New York -- Analysis has uncovered a 46% increase in social networking referrals to top 500 retail websites during the most critical week of the year, just one of four key trends identified in a report by Experian Marketing Services.
The 2013 holiday marketing analysis from the holiday shopping season's peak week, the period beginning Thanksgiving and ending on Cyber Monday, cited the following four trends:
1. Social gains share. Comparing sources of upstream search traffic with Experian Marketing Services' Hitwise Retail 500 for the week ending Nov. 30, search accounted for more than 40% of that upstream traffic. Social networking sites increased their share of traffic to these websites by a relative 46% year-over-year. Social networking Websites with highly visual content, such as Instagram and YouTube, saw dramatic year-over-year increases.
2. Different verticals win different days. Different retail categories and Websites peaked on different days during the peak week this holiday season. Department store websites were the clear winners across the entire weekend, but website traffic for that category peaked on Thanksgiving, as did electronics/appliance and video game retailers. Meanwhile, Apparel & Accessories, House & Garden and Sports & Fitness saw their website traffic peak on Cyber Monday. Overall, Cyber Monday remained the peak day for online traffic, although Thanksgiving and Black Friday followed closely behind with significant activity across all three days.
3. Unique offers and dramatic discounts work. Retailers that offered consumers unique sales promotions and dramatic discounts were most effective in driving traffic to their sites. One such example includes Walmart, which offered consumers a one-hour in-stock guarantee. "Walmart one-hour guarantee" was the number 10 search term driving traffic to Walmart.com on Black Friday. Additionally, Old Navy, which typically ranks as the third or fourth most-visited apparel retailer online, leapt to the top spot on Black Friday by offering "50% off everything."
4. Tech tops wish lists. While no single product was the most popular branded item to drive traffic to the Hitwise Retail 500 Websites on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, gadgets and game consoles comprised a large portion of the top 10 products on all three days.