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BFCM By The Numbers: SMS Performance And Trends For Cyber Week 2021


Reading Time: 4 minutes

BFCM bargain hunters came out in force this cyber season, with online shoppers dropping just shy of $34 billion from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. With SMS becoming an increasingly popular marketing channel for ecommerce merchants, we wanted to know how text message marketing performed during this important time of year—especially coming off a tumultuous 2021 for businesses everywhere. So, the Postscript data team put their heads together and crunched some BFCM numbers from our user base of more than 6,000 shops. Here are some of the highlights. 

Side note: When we talk about attributed revenue during BFCM, we measured sends from the Postscript platform occurring Thanksgiving through Giving Tuesday. While Postscript users have the option to create custom attribution windows, the vast majority use the default seven-day window for clicks and 24-hour window for views.

We sent more than 80 million messages from Thanksgiving through Giving Tuesday.

During the six-day period from Thanksgiving to Giving Tuesday, Postscript customers sent nearly 81 million messages—an average of more than 13 million messages per day. That’s more than four times the daily average for the entire year thus far. It’s also more than double the daily average for the same six-day window in 2020—although our customer base has more than doubled since 2020 as well.

Bottom line: SMS is a hot-ticket sales lever during the holiday shopping season, and if we didn’t know that for sure last year, we definitely know it now.

Our customers pulled in more than $60 million from SMS alone.

During the same six-day window (Thanksgiving through Giving Tuesday), our merchants generated over $60 million in revenue attributed to text messages sent through the Postscript platform. That’s up from approximately $38 million during the same period last year—an increase of about 60%.

However, based on our data, sales were less concentrated during Cyber Week this year compared to last year. Average attributed revenue per shop in 2021 was around $9,200, down from about $14,000 in 2020. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that stores’ BFCM messaging was less effective—it was simply timed differently. This is likely due to marketplace pressures like shipping delays and supply chain issues.

Sales started early this year—and shoppers took advantage.

To get ahead of the aforementioned challenges, merchants pushed out their BFCM discounts and promotions earlier than they did in previous years. In fact, three of the top five campaigns deployed through Postscript (in terms of attributed revenue) were sent before Black Friday, with the top-performing campaign going out the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

We also saw an unprecedented spike in attributed revenue the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Our merchants generated over $8 million total revenue that day—more than 140% of the daily average for the week leading up to Black Friday. The same day in 2020 drove a little over $2.7 million, which was only 103% of the daily average.

Top-performing campaigns generated an average of about $600,000 each.

The top five BFCM messages sent through Postscript averaged more than half a million dollars in revenue each. Here are a few more interesting notes on the top five campaigns:

  • 80% were SMS rather than MMS
  • 60% promoted site-wide discounts of 20%–30% and provided a special code
  • 40% were early access plays
  • 40% required a minimum order value to access the discount

Compared to last year, stores leaned more heavily into SMS over MMS.

On both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, MMS—messages containing multimedia content like photos, videos, or GIFs—made up a slightly smaller percentage of messages in 2021 compared to 2020. This dip in MMS sends was likely strategic. With so much growth in SMS marketing adoption, carrier networks and SMS platforms—including Postscript—anticipated MMS delivery delays during this high-activity time of year. So, they proactively reached out to their users and encouraged them to use SMS whenever possible, because those messages weren’t impacted by delays on either shortcodes or toll-free numbers (TFNs). 

Here’s the official breakdown:

Black Friday 2021: 84% SMS vs. 16% MMS

Black Friday 2020: 79% SMS vs. 21% MMS

Cyber Monday 2021: 83% SMS vs. 17% MMS

Cyber Monday 2020: 80% SMS vs. 20% MMS

Keyword-driven messages and messages deployed via API integrations had the highest earnings per message (EPM).

When we broke down earnings per message (EPM) trends by message type, we found that—from Black Friday through Giving Tuesday—campaigns generated an average of $.13 per message, automations $5.28 per message, and keywords $25.80 per message. Compared to the same period in 2020, those EPMs were 4% higher for automations and 26% higher for keywords—but 56% lower for campaigns. So, if your brand did not leverage keywords during BFCM 2021, we’d definitely recommend considering it for 2022!

Finally, thanks to the addition of several API integrations in 2021, Postscript customers also saw an EPM of $61.09 for messages tied to an integration.

The Postscript team played to win.

Thanksgiving and Cyber Weekend can be quiet for a lot of companies. But not for us! Our support engineers averaged 14-hour days during this period so they could be there for our merchants during the busiest shopping week of the year.

Additionally, Postscript users enjoyed 100% uptime throughout Cyber Week, the wait time for support was under two minutes throughout the week, and our team had almost 1,000 interactions with merchants during the week of Black Friday. When our employees are crushing it for merchants, we know it has a direct impact on how campaigns perform, too. Teamwork makes the dream work—and the Postscript team plays to win!

If you’re among the many ecommerce merchants who cashed in big time with BFCM texts, congrats on a job well done! But unlike Ralphie’s pink bunny suit, SMS is something your brand should be using on the regular. Check out this blog post for some ideas on how to keep the holiday momentum going all year long.

Special thanks to our friends at Postscript for their insights on this topic.
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