Summer Marketing Campaigns: What 18.6 Million Visitor Sessions Reveal About Summer Sales

With summer drawing to a close, we thought it would be a good time to review one of the season’s most popular digital objectives: summer sales. Never ones to miss out on a data opportunity, we surveyed millions of digital visitor sessions to understand exactly how consumers interact with summer promotions, and how these campaigns are impacting revenue for brands.

In this article, we’ll share what online summer shopping reveals about desktop and mobile use, as well as the difference in digital behavior between buyers and nonbuyers. Relying on unique behavioral and revenue attribution metrics to understand how shoppers consume digital content, we’ll be sharing key insights into the customer journeys of summer bargain hunters.

Summer Sales in the Digital Experience Defined

A summer sale — in the context of digital experience — is defined as a marketing campaign centered on promotions and deals that explicitly mention the season. It often manifests in banners or carousels, with call-outs that feature discounts, naturally ones that allude to the summer. 

In this way, summer marketing campaigns are more broadly encompassing; they don’t refer to just a single holiday such as the Fourth of July and as such, can exist longer than a typical, holiday-focused sale. 

In terms of UX and website design, summer sales take precedence in a designated section of a page, such as a menu, slideshow, or the aforementioned banners.

Methodology

For the purpose of this article, we analyzed customer interactions across 8 websites, in four retail sub-sectors: apparel, accessories, beauty and jewelry. We included all visitor sessions on these sites for the month of July (July 1st – 31st).

Our survey on summer sales drew data from 18.6 million user sessions with a total of 122.4 million pages collected. From this wide set of data, we were able to glean a twofold macro comparison: that of typical behavior on desktop vs. mobile and tablet, and that of buyers vs nonbuyers during the summer sales period we studied in the US. 

Let’s learn how summer sales in 2019 performed in the ecommerce retail industry, in addition to how visitors interacted with summer sales content.


Device Performance for Summer Sales in 2019: Desktop Vs Mobile Vs Tablet

Conversions:

The biggest conversion driver for summer marketing campaigns in 2019 was desktop sales, par for the course based on the findings from our mobile report. Coming in at 4%, the average desktop conversion rate is double that of mobile. This manifests even more prominently in the average cart, which is 14.7% higher on desktop than on mobile — $106.99 on desktop, vs $93.30 on mobile. 

Meanwhile, the average cart on tablet is extraordinarily close to that of desktop, at $106.68. This average is inversely related to summer sales traffic by device, since mobile reaps the highest traffic: 68.01% of sessions, representing a whopping 12.65 million sessions. This number dwarfs tablet sessions, which garner only 5.72% of traffic. Desktop traffic came squarely in between at 26.15%.

Bounce Rates:

Much in keeping with our mobile report, mobile also bore the highest share of bounces, which averaged in at 41% — 6% higher than the desktop rate of 35%. The bounce rate on tablet was in between at 38%.

Time Per Session, Number of Pageviews & Time Spent on Site:

With an average session time of 8 minutes 9 seconds and 6.9 pageviews per session, the data shows that the bulk of summer sale browsing occurs on desktop. Mobile had the lowest stats on both accounts, with an average session time of 4 minutes 8 seconds, across 5.4 pageviews.

Despite mobile visitors seemingly unwilling to linger too long on a site, this audience still rakes in the highest sales volume with 257,000 sales, vs 222,608 for desktop. Nonetheless, desktop revenue remained the highest at $24.8 million.

So what does this tell us? That the gap between user expectations and user experience on mobile prevails, as desktop reigns supreme, with its lowest bounce rates and highest conversions. But with mobile traffic beating out all device types, mobile still presents a tremendous revenue opportunity.

Summer Sales 2019: Zooming In On The Homepage

The first thing we noticed when analyzing homepage interactions was that all summer sale shoppers click mostly on the menu to get to the products (28.10% click rate). The Sale tab on the menu drives only 2.88% of clicks versus 4.91% on the sale banner. It appears that when looking for a shortcut to a summer deal, shoppers will sooner click the banner than the Sale section on the navigation bar.

Although it has a fairly low click rate compared to the rest of the menu, the Sale tab on the menu boasts a healthy Conversion Rate per Click — 11.46% versus 6.35% for the menu — implying that those who do click on it are determined to convert. 

However, the Sale tab was defeated by the sales banners, which generate the highest conversion rate per click at 12.09%.

The high hesitation time on the banner (1.41% versus 0.92% for the Sale tab on the menu) points to a need for optimization; perhaps the wording isn’t clear, or visitors are not sure where or what to click.

Summer Sales: Comparing The Behavior of Buyers And Nonbuyers

Buyer Vs Nonbuyers: Time on Page

We found that shoppers who ended up making a purchase spent almost twice as long browsing as those who didn’t buy anything (28 minutes versus 15 minutes). Buyers also consume many more pages than nonbuyers: 28 vs only 6 by nonbuyers. 

Once they’re on the page, however, they essentially dedicate the same amount of attention to it — 58 seconds for buyers vs 53 seconds for those who don’t complete a purchase. These two audiences also appear to scroll in a similar fashion, with a 59% scroll rate for buyers and 57% for nonbuyers.

