Black Friday and Cyber Monday are ostensibly the two largest shopping days of the year — especially for ecommerce. This year felt even more insane than any previous year, with Black Friday sales starting almost a week before Thanksgiving, and a barrage of sales emails coming from every direction — from Walmart to the artisanal coffee roaster down the street.In the last two weeks, I received no less than 250 Black Friday emails, which are now warming my trash folder.\u00a0Is there a catchy name for getting fed up with Black Friday emails and unsubscribing to hundreds of lists?Sunday-geddon?Leave-me-alone-Sunday?Burn-it-with-fire-Sunday?— Keith Perhac (@harisenbon79) November 27, 2018So with this bombardment of Black Friday commercialism, how did this year stack up? Let\u2019s dive in and find out if Black Friday was worth it.What is Black Friday and Cyber MondayBlack Friday is almost impossible to avoid, and if you have no idea what Black Friday is, consider yourself among the lucky.Black Friday is the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, and since 1952 has been considered the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. While many people assume that the name Black Friday refers to retailers beginning to turn a profit (thus going from being \u201cin the red\u201d to \u201cin the black\u201d) the term was originated in 1961 Philadelphia, where it was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving.Why is Black Friday Important?Well, according to the Shop.org\/Bizrate Research 2005 eHoliday Mood Study, “77 percent of online retailers said that their sales increased substantially on the Monday after Thanksgiving, a trend that is driving serious online discounts and promotions on Cyber Monday this year (2005)”.It\u2019s the time of the year when sales and commercialism is in full swing — and everything is on sale, from books to beanie babies to $2500 online courses. Between increased competition, increased sales cycles and ever lowering prices, there are a multitude of tactics that retailers have used to increase their year-end-revenue during the pre-Christmas buying rush.According to OpenX, 41% of U.S. consumers will make a purchase on Black Friday, while a report from\u00a0Adobe states an increase of 23.6% in online purchases, totaling $6.2 billion.The DataIn order to protect the confidentiality of customer data and marketing strategies, the following information is taken in aggregate from 39 Infusionsoft accounts who have agreed to anonymously share their Black Friday data. No email addresses, products purchased, nor any personally identifiable information were used in the analysis. All sales and marketing funnel data was combined for analytical purposes.When we refer to \u201cBlack Friday\u201d in this report, we\u2019re talking about the 5-day Black Friday weekend, from Thursday Morning (Thanksgiving) until Monday at Midnight (Cyber Monday). We\u2019ll also be ignoring any revenue generated from recurring purchases or subscriptions created before that timeframe.Finally, it\u2019s key to keep in mind that the data we\u2019re looking at are predominantly for info-products and personality-based brands. In our research with our Shopify connections, we see that e-commerce (physical) sales were a completely different beast.See the full report here: https:\/\/www.shopify.com\/blog\/black-friday-cyber-monday-2018In this article, we\u2019ll go through:If Lead Generation during Black Friday Makes SenseComparing Sales and RevenueIs Black Friday Really Worth It?Moving Black Friday to OctoberSecret Black Friday Value through Recurring RevenueCredit Cards and Product Pricing StrategiesDetail On the CompaniesHistorically, the data that we\u2019re looking at are companies with annual revenue that ranges from $500k to $5M. Fairly middle of the road when looking at successful info-product companies.Average list Size: 202,000Average Yearly Revenue (2017): $1.5 MillionLead Generation: Does it Make Sense?Generally when people think of Black Friday, they focus only on the sales and revenue generation. However, could Black Friday also be an opportunity for growing your list?Let\u2019s look at new leads during Black Friday:2018 Black Friday New Leads115 Leads per day2017 Black Friday New Leads83 Leads per day2018 Average New Leads125 Leads per daySurvey says NO.In fact, if you have solid lead generation strategies for the remainder of the year, on average you\u2019re doing 8% better than trying to generate leads on Black Friday.But obviously those new leads are going to convert to customers, right?Again, survey says no.The percent of new leads who also become customers is only around 4% — which, during any other time of the year, would be a great conversion rate, but considering this is the largest shopping day of the year, feels a little lackluster.RecommendationYou should be striving for a 4% lead to conversion rate on your standard marketing funnels (90-day funnel, nurture sequence, etc). With only a 4% conversion rate for new leads to customers, combined with the low daily optin rate, the results are pretty clear:Don\u2019t try to build your list during Black Friday. Focus on sales.Comparing Sales and RevenueSince Lead Gen is obviously a wash, let\u2019s turn and look at what might be the most important metric for Black Friday and Cyber Monday: How much did we sell?In 2017, Cyber Monday online sales grew to a record $6.59 billion, compared with $2.98 billion in 2015, and $2.65 billion in 2014.Those are gigantic numbers, but let\u2019s look at the average order value — a number that is key to revenue generation no matter what size your company is.In 2017, the average order value was $128, down slightly from 2014’s $160.How did our data do?2018 Black Friday Average Order Value: $279That\u2019s a healthy average order value, and speaks to the fact that most personality brands are not selling $10 toothbrushes. So, how does that compare to last year?2017 Black Friday Average Order Value: $251That\u2019s an 11% increase in average order value over last year! Excellent!When Did Those Sales Come in?Now that we know this year\u2019s AOV, let\u2019s look at how that revenue came in over the Black Friday weekend. Remember, the key to sales is the right product to the right person at the right time.Number of orders (2018 Black Friday)Wow, Cyber Monday really saved Black Friday\u2019s bacon this year. We\u2019re looking at over three times as many sales on Cyber Monday than for Black Friday. This is the opposite of what you would expect to see since all the emails are focused on Friday and weekend sales.So why are we seeing such a huge burst in Cyber Monday sales when most of the offers are for Black Friday?In the info product world, it comes down