How Retail Paid Search Performed Over the 2016 Holiday Weekend

By — 12.02.16

The holiday shopping season is in full swing. While consumers are busy creating and fulfilling their wish lists, marketers are focused on capturing their attention. While total US retail sales are projected to grow 3.3% this holiday season (eMarketer), retail ecommerce sales are expected to jump 17.2% over 2015. Retailers with a solid digital strategy will see the most upside.

Now that we’re a few days past the busy Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday shopping weekend, we sat down to take a look at how our paid search clients fared during the official kickoff to the holiday season. As it turns out, the months of preparation definitely paid off. So who made it to the top of the class? Let’s take a look at this year’s list of winners.

Most Likely to Succeed: Thanksgiving Day

While many retailers elected to shutter their storefronts on Thanksgiving Day, there was a flurry of activity on their websites. Traffic grew at a rate of 68% year over year (YoY) while orders grew an impressive 38% over 2015. You can expect Thanksgiving Day to continue to set new records each year as consumers start to shop even earlier for deals.

Most Likely to Be Best Friends Forever: Retailers + Black Friday

Once consumers awoke from their turkey-induced coma, many went online to browse the latest deals and research products. This behavior turned Black Friday into our highest traffic day this year, however, it took the number two spot for sales and orders. Despite this, I vote Black Friday to remain a retailer’s most loyal friend for the long run.

Most Likely to Bail You Out of a Bad Situation: Cyber Monday

While Black Friday narrowly took the top spot for paid search clicks, retailers reserved the biggest share of their ad spend budgets for Cyber Monday, resulting in record sales. A few of our clients who had seen early success were able to quickly shift more spend to the search channel in time to capture more orders on this big digital shopping day. For some retailers who may be struggling with sales throughout the year, Cyber Monday can take them from red to black.

Class Favorite: Mobile

“Mobile! Mobile! Mobile!” (feel free to use your best Jan Brady voice). Both consumers and marketers love mobile. Although desktop still had the largest share of revenue and orders, 1/3 of all (search) orders were placed on smartphones. Because smartphones are often used for product research, it earned the top spot for click share at 53% over desktops and tablets. As retailers continue to optimize their ads, websites, and shopping experience for on-the-go shoppers, you can expect this traffic to convert at an even higher rate.

Ready for more insights? Check out the infographic below.

Adlucent Paid Search Performance

Your business is unique so your results may vary greatly from these numbers. However, if you didn’t achieve the results you were hoping for this past weekend, there’s still time to learn and take corrective action. Looking back at 2015 as an indicator, 7 of the 10 largest sales days of the holiday season are still to come. There are also a ton of great posts on holiday prep in this blog so take a look around. No one wants to get voted “Most Likely to Live in Their Mother’s Basement at 40 Years Old” this year!


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