When it comes to driving revenue for brands, Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) have always been the biggest events of the year. This probably won’t change anytime soon, but the nuances of how and when consumers transact has evolved over the years and tells an interesting story for retailers. Let’s dig into some ‘hot off the press’, high-level stats.
Spoiler Alert: We have data-driven insights on how to drive urgency around holiday shipping deadlines!
The Forecasts Bet Against Consumer Sentiment
Nearly anyone who had their hands on historical shopper data forecasted slightly higher revenue for brands and retailers in 2023 versus 2022. This is interesting when juxtaposed with recent research showing consumer sentiment is actually in the dumps.
In fact, research from the University of Michigan indicated US consumer sentiment fell in November 2023 to a 61.3 rating, down 2.5 points from October 2023. That report further revealed that long-run business conditions dipped by 15%, which was their lowest level since July 2022. It also commented that younger and middle-aged consumers are showing deteriorating economic attitudes in November 2023.
Want another ugly stat? Respondents are expecting inflation to average 4.5% over the next 12 months and 3.2% in the next five years. Those specific sentiment figures are the highest reported from consumers since 2011. This solidifies that consumers, when they do spend, will be looking for the best deals they can get.
All in all, US consumer audiences were not showing signs that revenue would lift for BFCM, or really anytime in the near future. So with consumer sentiment in the can, what really happened to revenue over BFCM? Initial figures look pretty flat. Boring, right? Maybe not.
Let’s dive deeper into Cyber Week 2023’s performance and divulge how to make the next four weeks of the holiday shopping season your best yet.
What Are The Baseline Figures?
You can’t talk about trends and insights without having a benchmark to root your assessments in. You’ve probably already read a slew of other articles touting amazing results…most without any true baseline.
One such report was Shopify’s BFCM recap blog. It claimed a ‘record-high $9.3 billion in sales’ this year, but didn’t drill into a rise in revenue per client, or even any industry trends. We love Shopify, but we love in-the-weeds insights more than a dashboard tracking global spending or superfluous statistics that serve a single organization. It’s the niche insights that will help brands make the most of the next four weeks to close out the holiday strong.
So why should you listen to us? Each year, Wunderkind recognizes over 9 billion consumer devices (which is staggering since there are only roughly 4.6 billion consumers on the planet). This equates to trillions of events across tens of billions of browsing profiles, each with over 70 unique data points.
We not only have enough data to comment on BFCM, but enough to talk about revenue any day of the year. For visual context, the image below represents ONLY data collected in November 2023. Take a look.
Conversions Against Revenue
When looking at the volume of onsite conversions and revenue generated across our nearly 1,000 ecom clients, 2023 is eerily similar to 2022. The graph below shows the percentage of clients with a bigger holiday in terms of conversions and revenue.
Identity Is The Differentiator
The holy grail for a marketer during BFCM (and every other day of the year) is when a visitor makes a purchase every time they visit your site. But we all know that’s the smallest pile of transactions that make up your total revenue.
Most brands have far more visitors that browse and bounce than actually make a purchase every visit. You have to chase those visitors around the web-o-sphere to try and get them back to your virtual store time and time again. But knowing who actually visited is the fastest growing headache for brands, especially as third-party cookies will finally disappear by next year’s BFCM season. Plus, ads are expensive, right?
Identity resolution, and the ability to use it to intelligently trigger the best offer in real-time to a given visitor across multiple channels, is key to scaling revenue on your owned properties.
Identity resolution, and the ability to use it to intelligently trigger the best offer in real-time to a given visitor across multiple channels, is key to scaling revenue on your owned properties. This is what drives incredible revenue when it’s needed most, and at a fraction of the cost of splattering generic paid ads against third-party cookies. Data, context and AI—that’s what moved the needle for our clients, as you’ll see below.
Urgency Matters. The Peaks And Valleys Of Consumer Conversion This Week
In 2023, and across the entirety of Cyber Week, we saw brands touting discounts with deadlines. Nothing new there, but on the consumer side, the highest rates of transaction were happening near, or at, the finish line. This means conversion and revenue spiked near midnight on each day across the week, with a dramatic increase near late in the evening on Cyber Monday.
On turkey day it was clear that consumers started shopping early. Dropping roughly 35% between the midday peak at 12pm ET to the low point at 6:30pm ET, there was another steep incline in site visits and conversions between 6:30pm ET and 10:30pm ET (with a peak at about 9:45pm ET). The holiday ended for Wunderkind clients with over 200,000 unique conversions.
Black Friday started with a bang. By 12pm ET consumers had already doubled the volume of conversions from the previous day. The transactions held strong and steady all day, right up to the midnight bell, including small spikes at 11:50pm in each time zone across the US.
It’s clear consumers were aware of the triggered discounts they were receiving and any impending deadlines that expired at midnight. Brands that used those urgency tactics certainly saw revenue coming in all day, even up to the last minute. But this trend gets even more interesting on Cyber Monday.
Saturday and Sunday
Both Saturday and Sunday saw a drop from Black Friday traffic and conversions, but held strong and steady all day. Each day had roughly 50% more traffic than Thanksgiving day.
Saturday had more traffic and conversions from 12pm ET until about 3pm ET, when it slowly decreased until a small bump around 9pm ET. Sunday saw a slower roll out of traffic and conversions with a midday peak about 4pm ET and a slightly larger increase around 9pm ET. Evening shopping held strong all week with 9pm ET looking like a good time to cash in on those offers.
Cyber Monday rolled out similarly to Black Friday, but at roughly 90% of the volume until 6:30pm ET. At this time there was a dramatic lift in site conversions that peaked at 10:30pm ET. It slowly declined as midnight neared—the cut off for many discounts—but ratcheted back up within the 10 minutes from 11:50pm to midnight in each time zone.
The scale of last minute conversions on Cyber Monday was a clear indicator that, as mentioned earlier, consumers are looking for the best price and making game-time decisions.
Mobile Versus Desktop
It’s clear that mobile is still a major player. The pandemic changed the door buster brawls of yesteryear, but don’t count out desktop when it comes to revenue.
All in all, mobile dominates website visits all week with an average of 76.6%. Mobile also dominates conversions at 66% and revenue at 61%. Desktop peaks count for 46% of conversions and 46% of revenue, both achieved on turkey day.
So How Do You Convert Over The Next 4 Weeks?
What’s a marketer to do for the rest of the holiday season? Here’s the one takeaway you can act on starting tomorrow: Double down on urgency in your offers. Give that offer or discount a deadline—and hammer it home. Shipping deadlines are the next tool you have to create urgency and FOMO. Use those dates as a catalyst to get that sale booked fast.
All bets are off when it comes to winning those holiday sales from your competitors. If that means triggering emails later in the day up against key deadlines, do it. Consumers are shopping starting at lunchtime and many come back to beat those midnight deadlines. Craft your offering accordingly and set your triggers to make sure they know when that deal vanishes.
Shipping usually has several deadlines, depending on the level of delivery service. Consider staggering out offers according to those deadlines. For long-term success, make sure to invest in the best identity partner on the market. Check out this 34 second video of Rachel Waldstein, Senior Director of Customer Lifetime Value at Wolverine Worldwide, explaining how Wunderkind’s identity network increased the brand’s email send volume capability by 300% over Bluecore and is now responsible for nearly 20% of total site revenue. Or watch Joe Anhalt, VP of Marketing at Koio, explain how they ran back to Wunderkind after testing Attentive and seeing a massive drop.