SMS dominated the conversation this Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Customer engagement reached record levels on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but it was SMS that helped lead the conversation. Here’s why.

Brian Heikes

4 minute read


Black Friday and Cyber Week are among retail’s biggest annual revenue drivers, but in a year defined by a cost-of-living crisis, you might assume that spending and engagement would decrease in 2023. Remarkably, the opposite was true.

Consumers spent $9.8 billion online alone this Black Friday a 7.5% increase on 2022. Plus, Cyber Week spending topped out at $38 billion, delivering 7.8% growth year-over-year (YoY).

As retailers shift their attention to the winter holidays and 2024, now is an ideal time to appreciate how conversational commerce helped define this year’s November holiday sales.

In this blog, we’ll look at the power of conversational commerce in delivering timely brand experiences—and why SMS became the retail channel of choice on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Why conversational commerce matters

As expected, this November’s holiday sales saw consumers continue to favor mobile over desktop shopping. More than half of online sales on Black Friday (59%) and Cyber Week (52%) were made using a smartphone.

With more consumers shopping on their mobile devices, the smartest retailers seized the opportunity to connect their customers to the latest offers, promotions, and recommendations through personalized, omnichannel interactions.

But why is this so important?

It’s because 71% of consumers expect brands to deliver personalized interactions, and 76% grow frustrated if they don’t receive them. And when we consider that 75% of consumers prefer to engage with brands using real-time messaging channels, getting conversational commerce right is fast becoming a competitive necessity.

This includes using SMS, WhatsApp, Email and other channels to engage in contextual interactions that deliver:

  • Timely information related to customer preferences and orders

  • Real-time updates as orders move through the supply chain

  • Convenient checkout options like Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL)

  • Automated self-service chatbots to field routine queries

  • Seamless escalation options for fast and empathetic service

How to enable conversational commerce

To truly master conversational commerce, you need the support and capabilities of an enterprise-grade Communications-Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) provider.

With the right CPaaS solution, you can personalize your communications by integrating your backend systems to bring a connected view of your customer data to your programs. It can also integrate the channels your customers use most, helping you to automate personalized omnichannel interactions at scale, which is a big help during busy messaging periods like Black Friday and Cyber Week.

And looking at traffic data for 2023, one channel in particular helped drive our customer’s commerce interactions in a big way this November.

SMS traffic hits record levels this November holiday

In our SMS marketing guide, we explore the power of SMS marketing in delivering meaningful end-to-end customer journeys. It may be one of the older channels on the block, but it remains the most widely accessible.

SMS offers a direct route to your customers for intimate, two-way brand interactions. And customers love it, with more than 70% of consumers subscribing to receive business texts in 2023.

As for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, retailers demonstrated the power of SMS for conversational commerce with record levels of engagement. In fact, November 2023 was our largest month ever for SMS traffic. Let’s break down our findings:

  • Black Friday 2023

SMS traffic in Canada and the US increased by 31% and 14%, respectively, on Black Friday compared to the previous year’s holiday event.

SMS traffic in Canada and the US increased by 138% and 19%, respectively, on Black Friday compared to a “normal” day in November.

  • Cyber Monday 2023

SMS traffic in Canada and the US increased by 10% and 8%, respectively, on Cyber Monday compared to the previous year’s holiday event.

SMS traffic in Canada and the US increased by 94% and 30%, respectively, on Cyber Monday compared to a “normal” day in November.

These stats confirm the lasting relevance of SMS in delivering a rich and engaging omnichannel marketing strategy. SMS proved its worth during the shopping frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to get the full picture, read our article explaining the power and versatility of SMS notifications.

Your partner in conversational commerce

To learn how you can join the innovative businesses using CPaaS and conversational commerce to drive customer engagement and sales success on Black Friday and Cyber Week, please get in touch or schedule a demo.