The festive season has crept Its way in and it’s not just the cold that’s giving us the chills. From spooky Halloween performance to competitive Black Friday deals – What are Rocketer’s biggest takeaways for the frostbite that is Q4?

The crunch of a toffee apple. The sip of a warm mulled wine. The knife clangs of an eager family member carving away at the turkey. For many, Q4 is the most wonderful time of the year: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and how could we forget… Christmas! But this excitement is also coupled with anxiety, like the gruelling wait between Christmas and New Years and the panicked fluster of last-minute present shopping on Black Friday. However, for marketers, Q4 can instil a unique feeling of dread that, without forward thinking, can be a make-or-break situation for many businesses.

For everyone this is the busiest time of the year. What does it mean for Rocketer?

We’re a month deep into Q4 following a September widely considered to be the best performing month of the year to date!

As we began to greet October in with cautious, teethy grins, the curse of the final quarter began to rear its ghoulish head as if summoned by the call of Halloween. A curse that all marketers wait patiently to blow over as we witness a drastic decrease in CPM that no longer resembles the bright eyed, bushy tailed performance of the previous month. October is known as the last BAU month globally in terms of media spend, so there is no surprise that shifting behaviour starts to take its toll on lower funnel metrics.

Come November, our performance hangover only deepens its grip as the CPM trend continues and November takes its annual title of ‘Worst Performing Month’. For this, we have Black Friday to blame, due to an influx of competition across all channels with E-commerce retailers fighting it out for the festive top spots.

There are no quick fix cures or old wife’s tale to follow for this hangover, but early planning can help mitigate losses before they turn sour. Look no further than previous Q4 performance to guide your strategy for the year ahead. Back in 2019, this quarter witnessed CPL’s worsen by 18% and CPA’s decrease by 21% against the average of all other quarters. And with conversion to sale rate taking a -14% hit in Q4, it can sometimes leave a marketer feeling out of their depth. Black Friday alone encourages a 23% rise in CPC and a 22% rise in CPQ for all clients across Rocketer’s global business so to not plan for this occasion is almost criminal in our industry.

It may seem all doom and gloom, and let’s be honest, for many financial services it is, but this gives us an opportunity to be strategically savvy. And yes – At Rocketer we do forecast a similar increase in cost, despite the influence of the pandemic. The all-important question on everyone’s lips now is ‘Where do we go from here?’

What Should We Do?

1. If the previous quarter had you feeling top of the food chain, think of this quarter as the lion that wishes to knock you down a few pegs. It can smell your fear, but we don’t wait around like Christmas turkeys. Being proactive is our best defence. With consumer intent now shifting, the holiday period marks a great time to start planning budget allocations and marketing activity for 2022. In doing so, you can ensure your business hits the ground running in the first quarter of next year.

2. Increased advertiser volume across all channels can make you feel claustrophobic and inevitably inflates CPM’s for all marketers. That is why developing a robust plan for Q4 activity should be at the top of your yearly agenda. The key is to fully maximise both your owned and earned channels with CRM at the core of this as you attempt to salvage the shortfall in customer demand and increased upper funnel costs on your paid advertising channels.

3. The question is, how exactly does one manipulate the shift in consumer behaviour to work in your favour? Working alongside change is always better than working against it and many advertisers see this quarter as a great opportunity incentivise on their marketing promotional activity. This could take the form of free gifts, gift cards or even reduced rates – because there’s nothing a consumer loves more than a bargain around the festive season. It’s practically ingrained in a consumer’s mind! Bridging the gap between commercial return and customer intent is an effective tool for mitigating your performance woes during this otherwise cheerful period. Remember: treat the changing consumer mindset as your friend, not your foe.

4. …But hold up! When undertaking your planning, carefully consider how this may affect your annual business model. Is there a tolerance within your YTD trended CPA or ROAS data? Are they sturdy enough to maximise your paid social activity and absorb the increased CPA cost around Black Friday? Can your business withstand these changes throughout the sticky pre-Christmas week? It truly is a question of efficiency or volume and what path do we take as advertisers to remain profitable on the year or each individual policy.

Conclusion:

There is much to learn for all as we tussle with the everchanging consumer behaviour during this time. There is no magic cheat codes or Bruce Willis style one-liners to ensure your business is a Die Hard success. Although there sure are tasks you can undertake beforehand that won’t leave you having a Nightmare Before Christmas. If Rocketer has any advice for navigating this snowstorm of a quarter, it would be to consider the emergence of rising metrics across your marketing mix. No one wants their ads left Home Alone with no engagement. Or to become the Grinch when your budget is spent with nothing to show for it. You could even assume the role of Elf and incentivise consumer engagement through gifting. Our most important takeaway, however, is to always plan and ensure your strategy is Love Actually rather than a Krampus in the backside.

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Morgan Bevan

Morgan Bevan

Junior Account Executive

Morgan joined the team in April 2021 as a Junior Account Executive at Rocketer’s Manchester office.

After completing his degree and gaining marketing experience alongside the likes of BT & the London Evening Standard, he became one of our first apprentices.

Copywriting comes naturally to this extrovert which is why Morgan has a passion for journalism. If he’s not talking… He’s typing.