The Holidays Change Everything

Lower Engagement, Bigger Purchases... and Whether People Keep Using Your App At All

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The holidays are different. You can feel it the moment Thanksgiving Week rolls around: the music you hear changes (that’s right, Christmas carols every five seconds), the advertisements you see change (50% off! No, 75% off! Okay, fine—it’s free, just take it!), and people change, too. To help make the season a success for marketers, Braze looked at how consumer behavior shifts during the holidays—and what brands can do to respond.

For most consumers, the holidays are a contradictory time. Once Thanksgiving rolls around, people start thinking about spending more time with their loved ones and focusing more on what matters most—while also finding themselves inundated with sales pitches, discounts, and calls-to-action by a variety of brands looking to get those holiday dollars. The twist? Customers use apps less frequently, with a 3-7% drop in engagement during the days surrounding Thanksgiving, compared to equivalent days during the prior month.

There’s an upside. When customers do engage, they’re more likely to take action. This year, users increased the number of purchases they made on every day of Thanksgiving Week except the holiday itself, compared to the previous month. Black Friday in particular saw the number of in-app purchases increase 21% despite a 10% drop in number of sessions. And when they bought, they BOUGHT—the amount that users spent inside apps increased by 80% on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and jumped by 392% on Cyber Monday and 562% on Black Friday. It turns out Cyber Monday may be the ideal day to encourage big-ticket buys, when a 1% increase in purchases turns into a 392% jump in purchase amount.

Holiday mobile data

What does that mean for brands? The barrier for engagement is higher during the holidays—but, if you get it right, the rewards are higher, too. A lot higher.

Finding ways to cut through the noise is key. During Thanksgiving Week and Cyber Monday, engagement with different customer messaging channels saw a significant rise, making this a smart way to break through. That was especially true on iOS devices, where push notification click rates rose 28% and in-app message click-through rates jumped by more than 150% on Cyber Monday as purchase amount swelled. During this frantic time of the year, leveraging multiple channels together to reach your audience more effectively could be the difference between an overstuffed stocking and a lump of coal, revenue-wise.

Resting on your laurels could be risking an even bigger downfall at the end of the Holiday season. New smartphones are a popular gift option—last year, the rate of first app usage (which mirrors new device activation) came in 10% higher than average on Christmas day, reflecting the high number of people trying out new phones and tablets. But just because someone has a new device doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to re-download your app on it. We saw metrics associated with the re-downloading of apps to a new device come in 3.9% lower on iOS and 4.6% lower on Android during Christmas Day. That suggests that there’s a notable segment of consumers who aren’t necessarily going to immediately start using your app on a new smartphone or tablet, making this a key opportunity to re-engage and re-establish those users’ relationships with your brand.

Looking to reach your audience more effectively? Consider studying up on the power that multiple messaging channels can bring with Braze’s exclusive Cross-Channel Difference Data Report. It might be the best decision you make this holiday season.

Methodology

Thanksgiving Week and Cyber Monday 2017

Braze analyzed global data from October 15 to November 27, 2017, a period that included 31.5 billion sessions start events associated with more than 1 billion user profiles and 32 billion messages (including email, push notifications, and in-app messages).

Christmas and New Year’s 2016

Braze analyzed global data between December 1, 2016 and January 3, 2017, a period that included 13.5 billion session starts. The analysis included more than 600 million active users worldwide.

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