Cyber Week’s sales success depends on a year-round consumer connection

The success of Black Friday, the annual, in-person shopping bonanza complete with overnight camping for deals, has launched an entire season of markdowns. Cyber Monday, Cyber Weekend, and now, Cyber Week, are each an undeniably massive revenue driver for American companies. And, it makes sense — brands stand to capture more business by stacking similar promotions to capitalize on Black Friday. This year alone, U.S. shoppers broke records during Cyber Week, spending $70.8 billion, an increase of 5% in year-over-year growth. 

Despite the impressive numbers, these stats don’t necessarily spell out long-term success. Relying too heavily on Cyber Week and expecting it to drive value is a mistake. The reality is that sales events and interruptive discount-related marketing do not create sustainable consumer connections. 

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Before celebrating their week’s worth of booming revenue, brands should evaluate their tactics to prepare marketing campaigns to drive value for the entire year ahead. They should start by answering these questions:

  • How much of the spike in sales represents long-term consumer value for our brand?
  • How much trust do consumers have in us? 
  • How much more could we have made this Black Friday and Cyber Week if we had gone in with more long-term trust and connection?
  • And how much are our Cyber Week marketing tactics helping or hurting us in the long run? 

Brands need to focus on understanding consumer behaviors to capture the audience’s attention year-round. They should de-emphasize one-off, interruptive marketing campaigns that could disrupt consistent shopping cycles and turn consumers away. 

Cyber boom 

Interest in brick-and-mortar Black Friday remains strong, with U.S. sales hitting $16.4 billion this year. But the appeal of its online counterpart, Cyber Monday, has increased since the Pandemic hit in 2020. This initiated a massive change in consumer behavior around the pseudo-holiday. 

Shoppers are trading the long lines of in-person shopping for browsing and buying from the comfort of their couches. They appreciate, and increasingly demand, the conveniences of online. In fact, 82% of all website traffic during Cyber Week this year came from mobile devices, and 76% of holiday shoppers plan to buy at least half of their gifts online

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Buyers aren’t only shopping for gifts. Many brands will save their biggest deals for the seasonal shopping period, incentivizing consumers to put off many major purchases until then. The proof: 64% of holiday shoppers plan to buy non-gift items for themselves or the household. This has increased Cyber Week’s importance as a business strategy. However, spikes in revenue from scheduled consumer purchases or brands’ massive marketing spend are a short-term solution to a larger problem.

Cyber bust

Cyber Week marketing is largely interruptive. Brands deploy strategies that are primarily aimed at reaching a wide audience and selling any time and all the time. One reason these expensive campaigns are so popular is they can often reach unwilling audiences.

These disruptive strategies may appear to work during the holiday season because consumers are aware of Cyber Week. They are waiting for deals, ready to spend money and looking to buy gifts. In other words, this is a time when they’re ready to be sold. All of the marketing efforts, discounts and expensive ads are just working to convince them to buy from you. But what impact does a one-touch, disruptive, pushy message have on long-term customer loyalty? And how does it stand out from the sea of other marketing messages consumers see that week?

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For example, if you’re looking to buy a new phone during Cyber Week, who are you more likely to buy from: Apple, who’s been providing you with a positive customer experience and helpful comparison guides? Or Samsung, whose only touchpoint with you was an Instagram ad a week ago? That answer feels pretty obvious. Does that equation change if Samsung’s sale is a little bit better than Apple’s? Probably not.

Brands that work to build consumer trust ahead of Cyber Week are more likely to have repeat business, stable sales numbers and longer-term customer loyalty. This is because shoppers are much more likely to purchase from brands they already trust, no matter how great the sale is. Two-thirds of consumers say they’re willing to pay more to use a brand they trust, and 88% will buy again from a brand they trust.

Therefore, brands relying solely on pushing discounts during Cyber Week likely waste much of their massive November marketing spend. It begs the question: how much of these interruptive techniques are doing more long-term damage to brand equity than what the short-term gains are worth?

The solution

The alternative to this is reception marketing, which meets consumers where they are in the buyer’s journey. Rather than force them through a funnel, it provides them with the information they will find most valuable at that moment. While interruptive tactics may be a part of a reception marketing strategy, to be impactful, they must be a string in the larger web of connections.

Brands should be creating useful content for their audiences year-round to build trust ahead of the Cyber Week buying surge. But they must understand the consumer journey first.

The linear path model is unrealistic. The real customer journey is an unpredictable series of twists and turns. Brands can combat this by leveraging consumer signals to derive insights, unlocking unique consumer needs and pain points at any moment. Through optimized content (and the larger asset network), brands can connect with consumers on any channel, providing content that is ​​more consistent and aligned with real consumer needs.

While shopping trends change with the season, reception marketing allows brands to deliver consistent messaging, content and value across channels before consumers make a purchase decision. 

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