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Awaited and Expected: Examining the Influence of Black Friday Campaigns

Happy Thanksgiving, and happy holiday shopping season. If your brand really wants to go 'into the black' and have its share of the $11.8bn extravaganza, your campaigns should revamp accordingly. An Optimove research reveals how effective they can be during this time of year

Happy holidays y’all! It’s that special time of year again: Thanksgiving with all the family gathered around, that cozy feeling of home, the Lions losing on TV, the smell of the turkey cooking, the classic stuffing and perfect gravy, the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. Oops, this isn’t a food blog. Though we’d really like to write one.

Immediately following Thanksgiving is one of the most anticipated shopping days of the year,  Black Friday. Black, as it’s called because retail companies finally go “into the black” – making a profit after sitting “in the red” for much of the rest of the year. Or maybe it’s called black for the dreariness of the unbearable lines in stores and the packed parking lots. So, as always, we find comfort in the warmth of our computer and mobile phone. This year, shoppers are predicted to spend $1.7B online on Black Friday alone, up 12% compared to last year. Market research firm Globaldata expects combined in-store and online receipts will add up to $11.8B across this whole Black Friday week.

Response Rates

We looked at the effectiveness of Black Friday campaigns, to see how customers reacted and what uplift these offers generated on a day where everyone is outside (or inside) doing some shopping. This research was conducted using three retail companies who executed various Black Friday campaigns last year, with overall of 56M customers. Here are our findings:

* First, the research shows that Black Friday campaigns do affect customers. These campaigns involved a test group and a control group (At Optimove, we treat every campaign as a marketing experiment. This allows us to obtain an accurate understanding of the campaign’s actual success). After sending a campaign, the success is measured by the response of the test group compared to the control. In this case, all brands showed a statistically significant difference between the test and control in terms of order amount. This means that regardless of the mass purchases during BF and the natural lift in the number of orders, companies should send campaigns promoting Black Friday, as it can increase these numbers even more.

Where are the numbers? The average difference between the control group’s response rate and the test’s response rate was 32% higher in favor of the test group – meaning that 32% of the customers who got the campaign and purchased during BF would not have done so without receiving it.

Order Amounts

As to the average order amount, we don’t see a statistically significant difference between the test and control in most campaigns, but we do see higher order values for the test groups. In this case, the promotions/discount might be a game changer in order to increase the order amount. We can now say it’s probably easier to affect the responder rates – the numbers of customer who will make a purchase than the order value.

Campaigns Timing

You know timing is everything. It applies here as well. Campaigns sent on Black Friday (11/24/2017) had the highest response rate. As many companies keep their sales up and running during the weekend, the campaigns sent during the weekend were less effective. For example, one company had only two campaigns sent to a large group of customers – one on Nov 24th and one on Nov 25th. In both cases, the control group had a 15% response rate. The test group, however, had 23% response rate on BF and only 19% response rate the day after. Both campaigns uplifts were statistically significant, but the one sent on BF performed better.

And a Tip for Next Year

Your customers will receive dozens of emails during this period, especially on Black Friday and during the following weekend, including Cyber Monday. How can one company stand out from the crowd? Easily. Like the early birds, beat the rest to the punch and send out promotions 2-3 days, or even more, before Black Friday. One of the companies we included in the research sent out campaigns way before Black Friday, and we saw significant positive results on many of their campaigns.

Think about your customers receiving a “Black Friday sale starts now! Don’t miss out” email or “Hurry up while your dream dress is still in stock” push notification. The best case scenario is an immediate purchase, and the “OK” scenario is putting the thought of your brand on their mind, so send another reminder when holiday shopping is officially on.

Your holiday marketing strategy should be clear far before November arrives, and your campaigns for that season should be up and running for days before Black Friday. More and more companies stretch this holiday period over more days, offering discounts and sending campaigns, kicking off the holiday trading season much sooner, striking the iron while it’s hot to generate revenue.

Remember, shoppers who make their first purchase from a brand over the discounting season, are 19% less likely to return to make a second purchase. Think about Black Friday and Cyber Monday as the starting point for your relationship with many new customers. Retain a long-term mindset when finalizing your discounting strategy and use a data-driven approach to foster long-term relationships with your new customers.

Check out these 8 quick holiday marketing tips to boost your retention strategy

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Omer Liss

Omer Liss is Optimove's Director of Strategic Services, helping CRM executives of top online entertainment and e-commerce businesses optimize their customer retention strategy. Omer has vast experience consulting clients, analyzing their customer data and revealing actionable, data-driven marketing insights. Omer holds a BSc in Industrial Engineering and Management, specializing in Information Systems.

Maya Shaanan

Maya is a data scientist, serving on Optimove's Strategic Services team. Maya excels at identifying valuable trends and insights through the analysis of customer and campaign data for retail and gaming clients.