What 2018 Data from Black Friday Tells Us About 2019 | AppsFlyer
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What 2018 Data from Black Friday Tells Us About 2019

Jillian Gogel Jillian Gogel Oct 07, 2019





School breaks are coming to an end, employees are trickling back from vacations, and once again, especially as an eCommerce app marketer, it’s that time of year to start gearing up for the shopping-hungry Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday weekend. 

In 2018, mobile accounted for 67% of digital traffic and 49% of all online orders on Black Friday, according to Salesforce. Smartphone shopping also translated to $2.1 billion in sales, and 500,000 first-time installs for the top 10 apps, a 16.3% increase from 2017. Overall, the total number of new shopping app installs reached 1.8 million, growing 9% from the previous year. Needless to say, both the performance and profitability potential is massive and only going up.

In order to supercharge your marketing and beat the competition during the frenzied shopping weekend, we’ve taken a look at data insights from last year and pulled together the strongest tips from our recent guide, Mobile Attribution and Marketing Analytics for Shopping App Marketers. Let’s dive in.


Data learnings from Black Friday 2018

From a marketing perspective, while installs can’t be taken to the bank, the overwhelming growth we’ve seen year over year in non-organic activity contributes to profitability and cannot be ignored. This is especially true for countries we’ve analyzed here, which experienced a 40% uplift, at minimum, in share of paying users on Black Friday itself as compared to the previous 3 Fridays of the month. Take a look: 

  • Brazil is the worldwide leader, with 85% more installs overall than the other 4 countries included in our sample and the only country to experience 2x growth in organics from 2017. The country is also leading the pack with a 2.4x uplift in its share of paying non-organic users after a roughly 40% growth in paid installs. Clearly, the more marketers invest in paid media campaigns, the higher the revenue, and ROI, they will generate.
  • Interestingly, the share of non-organic paying users in the UK jumped a significant 38% on Black Friday despite virtually no investment in paid activity. The takeaway here is obvious: if marketers in the UK give an extra campaign push, both earlier than and on the day of Black Friday, they are likely to see a significant lift in the number of buyers. On the other hand, while the 57% increase in organic installs shows users’ willingness to download, it is important to ensure that any paid activity introduced does not cannibalize organic installs.
  • In the US, we can see that users have strong purchase intent, as the share of non-organic users becoming purchasing users has grown by 91%. However, just like in the UK, we see a low actual investment made in paid campaigns based on the amount of non-organic install growth. For this reason, it makes sense for marketers trying to enter or engage with the American market to dedicate more time and resources to paid media.
  • Overall, the holiday season is demanding, meaning marketers will face higher acquisition costs than in other seasons. The trade off for the larger investment, however, is that users during this time are highly valuable and are much more likely to make consistent paid conversions (for example, we see that nearly double the amount of US users converted last year).


Use of retargeting on Black Friday propels revenue uplift

The data clearly shows that apps running retargeting enjoy a significant revenue uplift on Black Friday compared to those that don’t. The gap was most pronounced in the US with a staggering 14x difference; Brazil experienced a nearly 2x difference and no less than a 450% revenue increase on Black Friday for apps running retargeting.


Black Friday best practices for shopping apps

Continuous data learning alone is not enough to keep marketers in the competition and help them engage with their highest value users. From choosing the right media sources to holiday personalization and messaging, there is much more you can and should do to prepare:    

  1. Day 7 and 30 cohort analysis. With pressure high in the eCommerce space, as well as demand for continuous optimization of their marketing spending, marketers should look back at their Day 7 and 30 cohort reports from last year to check the number of purchasers acquired 7 or 30 days after install, especially after the holidays. Use these reports to measure the effectiveness of any new media source.
  2. Budget for early campaigns. To take full advantage of shopping app demand and save more of your marketing budget, a significant portion of your ad spend should be designated for prime engagement time on Black Friday itself. However, be sure to also allocate resources to campaigns beginning several weeks earlier since, during this time, a) media costs are cheaper, b) there is ample opportunity for testing creatives, and c) marketers can get valuable insights for more effective re-engagement – via owned or paid channels – during the holidays themselves. 
  3. Media source selection. Your network choice will be affected by tech offerings, supported platforms, timeliness of conversions, and, of course, the holiday season. Shopping apps often increase their number of media sources during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday peaks to meet the heightened demand and aggressive campaigns. As a result, apps often acquire more high-value, shopping-hungry users who download, and convert, in-app. 

    Additionally, since it is common to shorten the event lookback window to 7-10 days, or as little as 1, during the holiday rush, good media sources should be able to work under high demand and deliver high-quality customers during this period. How can you decide exactly which to work with? Check out our comprehensive media source rankings in the AppsFlyer Performance Index.

    The AppsFlyer Performance Index for Shopping Apps

  4. Seasonal shopper audiences. Some of your users may only shop during holidays, given the increased availability of sales and incentives during that time. During your next holiday sale, focus retargeting efforts, using both paid and owned media, on seasonal-only shoppers and/or users that bought over the last holiday to convert them to regular engagement. 

  5. Personalize personalize personalize. It goes without saying during the biggest retail holiday event of the year, but personalization of your user’s experience should be a priority, both in and out of the app. Emphasize a contextually relevant onboarding process that encourages users to create a profile and set their own preferences, creating bespoke deals around these. 

    You can also use granular in-app event data to populate the home screen with discounted items similar to previously purchased brands or styles for greater upsell and cross-sell opportunities. On average, shopping apps measure more events than in other verticals, and rely heavily on them for both acquisition and retargeting. Learn more about the specific rich in-app events marketers should measure in our comprehensive shopping app analytics and measurement guide

  6. Web to app conversion. Your mobile app is the ultimate destination for demanding shoppers because of both the advanced data insights and impact on your brand it can provide. During the holiday rush, convert your existing web visitors to higher performing app users by offering discounts on products for in-app purchases or other relevant incentives. Ensure the user experience is seamless and contextually-consistent by using deep link-powered ads and smart banners. 
  7. Keep up with creatives. With users spending more time than average shopping on their mobile devices, app marketers should make extra effort to be prepared with a reserve of Black Friday creatives. This period is a good opportunity to experiment with, test, and adapt different concepts based on real-time data and at least double the variation of a normal campaign — it’s critical for standing out. Also, where relevant, consider gamification as a means to draw consumers in and keep them engaged. 

No matter what you choose to implement for your own app, one thing is certain: those marketers that begin preparing well in advance and particularly focus on three or four weeks before Black Friday for high-quality engagement are those that reap the biggest benefits. The holidays are hard work, but there is clearly much to enjoy if you do. For more best practice tips specifically for shopping apps, as well as a comprehensive look at all things mobile attribution and marketing analytics for year-round measurement accuracy, download our new guide: