December 29, 2012

Ah, Cyber Monday.  The online shopping event of the year.  It’s the Superbowl.  The Oscars.  The World Series.  It’s what we’ve all been training…err… saving for.


This year more companies tried to get in on the cyber sales game, jostling for position in our inboxes with more outrageous offers than ever before.  Many used the tried and tested language of sales, while others branched out into new, unexplored territory.  But when all was said and done, who won the Cyber Monday Messaging battle?  We broke down our picks and pans into three categories:  the Challengers, the Marketing Gamers, and the Left Fielders.


The Challengers.  The companies who encouraged the shopaholic in all of us.  Those who pushed us to our shopping limits, demanding that we be available at all hours for “flash sales” and “lightning deals”.  These are the communicators that instilled a true sense of urgency, bringing to life what Cyber Monday is all about:  being one of the lucky few to get the best darn deal on the internet.  Some of our favorites:


Amazon.  The online behemoth won us over with their signature “Lightning Deals”—each one a call to action, challenging us to ignore the tempation of food, sleep, and family and to instead focus on that ticking clock, counting down to the crucial deal window.


Baublebar.  This little jewelry company understands us.  They know how much we love to shop.  They know we just need a little incentive.  Their emails were clear and to the point:  “Spend more, save more”.  Cha-ching!



Urban Outfitters.  Cyber Monday is the online shopper’s Superbowl, and Urban Outfitters maintained the purity of the game.  Their email subject line had us nodding our heads and whipping out our credit cards:  “There’s no such thing as Cyber Tuesday – Shop NOW!”


Gilt Groupe.  The Gilt Freefall 5 minute sale language got our pulses racing and imbibed the true spirit of Cyber Monday.  Our one complaint:  the word “doorbuster”.  Cyber Monday is a sales event that deserves its own lexicon, not brick and mortar language borrowed from Black Friday.



Marketing Gamers.  These companies had a sale on Cyber Monday, but they didn’t have a Cyber Monday sale. They  walked the walk—sales and deals galore—but they didn’t talk the talk.  They played marketing games but didn’t use language that appealed to the urgent essence of Cyber Monday.  They appealed to us, but they didn’t stand out from the crowd because their communication was underwhelming or caused Expectation Gap (created when language overpromises and a product—or sale, in this case—underdelivers).  Some disappointments:


Ebates.  It is possible to have too much of a good thing.  Ebates, the online cash back deal site, sent too many emails with too much information.  On Cyber Monday you need to grab our attention quickly—we are, after all, busy shopping.



CB2.  Crate and Barrel’s younger, trendier sister store promised “one day. two great offers.”  Caution:  Expectation Gap!  When we’re getting a big, bold deal in our inbox every few minutes, a 15% off promo with free shipping seems like a drop in the bucket.


Bluefly.  This online fashion retailer offered a great deal, but their approach was off.  We want a thrill.  A challenge.  A sense of urgency.  Their blanket discount on every item was nice, but didn’t get our hearts racing.



Left Fielders.  The companies that tried something new.  The ones that broke the mold.  The ones that still have us shaking our heads and asking, “what were they thinking?”  Our biggest head-scratchers:


Lincoln Center.  Not everyone has permission to get in on Cyber Monday, and Lincoln Center proves that.  It’s a noble effort, but somehow it just feels wrong.



PRSA (Public Relations Society of America).  Another organization trying to get in on the action, PRSA offered new members special extras for joining this week.  We all like a good deal, but riding the Cyber Monday wave can only take you so far.


Patagonia.  We called out Patagonia’s daring communication choice yesterday, and we find ourselves coming back to it today.  We just can’t let it go.



Although the main event is over, the deals keep rolling in.  Companies continue to ply us with “Cyber Week” offers and extensions of Monday’s promotions.  But those of us that play the game aren’t deterred.  After all, this is just practice… and next Cyber Monday is only 362 days away.











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