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Declining engagement, conversions cast shadows on otherwise sunny Black Friday weekend

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Marketers breathed a bit easier as record-breaking retail sales rolled in from the Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday stretch. Cart checkouts kept apace throughout the Thanksgiving weekend, totaling a record $7.9 billion in online sales on Cyber Monday alone, according to Adobe. Still, it wasn’t all rosy. Issues such as lower average order values, higher cart abandonment and increased fraud dimmed some of the joy for many marketers.

Addressing lower engagement, conversions. Though the numbers shifted depending on who was doing the measuring, most data show that while sales were high, marketers struggled to engage and convert. Cart abandonment rates increased by 2.6 percent, conversion rates decreased by 9.7 percent and bounce rates increased by 12 percent compared to last year, according to personalization platform Monetate.

Search agency NetElixir reported a year-over-year decrease in average order values (AOV) of 4 percent.

All agree, though, that Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday results were better than the rest of the weekend, indicating a concerted effort by consumers to grab big-ticket items early.

Udayan Bose, NetElixir’s CEO, attributes a reported drop in average order value (AOV) to an increase in mobile customers, who tend to have a lower basket value.

“Marketers can work to make up for this loss by better understanding the mobile consumer and their buying behavior and customizing the 4P (product, price, place, promotion) mix accordingly,” Bose said, recommending that marketers offer incentives to encourage higher baskets like free shipping and discounts that kick in after minimum order amounts. Bose also touted recommendation engine plug-ins and live chat to help consumers find what they’re looking for.

Increased fraud. Ohad Hagai, SVP of marketing for Namogoo, says “during the peak holiday season with a surplus of online traffic and payment activity, bad actors have increased opportunity to commit and capitalize on fraudulent activity.”

“During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, online journey hijacking activity increased between 25-35 percent at various hours of the day compared to the regular season, where injected ads impact consumers during 15-25 percent of web sessions,” Hagai said. “Throughout the entire 2018 holiday season, this fraudulent activity is expected to cost online retailers $2.4 billion in revenue, a 17 percent increase from last year.”

Though marketers aren’t likely the ones responsible for combating fraud, it does impact the bottom line, so marketers should ensure their sites’ development teams tighten security and stay vigilant during the shopping season.

Why you should care. By any metric, more sales are good for marketers, and with an increase at this scale, we’re bound to see problems. And the holiday season is really just starting. NetElixir estimates that 76 percent of online holiday sales have yet to happen and that retailers still have time to adjust their strategies over the next few weeks.

“The holiday shopping period presents tremendous opportunity for retailers to win new shoppers and convert them into returning customers, Monetate’s CEO Stephen Collins said. “Retailers must reconsider their engagement strategies to ensure they are capitalizing on increased website visits. It’s imperative that retailers leverage every data point at their disposal to create the best and most relevant experiences for shoppers.”

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Billion Dollar Boy hires Kathy Dover as first-ever Director of Client Services as it scales up its business and develops its tech offering

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Billion Dollar Boy, the global influencer marketing agency, has hired Kathy Dover, formerly a client at Maybelline and Garnier as well as Head of Account Management at VCCP Blue, as its first-ever Director of Client services.

On the back of impressive growth in 2018, Billion Dollar Boy has initiated an ambitious scale-up plan, which is centred on expanding its agency business and licensing its own in-house technology, including StoryTracker – the industry’s first and only AI-powered Instagram Story tracking tool.

In her new role, Kathy will work with the senior management team to support the growth plan by adding 15-years of experience on both agency and client-side to the business. She will also take responsibility for the account management teams, developing their relationships with clients and ensuring the delivery of a premium service.

Most recently, Kathy led the integrated marketing communications teams at Maybelline and Garnier UK. Prior to this, she worked as Head of Brand at Lastminute.com. While working agency-side she led the account management team at VCCP Blue where she was integral in developing the original Compare The Meerkat campaign for Comparethemarket.com.

