Billions of dollars are on the line this holiday season and retailers are expecting a record-breaking year for online sales. To help paint the picture of how the holidays are breaking down for marketers, Marigold Engage by Sailthru, amassing and analyzing data throughout the shopping season starting with Thanksgiving Day.

For Thanksgiving Day, a key takeaway was that repeat buyers accounted for nearly 60% of all revenue for mid-market ecommerce brands, underscoring that retention is key to ongoing revenue generation. These consumers who know your brand are of tremendous value, both during short-term pushes like the holiday season and for long-term, sustainable revenue generation. We will continue to watch how this trend evolves between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. What we expect to see is that brands who invest in ongoing retention will drive more revenue than those who focus on campaign-based acquisition alone.

Other Key Takeaways:

  • Smartphones are where users most frequently engaged with email, while desktop users are the most valuable

  • By browser, Safari users are by far the most valuable, converting more frequently and purchasing at a higher value ($145) than Chrome ($118), Firefox and Internet Explorer-based users

  • Purchasing activity dramatically increased starting at 6pm, spiking between 8pm and 9pm

Thanksgiving Day Metrics That Matter

The bottom line is that marketers cannot measure their holiday campaigns on open rates as their primary success metric. As consumers continue to adopt and use multiple devices, this holiday season marketers must use multiple channels and tactics to reduce friction to drive users to their desktops to actually convert.

  • Desktop-based users converted at a rate 78.7% higher than mobile users and tablet users converted at a rate 68.3% higher than mobile users

  • Average Order Value of those users coming from desktop was 11% higher than mobile devices, while tablets produce AOVs 6.9% higher than mobile devices

Specific to Smartphone, conversion rate and average order values flip-flopped between iOS and Android.

  • Android users converted 28.5% more than iPhone users, coming in at 1.61% to iPhone conversion at 1.25%

  • However, revenue generated by device-type was higher for iPhone users, with AOV for iPhone coming at $97 vs. $91 for Android

Specific to tablet types, the opposite was true.

  • iPads converted at 23.8% higher than Android tablet users

  • However, AOV for Android tablets was 2.9% higher ($105 vs $102).

First Time Purchasers Are Not All “New”

While retained customers brought in the majority of revenue on Thanksgiving Day, first time buyers still accounted for 41% of revenue generated. What’s important to note is that value generated from first time buyers is primarily found in those who have signed up for email newsletters in the last 7 days AND those who signed up 31+ days ago, giving light to the importance of combining both highly-visible acquisition tactics immediately leading up to the holiday season while also nurturing customer relationships well in advance of November.

Thanksgiving Purchases by Time of Day

When comparing Thanksgiving Day to a non-holiday, there is a clear variation in the time of day that users purchase. Typically, online purchases on an average day begin to dramatically increase at 8am and then spike mid-day between 1pm and 3pm EST, followed by a steady decline in afternoon and evening hours.

Key to note on Thanksgiving is that:

  • Online purchasing during AM hours was markedly less than that of a normal day

  • Total purchases then drastically rose starting at 6pm EST

  • Online purchasing activity remained at a higher volume than a non-holiday from 7pm EST 

This post was written by and based on data analysis from Marielle Hanke (Sr. Manager of Analytics) and Steve Wood (Optimization Analyst).