If you’re in business, you need to know when to jump on a promotional opportunity around events that are designed to boost conversions — like Cyber Monday and the Christmas season. But which marketing techniques should you adopt to be successful during seasonal campaigns?

To help explore past successes in marketing and how you can boost sales this year, check out consumer behaviour data for Black Friday and Boxing Day over the years, first…

Sales and profits during Black Friday

Once solely for American consumers, Black Friday is now a popular promotional time for Brits, too. In 2010, Amazon introduced ‘Black Friday discounts’ to its British consumers, which then had a snowball effect. Now, most retailers around Britain battle for consumer attention — and whether they’re successful or not comes down to their advertising techniques.

In 2016, consumers spent £1.23 billion on Black Friday — a 12.2% rise on 2015

An advantage of Black Friday is that it’s proven popular and everyone seems to have heard of it. November is the new December! Consumers are looking for the best deals that will potentially go towards Christmas presents for loved ones — and that third cousin who buys for you, so you feel obliged to return the favour! Whatever the scenario, Black Friday has managed to market itself organically in the minds of British consumers.

So, is there any evidence to show that Black Friday is successful in the UK? In 2016, consumers spent £1.23 billion on Black Friday — a 12.2% rise on 2015 when £1.1 billion was spent on it. The day following saw shoppers spend £561m with sales that continued across the weekend. Sunday saw a higher result of spend in Britain, with consumers forking out £676m. Cyber Monday, which has close ties to Black Friday, saw £968m worth of shopping.

According to Ometria, the number of orders placed on Black Friday were up by 9% in 2016. Similarly, revenue increased by 10% for firms over the Black Friday weekend, which suggests that this is a great marketing opportunity. with regards to advertising, mass emails accounted for 50% more total revenue than usual.

How did big British brands fare in this period? John Lewis performed very well on Black Friday — sales increased by more than 7% to £214m. Products of the department store that sold well included beauty items — up 27.5% — electrical products — up 9.3% — and women’s fashion — up 8.3%.

Boxing Day sales

Traditionally, Boxing Day was the period that shoppers in the UK used to bag a few bargains. This is an event that happens across different British territories, too. However, many people believe that the introduction of Black Friday in the UK has had a detrimental impact on Boxing Day sales — is this true?

In 2016, nearly a quarter of shoppers went shopping on Boxing Day. Although this sounds positive from a business perspective, this figure has actually dropped from a third in 2015. Is it possible consumers already snapped up the best deals from the Black Friday sales that occurred a month earlier? The research shows that this was the likely cause. Boxing Day sales in 2016 had dipped by 6.7% on 2015’s results. This included clothing stores, which had a slight drop of 3.2%.

When is the best time to advertise and how?

Interestingly, how businesses market themselves on Black Friday appears different to how they do so on Boxing Day. So, how do you make sure you’re promoting yourself successfully? Firstly, it’s important to start with email marketing and communicating with your current newsletter subscribers first. They were kind enough to give you their details, now it’s your duty to give them a light and ‘exclusive’ reminder that your store will be providing sales on the corresponding date that you’re wanting to promote.

But a short and simple reminder may not be enough. Now, you must entice them by mentioning that you will release a discount code in the run up to the date — since they’re ‘exclusive members’ of your newsletter tribe! After you’ve sent your first, the news that your store will be offering discounts will travel through word of mouth and potentially get coverage from bloggers and seasonal discount posts by larger publications. We recommend that you start your email advertising at the beginning of November for Black Friday and mid-December for Boxing Day sales, which doesn’t give your consumers too much of a long wait. According to Custora, 25.1% of Black Friday sales originated from email marketing, showing that this is a beneficial way to influence an audience.

Email is a great way to make and maintain contact with customers. However, it’s not always as simple as hitting ‘send’. Make sure you schedule your emails to go out at an appropriate time for different time zones. This way, your message doesn’t end up at the bottom of somebody’s inbox. It’s also important to give a call-to-action — such as “Save the date!” or “Add this to your calendar”. Remember that you could create a segmentation for different customers, those who have been loyal and those who are relatively new — the same campaign targeting two types of people in different styles.

It seems that everyone is on Facebook and Twitter nowadays — so make sure your promotions are, too. With 2.07 billion of monthly active users on Facebook, 800 million on Instagram and 330 million monthly active users on Twitter — it would be a mistake to ignore the opportunity of a free platform that can reach millions of people. When it comes to advertising, start organically and reach your current followers. As the date comes closer, whether this is the 24th of November or 26th of December, start paid promotions to increase awareness for the deals that you have. Using influencers is another good way to get brand recognition, however, this is highly dependent on the type of industry you are operating in.

Once you begin advertising, people will become familiar with your brand and check out reviews. Online reputation becomes crucial at this point, as 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business and 88% of consumers trust online reviews as if they were coming from a friend. Essentially, you just need to remember to plan your promotional campaigns in advance so that you don’t miss a seasonal opportunity.

This article was researched and created by Cleveland College of Art and Design, which offers a range of courses, including an advertising design degree.


  1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/black-friday/0/when-did-black-friday-first-start-in-the-uk-and-how-has-it-chang/
  2. http://www.netimperative.com/2016/12/black-friday-uk-stats-12-increase-last-year-lower-forecast/
  3. http://www.mirror.co.uk/money/shopping-deals/boxing-day-sales-see-drop-9523742

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