Most advertisers know, in preparation for the holidays, they’ll need to ramp their strategies up in Q4. And following that, most advertisers understand they can probably expect sales to slow down a bit as the new year gets underway.
Advertisers on Google Shopping might begin implementing customer match and RLSA strategies for campaigns in the new year. Retailers in the Amazon Marketplace might focus on building organic reviews as a part of Q1 preparation. And then there’s Facebook.
The platform is so unique because it addresses just about every stage of the ecommerce conversion funnel. From brand awareness to revenue generation, it has the ability to hit on so many different levers. As a result, nailing down your Q1 Facebook advertising strategy can be a little tricky.
Facebook Advertising Strategy: Preparing for Q1
But just because sales volume might take a hit, that doesn’t necessarily mean your advertising efforts have to.
As December comes to a close, we wanted to take a look at how Facebook advertising strategies might shift for retailers on the platform as we move into Q1 and the rest of the year.
“Going into Q1, budgets tend to get a little more restrictive.” said Sarah Rogers, Senior Social Strategist at CPC Strategy.
“Advertisers and retailers start to get a little leaner with their campaigns. During Q4, people were really aggressive and pushed campaigns pretty hard in those months, so now they want to pull back a little bit.”
“With that, we have to be as strategic as possible. In terms of how we’re budgeting, the types of campaigns we’re suggesting or launching, or whatever the case may be, we have to adjust our approach.”
Looking ahead, we put together a few key components advertisers should keep in mind with their Facebook advertising strategy going into 2017.
Consider thinking of January as an extension of Q4
Yes, the holidays are over, but January tends to do pretty well in terms of sales volume. While we anticipate dips in consumer spending during Q1, it’s not crazy to consider January as a sort of addendum to the holiday shopping season.
“In terms of what certain promotions and campaigns look like, I typically think of January almost as an extension of Q4,” Rogers went on to say.
“We’ve noticed that January tends to be a pretty good promotional month still and we get a lot of positive performance on these campaigns. So rather than immediately scaling things down, a lot of our clients are still running promotions during this period.”
Of course, how aggressive your campaigns should be during this time will be heavily influenced by a number of factors, but if it makes sense for you and your account, it’s definitely something to consider in your Facebook advertising strategy.
A lot of verticals maintain popularity through Christmas and into the new year, so staying aggressive on campaigns that fit the bill could prove in being a good move to drive revenue before sales slow down.
Conduct a detailed Q4 analysis
With just a few days left in the year, Q4 is finally coming to a close. Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rest of the Christmas shopping season, this quarter was historic for ecommerce.
Major marketplaces weren’t the only ones with great numbers, social platforms saw significant boosts in activity as well, producing major trends overall on Facebook.
As such, advertisers should allocate time to take a good look at how their campaigns held up in Q4. A detailed analysis of your campaigns will shed light into what worked, what didn’t, and how you should proceed with your Facebook advertising strategy moving forward.
“A deep dive analysis of your Q4 campaign is one of the first things I would suggest advertisers do in preparation for the new year,” Rogers continued.
“Q4 is an incredibly hectic time for retailers, so many of them probably haven’t had a chance to really look into performance results yet. Make sure you’re doing a detailed analysis and really dig into the results to see what sort of trends emerged for you.”
Understanding things like what verticals performed well and what campaign types produced what kinds of results can be key indicators in what is going to influence your Facebook advertising strategy moving forward.
November and December can be total chaos for retailers and advertisers. Take a second to really break down campaign performance before completely building out your Q1 Facebook advertising strategy.
Use this time to experiment and test different strategies
One of the major trends we noticed over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend was significant spike in cost-per-clicks (CPCs). During Q1, we’re anticipating that CPCs will start to decline.
“CPCs are incredibly high in Q4, and I expect those to decrease in the coming months. From October to November and December, CPCs almost doubled across almost all of our clients as competition increased,” Rogers continued.
“Everything costs more. And while CPCs tend to go way up, your return will often do well during this time too. So we can expect to see those costs start to go down, but along with that, you may see dips in revenue as well.”
Lower CPCs can be indicative of potential sales forecasts, but even when sales numbers are taking a hit, there is still plenty to take advantage of.
The biggest being the ability to test. Retailers should be looking to use this time to test and experiment with different features on the platform, potentially sourcing new approaches to their Facebook advertising strategy.
“Q4 is really geared toward promotions. However, once you start going into Q1, we start suggesting what I like to call ‘interesting’ campaigns.” Rogers explained.
“As things begin to calm down, you have the chance to experiment with a lot of different things. Facebook has come out with a lot of different features that we haven’t had the chance to test because we were putting our best foot forward during Q4 with little deviation.”
“So now is the time to test video, or split testing, or anything along those lines. We can try this out, see how they perform, and begin to implement them once the peak season comes back around.”
Explore Facebook’s different offerings, evaluate their performance, and see how they can be worked into the building blocks that make up your Facebook advertising strategy.
If Split Testing is available to you, try it out.
One feature our Social team is looking forward to experimenting with is Split Testing.
Similar to A/B testing, Split Testing helps advertisers understand how different aspects of their ads affect campaign performance. Advertisers are able to test different versions of their ads and are able to see how their campaigns can be improved.
“We’re most excited about Split Testing. It hasn’t rolled out to everyone yet, but we’re looking forward to working with it more” Rogers went on to say.
“You can essentially plug in an audience, and Facebook will literally split it in half. You can do different audience targeting, modify how you’re optimizing – whether it’s for clicks or conversions – and a host of others.”
“So you now have the ability to run all of these tests, and we’re really excited about these features because they’re going to produce some very meaningful data for you.”
After you’ve run a few tests, you can review the results to see what kind of insights can be derived from how certain ad sets performed. Moving forward, these insights are going to assist in the design of your campaigns and overall Facebook advertising strategy.
Begin planning for Q4 in Q1
If there’s anything that you should take away from this post, it’s that everything you do from here on out should be a step forward in preparing yourself in Q4.
Use this time to set up the foundations of what your Facebook advertising strategy is going to look like once things start to pick up again in later quarters.
“Q1 is especially important for setting up the building blocks of your strategy for the rest of the year,” Rogers said.
“Prospecting audiences through different means is going to be huge. Figure out how to get more people into your funnel. You want to have a bigger audience that is constantly building on itself.”
“So when Q3 and Q4 roll back around, you’ll have an audience of people are familiar with you, interested in your brand, and who have shown positive engagement in the past.”
“Q1 is a good time to test and prospect these audiences.”
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