BFCM 2023: An honest review

Who would have known that the shopping frenzy that went viral in the 80s with its controversial and even dark history would mean so much for e-commerce merchants nowadays? On average, Black Friday sales represent 15% of a Shopify store’s annual revenue, making it a pivotal moment in their business calendars. During the Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) week, Shopify stores often experience their highest sales days of the year and probably the most stressful ones. 

Black Friday and Cyber Monday presented unique challenges this year. Factors such as inflation, market saturation, and record-breaking consumer credit card debt had merchants standing on the edge of their laptops at the beginning of November.  And the results, well, they are mixed.  As is our tradition, we want to share our experiences and lessons from this year based on what we saw from our clients and other Shopify merchants.

The Numbers 🤓

  • From 35% to 45% of BFCM sales came from early access.

  • The Early Access launch day, actual Black Friday, and Cyber Monday are the most decisive days of the week. 

  • The slowest day is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

  • Thanksgiving shopping is a thing. 

  • CPMs increased to 59%, CPAs decreased by 32%, and ROAS increased by 30% during the BFCM Season. 

🈹 Stricter Discount Strategy. We saw excellent results in YOY growth for brands that have been stricter with their discount strategy throughout the year and less growth for merchants pushing an aggressive discount strategy to reach their goals in 2023. 

😅 Remember to warm up. We saw more growth in brands consistently scaling their ad spend throughout the year than those relying on Q4 to activate their paid strategy. Popping up in the Meta Ads Manager one month before black Friday won’t do the work, especially considering media costs are higher during these days.

🔽 Don’t do “Gray Friday”.  You either do a Black Friday Sale or you don’t.  It’s perfectly OK if part of your brand messaging is to avoid sales. A few brands were vocal about their Black Friday absence, explaining the why behind it.  This position is very coherent for sustainable and slow fashion brands. However, pushing your ever-existing clearance section as your BFCM deal won’t make it.

🏷️ Compare at price works.  It’s very convenient to create a discount code (manual or automatic) so customers can apply their discount at checkout.  But, we’ve repeatedly seen that adding a visual price comparison on the collection, product page, and ads generates better results. 

📧 Email is the BFCM Queen. On average, more than 50% of BFCM sales came from Klaviyo (Email Campaigns, Email Flows, and SMS). This week was showtime for Klaviyo, and thankfully, the app didn’t have any downtime like it had in previous years. 

🔄 Flows also matter.  Subtle timing and content tweaks on flows during BFCM resulted in increased revenue from flows compared to previous years. 

📬 Don’t be afraid to press send. Sending more campaigns does the trick. We saw brands sending campaigns every day and even two per day.  BFCM is that time of the year when you can get a little intense because the rewards are better than the potential negative consequences.  

📱 SMS pays off. From last year, we learned to avoid MMS during the peak sale days and send SMS only, and it paid off.  As with email and ads, warming those lists before Black Friday was vital. 

✉️ Plain Text Emails are sexy.  Getting a plain text email from a brand with a personal tone is a breath of fresh air in an inbox saturated by heavy promotional graphics, and the open rate, click rate, and RPR prove it. 

🏁 It Pays to Extend it. Extending the sale after Cyber Monday is a great way to finish the race. Targeting active and engaged customers who didn’t buy during BFCM with an initiative to personally shop and save has proven effective in increasing revenue.  

Black Friday is a lot easier when you've done months of audience buildingBrands that have maintained a steady approach throughout the year, scaling ad spend, nurturing their audience, and fine-tuning their strategies, enjoyed the rewards during BFCM. The lessons learned highlight the value of a long-term perspective in driving revenue.

While we've seen impressive results from various merchants, it's crucial not to get caught up in comparisons. Random dashboard screenshots may not reveal the full story, with factors like margins and marketing spend at play. Remember, the ROAS is always greener on the other side. Our final advice is to consider strategies to increase the LTV of the new customers acquired during this season and start planning your 2024 BFCM today. 

💡 And one more thing: Remember to Improve your email marketing sending reputation after the BFCM overuse. Focus on your engaged lists, watch your frequency, and work on your sending domain verification (more on this next week).

Apps we relied on

  • Shopify Flow: Create automated tasks in your Shopify backend. For example, tag Black Friday buyers to create strategic segments.

  • Easy Gift: App for auto add-to-cart automatic gifts at checkout.

  • Mail Timers: Countdown counters for Klaviyo Flows.

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