November 10, 2009

This Week In Business: Cyber Monday

In the movie "The Matrix", a "bluepill" was a person who was still connected to the Matrix. A "redpill" was a person who had been freed.

As you already know, "Cyber Monday" is just nineteen days away. One might think of Cyber Monday as falling into the bluepill category.

Over in reality, the redpill marketer knows that traffic is higher on the Monday following Thanksgiving ... in fact, traffic is always higher on Monday than on Sunday. The redpill marketer, like every other day of the year, is trying to link customer needs with products that solve customer needs.

The bluepill marketer is connected to the Matrix. This is a blissful place, a never-ending maze of marketing enlightenment and discovery.

Offline marketing must be in-home two weeks prior to Cyber Monday, because you cannot be in-home the week before Thanksgiving, that's death. Offline marketing must be fully integrated with all digital Cyber Monday campaigns, and fortunately, there's no shortage of agencies who will help integrate marketing messages for you, messages like "Take 10% off and get free shipping, this Cyber Monday only!"

Messages need to be incorporated across all channels, because you cannot have inconsistent messaging, that would represent a bad customer experience. So the e-mail campaign you receive at midnight on Cyber Monday has a header saying "Take 10% off and get free shipping on Cyber Monday only!" Maybe there's even a few doorbuster items featured in the e-mail campaign, though you cannot really bust down a door online, but if you are a retailer, you want to use the term 'doorbuster' to integrate your online campaigns with your Black Friday 'doorbuster' retail campaign. Never mind that last year, a Wal-Mart worker died during a doorbuster promotion when the door actually busted down and customers trampled the employee, that was an unfortunate incident unrelated to the marketing phrase 'doorbuster', a phrase proven to help generate incremental sales.

The doorbuster items are featured via paid search with "Take 10% off and get free shipping on Cyber Monday only" copy that leads the customer to a landing page. Now this landing page had better be well-merchandised, because we don't want to lose the customer, no, we need the customer to migrate through the purchase funnel, sliding faster and faster toward that fabled hallmark of online marketing success ... the 'conversion'!

Should the customer mistakenly abandon a shopping cart, well, then we've all got a problem. Fortunately, the bluepills have a solution for this, and it is called a 'trigger-based e-mail marketing campaign'. Here, the customer is reminded that she left an item in her virtual shopping cart, but this time, she is offered a different subject line ... "Take 20% off and get free shipping on Cyber Monday only".

In a world of fully integrated multichannel marketing, the customer quickly races out to Twitter (on her mobile phone, of course), to see what other Cyber Monday shoppers are saying. Here, the customer finds a special promotion, only for Twitter followers ... "Take 25% off and get free shipping on Cyber Monday only".

It is this promotion that closes the deal! The customer, exhausted from her Cyber Monday prowl through Cyberspace, finally checks out, using a promo code from Twitter. Her $125 purchase with $14.95 shipping and handling only costs her $93.75.

Minutes later, nearly in real time, the Web Analytics professional is busy allocating this order to the marketing channels that drove the purchase. No actual tests were executed here, because you simply cannot afford to give away sales on Cyber Monday. Instead, a set of percentages based on established best practices will be used to allocate the order across marketing channels. No simplistic last-click allocation methodology will be allowed on Cyber Monday!!
  • Offline Direct Marketing is credited with 15% of the order.
  • The Midnight E-Mail marketing campaign is credited with 25% of the order.
  • The Paid Search ad is credited with 15% of the order.
  • The Shopping Cart Abandonment trigger-based e-mail marketing message is credited with 15% of the order.
  • The Promo Code from Twitter is credited with 15% of the order.
  • The Mobile Marketing department is credited with 15% of the order, too!

Internal fighting ensues, as marketing managers responsible for Twitter, triggered e-mail marketing, paid search, campaign e-mail marketing, mobile marketing, and offline direct marketing all argue that they deserve a greater share of this order. But we're measuring things in real-time, the company must know how every Cyber Monday order was generated no later than Tuesday at 7:00am when the information appears as a KPI on the corporate dashboard, so this allocation strategy will dictate the parsing of orders for now. Thank goodness that a new web analytics platform was installed, one that integrates offline and online data with budgeting decisions. But it is too bad that the offline data cannot be downloaded into the system for a week. The Web Analytics team will issue new reporting two weeks later, adjusting the allocation algorithm for the inclusion of offline orders. Hopefully somebody will pay attention to the adjusted results.

At midnight, Cyber Monday ends. Real-time reporting illustrates that this was the best Cyber Monday ever, with sales exceeding 2008 levels by 9%, closely mirroring predictions from Woodside Research. By 3:00am, it will be revealed that multichannel marketing campaigns were the most effective at driving Cyber Monday sales, and that social media discounts and promotions accounted for up to 30% of Cyber Monday sales, proving once again the importance of having an integrated marketing message across all channels, supported by real-time analytics that integrate data across all touchpoints.

The day after Cyber Monday is a day of satisfaction, a day to crunch numbers, a day to reflect. On Wednesday, the process begins anew, as peak shopping days before the Holiday season are just around the corner. It is time for more marketing, more campaigns, more measurement, more real-time analysis, more KPIs and dashboards, more promotions, more discounts, more landing page optimization, maybe even a few A/B tests tossed in for good measure.

For the bluepill, it is a non-stop rush, pure marketing bliss, resulting in $93.75 of revenue per customer. Sales were up 49% vs. not having any Cyber Monday support, resulting in $139.95 of volume.

For the redpill, Cyber Monday was a day when a customer spent $125, plus $14.95 shipping and handling, for a total of $139.95. Finance will tally the results at the end of the month.