Cyber Monday Trends: Will Mobile Rule Them All?

With the 2012 Black Friday stats regarding mobile – up, up, and up some more – it’s no surprise that 2012 Cyber Monday, a day dedicated to e-commerce, followed suit. Cyber Monday saw approximately $1.46 billion in online spending. The number not only was in line with Black Friday sales and preceding Cyber Mondays, but it also broke records – the day took honors as the heaviest online spending day in history. Could 2013 be the same?

It could be. Online sales on Cyber Monday have been on an incline the past few years despite economic hardships and a volatile political landscape. 2011 saw an increase of about 22 percent from 2010; 2012 saw a similar increase from 2011. The trend’s an interesting one, but what may be of more interest, particularly to marketers and businesses interested in mobile, is the source of those sales.

Website visits from desktop computers bore much of the e-commerce weight in 2012, but mobile was a strong contender. In fact, mobile was a force to be reckoned with. Almost 86 million smartphone owners visited a retailer’s mobile website or app in July 2012. The numbers from Cyber Monday were in keeping with the July number; more than 18 percent of traffic to retailers’ sites came from smartphones and tablets, a 70 percent increase over 2011, and accounted for nearly 13 percent of sales.

Making sense of the numbers

What significance do those numbers have to businesses hoping to make sales this Cyber Monday? First, businesses have to speak with their audiences with their audiences are. An eye-catching website seen on a home or work computer isn’t enough, and it’s becoming ever clearer that a mobile website may not be a panacea.

Personalized experiences

Consumers desire a personalized experience. They’re willing to share their data with businesses but only in so far as those businesses make relevant offers. Consumers don’t want to be spammed with messages about a product or service that has nothing to do with them. Businesses that wish to fulfill that desire will have to go beyond tacking on a mobile website to their online one. They have to start thinking about how to create a seamless, personalized experience online, on mobile, and in the store.

Social media

Second, businesses can’t view social media as the end-all, be-all. The numbers from 2012 show that people aren’t as quick to respond to sponsored posts and advertising anymore, but they are likely to respond to businesses that display an interest in their purchasing behavior. That isn’t to say businesses should ignore social media altogether; their customers are on social networks. Social networks are a way for businesses to let consumers know about the mobile app they have available as well as share information about products or services and their brand.

Owned experiences

Third, businesses have to think about owning the experience. If businesses rely solely on social to share information about their products or services and brand, they’re handing the experience over to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ algorithms and have little to no control over how that experience will feel to consumers. All they can do is hope that the link or form works and that people will interact with those things. CommandPartners puts the point this way: “All of the top 5 retailers (from 2012 Black Friday and Cyber Monday) now have mobile shopping apps. These ‘walled gardens’ e-commerce solutions are not allowing social networks inroads because they don’t want potential customers going elsewhere.”

Designing experiences

Fourth, businesses have to think about form and function when it comes to mobile apps. Mobile apps have to be not only attractive in appearance but also easy to navigate. Settings have to be easy to find and manipulate. Signing up for the app requires the same consideration. It has to be easy to do, and it can’t require so much information that it scares potential users away. The entire app, from start to finish, has to fit into consumers’ lives. If it doesn’t, consumers will ignore it. They won’t change their habits merely to get a coupon or two or to join a loyalty program. The mobile app has to be so winsome and practical that customers can’t help but to install and use it.

Calls to action

Finally, businesses have to have a call to action. Mobile apps can be wonderful things, but they won’t increase sales if they don’t push for the sale at some point. ModCloth does this with its notifications about wish-list items that have gone on sale or have a limited quantity. Starbucks does it with limited-time rewards. The options are almost limitless when it comes to calls to action, but the calls should never be an everything goes sort of idea. The best calls to action are the ones that meet consumers’ needs and wants. They keep the consumer in mind and are therefore targeted to him or her.

How are you getting ready for Cyber Monday? Will you use mobile in any sort of way?