Visitors who made purchases consistently exhibited the highest number of pageviews across a wide scope of pages, including category, product and checkout. They viewed three times as many product pages on average than nonbuyers, and more than twice the number of category pages. 

Buyers Vs Nonbuyers: Interaction, Interest & Hesitation 

Overall, buyers were more likely to interact with the search bar than those who stuck to window-shopping, with 26% more clicks on this element. Much like other consumers, shoppers who end up making a purchase tended to access their summer bargains via banners instead of the Sale tab on the menu — 6.20% versus 2.90%. 

To maximize sales, make sure the search bar is prominent — making it sticky assures its viability no matter how far users scroll — and offer the best deals on your banners to take advantage of this interest.

Nonbuyers manifested a larger degree of interest for the homepage menu, with an almost 10% higher click rate than buyers. Nonbuyers were about as likely to click on the Sale tab as buyers (that is to say, not that much), but nonbuyers exhibit a much lower float time on this element, suggesting they are just as keen to score a bargain.

Their higher menu engagement and low hesitation time imply that non-buying visitors are interested in products, but may not have found exactly what they were looking for. Therein lies the need to optimize your homepage elements for this group, particularly the menu; distinct items that are hard to categorize should have their own menu category, or at least exist as a sub-category. 

Nonbuyers have a considerably higher average time before first click on the Sales banner, search bar, Sale tab and menu elements, showing that they ingest content much longer before clicking on it. 

Their hesitation also points to a more cautious attitude. Buyers arrive at summer sales elements with the intent to buy, while nonbuyers are far more careful, which inhibits them from buying. Thus, it is best to accentuate the savings aspect of your sales, sometimes across each item to lure in nonbuyers. Perhaps they won’t convert the first time around, but this will bring them back.

Tips to Optimize Your Summer Sales Campaigns

Understanding how visitor segments interact with promotional elements such as banners and the Sale tab on your menu is the first step to understanding how these areas of your site may fall short of user expectations. Optimizing the experience based on the unique behavior trends associated with various device and segments will ensure you make the most of the season’s revenue potential.

One of the first things you should do is look into what’s causing high bounce rates on mobile. This can be due to your touch areas being too small and other easy design fixes that can put an end to user frustration and therefore, exits. 

There could also be a variety of internal issues on your mobile site or app hindering your UX  and we provide 3 areas of improvement to optimize the mobile UX. Tablet users may also face the same issues that mobile users confront and can therefore rely on similar optimization tactics.

Whether they end up clicking the Purchase button or not, visitors tend to be more attracted to promotional banners than to the Sale tab on your navigation bar, so it is important to concert your tactics on optimizing this region. Take advantage of the higher engagement on the banner by highlighting products through images and text call-outs and maximize interactions by making the entire area clickable. 

Given that the menu receives the highest click rate among buyers and nonbuyers, you should focus your UX efforts on this element as well. Capitalize on it by including all the necessary categories possible on desktop, but keep it simpler on mobile. Make sure it includes a Sale tab for visitors who want a shortcut to discounted products. 

What 69 Million Visitor Sessions Tell Us About Back-to-School Shopping Behavior

With the back-to-school shopping season in full swing and our data-driven approach to just about everything, we surveyed the shopping habits of early-bird shoppers getting a head-start on filling their supplies lists.

The back-to-school shopping season represents the second-largest retail event in the year, with 54 million students enrolled in grades K-12. A Deloitte study predicts that there will be a $27.8 billion expenditure during the 2019 back-to-school season, with 29% of this revenue stemming from online sales. 

Our 2019 Back-to-School Report offers a holistic view on how shoppers maneuver through websites for common back-to-school items. This blog post is a condensed version of our mini-report, pointing out keys facts and figures that brands ought to know. With the knowledge of browsing, shopping and other online behaviors of back-to-school shoppers, you’ll be able to optimize your site for a successful back-to-school campaign.

Back-to-School Shopping Campaigns Methodology

The findings in this report stem from an analysis of 69 million user sessions between June 1st and July 1st.

These sessions translated to observing 439 million pages and 567 million clicks. Now that’s a lot of back-to-school shopping. In an effort to extract the most valuable data for brands, we filtered out non-customers, only studying the customer journeys that resulted in a purchase. 

We zoomed in on two types of purchase decisions: low-involvement and high-involvement. 

Low Vs High Involvement Purchases: Elemental Differences & What Sets Them Apart at a High Level 

The back-to-school shopping season is defined by shoppers that fall into two major categories, although they’re not mutually exclusive; high involvement purchasers often make low involvement purchases. 

What sets them apart? For the purpose of this mini-report, we defined a low involvement purchase as one that requires little consideration and low levels of user attachment — think pens, pencils, notepads and other stationery items that make up the bulk of a back-to-school shopping list. Parents are usually at the helm of these purchases, searching for a way to fill up their kids’ shopping list in a budget-friendly way.

A high involvement purchase, on the other hand, is a much more deliberate purchase, one that is personal for school children — in this case, we looked at backpacks. More durable and long-lasting than say, a crayon, a backpack can also be a medium for self-expression, and as such, this type of purchase isn’t made quickly, on a whim, or to satisfy a teacher’s list.

