’ll need to have your content show up at least on the first page of a search engine–in the time someone is waiting in line at Best Buy, they’re not going to go five pages deep. Do keyword research and try to get your pages further up the list before holiday shopping hits.
- Anticipate the trends and grab their attention: Don’t wait for behavior to change. In 2017, start off your strategy by showing the consumer how you can find them better deals earlier or throughout the holidays. Help relieve the age-old holiday stress, and show them how they don’t have to get out of bed at 3 am and camp to get a great deal.
- Help them plan: Before the chaos sets in, help your readers plan ahead. Provide shipping dates, sale dates, and shopping holidays (there are way more than just Black Friday and Cyber Monday to capitalize on). If you give them good ideas, why would they need to step out into no man’s land after Turkey Day?