Black Friday 2016: How to shape…

Black Friday 2016: How to shape your digital marketing strategy

From a day that was almost non-existent 5 years ago, Black Friday has become a sensation in the UK. An approximate £1.1bn was spent in 2015, with more than £3.3bn collected over the weekend from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. As more retailers and consumers enter this shopping blitz in 2016, many are anticipating an even larger event, of up to £5bn in total spending across the five-day period.

A different story also unfolded in shopper behaviour last year. Gone were the queues and stampedes in-store, as consumers instead took to the internet to snag their deals and bargains. Connexity’s Hitwise data (which aggregates and anonymises online activity from over 3 million people in the UK), furthermore revealed that online trends and visit share rankings were shifting by the hour.

So, how can retailers best position themselves for this year’s Black Friday? What insights into shopper behaviour can help inform digital marketing and acquisition strategy? By accessing the data within the Hitwise platform, we can uncover some of these insights:

1. 8pm to 10pm are the golden hours for digital marketers in the lead up to Black Friday.

In the week leading up to Black Friday, retailers need to acutely align their digital advertising and communication to meet consumer demand. Using our hourly data from 2015, we saw that the volume of visits to retail sites rose from approximately 3pm onwards. However, it was the hours from 8pm to 10pm that the highest proportion of shoppers were recorded looking at retail sites online.

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2. Consumers are shopping online from 9am onwards on Black Friday.

The strategy to release flash deals on the hour, to keep shoppers glued to their devices, had worked for key retailers. In 2015’s Black Friday, a constant share of online visits to retail sites was noted from approximately 9am through to midnight (with at least 28 million online visits per hour!). To the detriment of sleep as well, consumers also stayed up late to snag the first deals. A 75% increase in daily visit share was recorded from midnight to 3am, when comparing these hours on Black Friday to the week’s average.

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3. Amazon’s dominance is undeniable on Black Friday, with a 35% visit share to the Shopping & Classifieds industry.

According to Amazon, more than 6 million products were ordered online during 2015’s Black Friday, which was an equivalent of around 70 products purchased per second (Source: Reuters, 2015). On the day, 35% of all visits to retail sites were made to Amazon alone, most of which came from the hours of midday onwards.

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4. Other key players are battling for online visibility, with visit rankings shifting per hour.  

In addition to Amazon, top retailers and e-commerce players – eBay, Argos, Tesco and John Lewis – rounded out the top 5 retail websites visited on 2015’s Black Friday. The share of online visits shifted by the hour, with Argos peaking in the early hours, followed by eBay increasing share towards the latter half of the day. Retailers therefore need to track their competitors on the hour, particularly the referring channels, in order to safeguard online visibility and visit traffic.

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Our data shows us that online visit share is critical and fiercely contested across every hour, over the Black Friday period. We therefore advocate a granular approach when managing the referring channels, such as email, display, PPC and programmatic, to reflect the rapid dynamics of this period. With greater insights into competitors and consumer behaviours, retailers are then able shape and optimise digital strategies for this coming retail event of the year.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Black Friday 2016 series, where we will look deeper into referring channels, such as search, email and social, and see where and when retailers can allocate spend most effectively.
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