At SAP Emarsys, we have two kinds of days: either it’s Black Friday, or it’s a day that we’re getting ready for Black Friday.
During the Black Friday–Cyber Monday weekend, the competition for consumer attention and dollars grows fierce. Each year, we see brands stepping up their games to send data-driven messages across email, mobile, SMS, in-app, and web… and each year, they do it at a more massive scale than ever before. That’s why we’re always putting our know-how into improving our infrastructure, channels, and features so that our clients can reach their customers with timely messages, especially during the peak shopping season.
Read on for insights about the trends in channel usage during the Black Friday-Cyber Monday extravaganza of shopping. Also, find out more about how to engage seasonal shoppers and develop loyalty that lasts long beyond their holiday purchase.
Delivering Omnichannel Engagement for the Black Friday Weekend
Marketers depend on their customer engagement solution to work hard for them every day of the year, but that’s especially true when Black Friday rolls around. Most retail brands depend on the holiday shopping season to meet their annual revenue goals.
At Emarsys, we know this can be a stressful time of year, and we work hard to make sure our omnichannel engagement platform is ready to deliver timely, personalized messages for you at exactly the right time, and at scale.
This year, over the Black Friday weekend (Friday November 24 through Monday November 27), SAP Emarsys saw a 9% year-over-year increase in customer engagements.
We track more than just these four days, of course, because activity increases well before Black Friday rolls around. This year, over a 10-day period during this critical shopping season, we sent the same number of messages that we sent in all of 2018!
Furthermore, over the Black Friday weekend, we reported 100% uptime with no incidents or experiences outside of SLA.
These achievements wouldn’t be possible without the ongoing, herculean efforts of our engineering team. They’ve been hard at work all year round, serving up new channels and features (including a hot new TikTok integration for digital ads in our October Release). Not only that, but throughout the holiday shopping season, they hold daily syncs to ensure solid alignment and communication.
Black Friday–Cyber Monday Customer Engagement
Each year, as marketers use the SAP Emarsys Customer Engagement platform to connect with holiday shoppers, we get a window of insight into current trends in channel usage.What’s changed? What channels are marketers leaning into? While email continues to far and away be the most-used channel, how are marketers blending other channels into their omnichannel mix?
Following are the year-over-year changes in channel volume:
- Overall Volume – 9% increase
- Email – 10% increase
- Push (mobile) – 10% decrease
- SMS – 35% increase
- In-App – 15% increase
- Web Push – 74% increase
- Web Channel – 28% decrease
The Breakdown: Exploring the Numbers and Trends
This year web push showed the most outstanding change in volume, with a 74% increase. As in previous years, SMS continues to be extremely popular during the hustle and bustle of the shopping season, with a 35% increase. Our most-used channel continues to be email (by a long shot), but this year it shows a more modest growth of 10%, along with the in-app channel with a 15% increase, suggesting a maturation of these channels. Meanwhile, mobile pushes and web channel were the only channels to decrease in volume, with 10% and 28% decreases, respectively.
Across the board, the volume changes for 2023 have been less than they were in 2022. The overall volume increase was 45% year-over-year in 2022, whereas this year saw a 9% increase.
Many factors are at play in today’s market, influencing both marketer and buyer behavior. Given the increases in cost of living, concerns about a resurgence in the pandemic, and ongoing conflicts, we speculate that the numbers reflect both marketers’ caution and their indomitable optimism. Marketers know how to read the room, but they are still forging ahead and reaching out to customers with personalized content, meeting their customers on the channels where they are.
Here are a few more channel insights, with an eye toward channel usage by day:
- While email saw its most notable surges in volume on the critical days (with the highest sending volumes on Black Friday and Cyber Monday), SMS saw its highest volume peaks on Thursday and Black Friday, with Friday being the highest peak.
- SMS, which continues to show strong growth year over year, did see decreases in year-over-year volume on Saturday and Monday.
- Web push surges started even earlier than SMS, with a noteworthy spike in volume on Wednesday November 22.
- Web channel, which saw a 28% decrease in year-over-year volume over the 4-day weekend, nonetheless saw small increases over normal day-to-day volumes.
- Whereas last year, marketers sent more in-app impressions over Saturday and Sunday (separately, not combined) than on Black Friday, this year the in-app channel reached its highest volume peak on Friday, with declines over the following three days.
