How to Succeed During Q4 Seasonality in 2020

With the holidays and Q4 quickly approaching, retailers and brands are starting to wonder how this year’s holiday season will look given the uncertainty of today’s world. How will media planning and digital ad space be affected by the lack of in-person shopping? What will marketers need to do differently in order to prepare properly for the inevitable changes that the 2020 holidays will yield? Perform[cb] Agency has gathered the answers to these questions and more in order to best prepare marketers for success during this year’s Q4 seasonality.

Digital Ad Space Will be Increasingly Lucrative, but also More Competitive Than Ever Before

Due to COVID-19, there is a high likelihood that many retailers will not be able to reopen. Many brick-and-mortar storefronts will most likely stay closed for the remainder of the year. Coronavirus has been the driving force behind the development of the stay-at-home economy. This means there has been and will continue to be, a spike in online shopping as consumers choose to avoid crowds in physical stores. There has even been a spike in online shopping for older generations. With a 12.2% increase in new online shoppers ages 65 and over. Since most, if not all, holiday shopping will take place online this year, digital ad space will be the most important real estate for brands to reach consumers.

What does this mean for marketers? Simply put, marketers that proactively plan their media buys will receive the best placements at the most reasonable rates. Digital advertising will become increasingly more expensive with the approach of peak season. Marketers will compete with each other to gain premium consumer visibility. Marketers may consider conducting a competitive analysis to understand what their competitors have done in the past. This will help to project what those competitors may plan for this year.

Additionally, marketers also may consider these few simple questions when strategizing for Q4. What is your primary goal or ideal outcome for Q4 marketing? Do your KPIs, such as ROAS, CAC, and CPA, or goals change during Q4? Are there any additional goals that your brand is placing on Q4 sales or revenue? Answering questions such as these allows marketers to understand where they should be spending their marketing dollars. As well as what those efforts should amount to come January 1. 

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Advanced Media Planning is Even More Crucial Than in Years Past

Given the increased need for digital ad placements and promotions, brands will need to plan further in advance. This should be done in order to secure quality placements at reasonable prices. Proactive media buying has always been an important key to a successful Q4. The increase in online shopping throughout the pandemic has amplified this practice tenfold. Online retail sales saw a year-over-year increase of 76.2% from June 2019 to 2020. June has not traditionally been a high-seasonality month for marketers. Should this trend continue, Q4 2020 has the potential for record-high online sales and conversions.

It’s important to anticipate how shopping holidays such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing Day will change this year. It’s possible that due to the challenges that face retailers during a pandemic, holiday shopping may begin even earlier than years past. This will be accomplished with some extra planning on Halloween as the new kick-off.  Marketers and affiliate partners alike are predicting an extension and or combination of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Many consumers will have limited ability, or no opportunity at all, to shop in-stores this November.   What does all this mean? It means that ad space will be highly competitive and that the sooner marketers begin to plan. The more efficient their ad dollars will be.

Brands Must Prepare for an Influx in Merchandising, Order Fulfillment, and Timely Shipping

Given the drastically increased online shopping that is forecasted for this holiday season, marketers must start preparations now. This will help to avoid any delays in order fulfillment and shipping. Industry giant, Amazon, has been a great example of this having delayed Prime Day 2020 three times to ensure their merchants and shipping partners are fully prepared for a tidal wave of consumers. As marketers have learned in recent years, free shipping is no longer optional. According to a 2018 study, 79% of consumers said free shipping would make them more likely to shop online. As consumers have little choice but to shop online this year, free shipping will be one of the few factors to influence a shopper’s decision to purchase from your brand or the competition this Q4 seasonality.

In addition to ensuring physical products and shipping deadlines are aligned, marketers will need to double and triple-check that their websites are able to handle an incredibly high influx in site traffic. Shopping holidays such as Cyber Monday and Prime Day are notorious for crashing websites, regardless of how prepared a marketer believes they are; there isn’t a worse or easier way to lose consumers to competitors than a site crash on the morning of Black Friday.

Though nothing is guaranteed in 2020, it’s extremely likely that digital ad space will be more lucrative than ever before during the months leading up to holidays such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Hanukkah, and Christmas. Advanced media planning is even more crucial this year knowing that digital promotions will likely be extremely competitive within the e-commerce vertical. These factors will also play into marketers’ need to prepare for an influx in merchandising, order fulfillment and timely (and more times than not, free) shipping for Q4 seasonality.

Looking for guidance on how to drive the most success for your brand during Q4? Reach out to Perform[cb] Agency now to see how we can scale your business during the busiest time of the year!

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