The headline figures are in and it looks another Black Friday bonanza, but canny brands will look take the opportunity to build customer relationships across the whole year, says Paul Wright, Managing Director, UK, FR, ME at AppsFlyer.

Year on year, the consumer shopping statistics surrounding the phenomenon of Black Friday become increasingly impressive – and 2019 is no exception. It’s a huge opportunity for marketers to drive sales and brand engagement, but brands need to carefully consider how they attribute marketing spend to ensure they find value.

They need to look longer term than just Black Friday itself. Google sees a huge rise in ‘Black Friday’ searches starting in early November and many brands have aligned with this shopper behaviour and start their Black Friday sales early. But brands can build lasting relationships with customers as they consider their purchases by continuing to offer value throughout the year – and mobile apps are key.

According to Salesforce, smartphone shopping alone translated to $2.1 billion in sales last year. It also saw 500,000 first-time installs for the top 10 apps, a 16.3% increase from 2017. Overall, the total number of new shopping app installs reached 1.8 million, growing 9% from the previous year. By measuring the impact of in-app events and actions taken by customers within apps, marketers can gain highly valuable insights into this relationship.

For example, AppsFlyer’s 2018 data shows that the use of retargeting on Black Friday propels a huge revenue uplift, compared to those that don’t. In fact, in the UK alone last year, apps that retargeted customers enjoyed a revenue uplift of 25% more than apps that did not run retargeting. The gap was most pronounced in the US with a staggering 14 times difference.

Alongside retargeting activity, there are other ways that marketers and retailers can ensure they are able to reconnect with customers who have previously browsed for Black Friday inspiration. To build lifetime customer value, there are a few tactics that can be applied throughout the year to engage and prepare:

Seasonal shopper audiences: During the next holiday sale, focus retargeting efforts using both paid and owned media, on seasonal-only shoppers and users that bought over the last holiday to encourage them to convert again. Our research shows shopping apps see the highest growth in conversion rates when retargeting is used; 2.7x higher than the average rate of conversions. Once seasonal-only shoppers have received a valuable experience for the second time, the foundation is in place for them to return again and again.

Personalisation: Personalising the user experience should already be a priority throughout the year, both in and out of the app. By offering a contextually relevant on-boarding process that encourages users to create a profile and set their own preferences, retailers can create bespoke deals around these at any point.

Web-to-app conversion: A retailer’s mobile app is a highly valuable consumer destination due to the advanced data insights and impact it can provide. During the holiday rush, convert existing web visitors to higher performing app users by offering discounts on products for in-app purchases or other relevant incentives. Ensure the user experience is seamless and contextually consistent by using deep link-powered ads and smart banners.

Day 7 and 30 cohort analysis: Marketers should look back at their seven and thirty-day cohort reports from previous years to check the number of purchasers acquired during this cycle after install, with a particular focus on the period after the holidays. These reports can be used to measure the effectiveness of any new media source.

Marketers that begin preparing well in advance, focusing on high-quality engagement and customer value over the long term are those that will see the biggest benefits. Black Friday marketing is tough territory, but those who retarget wisely, offer real value and take the longer term view will set themselves up for real success beyond the holidays.