The Essential Q4 eCommerce Survival Guide

Ah, Q4 – the final hurdle of the year, and the biggest.

Holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Christmas rush make Q4 a critical period for every brand. Navigating Q4 can test your eCommerce strategy to its limits.

With Black Friday spending reaching an estimated €100 million in the Ireland last year, preparation is key. But it doesn’t have to be stressful. HOT IRON Digital is here to ensure your eCommerce marketing plan is successful and stress-free.

We’ve crafted a handy guide to help you thrive during Q4. Below are essential tips for boosting budgets, increasing engagement, and driving online sales.

Tip #1 - Pay Attention to Your Calendar

Your calendar is essential in Q4. Studies show 57% of retailers see an increase in sales during this quarter every year. A well-organized marketing calendar is crucial for rolling out campaigns and messaging to customers on time.

Key holidays to note:

October 31st

Halloween. Use this time to get spooky with campaigns for optimal engagement, Just as Marks and Spencer did last year on their Instagram.

November 27th

Black Friday. Possibly the biggest day of the year, is packed with large deals and discount, resulting in a huge increase in online sales.

November 30th

Cyber Monday. The day where many consumers flock online in search of deals. Data shows that in recent years, this holiday was larger than Black Friday, possibly due to the ease of online shopping compared to the crowded shops, or that retailers will often hold larger discounts and deals on this day.

December 5th

Small business day. Here's a chance for small businesses to engage with customers, celebrating individuality, independence, and local spirit.

December 15th

Free Shipping Day. This day sees both large and small retailers offer free shipping on products, leading to another great boost in online sales. Free shipping is the largest reason why customers abandon their cart, so it's no wonder that Free Shipping Day is extremely popular.

December 24th/25th/26th

Christmas Eve / Christmas Day / Boxing Day. There's no need to explain what this one is. The Everest of holidays sees customers rushing to retailers every year. To avoid the last-minute panic it's essential to be prepared for the holiday season well in advance.

December 31st

New Year's Eve. The last major holiday of the year, this is a time for many retailers to push campaigns focused around parties. It will be interesting to see how this differs in 2020 with the ongoing lockdown measures preventing gatherings from happening.

A clear and organized marketing calendar ensures you can smoothly run holiday-specific campaigns on social media, driving engagement and optimizing sales.

It’s crucial to align your customer messaging with the calendar, tailoring your communication to reflect each specific holiday.

Neglecting customer messaging and your calendar can lead to a loss of engagement, potential conversions, and sales.

Tip #2 - Distribute Your Social Ad Budget Carefully

Just as it’s crucial to maintain a schedule of holiday-relevant campaigns, it’s equally important to carefully distribute your social ad budget throughout Q4, not just on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

At HOT IRON Digital, we’ve developed a strategy for distributing your social ad budget leading up to Black Friday.

Effective budget distribution can significantly boost sales. To create a successful paid social strategy, you need to buy your traffic in advance.

Identify the best social, search, and display platforms to buy media for your brand (Google Analytics can help here), and find the best times to get deals that reach the most prospective customers.

The week before Black Friday, allocate 90% of your social ad budget to cold traffic and 10% to retargeting. When Black Friday arrives, switch to a 50/50 split between cold traffic and retargeting.

Focus on retargeting those who have:

Visited your site in the past 180 days
Bought from you in the past 180 days
Engaged with you on Facebook or Instagram in the past 365 days
Viewed at least 25% of your video ads or content in the past 180 days

Why do we do this?

It’s essential to recapture everyone who has seen your brand in the past 365 days and convert them into customers during the days with the highest conversion rates.

If executed correctly, this strategy can yield incredible results during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday season, securing the highest ROAS you’ve ever seen.

Tip #3 - Diversify Your Traffic Sources

Expanding beyond Facebook and Instagram can significantly boost your brand. Consider platforms like Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok.

Diversifying your traffic sources:

Reduces performance fluctuations.
Reaches new customers not on Facebook or Instagram.
Future-proofs your marketing strategy.

Diversifying social media traffic sources beyond Facebook can significantly boost overall revenues and reach customers who don’t regularly use Facebook. Expanding to platforms like Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok can stabilize performance and reduce forecasting issues caused by relying solely on Facebook and Instagram. 

For example, Snapchat, with its 229 million daily active users and lower CPM, is a valuable addition if your target audience uses the platform. A broader range of traffic sources ensures that data is less prone to rapid fluctuations, making your eCommerce strategy more resilient.

