For the last six years, we have carried out an Online Future Shopping Index survey straight after Christmas, to determine whether people plan to spend more or less the following year.
Each year we make a prediction based on the results and I’m happy to say that once again last year’s prediction was pretty much spot on!
We predicted 12% to 17% growth in online sales during Christmas 2011; the actual figure, reported by the IMRG in January was 16.5%.
Unique users or unique visitor numbers are often seen in press reports, internal dashboards and case studies, and are used as the basis for making decisions.
But there is a problem with ‘uniques’; they are not what they seem, and while this may be known by those on the inside, business decision makers are being fed information that is really very misleading.
So your campaign didn't deliver the right result? Not enough sales, leads or engagement (or whatever the magic success metric was)? Poor ROI perhaps? I'm not surprised!
The reason is that, in general, we use really simple measures and record binary outcomes; ‘hit/miss’, ‘sale/no sale’ or ‘open/did not open’ metrics.
Typically we use one or maybe two such metrics per campaign. This simple methodology is the default across the industry but in reality it is now a hindrance to really optimising campaigns.
Many retailers have published their Christmas results recently and on first glance it shows that many retailers did extremely well over the period online, compared to Christmas 2009.
It's only when you look at these figures relative to overall trading figures for each business that the true picture comes to light and all is, perhaps, not as it seems.