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Not all messaging efforts are created equal, and when it comes to Black Friday and the holiday blitz, standing out from the crowd is both more important and more difficult than ever. Here's how Braze used stability and flexibility to help our customers set the bar.

When it comes to messaging, being able to use channels like push and email to deliver effective customer communication at scale might seem like table stakes. But there's reaching consumers with messages, however, and then there's being able to reach them when the entire retail industry is attempting to grab the public's attention at once.

That's Black Friday, an annual holiday shopping event that has shifted, along with retail as a whole, further into the online arena as consumer buying habits have changed. Along with its online-focused cousin Cyber Monday, Black Friday creates an environment in which effective messaging can mean the difference between especially robust customer engagement and getting lost in the tidal wave of deals and offers that inundate potential shoppers. What’s more, while Black Friday and Cyber Monday are once-a-year events, successfully navigating them requires long-lead thinking and strategic planning that should be taking place months in advance.

The numbers make it clear just how much is at stake: Braze supported the sending of 10 million messages per minute at the peak of the 2019 Black Friday rush, with some 3 billion messages total sent over the course of the day. What's more, recent trends indicate that it's only going to get more intense from here, with the total number of push notifications sent during the weeks leading up to Christmas rising by more than 200% year over year. Navigating this crowded landscape successfully required not only the technical infrastructure needed to handle such a dramatic increase in scale, but also the kind of flexibility that allows brands to shape messaging to best fit their needs from both a content and distribution standpoint.

Stable Networking Weathers the Storm

It should come as no surprise that push messaging at the kind of scale we’re talking about is a network-intensive affair. After all, reaching a customer base in the tens of millions is taxing enough, but when you take into account the return effect of users interacting with received messages, you've got a recipe for a potentially debilitating degree of network traffic flowing in not just one, but two directions.

Fortunately, over the course of its early growth, Braze foresaw the kind of demand a growing customer base with the potential to send tens of millions of messages could place on its network. In response, we engaged in a comprehensive overhaul to ensure speed and stability. As explained by Braze CTO Jon Hyman, a migration to a cloud networking strategy significantly boosted the platform's ability to handle the kinds of spikes that come with massively-scaled events like Black Friday, allowing our customers to build out major campaigns even on the biggest days of the customer engagement year without having to worry that they’ll face technical issues.

Molding the Message

Technical firepower, however, is only part of the equation. The volume of messaging received by mobile users during the holidays means that brands who want to capture their users’ attention in the midst of that messaging fog require flexible solutions tailored to their customers' needs and preferences. Thankfully, Braze provides the kind of personalization tools that make crafting a customer-focused messaging effort possible—and scalable.

The process starts well before key events like Black Friday with mobile marketing automation features like Intelligent Timing, which tracks user behavior and response to ensure that marketers are able to reach recipients at times when messaging will have its greatest impact. Coupled with elements like geolocation, personalization, and optimization through testing, the Braze platform allows brands to implement messaging that’s strongly positioned to stand out in the sea of customer outreach that surrounds Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Next Steps

As this year’s so-called “Cyber 5” period—which encompasses both Black Friday and Cyber Monday—approaches, it’s more important than ever for brands to be able to send thoughtful, compelling messages to their audiences at scale, even in the thick of the holiday messaging crush. To learn more about how Braze can help you meet that challenge, check out our product page to discover how to take mobile messaging at scale to the next level.

Adam Swiderski

Adam Swiderski is a writer, editor, musician, surfer, and recovering professional nerd from Queens, New York. He's interested in the meeting of technology and humanity, and disinterested in zombie apocalypse.