Black Friday 2019: Digital marketing trends

Despite widespread predictions that Black Friday would disappoint – with 48% of UK consumers claiming they’re not interested in the shopping holiday or didn’t intend to buy – the Cyber Weekend period saw record sales once again.

According to Adobe’s Holiday Insights, US sales were up almost 20% year on year, with Black Friday bringing in $7.4bn in online sales, whilst Cyber Monday generated $9.4bn. A similar picture has emerged in the UK, with Barclaycard – which processes around £1 of every £3 spent in the UK – stating that transaction value was up 16.5% compared with last year. Many commentators have pointed to the fact that Black Friday this year fell on the 29th of the month – coinciding with payday for many workers and consequently benefitting retailers.

At Croud, our global retail clients saw an average 30% year-on-year uplift over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period (29th November – 2nd December 2019), proving there’s still value for retailers in jumping on the US tradition. But what drove this uplift, and what role did digital marketing play? In this blog, we take a look at some of the key digital marketing trends from Black Friday 2019 – and how retailers might consider building on these as the holiday season continues.

PPC costs and trends

We analysed cost-per-click (CPC) trends across our global retail client base to find out what the key shifts were compared with 2018. Overall, our clients saw the following:

  • Brand search: 24% increase in CPCs
  • Non-brand search: 5% decrease in CPCs
  • Shopping: 23% decrease in CPCs

The year-on-year reduction in Shopping CPCs is likely down to two key factors; namely, retailers utilising automated campaign types such as Smart Shopping, as well as making the most of CPC reductions at an auction level by using different CSS providers (such as Croud Commerce!).

When it comes to device split, our clients saw a higher proportion of shopping traffic coming through mobile this year, with retailers seeing higher engagement rates on mobile compared to desktop.

Black Friday 2019: Timeline of search trends

To avoid the pandemonium of high street shopping, more and more consumers are choosing to shop online during the Black Friday period, with 77% of UK shoppers stating this as their preference in advance. Using data from Google, we’ve taken a look at some of the key search trends as and when they happened in the lead up to this busy shopping weekend.

Interestingly, as the actual date of Black Friday changes each year, many people are unsure as to when the sales actually start. This is demonstrated by the 127% day-on-day increase in Black Friday-related queries on 21st November, with searches then subsequently slowing down again. Black Friday remarketing lists can be used to combat this, with a specific lookback window targeting this period. Countdown ads can also be used by retailers to build anticipation and draw attention to the dates of specific sales.

The timeline also shows that Black Friday is all about timing. Looking carefully at the search volumes throughout the day within specific verticals can massively impact the performance of your activity. Likewise, activity post-Black Friday is, of course, vital for retailers, with over 40% of us doing most of our shopping in December.

Social advertising trends

Our retail clients also saw great results with their social advertising this year. Despite CPMs across Facebook and Instagram being much higher this year compared with 2018 for the vast majority of retailers, click-through-rates (CTRs) were also greatly increased. As a result, overall user volumes were up considerably, and costs-per-acquisition were down – by as much as 300+% for some retailers.

Several of our retail clients started their promotions earlier this year, with the result that Black Friday outperformed Cyber Monday in many cases, with shoppers having made up their minds on their purchases in advance. With everyone from travel agents to dentists jumping on the Black Friday opportunity this year and awareness of the sales period sky high, it isn’t surprising that CTRs were up, with users actively clicking through to hunt down deals.

With the holiday season now in full swing, and plenty of Christmas shopping still to be done, now is the time for retailers to apply the lessons from Black Friday to their seasonal promotions and make the all-important run-up to Christmas and beyond really count.

If you’d like to find out more about how Croud can help with this, contact us.

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