How to Prepare your App for Black Friday

Originally a US phenomenon, Black Friday has become a permanent fixture in the UK calendar over the last decade and now marks one of the busiest shopping days of the year. With the launch of a multitude of exclusive sales and ‘once in a lifetime’ deals available online, Black Friday drives a huge number of downloads to shopping apps on both the App Store and Google Play.

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Falling on the day after Thanksgiving in the US, Black Friday traditionally takes place on the last Friday in November. This year, it’s on Friday, 26 November, which officially marks the advent of the holiday shopping season for 2021.

While Black Friday has seen unprecedented sales volumes year-on-year, increasingly this is not limited to the day itself. Sales have exploded to include the whole week and the following Monday – dubbed Cyber Monday – for high volumes of online sales.

Black Friday online sales have significantly grown year-on-year and this year will be no exception; with many retailers having suffered badly during the pandemic because of physical store closures, this could be a make-or-break moment for some. So, you can guarantee that retailers will be keen to fuel the appetite of consumers with early promotion and aggressive marketing.

Orders and revenues via mobile devices have grown year on year – mobile can claim +50% stake in the market now. In the US, the search volume for “Black Friday” starts its growth spurt at the beginning of September! This is clear evidence that consumers are interested early, making it even more important for brands to be ready for when consumers hit the app stores.

Here’s a checklist of must-do pre-event activities and when to do them:

Some thoughts about timings:

Apple predict a similar trend to last year (in terms of when the uplift in search volumes will occur), so for Black Friday this year, we have recommended roughly a 25% increase in the monthly budget for November, and 10% in December.

  • We predict the overall CPIs in each territory will increase slightly in this month due to increased competition (especially if are strongly protecting brand)
  • Redbox recommends increasing the bids at least a week prior to Black Friday, to gain relevancy and try to reduce the Cost Per Tap (CPT)
  • On the eve of Black Friday is when the early birds will download lots of apps as they prepare for the big day, so we must ensure our bids are competitive for this
  • On Black Friday itself, we expect to see at least an 100% increase in search volumes after 7pm

Make your App Relevant – Get your Metadata Updated

To improve your app’s ranking over the Black Friday period, we highly recommend updating your app’s metadata, specifically focusing on your Title, Subtitle and Keyword String. Simple changes like adding “Black Friday” can help! Each of these elements are indexed in the App Store, so making little changes WILL have a positive impact!

For iOS, updating your promotional text can be a great way of increasing consumer engagement by promoting specific deals or features. And as you can change your app’s promotional text any time, you will not have to submit a full app update. (Promotional Text is NOT indexed in the App Store).

For Google, updating text is a must too, but be careful not to fall foul of their Sept 2021 metadata policy, as it frowns upon promotion of ‘deals’ or ‘discounts’. You can read more about that here

Refresh those Screenshots and App Icon

Freshen up your app’s look with new creative: screenshots and icon. Your app icon is the first graphic any app store visitor will meet, so temporarily flip it to a Black Friday theme, to attract immediate attention.

Update your screenshots to prominently feature your most appealing Black Friday promotions or content. This is an effective way to increase relevancy, which will help maximise likelihood of conversion.

Make Use of iOS In-App Events

Use Apple’s new in-app events feature to shout as loud as you can about your unmissable, unrepeatable Black Friday deals. Creating event cards for your Black Friday activity will deliver extra App Store visibility and is potentially a great way to re-engage lapsed users, as well as attract new ones.

Iron Out Bugs

Your Black Friday strategy will be for nothing if your app isn’t prepared to handle extra volume, so make sure your ‘technical ducks’ are all in a row. This sounds obvious, but it’s essential to have no malfunctions or bugs; you don’t want to lose any potential customers just before the shopping starts!

Some Background

We work closely with PLT, a highly established online shopping brand targeting young women aged 16-24. The brand has tight KPIs for their app store marketing strategies: they keep a handle on the budget, they have a strict target CPD; they currently rank 17th in the hugely saturated Shopping Category.

Going into Black Friday

As part of preparing PLT for Black Friday, we provided them with some key statistics about the behaviour of mobile shoppers during this key period:

  • Search volumes during December are 5-7% greater than average Christmas Day sees a huge uplift in volume at around 8pm – 101% more searches than average
  • Year-on-year there has been a 10% increase in the number of app downloads during this period
  • In 2020, the UK saw a 21% increase in demand during Black Friday week (even higher In the US at 31%)

Undoubtedly this key period warranted a specific strategy with allocated budget.

The Redbox Strategy

We provided PLT with a budget forecast for November and December 2020 of increased spend that would allow them to compete for share of voice, without breaking the strict KPI rules. We wanted to push as aggressively as possible to maximise the number of downloads we could achieve during this heightened moment of activity.

We utilised Apple Search Ads installs to promote PLT during Black Friday (colloquially speaking: Pink Friday), as well as Post Christmas Sales.

We reviewed their metadata, bringing it in line with consumer search terms for Black Friday and we updated their creative, screenshots and app icon, to create immediate relevancy and stand-out.

Screenshots play a vital part in helping converting consumers, as we can see from PLT’s live screenshots, they have used each of the three screen placements to heavily advertise ‘Pink Friday’, their own individual spin on Black Friday.

Black Friday Results for PLT 2020

As a result of an intelligent use of the additional budget, PLT experienced a clear uplift in spend and installs on the weekend of Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and we kept the CPI below the set target.

The number of installs on 27th November 2020 was 266% more than the average daily amount prior to Black Friday, we also saw the revenue between November and December increase by 232%.

For PLT, search volumes during December are on average 5-10% greater than average (Christmas day sees a huge uplift in volume at around 8pm – 182% more searches than average, due to new phones etc).

If we compare volumes-to-date for 2021, with those of 2020, we are seeing increased searches for mobile shopping in November and we fully anticipate that this will continue into December, through to Boxing Day and post-Christmas sales.

It’s clear that Black Friday has become an unstoppable juggernaut of sales and it’s thundering across the calendar toward you right now.

Black Friday can be a lucrative period for retailers, so improving your app’s relevance and overall ranking is imperative.

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