Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2021: Data from 2,500+ eCommerce brands and $219m in revenue
The Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend is a crucial time of year for eCommerce businesses. It signals the start of the shopping season and is one of the most significant revenue-generating periods in the eCommerce calendar.
Across the BFCM weekend (November 26-29), businesses that use Wayflyer generated an incredible $219 million in revenue. And we decided to dive into the data and see what we can learn about eCommerce in 2021 and the trends that might shape 2022.
Here’s what we found.
BFCM 2021: 3 key takeaways and learnings
1. Facebook ROAS declined 38% year-on-year
Apple's iOS 14 update wreaked havoc for advertisers on Facebook and Instagram, causing a steep decline in ROAS. Before iOS14, advertisers had an average ROAS of 3.07 from Facebook ads in 2021; post iOS14, this dipped to 2.31.
And the average ROAS for Facebook ads across the week of BFCM 2021 was 2.49, down from 3.43 during BFCM week a year ago — a 38% decrease.
Note: All Facebook data was sourced using a 7-day click 1-day view attribution window. And when we refer to 'Facebook ads,' we're talking about ads managed through Facebook Ads Manager (including Instagram ads).
Despite this, eCommerce businesses spent 5% more on average on Facebook ads this Black Friday week than last year, and the average Facebook ad spend was up 90% the week of Black Friday, versus year-to-date pre-Black Friday week.
So ROAS on Facebook continued to worsen and was down significantly year-on-year across BFCM, yet spending on Facebook was up. This shows that eCommerce is still largely reliant on Facebook for growth, which could be a problem for your business.
If you're investing more money in advertising and your ROAS is down, this will have a knock-on impact as you'll likely have less cash on hand to buy inventory, and you'll be limited to how much you can invest in other areas of your business.
So maybe it’s time to take more of your budget to other advertising platforms? That question leads nicely on to our second takeaway from BFCM...
2. eCommerce businesses are investing more in Google ads
Though eCommerce businesses spent more money on Facebook ads over BFCM than last year, advertisers also appear to be looking outside Facebook for growth.
Ad spend on Google has gradually continued to gain market share over Facebook during 2021 — up 8% from early this year to the end of November, only slowing slightly during Back Friday week.
Before iOS14 was released (April 26th), 65% of budgets allocated to Facebook and Google ads went on Facebook. Since the update, that's dropped below 60%, and it hit a low of 56% before rising to 57% during the week of BFCM.
With advertisers seeing smaller returns on Facebook in 2021, ad budgets will likely continue to diversify during the holiday season and into 2022.
If you can identify some high-intent searches related to your business, Google Ads could be a great way to boost ROAS and become a little less reliant on Facebook.
Another channel you should consider is TikTok. Across BFCM, 15.3% of sessions generated from paid social channels came from TikTok, and we expect to see this number rise as more brands start to test out the platform's paid advertising capabilities.
3. It’s time to focus on building owned audiences
We found that fewer new customers are making purchases on Black Friday. In 2020, 60% of Black Friday purchases came from new customers, compared to 55% in 2021.
Coupled with lower ROAS, this could point to eCommerce businesses focusing more of their efforts (and budgets) on generating additional revenue from existing customers and putting slightly less emphasis on reaching new customers.
The drop in ROAS also highlights the importance of owning your audience and gathering first-party data throughout the year, ready to monetize in crucial moments like BFCM.
The two highest converting marketing channels during BFCM 2021 were email and SMS — both owned channels. And to hit your growth goals in 2022, you need to start building audiences you don’t constantly have to pay to reach.
If you're wholly reliant on advertising for growth, you're essentially building your house on someone else's land — and the rules can change at any time (as we've seen with iOS14).
As you finalize your 2022 plans, think about how you can capture more first-party data and build audiences you connect with at any moment. An email list is a must; SMS is a huge opportunity too.
To start building owned audiences, you should:
- Ensure you have email or SMS opt-ins displayed on your website
- Invest in SEO and content to build your organic traffic (and the number of people who will see your opt-ins)
- Test out offers and discounts for joining your list