As 2016 enters full swing, companies will be probably finalising their marketing plans for the upcoming year. Looking back at 2015 and analysing what we’ve learned as a company and an industry, we have developed three main policy initiatives that will help you maximise the effectiveness of your marketing plans this year. 

As an overarching principle, companies must measure what matters. There is an endless amount of diagnostic data available these days and, without the knowledge of what’s truly important for which purpose, organisations can get locked into a pattern of losing precious resources analysing data that is not particularly valuable. By examining this past year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchasing data from the advertisers with whom we work, we were able to compile the following three action points that can benefit any forward-thinking performance marketer.

Plot the journey of your customers

Analysing the data behind Black Friday retail sales shows just how important a proper understanding of your customers is for any campaign. Assessing the performance of our partners’ online advertising campaigns, we found that post-click conversion rates (PCCRs) rose by much more on the day itself than either the total number of impressions generated by ads or the click-through rates.

Given that consumers exhibit a much stronger intention to convert on Black Friday, we were able to see from this data that the path to purchase starts a week or more earlier and that advertising campaigns running over this entire period are ultimately more successful, even if the actual conversions all come at the end of the period, once the actual Black Friday deals have gone live.

The customer journey is generally more nuanced than ‘impression > click > convert’ and, often, several separate ads will combine to deliver a purchase. For this reason, multi-touchpoint attribution models will help marketers to properly attribute sales to the right partners when several banners and clicks are involved.

Go cross-device, consumers already have

Pinpoint targeting of your customers is more possible now than ever. The ability to find a consumer no matter what device they are using allows for a fuller understanding of their behaviour and desires, and has a huge impact on performance marketing. 

For example, smartphones and tablets made up more than a third (36%) of Black Friday transactions in the US in 2015, with desktop accounting for the remaining 64% of a record $2.72 billion in spending. The fact that so many customers made their purchases on mobile underscores how vital it is that marketers ensure they are communicating with consumers in the right places and on the right devices. Cross-device campaigns have never been more important.

Strike at just the right time

Our Black Friday data revealed how consumers display fundamentally different shopping behaviours depending on the device they are operating. While smartphone conversions were strongest in the morning, for example, desktop activity peaked during working hours and tablet sales picked up in the evening. Cyber Monday, on the other hand, sale conversions climbed steadily throughout the day on all these devices, peaking between 21:00 and 22:00. 

The best way for marketers to stay on top of such trends and ensure their performance marketing efforts are as agile as possible is through the integration of first-party CRM data. This is the richest source of insight into customers that is available and will help ensure marketers have the most accurate possible picture of their intended audience.

Whatever the focus of your marketing activities, it is impossible to fully understand how to employ the right methods at the right time without effective analysis of the appropriate data, especially when it comes to significant dates and events throughout the year. Doing so will yield great dividends in the form of increased customer engagement and spend.