How 50,000+ Ecommerce Brands Used Owned Marketing to Drive Nearly $1 Billion in Online Store Sales Across Cyber Weekend 2020

Editor’s Note: Owned marketing paid off big for online retailers who were looking to drive online store sales over Cyber Weekend 2020. More than 50,000 ecommerce brands used Klaviyo to drive $917 million in online sales via owned channels, which represents 2 percent of all Cyber Weekend online sales.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020 were shopping holidays for the books. These essential days for the ecommerce and broader retail industry set records, once again. 

And while heading into the big weekend this year most people knew that things would not be the same, they expected to see online store sales soar. 

In a year that’s been full of twists and turns due to the pandemic, the retail industry has seen its fair share of unexpected challenges. 

Stores have had to temporarily shut their doors and limit capacity due to safety concerns. Consumers have had to shift their shopping behavior online more so than they’d ever anticipated. Brands have had to create or lean into their ecommerce presence like never before. And shipping carriers have had to accelerate hiring due to all of the increased activity in the system. 

But they’ve all risen to the occasion each and every time. And that was especially evident with regards to Cyber Weekend 2020. 

Rather than preparing for one powerhouse Cyber Weekend to kick off the holiday shopping season, merchants collectively turned the final quarter of the year into a seasonal sprint filled with steals and deals that consumers couldn’t wait to snag. 

And they weren’t beholden to third-party platforms or ever-changing algorithms to drive their success. 

Instead, more than 50,000 ecommerce brands took control of their own growth and used the Owned Marketing channels within their direct control to power their success. 

Collectively, these brands drove $3.2 billion in sales and used Klaviyo specifically to drive $917 million in revenue across owned channels like email and SMS, which represents 28.7 percent of the total revenue they generated across the five-day weekend. It’s also a 113.2 percent increase from last year. What’s more, this nearly $1 billion in sales represents 2 percent of all online store sales across Cyber Weekend 2020.

Before we dig into the details of how they did that, though, let’s take a closer look at how people shopped across the holiday season. 

Cyber Weekend results: Online store sales set records once again

One thing, in particular, that was different this year? Retailers didn’t offer the typical doorbuster deals or see packed crowds waiting outside to push their way in to find the best bargains. 

Retail Dive reported that shopper foot traffic on Black Friday fell 52.1 percent this year compared to 2019, according to data from Sensormatic Solutions. 

Instead, more shoppers than ever stayed home and shopped online. 

Across the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, more than 186.4 million consumers shopped in-store and online, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). While down a bit from 2019 (189.6 million), this number still significantly exceeds the number of shoppers in 2018 (165.8 million).  

The number of online shoppers was up significantly over the weekend. According to the NRF, 95.7 million or 44 percent shopped only online this year compared to last year.

“The growth in online activity this year was significant, particularly for Black Friday and Saturday shoppers. With the start to the holiday shopping season continuing to move up even earlier, consumers will further utilize these channels,” said Phil Rist, Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy.

With so many people shopping online, how did that impact consumer spending, specifically? 

With regards to online store sales in particular, throughout the weekend, shoppers spent more than $29.65 billion online, according to Adobe Analytics, which was up slightly from 2019 ($28.4 billion). 

While more shoppers made purchases online this Black Friday than ever before (100 million, according to the NRF), Cyber Monday once again reigned supreme as the biggest online shopping holiday ever in terms of spending. 

Shoppers spent $10.84 billion on Cyber Monday—up 15.1 percent from last year, according to Adobe, making it once again the biggest online sales day in history. 

Black Friday (November 27, 2020) came in as a close second, though. Consumers spent $9.03 billion online, up 21.6 percent year-over-year (YoY), making it the second-largest online shopping day in US history. 

Across the five-day weekend, according to Klaviyo’s data, shoppers spent more than $3.2 billion with Klaviyo customers, in particular. Of that amount, $917 million was driven by Klaviyo-powered emails and SMS messages, which represents 28.7 percent of the revenue these brands generated and 2 percent of all Cyber Weekend online sales.

Here’s a closer look at how online store sales breakdown by day across Cyber Weekend 2020 and the early part of the season, plus a look at how many online sales Klaviyo customers drove across the weekend.

