A bunch of down-to-the-wire foot­ball games have been on TV lately. The Eagles and the Lions clash­ing in a half-foot of snow a cou­ple of weeks ago. And Bal­ti­more win­ning last Mon­day night with a 61-yard field goal as time expired—football in Decem­ber doesn’t get bet­ter than that.

For our cus­tomers using Adobe Ana­lyt­ics’ real-time reports this hol­i­day sea­son, the last few weeks have been like watch­ing an edge-of-your-seat foot­ball game. Of course, it started with a lot of pregame prepa­ra­tion. Prior to Black Fri­day, the Adobe Engi­neer­ing Ser­vices and Expe­ri­ence Con­sult­ing teams were slammed, help­ing our cus­tomers build real-time dash­boards for the big event. Some of the dash­boards I’ve seen are impressive.

Since the shop­ping sea­son got under­way a few days before Thanks­giv­ing, through Black Fri­day, and Cyber Mon­day (which quickly evolved into Cyber Week), we’ve been hear­ing great things from our cus­tomers. For them, real-time reports are a main­stay in their mar­ket­ing war rooms—with every­one from ana­lysts and mar­keters to CEOs hud­dled around desk­tops and tablets watch­ing real-time mar­ket­ing cam­paign data, prod­uct sales, and con­ver­sion stats unfold.

We’re in the fourth quar­ter of this short­ened hol­i­day shop­ping sea­son now, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out through the rest of the year.

This year’s shop­ping sea­son may end up as one of the most excit­ing and inno­v­a­tive, with mar­keters reel­ing to get back on the field next year with new strate­gies for max­i­miz­ing the impact of real-time report­ing. We’ve been col­lect­ing data through­out the hol­i­day sea­son with the Adobe Dig­i­tal Index. Here are a few high­lights, plus key take­aways mar­keters should watch in 2014.

Mobile’s Increas­ing Role in Cam­paign Productivity

  • Mobile sales shat­tered records at the start of the hol­i­day shop­ping sea­son. For instance, on Thanks­giv­ing and Black Fri­day, nearly a quar­ter of all online sales came from mobile devices—both smart­phones and tablets.
  • On Cyber Mon­day, sales from mobile were strong, with tablets account­ing for more than $400 mil­lion in sales or about 13% of online sales.

Key Take­aways: It’s no sur­prise that mobile con­tin­ues to grow as more cus­tomers adopt tablets and smart­phones to surf the web and, increas­ingly, shop online. There’s a divide grow­ing between tablets and smart­phones, however.

Tablets enjoy a higher con­ver­sion rate, and the data shows cus­tomers pre­fer shop­ping via tablet. Smart­phones, on the other hand, aren’t con­vert­ing as effi­ciently. For instance, on Cyber Mon­day, smart­phones accounted for nearly 30% of traf­fic to retail­ers’ web­sites, but con­ver­sion rates were much lower. Thus, a trend to watch in 2014 will be that push toward opti­miz­ing the smart­phone shop­ping experience.

Real-Time Report­ing Enhances Data-Driven Marketing

  • Aided by real-time report­ing and tools such as Adobe Tar­get and Adobe Ana­lyt­ics, cus­tomers haven’t stopped test­ing offers, pro­mo­tions, and brand mes­sages since the hol­i­day shop­ping sea­son began. 
  • Con­tin­ual test­ing and opti­miza­tion boosted Cyber Mon­day con­ver­sions to all-time highs, both via desk­top and mobile.

Key Take­aways: Highly spe­cific real-time data is enabling mar­keters to opti­mize cam­paigns, offers, and pro­mo­tions faster and more effi­ciently. For ana­lysts, highly spe­cific nuggets of data are eas­ier to uncover. Bot­tom line, data-driven mar­ket­ing is get­ting more sophis­ti­cated, and on-going test­ing and real-time opti­miza­tion will con­tinue to enable retail­ers to push con­ver­sion rates even higher. In 2014, it will be inter­est­ing to see how mar­keters and ana­lysts lever­age real-time data and test­ing to opti­mize on the fly.

Social Media Refer­rals Boost Sales through­out the Hol­i­day Season

  • Through­out the first half of the hol­i­day shop­ping sea­son, from Thanks­giv­ing to Cyber Mon­day, social media refer­rals accounted for $150 mil­lion in sales.
  • Twit­ter refer­rals have grown year-over-year by nearly a quarter.

Key Take­aways: Social media refer­rals made a small but steady con­tri­bu­tion to hol­i­day sales, com­ing in at 2% of all refer­rals. But don’t let that num­ber fool you. Social net­works are a use­ful tool in the marketer’s arse­nal, and on Cyber Mon­day, we saw some social cam­paigns drive close to 30% of total onsite traf­fic. Mov­ing into 2014, retail­ers will con­tinue to find cre­ative ways to engage and grow their audi­ences via social net­works, but how will the influ­ence of refer­rals con­tinue to grow? In 2014, we’re keep­ing an eye on that trend.

These are just a few trends we’ll be watch­ing in 2014. One thing is clear: Our cus­tomers are uti­liz­ing real-time mar­ket­ing in impres­sive ways. Happy Hol­i­days to all! Here’s to a healthy and suc­cess­ful 2014.

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