5 Graphs Reveal How Black Friday & Cyber Monday Affect Digital Body Language

Jack Maden  |  December 6, 2017

Jack Maden  |  December 6, 2017


Eye gouges, choke holds, desperate gasps for air... scenes in retail stores on Black Friday are reminiscent of the most fearsome UFC encounters. Unlike UFC encounters, however, contenders in Black Friday have the potential to pick up not just glory, but perhaps a new TV, a pair of shoes, an electric toothbrush...

Nowadays, with numerous past Black Fridays under our belts, we're familiar with footage of hungry shoppers charging into brick and mortar stores to bag their discount of choice. We know, too, that brands regularly carry over Black Friday deals to their websites and apps - culminating in Cyber Monday - and that online traffic increases by up to 220%, with online revenues hitting over $5 billion.

A question mark remains, however, over how people actually behave on websites and apps across Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Is a fluctuation in traffic and conversion rates accompanied by a shift in digital body language? Is there a rush to pick up discounts? Are users more distracted? Do they focus less, exhibit more frustration or engagement? 

To answer these questions and more, we turned to Decibel Insight's smart digital experience data.

Analyzing the digital body language of 400,000 users

Our data scientists analyzed over 400,000 user sessions across two top retail sites, assessing an equal sample size each day from the 10th to the 28th of November.

We looked to detect any fluctuations or spikes in particular user digital body language as Black Friday (November 24th) and Cyber Monday (November 27th) came around. We focused on tracking behaviors that indicate frustration and engagement, including multi-click behaviors, bird's nest behaviors, scroll engagement behaviors, and reading behaviors.

Digging into the data, we found no significant change in user digital body language over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period, suggesting that the furor surrounding the events in the physical world - accompanied by a stark shift to UFC-like behavior - is not replicated online.

We break down the data with further analysis below.

1. Average user focus time

Focus time refers to the duration a user actually spends engaging with a website or app, as opposed to the time they have a tab or window of it open.


As can be seen in the above graph, there was no significant change in average user focus time across Black Friday or Cyber Monday. 

2. User frustration

User frustration refers to instances of digital body language that denote frustration, including multi-click behavior and bird's nest behavior, as well as a host of other smart metrics.


As with average user focus time, there was no significant change in user frustration over Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

3. User engagement

User engagement refers to instances of digital body language that denote engagement, including scroll engagement behaviors and reading behaviors, as well as a host of other smart metrics.


As with the other metrics, there was no significant change in user engagement over Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

4. Mouse distance

In the context of Black Friday and ecommerce, the average mouse distance of users indicates browsing behavior - like window shopping in a brick and mortar store.


As with the other metrics, there was no significant change in average user mouse distance over Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

5. Scroll reach

Scroll reach refers to the average percentage of the website or app page viewed by users. It indicates engagement. 


As with the other metrics, there was no significant change in average user scroll reach over Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

Despite discounts, user digital body language remains the same

The graphs above show no significant change in user digital body language over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday periods across the two retail sites our data scientists looked at.

The urgency and ruthless behavior witnessed in brick and mortar stores at these times, therefore, does not carry over to the digital world. This could be down to two reasons:

  • Online, Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are typically offered over a period of days or even weeks, diluting the urgency to grab a bargain on the particular calendar day the events fall on
  • In the digital world, deals are personalized for you: with no surrounding shoppers acting as a cue for panic, urgency is again diluted, and less likely to affect shopping behavior

What do you think? Do you think discounts affect your online behavior? Let us know on Twitter, LinkedIn, or in the comments below.

The takeaway for brands

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday drive significantly more traffic and revenue to websites and apps - and thus mark fantastic occasions for online retail brands to reap the most they can - the data shows that actual shopping behavior and digital body language remains remarkably consistent throughout both events.

Creating delightful digital experiences, therefore, isn't just for Christmas - or, in this case, Black Friday - it's a long-term objective. At least, that's the takeaway for brands looking to reap the most reward from online shopping habits: focus on improving customer experiences all year round, not just on particular days.

How equipped is your company when it comes to measuring and delivering digital experiences? Take our quick 5-question quiz to find out now.

Alternatively, read our free, open digital publication on digital experience transformation to see how you can move through the phases of digital experience maturity and create fantastic digital experiences now. 

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Jack Maden

Written on December 6, 2017 by:

Jack Maden

Jack is Digital Manager at Decibel, the best digital experience intelligence platform around! He also runs philosophy break.


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