Timeframe: November 26 - November 30, 2020 Total online sales Total online sales (by Klaviyo customers)
October 1-31, 2020 N/A $6.7 billion
November 1-25, 2020 $100.3 billion (11/1-11/30) $6.79 billion
November 26, 2020 (Thanksgiving) $5.1 billion (up 21.5% from 2019) $455 million
November 27, 2020 (Black Friday) $9.03 billion (up 21.6%) $971 million
November 28, 2020 (Small Business Saturday) $4.68 billion (up 30.2%) $640 million
November 29, 2020 (Super Sunday) No specific data available via Adobe Analytics $472 million
November 30, 2020 (Cyber Monday) $10.84 billion (up 15.1%) $654 million

Sources: Adobe Analytics, Klaviyo data

But all of this extra online activity wasn’t solely confined to Cyber Weekend.

In a year filled with struggles and setbacks, it seems as though many shoppers simply weren’t willing to take the risk of disappointing loved ones when it came when they should order their holiday gifts this year.

The NRF reports that “more than half (52 percent) of holiday shoppers said they took advantage of early holiday sales and promotions this year. Of those, 38 percent said they checked off holiday purchases in the week leading up to Thanksgiving. More than half (53 percent) felt the promotions over the weekend were the same as they had been earlier in the season.”

How does this shopping behavior compare, historically, to the early parts of the holiday season? 

This year, businesses using Klaviyo saw a 122 percent YoY increase in the average number of orders placed in the two weeks leading up to Cyber Monday. The jump from 2018 to 2019 was only 97 percent, which indicates that consumers started shopping much earlier this year than they did last year.

How Owned Marketing helped online store sales soar across Cyber Weekend 2020 

Heading into the 2020 holiday season, more brands than ever realized the power of owned marketing, and the importance of building and nurturing relationships with customers throughout the year to drive holiday sales. 

This year, more than 50,000 businesses created $917 million with Klaviyo, which is up 113.2 percent YoY and accounts for 2 percent of all online Cyber Weekend sales.

Digging a little deeper, of the nearly 20,000 businesses that used Klaviyo across Cyber Weekend in both 2019 and 2020, these businesses saw a 43.1 percent increase in total Cyber Weekend sales YoY. 

Regarding Black Friday and Cyber Monday specifically, those businesses that used Klaviyo both last year and this year saw a 36.6 and 37 percent growth in sales YoY respectively.

And the revenue these businesses drove through their owned channels, specifically, across the entire weekend jumped significantly, as well—up 55.6 percent YoY. This indicates that owned channels are outperforming all channels when it comes to driving revenue. 

Businesses are the most successful when they own their data, customer relationships, and their growth, and this weekend proved it. 

Here’s a closer look at how businesses using Klaviyo used Owned Marketing to drive online store sales across Cyber Weekend 2020 and the early part of the holiday shopping season. 

Timeframe: November 26 - November 30, 2020 Total Owned Revenue (total sales attributed to Klaviyo via email or SMS) North America EMEA
October 1-31, 2020 $1,442,423,014 $1,127,303,546 (78.2%) $186,741,923 (12.9%)
November 1-25, 2020 $1,570,909,290 $1,195,388,286 (76.1%) $228,823,932 (14.6%)
November 26, 2020 (Thanksgiving) November 26, 2020 (Thanksgiving) $128,948,083 $86,241,088 (67.9%) $25,693,220 (19.9%)
November 27, 2020 (Black Friday) $294,656,091 $227,602,344 (77.2%) $49,606,490 (16.8%)
November 28, 2020 (Small Business Saturday) $176,766,385 $149,263,101 (84.4%) $18,432,053 (10.4%)
November 29, 2020 (Super Sunday) $122,551,087 $91,627,604 (74.8%) $19,903,648 (16.2%)
November 30, 2020 (Cyber Monday) $194,248,812 $162,125,724 (83.5%) $19,830,225 (10.2%)

Source: Klaviyo data

One important note about the data: more than 40 percent of purchases were made by repeat buyers this year, which speaks to the power of building and nurturing relationships with your customers. 

On the surface, 42 percent of purchases were made by repeat buyers (comparable to last year’s 43 percent). 

But when you dig a little deeper and look at those brands that used Klaviyo for Cyber Weekend 2019 and 2020, you see an interesting difference. 

Repeat buyers accounted for 46 percent of these sales. The hypothesis? Businesses that have used Klaviyo longer have learned how to effectively use their data to build effective long-term relationships with customers.  

Getting more people to return to your business and make subsequent purchases helps you use your marketing dollars more effectively. But how much are they spending in comparison to someone who newly discovers your brand during Cyber Weekend? 

Klaviyo’s business intelligence team took a look at the average order value (AOV) for new vs. repeat buyers across Cyber Weekend 2020. While in past years, AOV has historically been higher for repeat buyers, it actually came in a bit lower this year ($105 for new customers, $102 for repeat buyers). 

