Ecommerce Marketing Lessons from Q4 2023

Last year was an uncertain one. 

Though many of the economic indicators were excellent, including the low unemployment numbers and strong GDP growth, there was a lot of uncertainty in the market throughout the year.  

In the martech ecosystem, publishers continued to feel the pains after the COVID-19 bump. Still, I believe that had more to do with the sustained consolidation of ad budgets on the major platforms as marketers reallocated marketing spend in the post-IDFA (identifier for advertisers) and soon, post-cookie world. 

With this uncertainty in mind, I spent time on Saturday, November 25, 2023 seeking out early ecommerce sales data from Black Friday to gain a clearer understanding of how the market was performing. According to online shopping data from Adobe Analytics, Black Friday sales were $9.8 billion, up 7.5% from 2022, while Cyber Week overall sales were $38 billion, an increase of 7.8% from last year. 


Adobe’s data also showed that mobile commerce passed the tipping point, driving 51.8% of online sales (vs. 49.9% in 2022). 

In January, we all learned that the 2023 retail year ended up exceeding our expectations, growing by 5.3% vs. 2022, according to the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor. And based on data from Adobe Analytics, online spending during the Q4 holiday season (November 1 – December 31, 2023) increased by 4.9% from 2022 to $222.1 billion, an ecommerce record.  

On that note, and with the market in mind, I reviewed the results of some of the ecommerce mobile user acquisition campaigns we managed, comparing results from Q4 2023 with Q4 2022. 

Based on our campaign performance, here are our recommendations for Cyber Week marketing in 2024: 

Start Cyber Week Campaigns in October 

For our ecommerce clients, total app installs peaked during Cyber Week because most of our clients’ budgets targeted iOS devices. Installs resulting from our ecommerce app install campaigns on Android devices peaked during the second week of November, which was also the case in 2022. Even installs per click decreased for our Android campaigns during Cyber Week. This means that marketers targeting Android users should make sure their ecommerce campaigns are active in early November if not October to achieve maximum impact during Cyber Week. That said, iOS installs did peak during Cyber Week even though the user acquisition budget peaked in the first half of November. 

Based on our data, it appears that Android users prioritize planning ahead and saving money when compared with iOS users, who might spend more on clothes, beauty products and technology-related items than Android users who prefer purchasing at the last minute during Cyber Week (or they’re just smarter, knowing that the Cyber Week discounts would be bigger in 2023).  

Despite this, Cost Per Install (CPI) peaked in the middle of November for iOS devices and during Cyber Week for Android devices. Given that Android installs peaked in early November, we’ll reconsider budget allocation for campaigns targeting Android devices during November for our ecommerce campaigns in 2024. Likewise, we’ll consider shifting our iOS budgets until later in November to better optimize the overall performance for this operating system. 

Performance Worked in 2023 

Due to the uncertainty of 2023, I was concerned about the performance of our campaigns this year, particularly vs. 2022. Regardless of the product vertical, in uncertain times, consumers downsize their shopping habits often, starting with the most popular clothing items. 

Fortunately, our campaigns performed better in 2023. Our media buying significantly outperformed results from 2022, with installs per click improving by 5X compared with last year. More importantly, average CPI decreased by more than 20%. 

According to the final holiday sales data from our ecommerce clients, the efforts in November ended up delivering a stronger-than-expected Q4. Even for last-minute shoppers who purchased well after Cyber Monday, the campaigns in November served as a trigger for outperforming our holiday 2023 KPIs.  

And it’s never too early to start planning for Q4 2024. 

Sahar Musafi is an Optimization Manager at mobile user acquisition platform Zoomd, where she is responsible for analyzing campaign data in order to optimize campaign performance while scaling revenue and achieving client reach and other KPI objectives. She previously served as a data analyst and media buyer for a broad range of digital marketing clients. Musafi began her career on the client side as an information system specialist for a fashion retailer, where she analyzed inventory, purchasing, and supply management data and activities.

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