Hannah Stewart
Hannah Stewart | December 10, 2015
Head of Marketing at Yieldify.
Workflow junkie. More pasta than person.

We’ve taken our stats from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, compared them to last year and given you a few predictions of how e-commerce trends could shape up this Christmas.

Who else is glad Black Friday is over?

I know, I know. It’s a great time for e-commerce stores in terms of profits, but it doesn’t have put a lot of stress on e-commerce and marketing managers.

The good news is, it’s over. You should be counting the pennies from your Black Friday campaign and thanking the gods you made it through in one piece. The bad news? Well, we’re already running headlong into the next hectic shopping period.

Christmas is just around the corner and whilst we can guess at how things are going to turn out, no one really knows for certain how shoppers are going to react this year – or do they?

In an effort to better guess the impending behaviours of the Christmas shopper we pulled up some of the stats from our Black Friday campaigns in 2014 and 2015. Comparing the two has given some interesting insights into the developing behaviours of online consumers and should help better tailor your campaigns for the maximum effect this year.

Impressions

Let’s first take a look at the impressions for campaigns displayed using the Yieldify service. The below pie charts outline the percentage of impressions divided by day. These graphs display the week immediately preceding Black Friday indicating the level of interest consumers have in the pre-sale period. Here are 2014’s statistics:

2014 stats

As you can see the actual day of the sale was by far the highest performer in terms of impressions. No surprise there. There was a steady increase in interest throughout the week. A logical assumption would attribute this increase to last-minute research.

It seems despite the number of early Black Friday promotional campaigns, many consumers in 2014 still cut it fine to get their research done. So how did the week in the lead up to 2015 differ?

2015 stats

There’s a much steadier gain in interest through the week, Wednesday was the low point but not by much. The more even spread demonstrates shoppers having a greater advanced awareness of sales. You could attribute this to either an increase in sales promotional skills from marketers or a keener interest from shoppers. Perhaps even a combination of the two.

So that’s the run-up period, but how do things stack up during the primary sale period between Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Once again here’s 2014’s stats:

2014 stats

Black Friday is the clear winner here. Interestingly Cyber Monday was not the second most popular day, that title goes to the Sunday immediately preceding it. Also worthy of note is the Saturday situated between these two top performers. It has the lowest number of impressions and is even beaten by the Thursday that precedes the start of the sale period. Now on to 2015:

2015 Black Friday

2015 Black Friday

The first apparent difference is the sheer number of impressions in 2015. It’s not apparent in these graphs but when everything’s added together the sale period between Black Friday and Cyber Monday received nearly three times as many impressions in 2015 than in 2014.  That’s a huge increase.

One other major difference is the order of popularity. Cyber Monday has taken the place many would assume it would fall into. Saturday and Sunday – despite also often having sales and being non-working days for many – surprisingly came in at last position here.

There is, however, a much smaller margin between each of the days in 2015. As with the run-up period, there’s a far more consistent level of interest from consumers.

Sales numbers

Here’s what we’re all really interested in. The number of sales made! Without further ado, let’s have a look at the sales made between both 2014 and 2015 and see what patterns we can see.

We’re ignoring the sales in the run-up to the start of the sales as there’s nothing really surprising or worthy of note there. As you can imagine there’s a steady level of sales Monday through Thursday with a huge increase on Black Friday. But what about the actual sale period? Here’s 2014.

No surprises on the top two days for sales. Black Friday has it by a large percentage with Cyber Monday beating out the rest of the period.

What is surprising is the difference between impressions and sales in 2014. There’s a completely different order for sales than impressions. Despite many sales running for the entire period, consumers still favoured purchasing on the two days the overall sale period is named after.

Cyber Monday may have had fewer impressions but it’s won out on sales. An indication that Cyber Monday shoppers are fewer in number, but more committed to making a purchase. Is 2015 any different?

Again the biggest difference is the overall increase in sales.

The popularity of days for purchases is the same across both years. However, the actual percentages are again more stable in 2015 indicating a more consistent desire to purchase. Just like 2014, there’s a difference in the order between impressions and purchases. Friday and Monday are the clear winners in terms of sales despite the Monday having fewer impressions.

Perhaps that says something about the marketing of the period. Having all sales fall under the general ad banner of Black Friday or Cyber Monday likely leads customers to believe they’re the only day sales are active.

Something to consider for next year’s promotional campaigns.

What does it all mean?

There are differences between the two years, but also a striking number of similarities.

The biggest difference is, of course, the sheer number of people turning to e-commerce to complete their shopping.

This isn’t a surprise to most. There’s been a steady trend of increase in the use of e-commerce over the last few years. Every year sees an increase in online shopping and 2015 was no different.

Custora reports this year’s Black Friday sales levels are 16.1% higher than those in 2014. 2015 also saw more online shoppers than those using a good old fashioned brick and mortar store according to the National Retail Federation.

But as we’ve said, this isn’t a surprise to most. What’s arguably more interesting is the behaviour of these consumers. Online shopping numbers are increasing, yet there’s little difference in the day customers perceive to be the best for both shopping and browsing.

There is a difference in how their behaviour is spread, but there’s still a clear pattern of favouritism outlining their general behaviour. 2015 saw more people spread their activities across the wholesale period which is perhaps an indication of a shift in mindset from a Black Friday sales day to something resembling a four-day sales event.

What does this mean for Christmas 2015?

We can’t say with any real level of confidence what’s going to happen over the Christmas period this year.

However, we can hazard an educated guess based on the statistics and growth in online behaviour over the last year. If these statistics are anything to go by then there’s a good chance this year’s Christmas period will see:

  • A greater number of online sales.
  • A similar importance in the days with the highest number of sales.
  • A greater spread of interest from single Christmas sales days to Christmas sales periods.
  • Despite your best efforts at creating an early sales opportunity the majority of users will wait until the last minute.

For an effective Christmas campaign, we’d recommend tailoring your campaign to focus on the biggest sales days of last year. You’ll likely see a more consistent interest across the period so you’re going to need to keep your promotional campaign consistent.

For those worrying, we’re a little too close to the day to make a difference, rest easy knowing that a large number of people will neglect taking action until the last minute. It’s never too late to start.

If you’re worrying over your Christmas campaign and would like some help properly optimising for the highest conversions possible, get in touch!