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Thanks to the rise of online shopping, Cyber Monday is now arguably just as big a cultural institution as its cousin, Black Friday. And it's only getting bigger: with Black Friday online sales topping $1bn for the first time ever, analysts are predicting that when retailers are done counting, this year's Cyber Monday may produce more than $1.5bn in sales.
Naturally, that has companies looking to cash in. But the deals aren't just limited to traditional holiday shopping fare like clothing.
Want a subscription to AdAge? There's a discount for that. Searching for a new WordPress theme? WooThemes celebrated Cyber Monday with a 20% off promotion. In the market for a hosting account? HostGator was hawking them for as little as $2.48/month -- a 50% savings.
Cyber Monday: a case of bad timing?
The appeal of Cyber Monday is not hard to understand. Countless millions of consumers have their wallets in hand and are ready to empty them if they find a deal they like. But companies shouldn't be deluded: there's a very good chance you're not offering that deal.
The largest retailers, like Amazon, capture the lion's share of the business on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and while that doesn't mean that there's no opportunity for anyone else, companies should think twice before jumping on the Cyber Monday bandwagon with a sale of their own.
A primary reason why: Cyber Monday is one of the toughest times to market a promotion to your customers. Other businesses are vying for their attention, and dollars, too, and many of them are spending huge sums of money. From email to direct mail, your Cyber Monday marketing campaigns are just a small part of a marketing bombardment most of your customers are likely experiencing between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
All the noise obviously makes it more difficult to stand out. And if you're selling something like a magazine subscription, WordPress theme or hosting, you're probably at a significant disadvantage. After all, savings on these products and services might very well be enticing at any other time of the year, but when your customers are flooded with deep discounts on high-ticket items like consumer electronics products and jewelry, your deal probably looks pretty puny by comparison.
A better approach: Christmas in July?
Unless you're in a market in which the holiday shopping season is a make-or-break proposition and you have to participate in the holiday shopping race to the bottom to compete, it may be worth sitting out Cyber Monday and saving your discount ammunition for another day.
Whether that's literally a Christmas in July, or some other date that's relevant to your market, chances are you'll have far less difficulty attracting the attention of your customers and convincing them to part ways with their money.