Affiliate marketing data for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2016 showed shifts in consumer behavior that could impact strategies for 2017.
AvantLink is an affiliate marketing network for over 500 retailers. For Black Friday, AvantLink reported that 31.6 percent of all sales running through its network came from mobile devices. This is a 5.1 percent increase over 2015. For Cyber Monday, AvantLink reported 28.4 percent of sales via a mobile device.
According to AvantLink’s marketing manager, Chad Waite, both retailers and affiliates are driving the mobile trend. “Merchants are offering better mobile buying experiences while affiliates are getting better at advertising on mobile devices,” Waite explains. “Additionally, the buying behavior of consumers is continually moving towards a ‘check the price online while you’re in the store’ method of purchasing. If consumers find a better Black Friday price online over the in-store price, they can make that purchase from their phones from the store floor.”
Rakuten Marketing, another performance marketing network, also noticed a significant spike in the mobile users, reporting a 56 percent increase in traffic across mobile sites on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. “As consumers are growing more and more comfortable shopping on their phones and tablets, the timetable is opening up for brands to reach them during the holiday shopping season,” said Tony Zito, C.E.O. of Rakuten Marketing, via a press release.
Since consumers are increasingly shopping on their smartphones, retailers should emphasize content and creative suited for mobile consumption, such as properly sized ads, short videos, or even click-to-call affiliate tracking functionality.
Another significant Black Friday finding from AvantLink was the percentage of new customers. AvantLink’s retailers saw a new customer percentage of 45.7 percent — i.e., of all the transactions flowing through AvantLink on Black Friday, 45.7 percent of them represented a customer’s first affiliate purchase with that retailer. This is up from 40.6 percent in 2016.
The average order value also got a nice boost on Black Friday, increasing 8 percent from $141.61 in 2015 to $152.86 in 2016. For affiliates, this is good news, because more consumer spending equals higher commissions.
“Whether it’s due to better marketing by affiliates, better Black Friday prep by merchants, higher site-wide product price averages, more sales through mobile devices, or other variables is hard to say,” AvantLink’s Waite said.
Earlier Start in 2016
Additionally, according to Rakuten Marketing, Black Friday shopping got a head start this year, with Wednesday Thanksgiving-eve revenue surpassing 2015 performance by 37 percent. In fact, online retail shopping spiked on November 13-14 in 2016, versus November 21-22 in 2015.
“The shifting [earlier] timeframe of the holiday retail season is indicative of a wider trend that shows consumers are moving to mobile,” Rakuten’s Zito stated in the release. “Shoppers, who are able to browse deals from their homes and get retail alerts on-the-go throughout November, aren’t limited to the traditional midnight line outside of shopping malls.”
Turning to post-Thanksgiving online shopping, AvantLink observed an 8.9 percent click rate on Cyber Monday, which was a couple percentage points higher than Black Friday’s 6.6 percent click rate. It was also a couple percentage points higher than Cyber Monday 2015, which saw a 6.3 percent click rate.
Waite believes that the increase in click rates can be attributed to savvier online consumers who actively research their purchases. That could explain a 7.7 percent decrease in Cyber Monday’s average order value, which went from $131.57 in 2015, to $121.33 in 2016. “This significant AOV drop is impossible to attribute to one individual factor. Better sales, discounts and promotions, increasingly discount-savvy consumers, buyers holding off on Black Friday purchases for better cyber Monday deals, — all are factors that could contribute to a drop in 2016’s AOV,” Waite says.
What’s the key affiliate-marketing takeaway from the opening weekend of holiday shopping? Provide affiliates with mobile ready content and creative, including click-to-call tracking technology to your affiliate program.