Edward East, CEO Billion Dollar Boy, said: “Kathy has amazing experience on both sides of the fence, which means she is able to see the potential of influencer marketing across the whole marketing mix as well as understand what clients want, and need, from the medium. As we continue to scale up and drive our technology offering, Kathy will ensure we are always communicating this to the client in the right way and bring gravitas and experience to the business.”

Kathy added: “Influencer Marketing is growing so quickly there is a massive opportunity now for us to really raise the standard of measurement and effectiveness and cement its position as an integral part of the marketing mix. Through BDBs tech and measurement advancements, we can really start to bring some rigour and finesse to the medium and achieve this goal. I’m excited to be involved in that and in driving the team’s impressive growth strategy.”

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China marketing specialist Hot Pot hires Cat Navarro as Chief Operating Officer

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Hot Pot, the full-service China marketing agency, has hired Cat Navarro, a business transformation specialist of more than 15 years, as its first-ever Chief Operating Officer.

For the past five years Hot Pot has been steadily growing its business, but with the massive acceleration of Western brands entering the Chinese market and the prediction that China will account for 60% of all e-commerce by 2020, it has put in place ambitious plans to scale-up and match that expansion.

Cat’s appointment reflects the company’s ambition. Her responsibilities will include the dual roles of implementing and overseeing transformation strategies, growth strategies, management structures, operational duties and workflows as well as acquisition, retention and training of talent.

Cat has spent 10 years leading high-profile change programmes for large organisations (SITA, AMP) and Australian government bodies (police force, housing). She then transferred those skills to scaling early-stage London-based businesses such as Quill Content, Ometria and The Sandpit.

Jonathan Smith, founder and CEO of Hot Pot, said: “We are excited to be entering the next phase of Hot Pot’s growth. To successfully scale the business, we knew we needed someone to have the requisite attention to the granular details but also be able to deliver on our overarching strategic goals.

“Cat’s depth and breadth of experience allows her to do this. She is exceptional at putting the right structures in place, operates at pace, and has an absolute passion for finding and developing the best talent.”

Cat Navarro added: “Hot Pot encourages brands to throw away the rule book and do things differently when it comes to marketing in China, and I’m excited to bring this bold philosophy to my role. When scaling a business that’s niche or disruptive, you can’t just rely on what you know or how others do things. Doing that just puts you on the same playing field as everyone else.

“I’m also thrilled to be leading both operations and talent, because the two are so intrinsically linked. It’s great to work alongside a CEO who invests in his staff as much as he does in the growth and profitability of the company and its clients.”

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10 questions with… Anna Watkins, UK managing director of Verizon Media

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In an attempt to showcase the personalities of the people behind the media and marketing sector, The Drum speaks to individuals who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what insights and life experience they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are put to Verizon Media's UK managing director Anna Watkins.

What was your first ever job?
It would have been washing my dad's car to earn my £1 pocket money each week. Smart man.

Which industry buzzword annoys you most?
Relatable.

Who do you find most interesting to follow on social media?
@POTUS is truly mind-boggling.

what is the highlight of your career (so far?)
Working with such a creative, inspiring and intelligent bunch of people every step of the way.

What piece of tech can you not live without?
It's baffling that I was born in London yet still seem to use Citymapper every day.

Who or what did you have posters of on your bedroom wall as a teenager?
Adam Ant and Count Dracula (aged 7). I'm not quite sure what that says about me.

In advertising, what needs to change soon?
We need a truly diverse workforce.

If you could change anything about a social media platform you use, which one and what would you choose to do?
It’s more a question of changing myself – I need to flex my creative muscles if I’m ever to make more than one friend on Tumblr…

What is (in your opinion) the greatest film/album/book of your life?
Scarface / Sign of the Times / War and Peace – delusions of grandeur, mine and theirs.

Which industry event can you not afford to miss each year and why?
The big awards bashes – it's like going to a series of weddings where you know half the guests.

The Drum's 10 Questions With… runs each week with previous entries available to view here.

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