But given the influx of new shoppers that most brands gained earlier this year due to the pandemic, it’s likely that the massive shift online played a part here. It will be a trend to closely watch across Cyber Weekend 2021. 

Looking at those customers that used Klaviyo across Cyber Weekend in both 2019 and 2020, the AOV for repeat buyers increased to $104 this year compared to $98 last year for those businesses that used Klaviyo both years—a six percent increase YoY. 

Mobile shopping is more popular than ever

Nowadays, most people have a mobile phone or another mobile device within arm’s reach most of the time. We increasingly use them to communicate with family, friends, and co-workers. And we increasingly use them to entertain and educate ourselves. So it’s no wonder we increasingly use them to shop, too. 

Throughout the month of November, $39.6 billion (39 percent) of purchases were made via a smartphone and $60.7 billion (61 percent) were made via a laptop or another device, according to Adobe Analytics

Looking at the five-day holiday weekend specifically, smartphones ruled the day on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday—they accounted for nearly 60 percent of all orders both in  2019 and 2020. 

While mobile shopping looked the same on Thanksgiving and Black Friday this year, things looked a little different on Cyber Monday —50.8 percent of purchases were made with smartphones this year versus 2019 (49.8 percent), according to Klaviyo’s data.

Looking specifically at conversions per device (i.e., the number of orders divided by the number of site visits), here’s how that breaks down across Cyber Weekend this year, according to Adobe.

Timeframe: November 26 - November 30, 2020 Smartphones Laptops and Other Devices
November 26, 2020 (Thanksgiving) 2.3% 4.65%
November 27, 2020 (Black Friday) 3.05% 6.82%
November 28, 2020 (Small Business Saturday) 2.63% 5.76%
November 30, 2020 (Cyber Monday) 3.31% 7.72%

Source: Adobe Analytics

Looking specifically at the data that Klaviyo tracks, 43.2 percent of emails opened across the five-day weekend were opened with a mobile device. Interestingly, the percentage of emails opened on a mobile device decreased from 45.3 percent on Thanksgiving to 39.5 percent on Cyber Monday. 

When we look beyond opens and dig into clicks, specifically, we saw that 72.5 percent of email clicks were made with a mobile device. This percentage also decreased from 74.2 percent on Thanksgiving down to 66.6 percent on Cyber Monday.

It’s likely that these opens and clicks on mobile devices were driven by consumers who were not working and, instead, shopping at home or away from a computer on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. On Cyber Monday, however, the numbers are likely to have declined because people returned to work and were shopping on a desktop or laptop device.

With more people browsing and shopping online than ever before, making your messages mobile-friendly and finding ways to also connect with your customers via SMS has never been more important. 

Not yet using SMS marketing to build relationships with customers?

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Cyber Weekend 2020: By the Numbers

Here’s a deeper dive into how more than 50,000 businesses used Owned Marketing, and Klaviyo specifically, to drive online store sales across Cyber Weekend 2020 and the early part of the holiday season. 

Unique events tracked

Klaviyo processed more than 7.15 billion events (like browsing data, purchase data, and more) for customers over the five-day weekend. On Black Friday, Klaviyo processed an average of more than 1.3 million events per second.

Messages sent and orders placed

This year, Klaviyo customers sent more than 4.4 billion emails to more than one billion unique subscribers during the five-day weekend. 

Here’s a deeper dive into how that breaks down globally. 

Timeframe: November 26 - November 30, 2020 Total emails sent Total SMS messages sent Total orders placed due to email or SMS
October 1-31, 2020 9,021,471,762 5,874,086 14,043,434
November 1-25, 2020 8,608,599,112 6,946,841 15,098,728
November 26, 2020 (Thanksgiving) 651,814,141 518,619 1,184,401
November 27, 2020 (Black Friday) 1,221,225,724 1,961,229 2,708,089
November 28, 2020 (Small Business Saturday) 751,932,565 646,203 1,678,109
November 29, 2020 (Super Sunday) 673,870,021 423,152 1,247,746
November 30, 2020 (Cyber Monday) 1,109,841,317 1,540,640 1,880,523

And here’s how that breaks down for North America, specifically.

Timeframe: November 26 - November 30, 2020 Total emails sent Total SMS messages sent Total orders placed due to email or SMS
October 1-31, 2020 7,407,782,007 5,874,086 10,679,661
November 1-25, 2020 6,974,552,491 6,946,841 11,061,830
November 26, 2020 (Thanksgiving) 497,561,979 518,619 752,879
November 27, 2020 (Black Friday) 995,735,031 1,961,229 2,016,101
November 28, 2020 (Small Business Saturday) 640,688,447 646,203 1,374,015
November 29, 2020 (Super Sunday) 536,803,233 423,152 910,092
November 30, 2020 (Cyber Monday) 946,652,683 1,540,640 1,513,323

And for EMEA, as well.

