After foraging through the wave of reports, analyses and opinion pieces to have emerged from Black Friday weekend 2016, the general consensus seems to be that this year’s national shopping event was the best yet.
“Sales up 9 per cent”, “Shoppers more hooked on discounts than ever”, “Shoppers break records” - these are just a few of the many headlines to have popped up in our newsfeeds over the past few days.
However, not all of the headlines have been this clear cut, with some reading: “More shoppers, less spending”, “Are Black Friday and Cyber Monday really the biggest sales day of the year?” and “Cyber Monday fights to keep its crown after blockbuster Black Friday for online shopping”.
Such discrepancy is normal, as factors such as the size/nature of the retailers being used to draw conclusions can alter the results significantly. It’s for this reason we always carry out our own research.
Looking at a wide range of small and medium-sized businesses, our data scientist Rajiv analysed the hundreds of thousands of transactions to have taken place over this Black Friday weekend. From the overall impact cyber weekend has on the industry to the lifetime value of a Black Friday shopper, here are 17 of the most fascinating stats he found.
Note: all of these statistics refer to the shopping period between 25th and 28th November 2016.
The overall impact of Black Friday 2016
The overall concensus on Black Friday 2016 is a very positive one, with retailers generating significantly more revenue than the previous year.
However, the picture becomes more interesting when you take business growth over the last year into account (bearing in mind that many of the companies included in the analysis are small to medium, fast growth retailers).
After taking this into account, the Black Friday buzz appears to be slowing down when it comes to genuine increases - possibly affected by factors such as extended sale periods (Black Friday promotions starting earlier and going on for longer, which we didn’t account for in our analysis) and bigger discounts:
Compared to Black Friday last year and the growth of businesses since then:
130% increase in on-site visits
Takeaway: Aside from the on-site implications of extra traffic (no revenue lost to crashing websites here, please!), ecommerce marketers should look to capitalise on the increased traffic Black Friday brings through capturing data on visitors - whether through newsletter signup, account creation or competitions - in order to be able to retarget these visitors further down the line.
This could include A/B testing the positioning, imagery and copy of popups beforehand in order to encourage as many signups as possible, as well as optimising the brand’s welcome series (for more on this, read our welcome email cheat sheet).
Mobile accounted for 21% of revenue this Black Friday weekend
Interestingly, the same proportion of revenue came from people using mobile or tablet this year as it did last year. Nonetheless, mobile enjoyed an uplift this year compared to 2015.
Takeaway: As always, optimising your site for on-the-go shoppers remains key to maximising revenue around Black Friday, with mobile accounting for a large swathe of revenue.
240% increase in revenue from browse and cart abandonment emails
The increase in traffic over the Black Friday weekend was, predictably, accompanied by an increase in cart and browse abandonment. Interestingly however, the conversion rate on cart abandonment emails was significantly higher over the Black Friday weekend (17 per cent) than at other times in the year.
Takeaways: Having cart and browse abandonment campaigns in place to recapture lost revenue is a staple of any good retention marketing programme. Nonetheless, ensuring that these are optimised (and indeed tweaked) for the busy festive season is key - read more about this in this blog post.
Black Friday weekend shoppers 4% less valuable
Our data suggests that within the first year of becoming a customer, those who shop on the Black Friday weekend tend to spend less than those who shop at other times in the year.
Takeaway: It’s worth noting that our data is taken from retailers that already have lifecycle marketing plans in place aimed at maximising the lifetime value of customers, so the value of Black Friday weekend shoppers for retailers who do not focus on retention could be even lower.
Using automated lifecycle marketing to send shoppers targeted messages (via email, social ads, direct mail etc.) to activate and reactivate them when, for example, they come and browse your store or add items to their basket is a good way of generating revenue from Black Friday shoppers after the big day.
Black Friday shoppers 5% less likely to make a repeat purchase than other shoppers
The repeat rate - a metric we’ve written in detail about here - of Black Friday weekend shoppers tends to be lower than those who shop at other times in the year. What this essentially means is that a Black Friday buyer is less likely to return to make a follow up purchase.
Takeaway: as with the lifetime value point above, having a solid retention-focused lifecycle marketing strategy in place is key to encouraging one-time shoppers to come back and make a follow-up purchase. Read our post-purchase and lapsed customer reactivation cheat sheets to find out more.
Key channels for Black Friday
The following numbers represent the proportion of revenue attributed to various channels during the Black Friday period vs rest of the year:
There was a notable increase in the proportion of revenue from the email channel compared to the rest of the year, suggesting that Black Friday shoppers tend to use email as a means of discovering deals and promotions.
Takeaway: While optimising search and paid channels is key for marketplaces and multi-brand retailers, our data suggests that optimising emails - both broadcast and triggered - is especially important for all retailers during the Black Friday period.
In the words of Jack Skellington: “But what does it mean?”
All things considered, Black Friday 2016 has been a success for retailers - boosted revenue, increased orders and more traffic.
That said, evidence suggests that the overall impact of the Black Friday weekend appears to be decreasing - and as a result retailers should focus on the more long-term gain from the sale period rather than taking a ‘quick win’ approach.
The continued popularity of mobile during Black Friday weekend was no real surprise, however the fact that the use of both mobile and tablet remained the same as 2015 might raise a few eyebrows.
In terms of channels, data has confirmed that email is undoubtedly an effective marketing tool, whereas - interestingly - social commerce is yet to really make a big impression (this could change next November if/when shoppable Instagram is launched.)
And (most importantly) from an ecommerce lifecycle marketing perspective …
Whilst the surge in website traffic over the weekend led to higher browse and cart abandonment rates, there was *also* a significant rise in the conversion rate on cart abandonment emails (compared to the rest of the year) - proving that retargeting emails do work.