Q4 and Cyber Weekend – Key learnings for 2021 success

With 2020’s increased demand for online shopping, expectations for Singles’ Day and Cyber Weekend were high, both for brands scouting ways to drive up sales and consumers hunting bargains. But what did we learn over November’s key trading days, and what can we take into last-minute Boxing Day planning, January sales and strategy for 2021?

Below is a round up of insights and learnings across the industry and a range of sectors, including wins for our clients and key takeaways for you to consider for future strategies. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch or reach out to your Silverbean account team.

Singles’ Day

Wednesday 11th November saw global shoppers spend their hard-earned cash right across the affiliate mix. So, what trends did we see?

The rise of cashback: Code redemptions saw a huge shift to cashback sites, which is a switch from the trends in previous years and is possibly due to consumers looking to spend more strategically, getting more bang for their buck.

Key verticals: Singles’ Day consumers predominantly shopped in the apparel and accessories category, with the vertical accounting for a huge 41% of orders globally.

Global behaviours: In the APAC region, 50% of all clicks took place on mobile, whereas 63% of orders were conducted on desktop/laptops.

Cyber Weekend

With clothing brands the big winners earlier in the month, could we expect the same popularity over Black Friday and Cyber Monday? In a word, yes.

Louise James, Silverbean’s global associate director, said: “This Cyber Weekend, more than ever, has seen a switch from spotlight to floodlight on our affiliate programs and it’s no surprise the channel has risen to the occasion. Particularly in the beauty and fashion industry, our clients are seeing record breaking revenue figures, overtaking other digital channels with never-before-seen performance rates.”

High performers: The fashion sector saw a 78% increase in sales YoY, but that was vastly overshadowed by beauty (130% increase) and home (117% increase).

Steady growth: Despite the huge YoY growth, neither of the top two verticals came as a surprise to team Silverbean. National lockdown in the UK and the impact of Covid overall had seen these sectors stand-out winners over the last nine months.

But which tactics performed particularly well over the bumper discount period?

Charity partners: For our beauty clients, investing in charity partner exposure provided the largest return on ad spend of any placements throughout the Black Friday period – a whopping 833% increase YoY.

Cyber Monday promos: We also saw many more brands setting Cyber Monday-only promotions to incentivise last minute purchases, compared to in 2019 where, generally, just one code/promotion was in place for the whole weekend.

Brand partnerships: Research from Impact showed Cyber Week revenue from partnerships grew despite Covid, which reflects the trends our clients witnessed, too.

Affiliate channel growth: Many brands saw the affiliate channel becoming a more dominant revenue-driver; in some cases overtaking the percentage of revenue contribution and return on investment from organic and email performance – definitely something to keep in mind when allocating budget between marketing channels next year!

Looking ahead

So, what are the key takeaways for brands? What can marketers do to take advantage of these consumer trends in both day-to-day tactics and in their long-term strategies?

Louise said: “The opportunity to analyse a vast amount of data from Singles’ Day and Cyber Weekend is there to be taken, whether that be to plan for next year or to decide what actions you need to take for a successful Winter Sale in the short term.

“Check the performance of your offers – this year in particular, you need to be aware of offer fatigue. Did one of your campaigns work amazingly well over Cyber Weekend? Brilliant – but try not to fully replicate it. Mix it up where you can to entice your audience.

“Use the data you have, specifically from Cyber Weekend and beyond, to plan what innovations you need to look into next year. Do you have a gap in tracking app purchases through your affiliate channel? Do you even HAVE the data you need to make any long term decisions and do you need to audit this as we move to 2021?

“The affiliate channel is about to have quite possibly it’s best “seat at the table” for budgets in 2021 – take all the learnings you can from this latter part of 2020 to ensure your program is ready to take that seat.”

Our key takeaways

Singles’ Day or Singles’ Week? If you’re not in the beauty, fashion or retail sectors, consider skipping the core Singles Day on 11th November itself. Instead, plan your offer in the surrounding days, so as not to get lost in the noise. For example, you could make the promo a week-long offer instead.

The > Customer > Journey. You should be reviewing multi-channel attribution to fully understand the consumer’s path to purchase and assign budget fairly next sale period and beyond. If your brand hasn’t implemented cross-device and app tracking yet, this is definitely one to add to your Christmas wishlist for 2021 in order to get as much of a holistic view as possible of behaviour and performance.

Get Creative with your code. Ensuring your offer is creatively-linked to the promotion (i.e. 11% off on 11.11) is a sure-fire way to increase CTR and pique the interest of savvy shoppers.

Taking your brand international. If launching in Europe is on the cards for 2021, Spain, Italy and Germany are the markets with some of the biggest year on year growth, but the Nordics saw sales grow by almost 50%, posting the biggest regional annual gain, as reported by Awin.com

And that’s your lot! Looking ahead to winter sales, the new year and beyond, make sure to use the data you already have to analyse what worked for your brand and what didn’t.

Now more than ever, we’re seeing affiliate marketing needing to be agile and flexible – so be prepared to change up your offers and roll with the trends to make the most of the channel. We’re always here if you’re looking to drive more performance from your affiliate and partner marketing strategy. Roll on 2021!