Timeframe: November 26 - November 30, 2020 Total emails sent Total orders placed due to email
October 1-31, 2020 934,468,758 2,131,800
November 1-25, 2020 992,283,574 2,691,612
November 26, 2020 (Thanksgiving) 89,488,961 278,111
November 27, 2020 (Black Friday) 165,656,331 537,363
November 28, 2020 (Small Business Saturday) 74,109,631 218,166
November 29, 2020 (Super Sunday) 85,734,078 231,505
November 30, 2020 (Cyber Monday) 109,411,132 251,743

Source: Klaviyo data

Message performance by buyer type and channel

Across the five-day weekend, businesses using Klaviyo saw 58.8 percent of sales come from first-time buyers and 41.2 percent came from repeat buyers. Of these sales, 32.9 percent of owned revenue came from first-time buyers and 67.1 percent came from repeat buyers. 

While the larger portion of sales came from new buyers, the larger proportion of revenue came from repeat buyers, which further supports the notion that cultivating relationships with your customers well-ahead of Cyber Weekend is a fruitful endeavor.

Consider, for a minute, your holiday sales targets this year. Would you have reached them if repeat buyers didn’t account for nearly half of your Cyber Weekend sales or nearly two-thirds of your revenue? How would that impact your ability to close out the year?

Here’s a deeper dive into how online store sales breakdown by new vs. repeat buyers, and how much of those sales were driven by owned channels like email and SMS.

Timeframe: November 26 - November 30, 2020 % of total sales (first-time buyers) % of total sales (repeat buyers) % of owned revenue (first-time buyers) % of owned revenue (repeat buyers)
October 1-31, 2020 54.5% 45.5% 32.4% 67.6%
November 1-25, 2020 56.8% 43.2% 33.9% 66.1%
November 26, 2020 (Thanksgiving) 56.9% 43.1% 32.9% 67.1%
November 27, 2020 (Black Friday) 56.1% 43.9% 31.7% 68.3%
November 28, 2020 (Small Business Saturday) 61.3% 38.7% 33.7% 66.3%
November 29, 2020 (Super Sunday) 64.0% 36.0% 35.3% 64.7%
November 30, 2020 (Cyber Monday) 57.9% 42.1% 32.3% 67.7%

Source: Klaviyo data

Emails by type 

Creators use different types of emails to drive revenue. Campaigns are one-time unique sends like letting your subscribers know about a special sale, and flows are automated sequences of emails that are triggered by behaviors like adding an item to your online shopping cart and leaving a site without making a purchase. 

Across the five-day holiday shopping weekend this year, businesses using Klaviyo sent 4.1 billion campaigns and 125.1 million flows. Of those, 74.6 percent of owned revenue was driven by campaigns and flows drove 25.4 percent of owned revenue. Here’s a deeper dive into how businesses used email campaigns and flows to drive online store sales across Cyber Weekend 2020 and the earlier part of the holiday shopping season.

Timeframe: November 26 - November 30, 2020 Total campaign emails sent Total flow emails sent % of owned revenue driven by campaigns % of owned revenue driven by flows
October 1-31, 2020 8,103,813,333 468,052,704 60.7% 39.3%
November 1-25, 2020 7,735,794,129 426,655,561 63.7% 36.3%
November 26, 2020 (Thanksgiving) 598,197,247 21,610,105 73.3% 26.7%
November 27, 2020 (Black Friday) 1,135,866,493 28,287,112 77.5% 22.5%
November 28, 2020 (Small Business Saturday) 694,494,582 25,718,578 72.4% 27.6%
November 29, 2020 (Super Sunday) 616,077,178 22,214,507 72.3% 27.7%
November 30, 2020 (Cyber Monday) 1,029,356,427 27,251,312 74.3% 25.7%

Types of subject lines

Creators also use different types of subject lines to pique their subscribers’ interest and entice them into opening the email to see what’s inside. 

Two primary types of subject lines we see in holiday email marketing campaigns are those with discount-focused subject lines and those without them. 

This year, across the weeks leading up to and through Cyber Weekend 2020, discount-focused subject lines were the most popular (62.1 percent of total campaigns sent), which is similar to what we saw last year (67 percent). 

