2021 Black Friday Predictions & Trends

In our third edition of the annual Black Friday & Cyber Monday Performance Marketing Report, we took a look at how eCommerce brands have performed over this pivotal time period every year from 2016 until now. And the results just might surprise you. In fact, Black Friday trends proved to outperform those of Cyber Monday for the first time last year. Check out the actionable insights below to help you craft high-converting holiday campaigns.

Why do we care so much about Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Why do we care so much about Black Friday & Cyber Monday? I think the answer here is clear. This is when most of our audience is looking to find deals for their holiday shopping—or even simply just on products they’ve been waiting to buy for themselves. And their popularity doesn’t seem to be fading as the years go on. As you can see from the graphic below, total page views on these days for our clients have essentially doubled since we began tracking metrics. This is a trend we expect to see continued into 2021 as shoppers continue to show reservations around in-person shopping. To prepare, make sure your site is fully optimized for this increase in traffic across both desktop and mobile. As many marketers know, page load times can drastically affect conversion rates so make sure your site is as prepared as possible for this.

How Black Friday and Cyber Monday Compare to the rest of the year

Big box retailers like Amazon and Walmart continue to push their deals earlier in the year, but that doesn’t mean that Black Friday & Cyber Monday aren’t still incredibly important for brands looking to meet and exceed their bottom line. While the holidays generally see an uptick in sales, many brands saw an especially massive jump in revenue in 2020. This is likely due to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19.

The graph below showcases the importance that these days hold for brands and their revenues. But don’t be deceived by it. It only looks like revenue is decreasing over time. In fact, the graph showcases the multiplier in revenue that these days see over the rest of the year. So, for example, in 2016 Cyber Monday saw an 8x increase in revenue compared to the average seen in every other day of the year besides Black Friday. And, likewise, Black Friday saw a 6x increase in revenue compared to the other 363 days. However, revenue since 2016 has still been steadily increasing year-over-year. Meaning retailers are seeing more and more money come in on each of these days.

This showcases that while revenues are rising, more and more marketers are using all of Q4 and beyond to reach their target customers—spreading out sales throughout more of the year. Due to the rise of the Delta variant don’t expect a jump quite as big this year, but do still expect sales to remain high if you’re employing an effective owned-marketing strategy as people stay a bit wary of in-store shopping.

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Increase in Conversions Over Time

Here is a great example that showcases the importance of Black Friday & Cyber Monday, especially during this uncertain time. While the graph above illustrates that the full year is gaining importance in eCommerce, this graph showcases how Black Friday & Cyber Monday are remaining pivotal times of the year as conversions over this time period continue to rise. We’re not sure what the catalyst for a drop in conversions was in 2017, but we’re pretty sure it was an outlier. Every year since then has grown in conversions. 2018 saw 13% more than 2017 and 2019 saw 6% more conversions than the already increased amount in 2018. As you can see, there was a spike in 2020. This is likely due to the fact that nearly every store pushed customers to conduct all of their holiday shopping online.

The Most Important Marketing Times of the Year

As we’ve stated, it’s pretty much collective knowledge that Black Friday & Cyber Monday weekend are one of, if not the, most popular times of the year for consumers to shop online. But we wanted to take this a step further and make it even more granular. We wanted to see when consumers were shopping online. So, we turned to our data and pulled the specific times of day that are most pivotal for marketers to engage with their target audiences.

We looked back at every single minute from the past five Black Friday & Cyber Monday weeks to determine which times of the day saw the most on-site engagement. From 2016 – 2020, nearly all of the 15 most active minutes in terms of onsite engagement occur over the same 3 hours. As you can see, 12:00pm – 3:30pm ET hits the sweet spot for brands. It’s critical for brands to get their marketing messages out to consumers during these times of high intent. Consider employing a text message marketing program to make sure that your customers see your messages and head to your site to make a purchase. What is also interesting to note is that the most traffic-heavy moments changes from year to year. While they were almost always clustered together on the same day, that day spanned from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. So, make sure you have your campaigns running across the entire week to capture as many members of your audience with your messaging as possible.

The Rise of Mobile Marketing

For a while now, industry experts have predicted that mobile will one day overtake desktop in terms of driving conversions for retailers across the industry. And it makes sense. The one thing almost all of us carry with us at all times is our smartphones. We’re glad to report that the day that mobile overtakes desktop has officially come. Looking at the graph below you can see that in 2016, desktop averaged over 63% of conversions across Cyber Week while mobile averaged less than 30% of the total amount. It was clear here that audiences were still much more comfortable making their purchases on their desktops. But as phones and mobile payment options have advanced, this has quickly changed in just a few short years. By 2020 that trend had shifted to Mobile averaging over 57% of total conversions throughout the week—while desktop averaged just under 41% of conversions seen. If you aren’t on mobile, you’re missing out. So what does this mean? Make sure your site is mobile optimized. It’s also incredibly important to make sure that you’re running text message marketing campaigns to engage with your audience on this highly profitable device. Look for a company that can help you personalize each of your texts to the individual person receiving them so that you can maximize the chance of convincing them to purchase products on your site.

Black Friday: The New King of eCommerce Sales

Brands have long considered Cyber Monday the most important date for driving online sales. But that’s old news. Especially with the rise of COVID. Black Friday is no longer exclusively intended for in-store purchases, and people certainly aren’t waking up at 4:00 in the morning to make sure they capture products before they become out of stock as they have in the past. In fact, since 2016 we’ve slowly seen consumers shift their shopping habits as Black Friday continued to gain ground on its more digitally well-known counterpart. The rise of COVID seems to have accelerated this trend. And, in 2020, we finally saw the first year ever where Black Friday drove more online conversions than Cyber Monday. We expect this trend to hang around through 2021. If you’re focusing your online deal communication blasts on Cyber Monday, extend them out throughout the entire week because the day after Thanksgiving will see an influx of shoppers online.

Ready to learn more about how you can accelerate the growth of your brand using your owned-channel marketing efforts throughout the holidays and beyond? Reach out to one of our experts today.


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Elliott Moore

Elliott is Wunderkind’s Senior Manager, Head of Content.