As a marketer, no doubt you’re already thinking about your Q4 marketing plan. It’s time to get to work if you’re going to market in the final quarter, but does your plan leverage a strategy that will best engage your audiences and maximize revenue opportunities?
If you’re unsure, we’ve created this guide for e-commerce and retail marketers as a north star for driving revenue. A solid marketing strategy will help your brand stand out in the crowd. Alternatively, failing to plan ahead can lead to confusion, falling behind schedule, and missing out on a ton of sales on account of being overwhelmed.
We’ll touch on everything you need to know as you develop or fine-tune your Q4 marketing plan so that you can better position your business for the ultimate season of sales.
Developing a powerful Q4 marketing plan
Step 1: Know key dates
Utilizing key dates as a benchmark and working backward is a great way to determine the timeline your in-house or outsourced team needs to get all your assets ready for Q4.
Marketers and consumers alike know that the biggest Q4 dates to be capitalized on are:
- Halloween (October 31),
- Black Friday (November 25),
- Cyber Monday (November 28),
- Christmas (December 31)
- Hanukkah (Dec 18-26), and
- Kwanzaa, which coincides with the post-Christmas return/shopping frenzy (December 24-31).
Another date worth keeping in mind, which is often overlooked, is Free Shipping Day (December 14) which is the last day when thousands of online retailers offer free shipping with guaranteed delivery by Christmas.
Being aware of key dates will help you gain insight into the discounts you’ll be able to offer, types of campaigns you’ll want to develop, number of creative assets you’ll need, and more.
Step 2: Set SMART goals
Now that you know the key dates you’re working with, it’s time to set SMART goals, which will help you achieve the greatest campaign success. In the hyperlinked article above, we apply the SMART methodology specifically to video marketing, but the lessons are valuable across your whole plan.
Start goal-setting. Without it, your campaign activities are in danger of being out of sync or pulled in different directions. Do you want to increase new sales from nonbinary customers ages 18-25 by 10% within the first 2 months of Q4? Grow the traffic to your e-commerce landing page from 39k to 50k within 3 months? Setting defined, measurable objectives will inform what assets you need to build and allow you to better monitor performance.
Looking at campaign and financial performance in previous years will also give you a good idea of expected profit and how much spending you can justify in the quarter as you set your goals.
Step 3: Create the plan
While starting as soon as possible, in late Q2 or early Q3, is ideal to give you time to create, share, improve upon, and eventually execute your Q4 plan, you can start developing a strategy at any time.
One of the most important steps in creating a strong marketing plan is to focus on creating targeted campaigns that resonate with your audience. This can be done by segmenting customers and understanding what motivates them to make a purchasing decision.
Additionally, businesses need to make sure their Q4 campaigns are visible and easily accessible to potential customers. This can be done through online and offline channels such as social media, email marketing, and traditional advertising.
Finally, make sure to offer attractive deals and discounts to encourage customers to purchase during big Q4 dates. You should ultimately see big returns in driving sales and boosting revenue.
Step 4: Identify the marketing assets you need and start creating them
With your sales aspirations and marketing budget clearly defined, now is the time to start planning out your campaign assets. You know what you want to accomplish, now it’s just a matter of how you will do it, This is key, so we’ll spend a little more time on this topic.
Start by aligning content needs to the specific channels and platforms you’ll be utilizing. Paid and owned media channels (your company pages on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter) are great for visually-driven content. You can repeatedly connect with your audience and share multiple seasonal messages and offers. High-value content (like video product demos) will help your selling partners and marketplaces like Amazon do a better job of featuring or marketing your products.
The best e-commerce and retail plans use a strategic blend of media and content types to reach their targeted audiences, and research is showing that video is germaine to effective marketing at all stages of the buyer journey, especially in the e-commerce and retail landscape.
The pandemic made video vital for digital consumerism, as more people pivoted from in-person to online shopping. A great customer experience is key to getting potential buyers from your original marketing touchpoint to the “Order Completed” page on your site or the “Tap/Insert/Swipe” credit card screen in store, and video has been driving those transactions.
Take it from the #1 host for e-commerce businesses, Amazon: “aggregated Amazon DSP campaign metrics show that adding video ads to display-only campaigns dramatically improves results. Specifically, campaigns that combine both formats, on average, record a 320% increase in detail page views, and a 150% increase in purchase rate compared to display-only campaigns.”
So, start determining what copy, graphic, and video content you need. Once you know what assets you need, you can create a production timeline and work backwards from your launch date. Get your in-house marketing team on the job or outsource to a partner to handle the content execution for you. They will likely want to start working on your content in Q3 in order to have it ready for Q4.
Step 5: Review everything
No detail is too small. Before you launch any campaign or promotion, be sure to think about potential issues that might arise.
You’ll want to walk through all of the elements in your campaign and test it all out. Go through the intended journey yourself and make sure your landing pages are accurate and that your links, forms, and discount codes all work.
You can develop and implement a killer marketing plan for your e-commerce/retail business, but if one of your servers crashes, your loading times are slow, your website has bugs, or if any other issue arises that will make the user experience unpleasant, your work will be for naught.
The last thing you want is to miss out on potential customers during a time you want to be bringing in enormous chunks of revenue, especially as Q4 won’t roll around again for another year.
Step 6: Plan for success, prepare for optimization
A well-prepared marketing plan is a big step in the right direction, arming you with the goals and direction to make the most of this lucrative season with confidence.
Even so, it’s likely than not that some elements of your campaign won’t perform as planned. So, watch the results unfold and track what’s working and what isn’t so that you can make mid-campaign optimizations.
What’s more, reviewing your performance at the end of the campaign will help you benchmark various activities and reevaluate your approach next year.
Work with us
We hope this guide gave you some new insights to create your most successful marketing plan to date. For e-commerce and retail brands, Q4 really is the most wonderful time of the year–if you’re ready for it!
If you want help leveraging or creating video as part of your Q4 marketing plan, we’ve got you covered. Schedule a call with us today and let’s get you ready for Q4.