Listen to the podcast or read the edited, short transcript below:
Well, here we go – entering the 4th quarter of the year, which can sometimes be the most challenging for business owners and marketers.
Q4 can be an intensely busy period for our e-commerce and retail clients;- however, it’s also just as busy for other businesses in our service-based industries as we enter peak gifting season and holiday festivities, affecting even sectors not traditionally tied to holiday sales.
Staff and the team are booking in and taking annual leave during this time. Clients and customers typically have a clear ‘before Christmas’ deadline, which requires careful resource management.
And, of course, we have to navigate some key events, including Black Friday, Boxing Day, and Christmas sales.
We understand that the quarter can be stressful for our clients. And expectations of their marketing are higher, as they’re trying to squeeze every piece of revenue out of the quarter to finish the calendar year strong (and allow them to take a break over the Christmas period).
In the last month, especially, the conversation with many of our core clients has been around preparing for Black Friday.
Black Friday kicks off the peak trading season and offers businesses a crucial window of opportunity to boost sales. It sets the tone for the entire holiday shopping season.
And the significant learning I want to get across today is that the preparation for Q4 began yesterday.
By October, it’s crucial to implement processes that increase your reach. Ensure that NOW is the time that you are being seen by your prospective customers, and start building that trust and engagement with your core audience.
Let’s break this down…
Increase Paid Reach
From September to November, the focus should be on expanding your social media audiences from a paid perspective.
Why do I say this?
The organic reach on social media platforms is likely to get saturated during peak season, which makes it even more important to build your engaged community beforehand.
As in right now.
Then, as we move into the peak season, your content strategy should shift towards more direct-response, which would help drive conversions.
Let’s break this down a little bit more.
Strategically, you’ll need to account for the rising advertising costs during Q4, especially regarding CPM during peak season.
Those ad costs haven’t risen yet, so now is the time to cash in.
Utilise the lower ad costs available in September and October by running reach-optimised campaigns.
Ensure you still reach and find your ideal core audience – that core audience won’t change just because you’re planning a Black Friday sale – you just need to find more of those people, be seen by those people and then share your product, authority and place in the market with these people.
Building that awareness now, then allows you to use the power of re-marketing during the peak sales period.
Reaching the audience of people who are already familiar with your brand, know what product or service you sell and are more likely to buy (and were cheaper to reach outside of peak advertising times).
During peak sales times, you re-focus your ad strategy to drive conversions (as opposed to reach and engagement) – as the task of finding your core audience has already been done (and at a cheaper rate).
In summary, the pre-peak period (September and October) focuses on reach, while the peak period emphasises conversion activities facilitated by the larger audiences you’ve built.
What type of Content Should We Focus On?
Content that naturally increases reach and helps you build audiences—like reels and videos—should be a priority.
This is a reminder from previous podcast episodes, that building a strategy that focuses on building ‘on platform’ audiences is powerful – as they don’t fall into any privacy and cookie traps.
Focus on building an audience of people who watch your Instagram/Facebook/LinkedIn videos, interact with your content or open your lead forms. Then build an audience of those people.
Creatively speaking, you should use the pre-peak period to test various content pieces. You don’t want to be testing your creative during a Black Friday sale; you instead want to be optimising your content at that time.
So right now you should focus on trialling different pieces of content – carousels, reels, videos, stories – what captions are compelling, and what’s helping drive engagement?
Then by peak season, the focus should switch to simply having to optimisie what you already know works.
Now is also the time to consider building unique landing pages for your pre-peak campaigns.
I say this as it’s a two-fold strategy.
One, it allows you to cultivate unique audiences interested in a particular product or service.
Two, these audiences can then be leveraged during your peak campaigns.
How should you look at Budgets for Q4?
The question of budgets is always tricky to answer, as it differs from client to client, from product to product. Each industry is different, and we look at budgeting based on metrics that Meta and Google provide from the available data, alongside your knowledge of your product and costings.
For budgets, I’d suggest you look at year-on-year trends; however, adjust your strategy to ensure that you’re finding more cost-effective times to build an audience when CPMs and costs are lower (as in now).
Reaching a cold audience will always be more expensive – so don’t look for those people when, naturally, ad costs will be higher (and much more saturated) during peak periods.
Remember also that the remarketing audiences we build are always more cost-effective, as you’re just reaching a smaller audience of people who are aware of your brand, product or service and are more likely to buy. It also means that you can increase frequency with these people.
Remain focused yet agile.
One of the cornerstones of a successful strategy is agility.
Consumer behaviour is unpredictable, so the ability to make quick, informed decisions is essential.
Yet, remember to stay on the rails. Again, this is why having a thoughtful, well-laid strategy will keep you on track, even when life (and hopefully business) gets busy.
It’s vital to find and agree on metrics and goals.
This isn’t just about individual channel metrics; consider what overall impact you expect your marketing to have.
Are you looking to drive a certain percentage of overall site traffic or contribute a specific amount to revenue from your paid channels? What role is organic social media going to play? What are the underlying measures for success in these early days? Reach, engagement?
Q4 serves as a catalyst peak trading season for many businesses. Both retail and service-based businesses are now facing the ‘before Christmas’ deadline that many consumers demand.
So right now, you need to start planning and optimising your marketing strategy, leveraging cheaper advertising rates, focusing on building your engagement and attracting new potential customers with brand-building content that then allows you to change tact and focus on conversions during sale periods – and utilises the audience you had previously built when ad spends were cheaper, and the market was less saturated.
Start with a strategy.
We’ve thrown a lot of content and ideas to you in this article, and the best way to make some of the improvements we’ve suggested is to start with a strong strategy.
This is what we do best: helping you build a strategy, identify your customer personas, plan your tactics and formulate the plan for executing that plan out to your market.