to two major factors:Tons of competition on similar products during Black Friday — which means lots of chances for your sales emails to get lost in an inbox.Last Chance Offers are a staple of product marketing, and a cart \u201creopen\u201d on Monday pays big dividends.So, things are looking good! But how do they compare to last year (and our standard sales cycle)?2018 Black Friday Orders621 Orders per day2017 Black Friday Orders644 Orders per day2018 Average Orders304 Orders per dayHmm. So we had a 3.5% drop in sales from last year. This is a small blip though, so nothing to worry about. We\u2019re looking at a similar sales ratio to last year. What we do want to focus on is the fact that the sales during Black Friday are more than double normal sales for the rest of the year.BUT (there\u2019s always a but), sales aren\u2019t everything.We lose money on every sale, but make it up in volume.So, what was the revenue like when compared to the rest of the year?Revenue vs Sales: Is Black Friday Really Worth It?Black Friday is all about getting the best deal on a product, so even though Black Friday has doubled the number of products sold, what does the revenue look like?2018 Black Friday Revenue$173,2652017 Black Friday Revenue$161,9292018 Average Revenue$145,483Well look at that! Even with less sales than last year, revenue is up (and reflected in our average order value).However, looking at the revenue generated during a normal day, we see that twice the number of sales translates to only an 11.2% increase in revenue.Let\u2019s look at those Average Order Values again:2018 Black Friday Average Order Value$2792018 Average Order Value$479So we\u2019re looking at a 40% discount which resulted in a doubling of sales.Net worth? 11% increase in revenue over 5 days.RecommendationThis is going to be a per-business decision. For many companies sending out the Black Friday sales emails is going to be fairly straight-forward, and an 11% increase in revenue for no extra work is a nice chunk of change.However, if Black Friday is an all-consuming event that requires a ton of prep work, copy, design and setup, you may want to ask yourself if the revenue increase (not sales) is worth it.But don\u2019t lose hope! There are two strategies below that will help you understand the hidden value of these Black Friday sales.2025: Black Friday in OctoberThis year Black Friday seemed to creep earlier than ever (like Christmas music in department stores) and this year Wirecutter, Kinja and others started their Black Friday deal roundup the week before Thanksgiving.If we follow this trend, we\u2019ll eventually see Black Friday starting in October and continuing until Christmas.So let\u2019s add in the sales from the previous week, and look at how those compare to actual Black Friday:November, 2018Look at that! We actually have a number of days that have sales just as high has black friday (but not cyber monday) well before Black Friday even started.Let\u2019s see that what looks like the year beforeNovember, 2017This looks more like what we would be expecting — some people taking the first-mover advantage and selling before Black Friday, but the majority of sales is happening during the Black Friday weekend.In online marketing, it\u2019s important to stand out from the crowd, and more and more people are starting with \u201cPre-Black Friday\u201d sales in order to sell in a less crowded market.It\u2019s a clear trend that selling around Black Friday can be more profitable for online sales than Black Friday itself.Also it\u2019s important to note that the Black Friday revenue numbers for 2017 were on par with 2018, but Cyber Monday has about 400 fewer sales. What does that mean? It means that Black Friday in 2017 had its revenue spread out more naturally over the entire weekend, where in 2018 sales were more clumped into Cyber Monday and Pre-Black Friday sales.TakeawayOne key to selling in a competitive market is differentiation — either through product, positioning or timing. We see that more and more companies in our dataset are starting to avoid the over-competitive Black Friday weekend, and are expanding into pre-sale and post-sale strategies. This allows companies to make up for lackluster Black Friday sales by targeting a less crowded sales window.Secret Black Friday Value through Recurring RevenueAs we all know, the most effective way to generate revenue is to generate RECURRING revenue. This has been a strategy forever, and Black Friday is a great opportunity to get new customers into a recurring purchase at a reduced rate that then makes them more valuable over time.Remember when we noted that the increase in revenue was only 11% compared to the average yearly sales cycle? What if that lower initial revenue was offset by selling a subscription product, that would create recurring revenue for the next 6 to 12 months?In fact, that\u2019s exactly where the sales strategy is trending:Subscriptions make up 46% of all sales made during 2018 Black Friday, compared to only 12% of sales last year being for subscriptions. This is also three times as many subscriptions as during the rest of the year.RecommendationSubscription plans are one of the most straightforward ways of generating recurring revenue. Subscriptions also lend themselves to discounts and sales strategies, as discounting the initial month does not significantly diminish the lifetime value of the subscription.This has been a long-time sales strategy for recurring revenue products, from \u201c0% APR for 12 months\u201d to \u201cYour first month free\u201d — the ease of an upfront transaction is easily offset by the continued revenue generation for the lifetime of the subscription.Closing Thoughts, Credit Cards and Product Pricing StrategiesThis year was an interesting one, where we\u2019ve seen a number of companies start to buck the trend of Black Friday and develop strategies that help them stand out from the crowd, as well as generate strong beyond the 5-day rush.Before you go, we\u2019d like to share 2 more pieces of data that we thought were interesting, but didn\u2019t have a place for in the main report:Credit Card FailuresFailed Credit Cards (bad numbers, fat-fingering input and bank hiccups) occurred on 24% of all purchases. That\u2019s almost double the normal rate of 16%.Product PricingI\u2019m always interested in the pricing breakdown of products. There were no huge surprises this year with the largest number of products being priced in below $200, with a long tail up to $3000.Finally, we want to hear from you!We\u2019d love to hear about your experiences with Black Friday, and if your business saw similar trends, or something completely different. What lessons from this year will you be looking at in 2019?