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Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday: How Did Consumers Search, Shop, & Buy?

Ah, Thanksgiving. A day to relax with family and friends, watch football, enjoy a delicious meal… and browse the hottest deals on your smartphone under the dinner table. It may have seemed unthinkable even a few years ago, but Thanksgiving has indeed transformed into a legitimate shopping holiday as retailers can’t wait to unleash their biggest deals of the season. For their part, consumers are eager to get an early jump as well.

The sales rush traditionally associated with Black Friday has bled into the entire holiday weekend from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. In a recent webinar, we shared our findings about consumers’ online search and purchase behavior during this five-day span. If you missed the event or just want a refresher, check out our most important insights and tips below.

Key Observations

Thanksgiving Is Tops In AOV

In perhaps the most surprising data point, Thanksgiving boasted a higher average order value (AOV) than any other day in this period, coming in at about $250. This beat out Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the intervening weekend. What could have been behind this? Early bird Thanksgiving shoppers may have been aiming to strike quickly on the most coveted (and priciest) items on their lists, making their biggest purchases right off the bat.

thanksgiving-AOV
Thanksgiving beat other days in AOV!

Day-Parts Reveal Buying Habits

Maximum purchases happened during the second half of each day for most product categories, with a pair of key exceptions. Flowers & Gifting and Food & Gourmet broke the trend, experiencing the most conversions between 6 a.m. and 12 noon. Retailers in these areas should keep this in mind and hyper-target their campaigns during this crucial period.

category-wise-day-parts
Day-parts by each day. Looking at impressions and conversion rates.

Mobile Dominates High-Impulse Buys

Mobile share of overall visits (67%) and orders (37%) continues to grow, but varies significantly between product categories. Impulse purchases tended to occur on mobile, like Beauty and Cosmetics, which saw 64.7% of impressions and 57.8% of orders from mobile devices. Footwear was even more pronounced, with a staggering 83% of impressions and 62.4% of orders via mobile. Every retailer should already have a mobile-first strategy, but it’s even more essential for brands in these spaces.

mobile-shares-by-category
Take a look at the mobile shares by category from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday 2017.

Our Predictions vs. The Results

Holiday Forecast: Prediction & Results

Did you know that we were one of the first to share our holiday forecast? In August 2017, we predicted slower than usual online sales this holiday season, at about 10% Y/Y growth. What were the actual results? Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday (2017) had a 15% Y/Y growth. Pretty close.

The Year Isn’t Done, Yet!

Keep in mind that 78% of holiday online sales have yet to happen! In 2015, 20% of sales occurred between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. In 2016, we saw that increase to 22%, which gives us some indication of this year.

78% of holiday online sales have yet to happen!

The Power of Mobile

We predicted that mobile shopping would continue to surge and that over 35% of all purchases would happen from a mobile device. Unsurprisingly, we saw about 37% of all purchases occur on mobile from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.

Holiday Hacks

Holiday-Specific Sitelinks

When writing your paid search text ads, be sure to include sitelinks. They’re an easy extension that can boost your exposure and take up additional space on the SERP. Imagine filling that open real estate with sitelinks showing holiday-specific promos. In two test cases where traditional sitelinks were swapped with holiday sitelinks, we saw a 55% increase in click-through rate (CTR) and a 56% increase in conversion rate (CVR).

The Power of Social

Make sure you align your social strategy to shifting customer demographics throughout the day. Think of the times of day when people are searching for and buying your type of product, as discussed in the day-parts analysis. Create messages specifically targeting your audience during those key moments. For instance, engage with a consumer on mobile when they’re doing initial research and then retarget later on desktop when they’re ready to buy.

The opening weekend of the holiday shopping season gave us plenty to consider, and there’s still lots of time remaining. Optimize your strategy and make this a holiday season to remember by checking out the valuable resources in NetElixir’s Holiday Readiness Kit.

Our full webinar is available on our University page. Watch the full video or view the slides here.