As advertisers plan for the upcoming holiday season, one of the biggest trends highlighted by Merkle RKG is a surge in traffic growth from mobile phones. Click rates rose 97% year-over-year on Google in the early part of Q3 compared with 56% growth in Q2, says Mark Ballard, senior director of research at Merkle RKG.
“We know that Google recently started showing more ads per search result on mobile and that has likely led to the acceleration in growth,” he said. “Looking ahead, Expandable Shopping Ads should also give mobile ad traffic a boost and we’ll be interested in how Purchases on Google takes shape, although the impact from that program probably won’t be significant before the end of the year.”
Hannah Egan, product strategy specialist at IBM Commerce, thinks marketers and retailers should take a close look at this year’s back-to-school shopping season. “It’s the last chance before the holiday season to experiment with promotions, test your customer knowledge and assess your ability to deliver relevant and personalized journeys to consumers, most notably their smartphone,” she says. “Retailers can take this opportunity to stop and review their performance over the past four weeks to see if they are ready for the biggest shopping period of year.”
It turns out back-to-school U.S. retail online sales rose 13.4% between Aug. 1 and Sept. 7, compared with the year-ago dates. during that time, smartphones drove 36.9% of all online traffic, compared with tablets at 12.5%. When it comes to purchases, for the first time smartphones also came out on top, driving 12.8% of all online sales versus tablets at 12.5%.
Here’s another stat from IBM to consider, for the first time traffic from mobile devices at 49.7% nearly eclipsed that of desktop, which reached 50.1%. Last year desktop traffic far exceeded mobile devices, by 57.3% to 42.3%. With consumers counting equally on both channels to research purchases, retailers must be prepared to deliver relevancy to both channels, at any given point in time.
Not just both channels, but multiple types of media. With more consumers on smartphones, email will play a key role this holiday shopping season. More than half of all emails are opened on mobile phones or tablets, according to Experian Marketing Services.
Here’s a little secret, with insight into my purchase behavior. About 70% of the online purchases I make are a direct result of searching for the product on engines Bing, Google, and Yahoo and clicking through an organic listing to the retailer’s site. I find the items and click them into the basket, then close the browser. A day later, when I receive a personalized email notice reminding me that I left items in my basket, either I’m lured back with a simple reminder or a percentage off if I make the purchase.
Shelley Kessler, manager of analytics and reporting, cross-channel marketing at Experian Marketing Services, says choices in offers allow customers to tell retailers what they want. Establishing this two-way interaction enhances customer engagement and increases customer response throughout the seasons.
Either way that email reminder creates a personal experience. Kessler sees personalization during the past year as one of the most important trends driving engagement and revenue.
I want you to more than know where I’ve been and where I’ve clicked based on browser cookies. I want retailers to know me, not just my name when I arrive on your site.
“As we head into the busy holiday season, connections with customers will become even more important as marketers vie for customer attention,” Kessler says. “Connections should be in both directions. Features like personalized subject lines let customers know you identify with them as individuals.”