Mobile Marketing Insights

2023 Black Friday Cyber Monday Observations from a Text-Obsessed Millennial Working Parent

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Elyse Cress Tiffany
Senior Director, Customer Experience
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

After over a decade of working in mobile, I’m subscribed to countless text message programs for market research and competitive analysis, while of course following our Vibes customers’ programs.

This holiday season, I decided to try an experiment and not open or read any marketing texts after 10:00am on Cyber Monday. I usually click on and read texts pretty quickly, as messaging apps are so ingrained in our daily life, so this would challenge my need for clearing those unread notifications. By 8:30pm I had 96 unread texts (some brands sent two or three messages during that time). In total, I received 109 texts from 95 brands on Cyber Monday. This led me to further document and track text messages that I received from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving through Giving Tuesday.  

Keep reading for more on the industry categories, messaging content mix, themes from this year and opportunities as we look to the rest of holiday season and heading into 2024 (NOTE: results may be considered slightly biased based on my personal shopping habits - a lot of children’s and furniture brands as I’m a new parent and homeowner - with Vibes customers and some of our industry competitors sprinkled in).

Intentionality with days of send and the message content itself stands out.

Do-Rite Donuts sent an MMS on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving reminding subscribers to not show up empty-handed to their holiday gatherings. Bringing donuts could become a new family tradition of mine!

Little Sleepies and Caden Lane are both ecommerce brands that sell bamboo pajamas and other related products for babies and families. We are big fans of the quality of their products, and they each sent an interactive poll campaign to better understand what their consumers are shopping for. It caught my attention and got me to engage.

ELLOS made great use of emojis in their text messages – attention-grabbing and always relating to the content they were promoting. Emojis change the character limit of a message due to the special character set, so this is also a great use of long messages, which are supported with concatenation by the top three U.S. wireless carriers: AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon (95%+ of text subscribers).

Finally, Dunham’s Sports is a great example of a nice content mix. On Black Friday, they sent a long SMS with line breaks to help emphasize the call to action. That was followed by a holiday giveaway before the weekend ended, and a product-specific MMS on Tuesday. When looking back at each of them on a single phone screen, each of the messages are visually different which helps them stand out against the crowd.

There’s a delicate balance between clever and distracting.

Some brands like the one illustrated below sent multiple MMS messages with the same GIF content over the holiday weekend, which was distracting in the message thread and made me tune out.

Mixing up the content type between SMS and MMS is more likely to catch my eye, along with using line breaks and emoji to really draw attention to the call to action.

Record-breaking volumes of messages this holiday to date.

On average, I received almost 5 messages per brand over the seven-day holiday period, with one brand sending 14 messages during that time. Some brands pumped up the frequency for the holiday week while others stuck to their regular message cadence. For the fourth year in a row, Vibes customers sent more messages on Cyber Monday than Black Friday and that was equally represented in my personal experience as a consumer.

Children’s brands had the highest average message frequency over the Cyber Week, with an average of seven messages over seven days – one brand sent two to three messages each day to drive up that average. Food & beverage companies (QSR, casual dining, grocery, ecommerce gifting brands) had the lowest average message frequency and shouldn’t be overlooked during this peak shopping time.

Average number of messages sent Wednesday, 11/22/23 - Tuesday, 11/28/23

Influenced by AI, diversification in days and times of sends wins big.

I also observed more diversification in send days and times this year compared to last year, with messages shifting to days outside of the traditional Black Friday / Cyber Monday days and delivery of those messages spread out through the entire day - I looked at morning (8:00am - Noon), afternoon (Noon - 4:00pm), and evening (4:00pm - 8:00pm) windows and saw an even distribution of messages within each.

Based on our AI-driven Nexus engine that predicted higher engagement rates outside of these core days and morning-only send-time windows, we encouraged our customers to vary their SMS marketing message plans. The results proved that you don’t need to be the first to send only on Black Friday and Cyber Monday to see the strongest performance: Vibes customers saw an average 72% increase in click-through rates compared to 2022.

So what can we learn from this heading into the December holidays and planning for next year?

1. This isn’t just a retail holiday.

Restaurants and convenience stores should capitalize on the opportunity to “fuel” holiday shopping and charitable causes should message earlier than Giving Tuesday to capture the holiday gifting spirit.

2. Being intentional with what days you send your messages matters.

Our customers' click-through rates were in fact much higher on Saturday (9.54%) than on Black Friday (8.84%) and on Cyber Monday (8.84%) so their shift in their messaging traffic benefited them significantly.

Intentionally thinking just as much about October, November and December can be just as or more important than solely relying on Black Friday and Cyber Monday as the only days to drive strong sales.

Sending your text messages earlier in the season will help you properly target and personalize holiday content that gets you into the shopper’s consideration set sooner.

3. Be creative with your content.

Plan to diversify content that's different from that of your competitors to capture subscribers’ attention, whether it's what you focus on promoting or how you bring it to life. Use a blend of SMS, emojis, MMS and interactive response campaigns (like a text-to-vote campaign, for instance) for strong engagement and conversion.

When considering if you send an MMS vs. an SMS, here are a few ideas based on recent top-performing holiday MMS messages from Vibes customers:

  • Showcasing a preview of upcoming sales to help subscribers start preparing for the abundance of deals becoming available
  • Visually highlighting an added benefit that catches shoppers’ eyes, like Free Shipping on qualifying or all orders
  • Animating a gift guide preview that shuffles through the different gift guide categories

4. Use Mobile Wallet to make your most valuable messages even more effective.

eMarketer reported that Black Friday 2022 saw a double-digit increase in foot traffic to 73M shoppers. With predictions for 2023 indicating no signs of this slowing down, it’s evident that brick-and-mortar shopping is back in action.

In order to respond to this industry shift, along with the fact that consumers still demand convenience with their shopping experiences, using Mobile Wallet makes it easy for shoppers to redeem an offer, or earn points / redeem rewards if they’re part of your loyalty program. It’s no wonder why our customers who use SMS and Mobile Wallet together see 19x more revenue per message vs. using SMS alone.

Want to learn more about how mobile will be your most reliable, revenue-driving channel? Get in touch with us today to learn more about how you can use the power of the mobile channel to have a substantial competitive advantage during this holiday season and beyond.

Elyse Cress Tiffany
Senior Director, Customer Experience
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