Black Friday keeps driving mobile sales and user engagement

In 2020, Shopping app sessions grew 23% YoYcompared to other Black Friday weekends of years past, this shows this shopping season keeps gaining traction.



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Why we think Black Friday 2021s growth will exceed Black Friday 2020

The top 10 most downloaded shopping apps of 2020 in the US collectively saw daily active users increase by 14.5% YoY in Q3 2021. Thats 14.5% more shoppers heading into Q4 2021 Black Friday season ​​

This category has seen different players enter the mobile shopping space. For example, SHEIN, one of the top shopping apps right now both in the US and at a global level, has continued to attract new users through social media channels like TikTok and YouTube, where influencers are making their SHEIN hauls go viral. This quarter, Q3 2021 (right before the holiday season!), SHEIN doubled its U.S. downloads YoY (+100% YoY), and almost doubled its daily active users in the U.S. (+90.6% YoY).

But its not just ecommerce platforms! This quarter (Q3 2021), the package tracking app Shop, one of the top 10 Shopping apps in the US, increased US app sessions by 14%, US downloads by 9%, and US Daily Active Users (DAUs) by 15% YoY ​​

In this post, well cover:

· When should app marketers start running Black Friday campaigns considering eCPM trends

· Black Friday Ad Strategy, step by step

· 5 recommendations to ramp up your Black Friday mobile sales


When should you start running your Black Friday campaigns?

Although the official Black Friday date for 2021 is November 26, its important to start testing and scaling in advance. Here are some considerations app marketers should take into account before planning their growth strategy:

· Its not just a 24-hour event: Combined with its sister holiday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas, these dates make up a month-long shopping eventand in some markets, its even longer.

· User interest starts early: Black Friday has become a date users know and look out for. Many customers often start scanning products and browsing for deals as early as October!

· Campaigns kick-off before the big day: In line with the previous point, themed ads usually start running ahead of Black Friday to build up hype. Given the increasing amount of brands that participate and will be flooding users with content, marketers start planning, testing, and optimizing in advance to make sure ads really stand out.

· CPMs will be higher: Higher competition leads to higher costsbut its worth it: app usage and in-app purchases are also higher.


While the cost of traffic usually spikes on the actual Black Friday day, this upward trend starts weeks before and remains high until the end of the December festive season. 

Last year in the US, the rise in CPM started at the beginning of November and dramatically grew by over 31% in the 3 weeks prior to Black Friday. In other markets like Brazil, where Black Friday campaigns kick-off even earlier, the costs increased gradually, with the CPM rise starting in October.


Black Friday Ad Strategy step by step

Stage 1: Before Black Friday

1-2 months prior
In the months leading up to Black Friday, focus on acquiring new users and driving brand awareness to build up your audiences interest. The goal is to get your users hyped about your products and looking to see your upcoming Black Friday deals. Therefore, when the date arrives, they will be ready (and eager) to purchase.

The week before
What products will get special discounts? Is your brand offering free shipping? Feature and test different copy options to keep potential customers updated.

: test different ad formats before CPMs start to rise. When Black Friday is just around the corner, you want to make sure youre running the creative formats that drive the most conversions.

Stage 2: During Black Friday

· Showcase your deals:  Leverage dynamic ads to display and test a variety of creative concepts for all your deals. Building different variations of your Black Friday creatives showing different visuals, products, and promos will make it easier to run A/B tests on an apples-to-apples basis.

Here are some examples you should be testing:

Visual elements:

  • Product vs Person using product
  • Product vs In-app screen


Copy & Keywords: Select 2-3 keywords to test: if you can test promotions already, try X% off vs free shipping

· Feature all your products: use Dynamic Products Ads (DPA) to showcase the products that users have previously purchased or demonstrated interest in. This format helps you drive granularity at scale: plugged directly into the apps product feed or catalog, DPAs can automatically create multiple ad variations for each item or service. This saves marketers the hassle of having to manually build an ad for each Black Friday promo.

· Update products and prices in real time: one of the biggest challenges when running limited-time offers is matching demand and supply: lets say users click on an ad for a product theyre interested in only to find the product is no longer availableall those in-app purchases would be a missed opportunity. With DPA, app marketers get to keep their ads updated at all times to showcase only the deals and products that are still available on the app.

Stage 3: When Black Friday is over
If you got new users during Black Friday, now is the time to retain and re-engage them. Leverage App Retargeting to offer incentives and/or timely reminders regarding items left on the wishlist, new available products, or upcoming special dates.


5 recommendations to ramp up your Black Friday mobile sales

#1 Start running your app marketing campaign in advance
Black Friday happens just once a year, so make the most of it by building brand awareness and testing for top-performing formats early on. Running themed ads during the 24hs of this event can help, but it isnt enough when all the top players are fighting for usersattention.

#2 Test different creative tools and variations
Try different tools and testing technology for your ads. Does your audience engage more with their favorite products or with special deals? Which keywords drive more clicks? Shipping? Wishlist? Cart? Which images resonate with your audience? Test all these elements in advance, collect performance insights, and put them into practice to create the most engaging Black Friday ads and drive more in-app purchases.

#3 Adopt your budget for the Black Friday scenario
While inventory is more expensive around this date, so are the returns. As users start browsing for upcoming deals before the actual Black Friday day, app marketers looking to further gain scale should make sure to match the growth in search and traffic by adjusting their campaign budget.

#4 Keep your mobile ads updated
Build a new ad set in advance to avoid exposing users to outdated deals once Black Friday is over. Keep in mind that Cyber Monday and Christmas will be up next, so make sure to create mobile ads that show your new promos. You can apply all the learnings you collected in the previous stages to keep users active and engaged.

#5 Measure success
For advertisers testing multiple growth strategies, its key to understand which channels are truly making an impact. By working with partners that can track incrementality, app marketers can assess whether their mobile marketing campaign is generating conversions that wouldnt have happened otherwise.

There are different methodologies to measure incremental in-app purchases, but not all of them bring the same benefits to the table. The right incrementality solution should be:

· Always-on: running on an ongoing basis, without having to pause or disrupt your campaign to see the results of the rest.

· Cost-efficient: leverage the power of synthetic impressions and ghost bids instead of showing "placebo ads" or PSA, which require an additional financial investment

  

Wrapping up

Black Friday is not a one-day-only event, its a month-long opportunity to attract new customers and in-app sales. This 2021 season, make sure to plan your strategy in advance and ramp up your app marketing campaign at an early stage, when users start browsing for deals.

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