Black Friday Marketing: What We’ve Learned and What to Expect

Black Friday Marketing: What We’ve Learned and What to Expect
It’s (one of) the most wonderful times of the year for both customers and merchants. In the last several years, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have begun to be as celebrated as their traditional holiday neighbor Thanksgiving. That means that both e-commerce and traditional retailers have to think strategically about how they will approach one of the biggest shopping annual events. For marketers, there is a plethora of planning to do in order to boost your brand’s awareness during the holiday shopping weekend to create the best opportunities for conversions. From marketing to actual sales, there’s no shortage of work to be done. So, what is the best way to start? Answer: Study the past, and keep an eye on the future. Past performance can be a good starting point to predict and plan for the future. Combined with keeping up with the upcoming season’s predictions and trends, you will increase your chances of success during these heavy traffic shopping days. It’s time to dissect the data and find out what lessons there are to be learned as we head into prep time for the 2018 shopping season.   We will examine the results of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2017, and take a look at how those results could influence the 2018 event.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2017: A Retail Recap

In today’s very digital world, consumerism is geared toward e-commerce. Online and mobile outlets for browsing and shopping create numerous opportunities for customer engagement (particularly leading up to and during a high-volume shopping window). This was clear in the 2017 Thanksgiving shopping weekend, making 2017 a banner year for e-commerce sales during both Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

2017 Black Friday and Cyber Monday statistics

    • More than 174 million Americans took part in the online shopping frenzy from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation. This beat the earlier prediction of 164 million shoppers previously stated by the federation before the holiday season.
    • Cyber Monday was the largest online shopping day on record with $6.59 billion in internet sales
    • Comparatively, Black Friday revenue brought in $5.03 billion, and Thanksgiving Day shopping revenue brought in $2.87 billion
    • E-commerce titan Amazon claimed 55% of Black Friday online orders
    • No surprise, the biggest online spenders were millennials between 24 and 35, which came out to an average of $419.52 per person. How did so much shopping get done in such a short time with that many people? With the help of a mobile outlet.
    • The importance of optimizing e-commerce sites for mobile became more obvious than ever before. It was reported by Rakuten Marketing that mobile revenue was up 43% YOY between November 19th and November 24th.
    • Adobe reported that mobile reached its first $2 billion day on Cyber Monday
  • Mobile overpowered desktop sales for Shopify merchants, accounting for 64% of sales
The facts speak for themselves. 2017 made a significant impact on e-commerce merchants (particularly big retailers like Amazon, Target, and Walmart). What does all of this mean to you as a marketer? These stats can give you an idea of how to focus your marketing campaigns going into 2018, so consider the following: Should you have an email campaign specifically targeting millennials for Cyber Monday? Have you considered a mobile-based campaign? How many audiences within that large a volume of people should you consider? Is there a “too early” to start launching different campaigns? Launch times are more strategic, but it’s never too early to start planning for them. The biggest takeaways from the impressive 2017 figures show that mobile optimization is a must and that preparing early is essential. For that volume of people, which could very well increase as we head into the 2018 shopping season, it will take some time to plan and execute an effective marketing strategy. But now, what about 2018?

Your 2018 e-commerce crystal ball

Although no one can tell for certain what the future holds, we can study history, observe the present, and make the best, educated assumptions. In the same way that starting the execution of your holiday shopping marketing strategy early is recommended, so is planning for it. In other words, keeping up with the news and trends on a regular basis will help turn your plan into a successful reality. Here’s what people are predicting for Black Friday 2018.

Black Friday sales will start earlier and last longer

It has become a trend over the past several years for sales to begin earlier and earlier (sometimes throughout all of November). Lots of sales, especially among large retailers like Amazon and Walmart, start sale periods in the days and weeks before the actual event. The immediacy of the early sale options attract customers and allow them to take further advantage of Black Friday deals. This trend, which is expected to continue for 2018, was already demonstrated by “Black Friday in July” which has become mainstream since its debut three years ago as a response to Amazon Prime Day.

E-commerce growth is a safe bet

Even if it’s not on the same large scale that 2017 was, experts are saying to expect continued revenue growth from the four-day shopping weekend this fall. Not only this, but a lot of this predicted growth is expected to come from Amazon.

Price is less important to consumers than a good experience

It has become apparent that finding the best experience is more important to consumers than the price of the product. For example, Amazon is currently a top competitor for a great user experience. From reliable two-day shipping to the reassurance that you’re buying from a trusted brand plus 1-click ordering and easy returns, the experience is tried and true. It is the responsibility of the merchant to provide a seamless experience that attracts customers and to make the nature of those experiences transparent to customers.  

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile (everyone will keep saying it)

It’s been said for years; mobile optimization is key. Mobile has been top-of-mind for merchants for quote a while as shoppers continuously become tech-savvy and look for seamless experiences channel-wide. 2017 sales reflected this with mobile purchases generating 47.4% of site visits. According to Adobe data, nearly 40% of those visits were smartphones and another 7.6% from tablets. Optimize your email campaigns for mobile viewing and easy click-through.

Top takeaways for the 2018 shopping season

  • Consider the Whole User Experience. Step into your customers’ shoes. As the customer journey becomes more prevalent online using multiple channels to browse and shop around, it becomes more important to integrate the physical store experience into the digital world. Shoppers want options that provide instant gratification. Considering how to save the customer time and money is a way to judge which technologies and features will ensure a seamless transition between channels both online and offline.
  • Start Marketing Early. As a retailer, be thinking what. As a marketer, be thinking why and how. There are a number of ways you can reach your customers, be it through Facebook ads, physical collateral or email marketing. Whatever methods you choose to launch, launch them early. Customers are always looking for deals, and the earlier you can market yours, the better. Not only will this increase your chances of high sales at holiday time, but the top-of-mind presence that emails can provide will keep customers returning all year long. Consider having a separate email list for people who want to be the first to hear about Thanksgiving weekend deals and sales, and offer them an early advantage of your discounts.
  • Don’t Stress! Whether you are exclusively an e-commerce merchant or a hybrid of e-commerce and brick and mortar, this busy shopping season can be stressful. Remember not to bite off more than you can chew, be thoughtful and deliberate with your marketing decisions, and always prioritize quality over quantity.