Ahead of the five-day weekend, more brands led with non-discount-focused email subject lines, but things flipped the Monday before Thanksgiving. Starting that day and through Cyber Monday 2020, specifically, discount-focused subject lines were the most popular.

Klaviyo’s business intelligence team took a closer look at the campaigns that brands to more than 250 recipients and that generated at least one order in the weeks leading up to and through Cyber Weekend 2020. 

Campaigns Sent Discount-focused Subject Lines Non-discount-focused Subject Lines
October 1-31, 2020 63,911 (30.2%) 147,515 (69.8%)
November 1-25, 2020 76,702 (36.2%) 135,107 (63.8%)
November 26, 2020 (Thanksgiving) 11,898 (54.5%) 9,928 (45.5%)
November 27, 2020 (Black Friday) 20,272 (63.1%) 11,848 (36.9%)
November 28, 2020 (Small Business Saturday) 10,192 (61.0%) 6,504 (39.0%)
November 29, 2020 (Super Sunday) 10,501 (63.0%) 6,178 (37.0%)
November 30, 2020 (Cyber Monday) 15,448 (67.9%) 7,289 (32.1%)

Digging deeper into discount-focused email campaigns, two specific types of subject lines tend to battle it out in the inbox—the dollars-off vs. percentage-off promotions. 

This year, we saw “other discounts” emerge as the clear winner ahead of the five-day weekend (these are subject lines that don’t explicitly reference a dollar or percentage, but include terms like “sale” or “discount” in the subject line.) 

But once again, things flipped on Thanksgiving. Brands consistently used percentage-off promotions in their subject lines across the five-day weekend.

Discount Focused Campaigns Sent Campaigns with Percentage-off-focused Discounts Campaigns with Dollars-off-focused Discounts Campaigns with Other Discounts
October 1-31, 2020 27,872 (43.6%) 7,630 (11.9%) 28,409 (44.5%)
November 1-25, 2020 33,418 (43.6%) 7,109 (9.3%) 36,175 (47.2%)
November 26, 2020 (Thanksgiving) 5,843 (49.1%) 534 (4.5%) 5,521 (46.4%)
November 27, 2020 (Black Friday) 10,393 (51.3%) 851 (4.2%) 9,028 (44.5%)
November 28, 2020 (Small Business Saturday) 5,019 (49.2%) 525 (5.2%) 4,648 (45.6%)
November 29, 2020 (Super Sunday) 5,255 (50.0%) 491 (4.7%) 4,755 (45.3%)
November 30, 2020 (Cyber Monday) 7,800 (50.5%) 726 (4.7%) 6,922 (44.8%)

We’ll be digging further into the data to see which performed better in terms of driving email open rates and clicks, and which generate higher average revenue per recipient (RPR). But if you’re curious about how brands fared specifically with their discount-focused subject lines last year, for context, you can explore the data.


New subscribers gained

Across the Cyber Weekend 2020, businesses using Klaviyo added 59.25 million new email and SMS subscribers. These new subscribers are people that these brands can now spend time building relationships with in order to influence 2021 and Cyber Weekend 2021 sales. 

Your online store sales grew over Cyber Weekend. Now what? 

You successfully made it through one of the most unique Cyber Weekends in history. You prepped, you planned, you reaped the rewards. Now what? 

First, if you haven’t already, it’s time to put in place a post-Cyber Weekend strategy to make sure you finish out the next few weeks before Christmas strong. 

Then, don’t forget about the week after Christmas. Gift cards are going to be hot this holiday season, so make sure you have a plan to take advantage of that final end of year spending.  

Once you’ve ensured you have a plan for the remainder of the season, it’s time to shift your focus and think long-term. How will you create long-lasting, meaningful relationships with your customers heading into 2021 and beyond? And how will you introduce and welcome all of those new subscribers you gained over the weekend to your brand?

Many entrepreneurs and marketers think that selling through third-party marketplaces is the key to success. But ask those sellers who just relied on those platforms about how much data and insights they have about the new customers they recently acquired. 

The truth is, they don’t have much because those third-party platforms are in control. They own the relationship, not you. And that’s precisely why, if you want to be in control of your own growth, Owned Marketing is so essential. 

Sure, selling through third-parties can have a place in your channel distribution strategy. But heading into 2021, it’s worth re-examining just how big of a piece of the pie it holds. 

Finding ways to reduce your reliance on third-parties and gain more control over your own growth is the path toward long-term, sustainable success, and it’s what will allow you to build and deepen relationships with your customers throughout the most critical times for your business each year and beyond. 


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