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The Black Friday debrief 2023

Now that Black Friday 2023 has come to an end, it’s time to run the numbers.
The Black Friday debrief 2023

Black Friday and the following holiday season are pivotal for retailers and ecommerce brands. Each year brings with it new challenges. Navigating these challenges determines your success over the shopping weekend.

This year’s Black Friday was influenced by a range of economic factors and channel developments, which emphasizes how essential it is to be aware of the evolving landscape. These factors included:

  • High interest rates: As shoppers face financial pressures that impact their spending habits, you need to adapt to these challenges and recognize the increasing popularity of buy now, pay later (BNPL) and loyalty rewards options.
  • Heavy discounting: Throughout the year, brands have adopted a more aggressive discount strategy than ever before. Encouraging customers to shop when they have already enjoyed many sales this year is a significant challenge.
  • The Apple impact: Seasonal email marketing is now even more complicated thanks to Apple’s Mail Privacy Policy (MPP) and Link Tracking Protection (LTP). Not only does it make targeting more challenging, it makes measuring the success of your campaigns harder.
  • The fifth quarter’: Post-holiday promotions and seasonal clearances are more significant now as budget-conscious consumers seek deals and redeem holiday gift cards. This new ‘fifth quarter’ is another important avenue to capture additional sales.

With all that in mind, let’s explore some of the top trends we saw this year, dive into the numbers, and see what we can take away from the sales this year.

1. The extended shopping period

The most prominent trend in 2023 was the extension of Black Friday deals. In the past couple of years we’ve seen a gradual extension beyond the traditional 24-hour sale window. But this year, even we were surprised to see brands beginning their Black Friday sales on November 1. Even more so that they continued them to the end of the month, six days after Black Friday.

Early access to sales is a tactic we promote to foster loyalty and engagement among your existing customers, but did brands go too early?

Normally, early access gives customers ample opportunity to peruse and plan their shopping activities. However, going too early can have the opposite effect. Rather than inspiring spontaneous action with limited-time offers, an extended sales period gives customers the time to talk themselves out of making a purchase.

Overall, Dotdigital experienced a 6% increase in emails sent over the whole month of November compared to 2022. Black Friday itself saw an 8% increase in email sends and the weekend as a whole increased by 2.5%.

2. Black Friday sales figures are strong

Merchants across the globe enjoyed all-round growth over Black Friday weekend, generating an 8.5% increase in revenue. This is an incredible feat, and during a time of financial uncertainty is something to be celebrated. Congratulations to all our ecommerce merchants who created engaging marketing campaigns that appeal to today’s savvy shoppers.

It’s even more impressive when we compared it to results reported by Barclays Bank which noted that transactions were down 0.63% compared to BFCM 2022. The same report also cited that the number of shoppers had fallen by 1.6%.

Revenue yoy growth over Black Friday 2023

3. Email engagement increases

With shoppers looking for a great deal over Black Friday weekend, it’s no surprise that people of engaging with your marketing emails over this period. There has, however, been a lot of talk and speculation about Black Friday fatigue.

Customers are bored of getting the same messages over and over again (especially if you’re running your sales for a whole month). But, looking at the numbers, this doesn’t appear to be the case.

This year there was a marked increase in unique email open rates. Up by 11%, it’s clear that shoppers spent Black Friday 2023 perusing their inboxes looking for the best deal. The average open rate throughout the sales period, from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, was an incredible 31%.
In contrast, we did note a decline in click-through rates, down 13% to 3.6%. Don’t worry, though. 2023 saw the launch of another privacy update from Apple, also known as Link Tracking Protection. While its impact on Dotdigital users is minimal, it’s important to be aware of it as you report on your 2023 Black Friday results.

4. Abandoned carts drive sales across the line

It comes as no surprise to us at Dotdigital that merchants are increasingly adopting abandoned cart programs. After all, a personalized abandoned cart campaign can increase sales by 31% and average order value by 16%.

Over Black Friday, we saw a 47% increase in the number of cart abandonment emails being delivered compared to 2022. This growth can be attributed to increased awareness among merchants about the benefits of implementing this automation program, as well as the continual improvements in Dotdigital that make it easier than ever to deploy personalized campaigns in real-time.

In the US, this marked increase in abandoned cart sends generated a 28% increase in revenue. This further emphasizes the cost-efficiency and effectiveness of this strategy. Brands that embrace abandoned cart automation are not only recovering potentially lost sales but are also experiencing a positive impact on their bottom line by boosting customer lifetime value and fostering stronger customer relationships.

5. SMS is an action-packed channel

SMS sends increased 19% month-on-month, indicating that early adopters are really beginning to understand the channel.

Text message marketing is a strategy designed to cut through the noise. There isn’t a noisier time of year than Black Friday and the ensuing holiday season. The uplift in SMS sends over the whole month of November is a clear indication that marketers see significant benefit from adding SMS to their marketing strategy.

There was a significant increase in the number of brands offering new subscribers discounts when they signed up for SMS. It’s a brilliantly smart tactic. SMS messages are fast to build and concise, perfect for communicating flash sales and exclusive discounts to loyal customers. Plus, offering discounts at the point of sign-up is a strong list-building tactic, encouraging shoppers to turn to SMS as a form of communicating with their favorite brands

What can we learn from Black Friday 2023?

Despite an extended shopping period and potential customer fatigue, merchants still experienced impressive sales figures, increased email engagement, and reaped the benefits of implementing effective cart abandonment programs this Black Friday.

As competition to capture customers’ attention intensifies each year, brands should focus on crafting innovative campaigns that stand out from the crowd and appeal to increasingly savvy shoppers. Real-time, moments-based marketing, like cart abandonment campaigns, is vital during these busy periods. The significant value of this approach is already evident, with increased revenue generated from these campaigns during Black Friday.

Black Friday 2023 has re-emphasized the need for brands to be proactive and adaptable, leveraging the power of personalization and real-time marketing strategies to maximize customer engagement and drive sales. By focusing on the whole customer experience, and paying close attention to consumer behavior and trends, you will be better equipped to create compelling campaigns.

Black Friday 2023 in numbers

  • Global email sends increased by 6%
  • Emails sent on the day of Black Friday increased by 8%
  • The open rate for Black Friday weekend was 31.2%
  • Open rates increased year-on-year by 11%
  • The click-through rate (CTR) for Black Friday weekend was 3.6%
  • CTR rates declined by 13% year-on-year
  • Revenue generated over Black Friday 2023 increased by 8.5%
  • The number of cart abandonment campaigns increased by 47%
  • Overall revenue generated by abandoned cart campaigns increased by 4.5%
  • SMS sends grew 19% month-on-month


Figures for this Black Friday debrief came from data pulled from the Dotdigital platform. Comparative data (2023 vs. 2022) was pulled from a pool of Dotdigital users who were active during both time frames. We define active as using the Dotdigital platform to send email, SMS, or other marketing activity.

2023 Black Friday figures were based on activity from 00:00 Friday 24 November to 23:59 Monday 27 November across our three core regions: Australia, the UK, and the USA. They were compared against figures pulled from 00:00 Friday 25 November 2022 to 23:59 Monday 28 November 2022 across the same regions.

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