This year, it would appear that marketers were keen to use an omnichannel strategy to get started early. Reaching customers on more expensive, yet high-value channels (like SMS and web push) earlier could very well be marketers’ strategy for staying top of mind to help drive engagement over the Black Friday–Cyber Monday weekend.
Furthermore, there was a 20% increase in the use of data-driven segmentation in the Emarsys Customer Engagement platform over the shopping holiday. Marketers recognize that they need to match their shoppers with relevant, personalized offers if they want to not only engage in this critical moment of the holiday shopping season, but continue to engage with brands in the long term.
Post-Holiday: Driving Long-Lasting Loyalty
The Black Friday-Cyber Monday excitement can often feel like a rollercoaster — brands see a sudden influx of customers seeking discounts and getting engaged, followed by a return to business as usual.
Do you have a plan for re-engaging these customers after the holidays?
We recently released our 2023 Customer Loyalty Index report, for which we asked 10,000+ general respondents in the US, UK, Australia, and Germany to share their thoughts about loyalty. Overall, we saw a downward trend in loyalty. While in 2022, 76% of global customers declared they were loyal to certain retailers, that same number is only 66% this year.
At the same time, the research reveals that incentivized loyalty (loyalty derived from discounts and rewards) is volatile. In 2022, 56% of customers said they are “more loyal to retailers that offer discounts, incentives, and rewards,” a notable increase from 45% in 2021. However, this year that same number sank back down to 48%.
The simple truth is that loyalty generated from incentives is fleeting. People who are looking for a quick discount can always look elsewhere. What those incentives do offer brands is an opportunity to develop inherent loyalty. As the 2023 Customer Loyalty Index describes, “Brands can benefit by using the window of opportunity that incentivized loyalty creates to convert these shoppers and lead them towards ‘true loyalty’ based on unshakable love for the brand.”
To keep holiday customers coming back for more, make sure your strategy centers around providing personalized, data-driven experiences, and find ways to gather data and create opportunities for future engagement.
“During the holidays, brands see so many new customers come through their doors. It’s the perfect time to introduce your loyalty program at every customer touch point. You can even offer bonus points with a first purchase. If you’re able to capture that new customer’s information, you can then use that information to bring that customer back. Using the information provided, points, or a ‘thank you’ gift, you can entice that customer to come back for that much-desired second purchase.”Erin Raese, Global SVP, GTM & Strategy, Annex Cloud
By engaging customers where they are, on the channels they prefer to use, and using segmentation and AI to deliver the messages they most want to see, you show that you understand and value them as individuals. For enduring loyalty, you need to build a personal, emotional connection between the consumer and your brand.
Learn more about the Customer Loyalty Index and our research-backed tips for increasing customer loyalty.
Black Friday Fun: On-Site Celebration with Arezzo&Co
We love taking opportunities to get to know our clients and how they use Emarsys to engage their customers. This year for Black Friday, our Marketing team and LATAM Commercial team partnered with Arezzo&Co, a women’s footwear brand that has been “an ally to Women of all generations for the last 50 years.” We got together with Arezzo (headquartered in Brazil and New York) to participate in Black Friday on-site celebrations. This included 500 Arezzo employees representing the Emarsys logo as their trusted partner on a T-shirt for Black Friday.
Looking sharp, Arezzo team!
We also took a little time to talk with Cleyton Soares, Director of Ecommerce at Arezzo, to find out how they’re using SAP Emarsys:
Final Thoughts: Black Friday Is Only the Beginning
As described at the start of this post, at Emarsys we’re either experiencing Black Friday or preparing for it. However, Black Friday is just one (1) day out of 365 days in the year.
The truth is, every time customers engage — whether they’re opening an email offer or exploring your app or getting a push reminder about an abandoned cart — every one of these moments impacts their relationship with your brand. It’s up to marketers to ensure that each engagement meets their satisfaction and their demand for personalized, relevant, and timely interactions.
At Emarsys, we’re proud to help make that possible through the use of omnichannel automations and AI, driving engagement both at peak times like Black Friday, and every day of the year.
One last thing: Emarsys is an SAP company, and we invite you to check out this article to learn more about SAP’s Black Friday 2023 and get even more insights about Emarsys and how we fit into the complete picture of SAP CX.
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