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.
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
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%.
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.UX Global Map Lessons: Comparing Online Customer Acquisition Marketing Channels
There’s a lot to learn from the way site visitors browse and interact with your website. Then there’s customer acquisition marketing, since before users navigate your site, they must be acquired, which is a digital marketing feat on its own. Much of what we cover is UX (user experience) — the environment and associated feelings users undergo on your website and other digital offerings.
But drawing users in is a major step, a push further down the sales funnel, bring them closer to conversion and certainly a crucial to brand awareness. Sometimes it involves perfecting the UX as well, except as an alternative to onsite behaviors, it deals with those on acquisition channels, some of which you can customize, i.e., social media.
As the final installment of our 3-part series covering the UX International Map, this iteration will edify you on what customer acquisition marketing channels look like through a global lens. After all, if you’re going to set up websites for different countries, acquiring the users of these countries and their distinct acquisition manners is key to be mindful of.
Acquisition Channel Methodology
In the past 2 UX map lessons, you’ve read that we parsed through over 35 million visitor sessions in January and February 2019 on 11 luxury websites — that’s 150 million page views and 3 billion clicks.
The 7 countries we focused our analyses on were: the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, China and Japan.
For each of the 7 countries we surveyed, we analyzed the performance of 12 acquisition channels — both paid and unpaid. For each country we scrutinized, we asked the following questions to get a deep read of how websites were gaining visitors:
- Do consumers prefer free or paid channels?
- How do they arrive at your site?
- Did users do independent research or follow a recommendation?
Free Vs Paid Acquisition Channels
The chief divide of digital acquisition channels is whether they are free or paid. Free acquisition channels, as their name suggests, are outlets that you can leverage for free. They encompass the following:
- Organic search results (SEO)
- Direct traffic
- Referral traffic
- Social media posts (unsponsored)
Paid acquisition channels are cost-based and these costs are not unilateral. In other words, while PPC ads will cost you for each click on the keyword you bid on, affiliate marketing will cost you the amount agreed upon with your affiliate marketer. These channels include:
- Paid Search (SEM/PPC)
- Paid Social (sponsored content)
- Display Ads
- Affiliate Marketing
- Brandzone (Baidu)
- Influencer marketing
The Global Majority of Online Consumers Prefer Free Acquisition Channels
While it’s patently obvious that brands and marketers prefer to acquire consumers through free means, our analysis has found that even from a consumer standpoint, the preferred method of arriving at a new website is from a free traffic source. With a 61% global average share of traffic from free channels, this is something of a global consensus.
The customer audiences in Japan and Italy are at the higher ends of the free acquisition spectrum, as they reach websites through free channels at the respective rates of 69% and 65% of their total acquisition. The US comes in at third, with 62% of its site visitors springing from free acquisition channels.
France has the lowest share of traffic from free channels, at 55%. Germany and China come in second at the low end of the free channel spectrum with traffic rates of 58% from both countries.
Acquisition through Consumer Research or Recommendation
Another way to gauge customer preferences and segment behaviors is by analyzing whether visitors land on your site from independent research or by following a product recommendation. It’s crucial to study this, since some consumers arrive at your website through their own due diligence from research, while some need to be marketed to concertedly, i.e., in a direct way, often involving recommendations. (Think targeted ads and sponsored social content).
Here are a few independent research channels:
- Organic search (SEO)
- Paid search
Here are a few recommendation research channels:
- Paid social
- Affiliate Marketing
- Influencer Marketing
So which acquisition method, independent research or product recommendation takes the victory among our swath of global consumers? In this type of acquisition square-off, the emerging winner is independent research, which holds the majority across every country we surveyed.
In Italy, 92% of consumers reach a site through their own research, overshadowing the country’s 8% of consumers who reach a site by following a link. China is at the lowest end of the independent research gamut, with 54% of its users reaching websites through their own research, but even this lower rate shows a favorability among consumers to visit a website based on their own findings instead of recommendations made to them.
Japan and the US follow Italy, with a respective 81% and 80% of users landing on a website through independent research.
Organic Search Traffic Dominates in the US, Italy and Japan
Organic search traffic (SEO) overshadows paid search, affiliate marketing and other acquisition sources in the US, Italy and Japan. This is due to the dominance of free acquisition in these 3 countries, raking in over 40% of user acquisition in these 3 countries, with a massive 70% in Japan.
Traffic from SEO has the highest influence in Japan, with 48% of traffic coming from organic search. Italy ranks in second on SEO acquisition, with 40% of consumers reaching websites this way and the US comes in at third, with 32%.
Reel in Traffic with Display Ads in China
Gaining site in traffic is heavily dependent on display ads, along with the Baidu Brand Zone technology. Procuring 28.2% of all traffic acquisition in China, this channel is a force to be reckoned with in order to increase site visitors. While globally, there is far less dependence on this channel (only 4.1%), in China it is a key player in obtaining traffic. Display ads go in tandem with this channel and also fall within the trend of using visuals to keep users interested.
Email Marketing and Social Reign Supreme in the UK
In the UK, customer acquisition is contingent on social marketing efforts. At 12.4%, social customer engagement spurs twice as much traffic in the UK as it does in any of the other countries surveyed. Aside from social, email campaigns are also drivers of successful traffic, raking in 6.7% on desktop and a heaping 18.4% on mobile. Organic search traffic lags behind in the UK, as far as traffic is concerned, accounting for only 23.1% of traffic, as opposed to the global 31.5% global ranking.
France is All About Paid Tactics
Whether it’s coming from SEM, PPC or paid social, paid tactics are driving up traffic in France. Paid channels account for almost half of all French traffic at 45%. This traffic mainly comes from paid search, which rakes in 29% of the traffic. SEM in France brings in roughly a third more in traffic than in all the other countries we analyzed. A significant part of the traffic in France is wrought by paid social — 8.4%, as opposed to the global average of 4.7%.
German Traffic: Paid Search and Direct
German traffic acquisition is dominated by two sources: paid search and direct traffic. Paid search yields 27.3% of all traffic in the country, while direct traffic is even more powerful in drawing in users, as it’s higher in Germany than any of the other 6 countries at 26.1%. The direct traffic average globally is at 21.9%. High direct traffic visitations suggest that visitors in this country have a vested interest and loyalty in big-name brands.
Optimizing The Landing Page — Whatever The Traffic Channel
Understanding how your site acquires visitors, who might later become customers, is as crucial as studying the UX of your website. After all, no matter how ideal your UX is, it won’t matter if little to no one arrives at your website. As such, acquisition channels provide a kind of hook, line and sinker approach where acquisition is concerned.
Acquisition channels are markedly useful and necessary for drawing in customers, but you must remember their limited scope in your overall digital marketing strategy. As their name suggests, they are good for acquisition but have little to do with retention. These channels may even hurt your UX and thereby conversions if these channels redirect visitors to irrelevant pages.
This is why the landing page is a critical aspect of acquisition — and retention. A landing page that’s relevant and optimized for users will maintain a good UX and digital happiness. So make sure to study the elements of your landings pages and see which ones are detrimental to the customer journey. There’s no point in optimizing acquisition only to lose your customers later on.