Additionally, using multiple traffic sources helps discover new customers and prevents over-reliance on any single platform. This approach is particularly beneficial in the lead-up to major events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday season, enabling you to tap into audiences who may not use Facebook or Instagram. 

As social media trends evolve, having a diverse selection of traffic sources can future-proof your business, ensuring continued success regardless of changes in the digital landscape. Just as investors benefit from a varied portfolio, a diversified eCommerce marketing plan is essential for sustained growth and stability.

Tip #4 - Prepare Your Video Creatives

Video content is an important tool in any eCommerce marketing strategy, with data from 62% of customers interviewed revealing that they watch product reviews before making a purchase, and new data suggesting that authentic videos boost customers’ trust in a brand.

Video content should be deployed by retailers in the lead up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. When used properly, video content can boost conversion rates and drive sales.

It’s important then to know how to optimise your video content to it’s full potential ready in time for Black Friday.

One easy-to-use formula is the AIDA approach, a useful tool to use when creating any video content.

A – Attention

I – Interest

D – Desire

A – Action

First off, you need to hook the customer with a catchy headline. If you don’t reel them in within the first five seconds, they’re likely to bounce, so it’s crucial to grab their attention early and keep it.

However, just because you have their attention doesn’t mean they’ll stay. That’s where the next step, interest, comes in. Engage the viewer with relatable anecdotes, fascinating details, or by creating a connection.

So, you’ve got their interest. Now what? How do you turn this into sales?

To convert the viewer into a potential customer, you need to make them desire the product. Explain why they need it and highlight all the benefits.

Then comes the final step: action. Tell the customer what to do next. Do they need to visit a specific website? If so, where and how can they get there?

Make this step as easy and concise as possible to ensure the viewer follows the call-to-action without confusion.

Remember, the optimal length for video ads to hold a viewer’s attention is around 30 to 45 seconds. Be mindful of this, or risk viewers bouncing from the video.

It’s also worth noting that recent studies found 85% of Facebook users watch videos without sound. Including eye-catching subtitles ensures that customers can understand the video without needing sound.

If done well, video content can significantly boost your Black Friday eCommerce strategy, but be aware of the challenges. If your video isn’t attention-grabbing right away, there’s a high probability that the viewer will bounce.

Tip #5 - Make Your Conversion Rate Changes Now Before It's Too Late

Another vital strategy for any eCommerce plan leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday is making your conversion rate changes now, before it’s too late.

One of the biggest challenges in eCommerce marketing is managing conversion rates (the number of visitors to your website who complete a desired action), so it’s crucial to make these changes now, before Black Friday hits and you’re left with a suboptimal website.

But how exactly do you optimise your conversion rates? Well, here are a few strategies to get you started.

The Roundup

The Roundup

So what have we learned?

Your calendar is your best friend.

With holiday after holiday in Q4, it’s vital to schedule your marketing content and messaging carefully, adjusting the theme and tone to reflect each upcoming holiday, from Halloween to Free Shipping Day.

Manage your paid social ad budget carefully in advance.
By negotiating how you split your ad budget between cold traffic and re-targeting, you can gain new audiences and boost sales for less.

Diversify your traffic sources.
There are many advantages to diversifying where your traffic comes from, such as finding new audiences and future-proofing your brand’s marketing strategy.

It’s time to prepare a video content strategy.
As video content is one of the most effective pieces of marketing, it’s important to introduce it into your plan if you haven’t already. With the holiday season just around the corner and people hungry for deals, now is the perfect time to showcase why your product is the best, following the simple AIDA formula.

Make your conversion rate changes now.
Making your conversion rate changes before it’s too late can make the difference between Q4 being a great success or an abysmal failure. If your site is attracting visitors but not securing sales, consider analysing where you can make conversion rate changes, such as setting up email re-targeting plans and streamlining the checkout process.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your eCommerce strategy is fully prepared to tackle Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday season. For more information, check out our blogs on making conversion rate changes to great effect or managing your paid social ad budget during Black Friday.

Want to see how we can help you grow your eCommerce store?

Looking to grow your ecommerce sales? Our team has successfully scaled numerous brands. Schedule a call with us today and discover how we can achieve the same results for you. At HOT IRON Digital, we’re here to lend a helping hand.

Have a project in mind?

Book a call with our team!