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Planning your communications for cyber week

Cyber week is the UK’s busiest shopping week. With so much activity, making sure that your message cuts through is key to securing your sales in the period.

Figure 1 Black Friday vs Lead up 2016

But, with so many retailers and brands fighting for space in shoppers’ inboxes and feeds many messages will get lost or go unread. With a little preplanning you can improve the chances of your message getting to shoppers when they’re active online.

When do people shop?

Planning the cyber week

We know people shop anywhere and at any time. Cyber week is no different – apart from the small hours of the night 01.00 – 06.00 there’s constant activity throughout the day.

From Figure 1 we can see that the evening period 16.00 – 22.00 is the peak shopping period for most of cyber week. The notable exception being black Friday itself – which has a relatively steady traffic pattern from 09.00 onwards. The early hours of Black Friday are much busier than on the other days of cyber week, with activity starting to rise right from 05.00! Notice also that small spike from 00.00 – 01.00!

These figures are for the ‘visit’ figures to all shopping and classifieds websites– so be sure to check your own sales data from last year and see what time your customers were shopping. How does this compare to other points in the year?

How do marketing channels differ?

Figure 2 Cyber week 2016

When planning your communication, it’ll be important to consider the differences between communications channels. So, you’ll also want to cross reference the times of day people come to your website from your sources of traffic. From Figure 2 we can see the industry average – search is the dominant channel. Make sure you’ve put work into your product pages, and their titles and descriptions for the search results pages well in advance!


The next biggest referring channel is social media. This follows a similar pattern as we’ve already seen – with the peak of activity in the evening. As with your website traffic, understanding your audience on a platform is key to maximise your posts exposure.

With social media timing is everything – according to Wiselytics a tweet will receive 50% of its retweets in just 24 mins! This is because twitter’s feed displays tweets in chronological order – so you need to be tweeting when your audience are active. This has led to a variety of times being recommended as best to send a tweet, depending on the audience for that handle. But in the context of cyber week we can assume it’s going to be important to have your best tweets going out during the busy evening period. Make sure you’ve done some testing throughout November to see at which times your audience engage with you most frequently.

For other social media sites there’s a little more to think about. A user’s news feed on Facebook is determined by a complicated algorithm – which can make it tricky to get your timing right for when to post. Hootsuite have found that posts between 12.00-15.00 on weekdays and between 12.00-13.00 on weekends yield a higher number of likes, comments, shares and click throughs.

Instagram works on a similar basis – showing content to users based on how likely the platform thinks a user will be interested in the content. This means that a bit of pre-work and building up an audience that’s previously engaged with your posts – think about running something like a ‘tag a friend’ type competitions to up the engagement in November.


As we’ve already covered email is a crucial channel in communicating with your most loyal customers. While as a whole from Figure 2 we can see email driving clicks throughout the day from around 08.00 through until 22.00. As with all things Black Friday – it’s useful to consider what does Amazon do?

Figure 3 Amazon email campaigns

In terms of email campaigns, we can see from Figure 3 that their clicks from emails peaked in the mornings, compared to an industry average of the evening – they’re also more active in that ‘small hours’ time period on Black Friday!

To capture some of the early morning traffic, particularly for Black Friday, you might want to consider some emails earlier in the day to try and reach shoppers before the rest of the industry.

Don’t just take our word for it – Test! Test! Test!

For all your communications it’s about making sure you’re in tune with your own customer. When are they active? When will they want to shop?

How often they check their emails or social media will likely be driven by factors such as age, employment status, what kind of job they have and other such personal details. So, testing the times you’re going to communicate at, during cyber week, will be critical to making sure you’re sending communications that drive engagement and don’t just get lost in the ether.

Ricky Jones E:
T: 020 7092 3588


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