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3 Significant (and Surprising) New Trends in 2020 Mobile Shopping Behavior



Heading into the 2020 holiday shopping period, it was clear that this year would be different than years past.  Ecommerce would be more important than ever as stores remain closed due to the pandemic, and digital marketing would see an increase in effectiveness as brands directed shoppers online.   


This only tells part of the story.  By looking at mobile engagement data, highly sensitive to timing and interaction, we can see some unique shopping trends for 2020.   


While mobile continues to drive both online and offline shopping, engagement with mobile interactions was different this year compared to years past in three primary ways.  


Overall mobile engagement grew… again 


Probably the least surprising of what we saw this year was another increase in overall messaging.  This year mobile messaging volume was up 14% from 2019, setting another record for mobile marketing.  It should be noted that 2019 saw a new record from 2018, which saw a record over 2017 – not surprising due to the tremendous growth in mobile marketing.   


One special note this year is that not only did Vibes customers send more messagesthose messages had significantly better engagement. Overall, we saw a 7% increase in engagement for 2020 compared to 2019. This shows that consumers are more willing than ever to engage with brands using mobile, especially when the messages are personalized and relevant to the end consumer.   




Thanksgiving Day is turning into a day for marketers


Marketers sent 230% more mobile messages on Thanksgiving Day this year compared to 2019, making it one of the more popular days of the long shopping weekend to engage with consumers.   


Traditional thinking was that shoppers were home with family on Thanksgiving and didn’t want to be disturbed with marketing messages. Since stores were closed on Thanksgiving Day, marketers held back on messaging in years past.   


With the pandemic in full swing, and states largely urging shoppers to stay home and not interact with large groups, Thanksgiving Day 2020 was like any other day of the long weekend.  And as depressing as that might feel, smart marketers who treated Thursday just like any other day during the long weekend were rewarded with engagement rates on Thanksgiving Day that were higher than even Cyber Monday.     


In fact, marketers who waited for the more traditional days of the long weekend like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, missed a powerful opportunity to break through to shoppers this year.  Engagement rates on Cyber Monday were the lowest of the 5-day shopping period (Thursday – Monday) making that day the least effective day to engage with shoppers.   


Cyber Monday has become overly saturated with marketing 


It’s been 15 years since the term Cyber Monday was coined, and it’s clearly been adopted into marketing strategies far and wide. With the focus on ecommerce in 2020, it’s surprising that engagement rates fell significantly on Cyber Monday, making it the least effective day out of the 5-day shopping weekend to engage with consumers. 


Engagement on Cyber Monday was 18% lower than Saturday, which was the most engaging day of the long weekend.  Cyber Monday’s engagement rate was 16% lower than on Black Friday, a day long known to be saturated with marketing messages.  We now know that in 2020, it paid to be early. 




New thoughts on 2020 holiday shopping 


Knowing what we know about shoppers in the 2020 holiday marketing period, brands would be wise to rethink their traditional key dates. Those key dates will most likely be saturated with marketing messages, allowing smart marketers to capitalize on other days where engagement may be higher.  For example, our data shows that in years past, marketers slowed messaging on Tuesdays and Sundays – in 2020, these may now be strong opportunities for marketers to engage with shoppers.   


Shopping is no longer binary.  There is no more boundary between digital or off-line shopping, and the distinction between the two may never come back.  Pandemic shoppers are blending online and offline together to capitalize on the benefits of both behaviors. Mobile messaging has always straddled the line between offline and online shopping well and has been effective at blending the two worlds together.  


One final thought to the merging of online and offline: while ecommerce and online shopping captures most of the headlines today, it’s important to remember that the act of shopping is something that people actually like, and shoppers have been resilient this year.  One of our customers was shocked at how many people were coming back into stores during a time when the pandemic continued to rage. When shoppers were asked why they decided to come out during the pandemic, the resounding answer was simple, “because we love to shop!”  


For more on ecommerce and mobile shopping, download our Guide to Mobile Marketing for Ecommerce here.


About the Author

Alex Campbell has long been recognized as one of mobile marketing’s original pioneers, working tirelessly to educate marketers on the value of mobile as a viable discipline. A true entrepreneur at heart, Alex oversees Vibes’ innovation strategy – always looking for the next great mobile technology brands can leverage to drive deeper customer engagement and untapped revenue opportunities.

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