Ever since its inception almost 15 years ago, Cyber Monday has been an increasingly important — and lucrative — part of the holiday shopping cycle. The online-only mega-sale, which takes place the Monday after Thanksgiving, broke sales records in 2018 with over $7.9 billion in total sales. Smartphones were an especially hot item last year, with $2.1 billion in Cyber Monday sales.
While traditional retailers like Amazon pull out all the stops for Cyber Monday marketing, direct to consumer companies can’t approach it the same way. DTC brands can’t compete directly with big retailers because of their difference in scale. Moreover, because of their consumer-friendly prices, DTC brands typically aren’t disposed to slash prices across the board.
Even with these challenges, DTC brands can still take advantage of the internet shopping holiday. It requires strategy and creativity to stand out on one of the biggest shopping days of the year; here are a few ways direct to consumer companies can join in the holiday cheer on Cyber Monday.
Make it the Only Sale of the Year
For consumers, one of the advantages of shopping DTC is that prices are more affordable from the start, thanks to the elimination of the middle man. Having frequent sales undercuts that year-round message, so if you’re having a Cyber Monday sale, make it stand out by standing alone.
Beauty and skincare brand Glossier has mastered this approach; for the 2018 holiday, it took 20% off its entire inventory from November 23-26. What made this deal so special was that it was Glossier’s only sale of the entire year. Customers are more likely to jump on a solo sale because they know it’s the only time they’ll get a desired product for a lower price; there’s no buyer’s remorse or waiting for the next sale. As Refinery29 put it, “This is your only chance to refill your Boy Brow and Lash Slick mascara for the cheap. And that’s as good a reason as any to throw all your sale hesitation (and hard-earned cash) out the pale-pink penthouse showroom window.”
In other words, if you’re going to have a sale, make it the sale. Keep the messaging simple and straightforward, so your loyal customers understand that this is the only time to get their favorite products at a discount.
Embrace the Hype
With so many companies and retailers hyping up their own Cyber Monday deals this time of year, it can feel like you’re just adding to the noise with your own promotion. Don’t fight the hype; embrace it! Create excitement for your own products through scarcity and limited-time offers.
This approach has been used to great success by Supreme, an American skateboard and streetwear brand with a devoted sect of customers. People wait in line for hours, braving the elements and sleeping outdoors, whenever a new collection is released. Why? Because Supreme’s new collections are limited.
Popular DTC glasses maker Warby Parker also creates excitement through scarcity, occasionally releasing limited-edition frames. For Cyber Monday weekend in 2018, Warby Parker dropped four new designs, and they were only available while supplies lasted. Meanwhile, shoe manufacturer Allbirds eschewed any mention of sales or discounts, instead promoting new limited-time colors.
Don’t feel like you need to focus on massive sales and steep discounts in order to participate in the Cyber Monday marketing madness. Instead, give your customers something extra-special, just to celebrate — for a limited time only.
Stick to Your Brand Story…
One of the great things about marketing your products directly to customers is that you control your brand and your message. Whatever that message is, don’t lose sight of it during the holiday hype cycle. For example, many DTC companies focus on offering year-round value; if that’s the case, going wild with sales and discounts could actually devalue the brand.
Luggage brand AWAY embraced its message last holiday season, sending an email to customers promoting its already-low prices. As Ad Age reported, the email reminded customers, “We don’t do Black Friday sales, or Cyber Monday sales, because we’re always on sale—that’s the upside of our direct-to-consumer model.”
In direct to consumer marketing, the story behind the product is sometimes as important as the product itself. However you decide to participate in Cyber Monday marketing, don’t lose that integrity along the way and your customers will continue to stick with you all year ‘round.
…But Also Make it Bigger Than the Brand
The holiday season might be a spending blitz, but it’s also a time of giving. Shoppers are being bombarded with emails, commercials, and billboards about the biggest sales, deepest discounts, and hottest products to have under the tree, and with so much going on, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s really important.
For years, apparel and accessory company Everlane has used its Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend promotions to promote charity efforts under the hashtag #BlackFridayFund. Since 2014, Everlane has used this fund to remove plastic from beaches, donating food, and more, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process. This aligns with its message of offering high-quality luxury goods in an ethical way, sticking to its brand story but taking it further.
Aside from the obvious benefits of embracing humanitarian efforts during the holiday season, this approach is also sure to be popular with one of DTC companies’ biggest demographics: millennials. According to Forbes, almost 70% of millennials take a company’s values into account when making a purchase. So as Cyber Monday approaches, consider ways you can give back, and your customers will gladly pitch in.
Get the Mobile Message Out
Remember when we told you that smartphones were the big winner of last year’s Cyber Monday? It’s time to close that marketing loop. As of 2018, 77% of Americans owned a smartphone, and more than half of Americans have made purchases using a mobile device. Mastering mobile marketing is absolutely critical, particularly during high-profile shopping holidays like Cyber Monday.
This could mean a lot of different things: push notifications for apps, mobile-only offers, or rewarded offers paired with discounts like free shipping. CPA campaigns could prove especially useful for Cyber Monday marketing, since much of the financial burden is shifted to the publisher and you’ll only have to pay for proven results. No matter how to approach your mobile marketing, keep all of our other tips in mind: make sure the message reflects your brand and embraces the holiday. Make it special, make it creative, and make sure mobile customers can easily find and purchase what you’re offering.
Cyber Monday is a tricky thing for DTC brands to navigate, but just because you’re not Amazon doesn’t mean you can’t join in on the fun. For more information, or if you’re ready to start your Cyber Monday marketing campaign, the experts at Tapjoy are here to help.
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