Aside from this core difference, let’s glimpse into the other elemental ways in which book bags (high involvement) differ from stationery (low involvement). Before we delve into the more granular behaviors of these two types of purchases online, you ought to know the more basic ones as you attempt to set up a good user experience (UX) for both.

The Menu VS the Search Bar 

As two of the main page elements visitors use to find the products they’re looking for, the menu and search bar carry a lot of weight for UX and conversions. Backpack and stationery shoppers have their own preferences when it comes to using these site elements.

The product-finding element of choice for book bag shoppers is the homepage menu, as it garners almost 4 times as many interactions from them as it does from stationery shoppers. Stationery shoppers opt for the homepage search bar, which receives a 7% higher click rate from this type of shopper.

This type of binary in-site searching behavior reveals that visitors seeking backpacks are more open to a wider scope of product suggestions. This is exactly what a menu offers, especially if it’s comprehensive, or a menu mega. This preference is telling of the nature of backpack purchases, which are much more personal for students and are set to last them at least one school year. 

On the contrary, stationery buyers seek the shortest path to their sought-after products. This is because the item lists for stationery are long and varied, not to mention; they tend to be specific. For example, 8 x 10 ½ loose-leaf paper, washable glue sticks, ringed binders, etc., are precise supply requests. Finding them quickly to make a fast purchase will require a strong search function on a search bar. 

Searching for an item with a close exactness to its name will ensure stationery shoppers that they find the right product at speed.

Site Visits for Backpack and Stationery Shoppers

While you can safely bet that book bag and stationery shoppers will visit your website (especially if you are well-established or have a decent UX) quantitatively, their visits diverge. Backpack shoppers will need more site visits before converting.

This is because backpack shoppers are the online equivalent of window shoppers — they require more time for finding the best product for them. Our data shows that these high involvement purchasers will visit a site three times before converting. After thorough sessions of browsing potential backpacks, these buyers leave as something of a brand expert.

Stationery shoppers usually convert after having visited a site twice. As low involvement purchasers, they do less perusing and require less convincing. To cater to these visitors, pay attention to price points, as these are often the main, if not only, deciding factors for these shoppers.

As the first graph shows, and the one below, the longest user sessions for both stationery and book bag shoppers exist on mobile, followed by desktop and then other devices.

Landing Page Attractiveness for back-to-school shoppers

The landing page might be reached via different entry points (direct, social media campaign, Google Ads, remarketing, retargeting, etc) but it serves the same goal for back-to-school shopping campaigns: getting prospects to convert.

Let’s see how the different types of landing pages fare for stationery and backpack shoppers. Stationery shoppers land 23% more on category pages than their backpack-minded counterparts. They’re looking for quick comparisons for a quick time spent on the site. Thus, they favor a bird’s eye view of all the relevant merchandise.

Book bag shoppers land on product pages 125% more than stationery shoppers. This is because high involvement purchasers seek a comprehensive understanding of what they’re willing to buy. Since product pages go into the full depths of a product, they oblige to this need. Brands should work on calibrating their product ads to perfection, because this is typically the starting point of a product page landing.

Consumption of Pages and Time Spent on Site

Backpack and stationery shoppers have different proclivities for consuming webpages. That means that the amount of pages each category consumes and the time they allot themselves per session differs.

Low involvement (stationery shoppers) view 35% more pages than do book bag shoppers — 46 pages per visit versus 34 per visit. This can easily be attributed to the list of supplies stationery buyers need, while backpack shoppers are just on the hunt for a single item.

The visits of stationery shoppers are also longer on average than those of backpack shoppers, specifically, they are 33% longer. The cause underpinning this is also easy to understand, as viewing more pages will take more time than viewing a few.

However: when it comes to time spent on-page, back shoppers take the lead, consuming a single page — particularly a product page. Book bag shoppers spend 60% more time on a product page than stationery buyers. Brands should therefore pay more attention to optimizing product images and descriptions. Remember, these high involvement purchases are more expensive and carry more sentimental value.

Similarities of High and Low Involvement Online Purchases

Despite the many differences that high and low involvement, i.e., backpack and stationery purchases entail — and even more finely combed ones you’ll learn about from our report, these two back-to-school purchases do cross paths digitally.

This occurs in the homepage slideshow and on the recommended products, as both of these site elements exhibit a high click rate among our two audiences. For backpack shoppers, this underscores a keen interest in the product itself, tying back to its longer use and function as an item of self-expression.

For stationery shoppers, who are especially inclined towards clicking on these in-page elements, this shows that they are on the prowl for the best deals — as noted earlier, this audience will surely compare price points across the all the websites they visit, so make sure your prices are competitive. As for the UX side of price, if you’re offering a sale or discounted prices, spell this out for customers early on in their journey, as not all user paths are equally long.

We hope this post granted you acute insight into the digital habits of backpack and stationery shoppers during the early 2019 back-to-school shopping details. Hungry for more data? Our Back-to-School Shoppers Report won’t disappoint.