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Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Can You Count on your Holiday Season Shoppers?

Companies spend big bucks on their November offers, but shopping nowadays is a year-round activity. Optimove’s research adds more variables into the holiday frenzy equation and reveals: which day is more profitable, Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

In our recent blog post, we discussed how today’s companies tread lightly before and during Black Friday and Cyber Monday’s extravaganzas. There are several reasons for their doubt: from wanting to imitate big companies who feel they’re above the annual shopping binge to understanding that many customers feel that there is no such thing as a once-in-a-lifetime offer. Shopping is done year-round. What was once a singular day is now almost a two-month-long holiday season.

When putting the numbers to the test, the answers vary. The buzz around these shopping-filled days is still there, but is it worth it? Maybe, but it’s also not for everyone. It depends on your perspective.

Guess Who’s Back

We analyzed data from 11 e-commerce companies with more than 14 million customers. In most companies, the day with the most orders and the highest total order value was either Black Friday or Cyber Monday. The fact that these unofficial holidays provide the highest value is incredible and gives retail companies a lot to consider.

Some believe customers who first purchase on Black Friday or Cyber Monday might stay loyal to the brand now that they’re familiar with it, so it’s easy to justify doling out those big discounts. Our data, however, shows otherwise:


The numbers on the horizontal axis represent the months since the customer’s first order, the vertical axis is the percent of customers who made an additional purchase during a particular time-span.

For example: one month after first purchasing on Black Friday, about 6.5% of the customers (on average) made another order, and almost 5% of returning customers who bought on Black Friday made an additional purchase within one month. It’s obvious that customers who did not make purchases on Black Friday are more stable and loyal throughout that same year.

The next graph tells the same story–a summary of all purchases within a year after Black Friday. In the 12th month we can learn which customers bought more in total: It’s clear that the gray column rises steadily above the others.


It all comes down to this assumption: Retailers should be aware that the customers they acquire during the festive season are less likely to come back again. Hence – they should try to put together a unique retention strategy to make sure they’re doing their best to win them back. Usually, during the holidays, CRM and retention get less attention, which is an odd reality considering existing clients spend more than newly acquired customers.

Friday the 1st

Another thing you can gather from the above graph is the difference between the appeal of BF and CM. Although it initially appears insignificant, you can draw a clear line between the two columns – the blue and orange. BF is consistently attracting more customers.

In the graph below, we can learn that Cyber Monday performed stronger in online shopping until 2015, and last year Black Friday improved significantly. We see that the number of customers compared to that same year’s averages has always been above 180% (since 2012), which means that on average there are at least 1.8 times more customers buying on both of these days.


So, what if a company has budget issues, and must decide where to direct their focus? Should they spend more resources on Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Maybe the following numbers can help make the right decision: The number of customers who purchased on BF is 3.23 times higher than that year’s average, while Cyber Monday has 2.68 more customers than the average. The number of items purchased on Black Friday is 4.85 times higher than the average, and the number of items purchased on Cyber Monday is similar – 4.81 times higher than the average. When we look at the order amount, Black Friday wins again, with 2.77 times the yearly average, while Cyber Monday has 1.77 times the average order amount for that year. All the numbers are shown in the graph below:

Without a doubt, Black Friday is commanding the stage. Smart marketers need to shift their focus and treat the holiday season as a complete circle, combining efforts throughout this two-month-period to achieve the most out of these unique opportunities. And after it’s over and you’re counting your revenues, that’s when the hard work really begins.

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