November through December often sees the highest competition in the social channels, thanks to a perfect storm of reserved budgets for Q4 coupled with the remnant advertising budget to be exhausted that has been accumulating through the year.

Winter is coming. Are your Facebook campaigns ready for the pricing surge of Q4?

This makes reaching users on Facebook (and nearly all channels) far more expensive, so expect higher costs across all bid models during this period. To mitigate those costs and outperform the competition, follow these performance tips to stay on top during the holiday period.

Define and Refine Your Audiences

In case you are still behind the eight ball and have not carved out your audiences, we recommend taking your existing list and first-party data, then working up. Use your current customers in a retention campaign to re-engage these users during the holidays. Be sure you are pixeling users who begin the checkout process so you can carve a bottom-funnel remarketing audience of users who began the checkout but did not purchase – this is your high-intent remarketing audience. Advertisers can further segment their website based on intent, which leave all users minus all high-intent segments as the remaining list. It is also worth testing time-decay segments on top of these audiences. For prospecting, segment your current customers by most valuable (High LTV, AOV, etc.) and build look-a-like audiences based on your BEST customers.

Build a Strong Messaging Strategy Using Audiences and Funnel Positioning

Leading up to the holiday push, advertisers should be testing out the best messaging strategies across each segment of their conversion funnels. Different messages and imagery will resonate well across various audiences, but what falls through the cracks are different messages or action drivers based on where users are within the conversion funnel.

Understanding what CTAs, USPs, or necessary promotions work best across audiences and users at different stages in the sales pipeline gets advertisers a step ahead of the competition by driving stronger efficiency during higher-cost periods. Auctions will be filled with advertisers and more costly to win impressions, making your messaging strategy ever more important. That said, it’s time to make good on all of the learnings you’ve accumulated. This could be as easy as offering discount offers to users who have been in your remarketing lists for over 20 days but have yet to purchase. At minimum, you should employ different unique selling proposition at different stages of the funnel and/or for remarketing lists.

Bid Strategies

To drive an efficient bid strategy during costly periods, remember how each bid model scales your segmented audience.

oCPM finds users within your target audience most likely to convert – which might not scale effectively.

CPC reaches a higher percentage of your audience base as it looks for users most likely to click on your ad.

Reach scales your audience most as it aims to reach most users in your segment. This works best against smaller, well-segmented audiences that are at the bottom of the conversion funnel and have already shown the highest level of intent. This will drive a stronger CTR (thus bringing down your CPC within the CPM bidding model) along with higher CVRs, which will lower CPAs. It makes sense as you want to reach nearly all users who have already shown the highest level of intent.

Capitalize on the Season with Smart Promotions

During Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and remaining holiday periods, be sure you know what your competitors did the previous year to have a better understanding on how you will stand in the marketplace. Now that you have a better understanding of your competition, determine a competitive discount/promotion – without one, there will be no urgency to purchase your product during these promotional periods as many customers will wait until later to purchase.

You should have promotional materials ready for Black Friday messaging, Cyber Monday messaging, and the under-utilized “Extended” Cyber Monday deal. These materials consist of all banner units, text ads, and even landing pages. Including countdowns in text ads and on landing pages to indicate when the promotion expires can drive stronger results. If you experience a lull in purchase volume leading into these promotional periods, pivot to a lead gen strategy to allow users to sign up for the discount. This grows your database to directly advertise to these high-intent users leveraging more scalable bid models as mentioned above.

 

If you have any other strategies to combat the rising costs of Q4, drop a comment!

1 Comment

  1. Filip Zafirovski October 10th, 2017

    Great article Carlton, thanks for the share!

    I want to ask you.

    How much time does it take to properly define your audience?

    kind regards,
    Filip

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Carlton Sanders
Carlton studied Marketing at UNLV and immediately began his career working for a Las Vegas strip headliner handling all digital marketing and communications efforts. He soon transitioned to the agency side where he was responsible for executing all digital marketing campaigns for many years prior to joining 3Q Accelerate in November of 2015. He now calls San Diego home and spends his free time at the beach, on the trails, or watching his Cincy sports teams try to break the Bo Jackson Curse.