Analyzing your Black Friday and Cyber Monday Performance

Marketing Strategy


I know many entrepreneurs and small businesses ran promotions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and some of the folks I've talked to were frustrated with their results.


They felt like they'd put a ton of effort into the promotion but not seen good returns. After speaking with several new business owners, I realized it might help to teach you how to run a marketing performance analysis so you can analyze your results.


This analysis lets you know whether or not a promotion worked for your business.


So, did Black Friday and Cyber Monday work for you? Should you maintain or change your strategy based on the results? Each time you run a big promotion, you can use this process to determine the actual results and adjust your marketing strategy.


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Gather Your Sales & Marketing Performance Data

  • When did you run the promotion? Did you start the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and run it through the Tuesday after, or did you only run it on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?


  • What was your offer? Were they the same for both days, one consistent offer across the week, or did you change the promotions each day?


  • How many unique visitors came to your website during your promotion? This information is available in Google Analytics; you want unique visitors, not visitors, because you want to know how many people came to the site during the promotion. You'll want the visitors by day and the total visitors for the promotional period.


  • Compare this against last year's data. Go to your Google Analytics account and pull the unique visitors for the same time frame as last year.


  • Determine your year-over-year performance change.


  • Gather the sales data for the timeframe. Calculate your total sales, average order value, and conversion rate, and compare that information against last year to see your trends.
    • Total sales– add the sales amount from GA to the daily column to total the week.
    • Average order value – divide the total sales by the number of orders per day.
    • Conversion rate – divide the unique visitors by the number of orders. The goal is 1% or higher for ecom websites.


Gather Your Marketing Data

How did you market the sale?


  • Email—How many emails did you send? When did you send them? What were the open and click rates? Did the emails generate sales?


  • Social Media – when did you post your sale? How frequently? What did you include? How much engagement did the posts get? Were they shared? How many people clicked on the links (if you had links to your posts)


  • Website—Did you create a dedicated page for your promotion? If so, how far in advance? Did you optimize the page and choose targeted keywords in your copy? Did you track the keyword rankings to see if you had traction before the event?


  • Paid advertising: Did you run Facebook Ads or Google Adwords campaigns? If so, how far in advance? Were there conversions? Did people buy items from the ads?
    • What was the return on investment for the ads? To calculate this, divide the total ad spend by the total sales generated by the ads.
    • Ideally, you want to earn a minimum of 2:1 ROI. If you invest $100 in ads, you want to earn a minimum of $200 in sales.
    • Ideally, you want this number to be much higher, but if you invested more than you made, you have a negative ROI and need to take note.


Analyze the Data You Gathered

  • Review all the available information and look for trends. Which channels drove the most traffic, orders, and revenue for the promotion? You can find the channel-specific information in your Google Analytics account.


  • Determine what worked for you. What drove sales? Did Email, SEO (organic traffic), Social Media, or Paid Search make the most significant difference in your sales? Which channels performed the best? Look at your marketing notes. Did your efforts align with the outcomes?


  • Determine what didn't work for you. Where did you get the lowest ROI? Now, go back to your marketing notes and take a sincere look at your sales performance and marketing efforts. Is there an alignment between effort and results? If so, spend some extra time here. You need to determine which channels could have worked better if you'd focused more energy on them.


  • Review last year's and this year's performance to see if there are trends to uncover. If one channel performed significantly better last year, think back to your marketing efforts. Did you do something different last year that you didn't do this year? Take the same notes if one channel was much better for you this year. Also, note which day performed the best. Was it the same this year and last, or did it change?


Make Decisions for Next Year

  • After carefully reviewing your marketing and sales data, determine which channels you want to focus on next year and which you don't. It's possible you'll remove something entirely from the list or significantly increase efforts on another channel. Understanding where your customers come from is key to long-term success for your business.


Create a report for yourself and write everything down. Include your data sheet with the year-over-year sales performance so you have it readily available when it's time to plan next year's events.


Be sure you note the following items in your report:

  • Promotional offers
  • Days of promotion
  • Total sales
  • Performance by channel
  • Marketing plan by channel
  • Marketing promotion schedule (frequency of emails, social posts, etc.)


Determine where you want to focus your efforts and when you want to start your marketing next year. Your timeline will depend on the channels on which you want to focus.


  • SEO -you'll want to create your holiday promotion landing pages a minimum of three months in advance to start working its way up Google's results page. Many of my clients kept a Black Friday or Cyber Monday landing page year-round and updated it when it was time. 


  • Paid Search: You can run them the week of the event, but you should probably plan the ads and budget at least a month in advance.


  • Email—You'll want to create your marketing plan and write your emails in advance, but you might not send them until shortly before the promotion. Think about how many you want to send in total and when they should go. Don't alienate your followers by sending too many.


  • Social Media – Create your plan and determine when you want to start your promotions.


Use this year's performance data to drive next year's business strategy. Even if something didn't live up to your expectations, there's a lot you can learn from and adjust so that, hopefully, it works better next time.


Analyze how you performed against your goals.


  • Did you set goals for this promotion?
  • What were they?
  • Did you achieve your goals?
  • Were your goals realistic for your business? For example, if you wanted to drive 10% more business this year, added a new marketing channel, promoted earlier, and had a substantial offer, that was likely a realistic goal. However, if your goal was to drive 100% more sales than average, but you didn't change your marketing plan and add in more channels, increase frequency or budget for paid ads, or focus on SEO months in advance, it probably wasn't realistic.


Analyze your goals and marketing plan support.

Your marketing plan has to support your goals so that you can achieve them. While it can feel like the opportunities on the internet are unlimited, there's a lot of competition, especially on big promotion days and holidays.


Think of the internet as a gigantic mall where every store has a sale sign in the front window, and consumers are shopping but don't know which one to visit. Some stores may have teeny tiny sale signs, while others have giant signs flashing red.


It's up to you to determine how big your store's sign is so that it stands out from all the others. You're trying to grab a customer's attention, and so is every other store in the mall. The customer only has time to visit a couple of stores. How do you make sure yours is one of them? Your marketing plan and execution determine how big your sale sign is and if it's bright or not.