The most profitable quarter of 2022, Q4, is around the corner. Here are the Facebook ad strategies you should use as an agency owner.
For regular people, Q4 is simply the last quarter of the year. But for ad agency owners—it’s JACKPOT season! In fact, even if you’ve had a slow year, you could still end up having a profitable one if you nail the months of October, November, and December.
Now, here’s the thing—in order to have a successful Q4 2022 as an agency owner, you have to begin the preparations right now, in September. I’m telling you this as a fellow agency owner. I’ve seen people beginning the Q4 Facebook ads planning in October, and consequently, a lot of them fail. You see, planning is the boring, unsexy part, but it's the action most successful businesses nail before they’re able to scale.
In this blog, I’ll teach you how to create a foolproof strategy for Q4 to ensure you rock those holiday season sales. In particular, we’ll go through specific actions for each phase of Q4. You’ll have a deep and thorough understanding of the planning and strategies required for a successful holiday season.
So, let me teach you my personal tried-and-tested strategies, which I’ve used to generate millions of dollars in revenue for my clients.
4 steps for nailing your client’s ad campaigns in Q4
I’ll explain my techniques to you in a stepwise manner to ensure you can grasp this new piece of information well. Follow these steps in a sequence and watch your campaigns go wild.
Step #1: Thoroughly understand the nature of your client's business
Every business is different, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll divide companies into two categories: B2B and e-commerce businesses.
Let’s start with B2B businesses. Firstly, have you ever heard of the 95:5 rule? This rule by Professor John Dawes states that only 5% of B2B customers are in the market to buy at any given time. The remaining 95% are out of the market. Given the fact that businesses close down during holidays, B2B prospecting and sales are further affected negatively. So, as far as B2B businesses are concerned, the strategy should be to focus on the 95% that represents future customers.
As far as e-commerce companies are concerned, Q4 is the make-or-break period. This is the time to win big or play average.
Step #2: Examine other key variables apart from company type
Even though thoroughly understanding a client’s business type and revenue model is key, there are some other factors that you can’t ignore. So, let's quickly discuss these factors.
Objectives: When it comes to ad budgets in Q4, not every client should be making it rain like a rich rapper. Start by asking yourself: What objective is more important for your client here and now—is it growth and scale or predictable stability?
Resources: Even if you have a great plan in mind for your client, they should have resources to make things happen. Without a client’s ad budget or marketing assets, an agency can’t do much.
Prior preparation: The month during which you start preparing for full-on ad assault is crucial. So, someone who's been preparing since June may have an advantage over someone who starts in November.
Shopping behavior: Like always, human needs around holiday shopping remain the same. However, there are two types of shoppers you should keep in mind:
- Gift buyers: More gift buyers enter the market during Q4 than any other period in the entire year. In fact, some businesses make 50% or more of their revenue in just November and December alone.
- Deal hunters: A high number of deal hunters enter the market during Q4, thanks to events like Black Friday. These days, anything one can buy online—whether it’s a shirt or a self-development course—ends up on the Black Friday sale. And deal hunters live for such offers.
Apart from the aforementioned, the current political climate and economic crisis must also be taken into consideration. You see, many people are in saving mode, and this adds to the unpredictability.
Step #3: Collaborate with your clients to set the Q4 objectives
What does success in Q4 mean to your client? After you have considered the nature of the client's business and other factors that I mentioned above, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start listing objectives.
For B2B companies
If your client is a B2B company, seriously consider running a minimal budget in Q4. In fact, if they have a yearly ad budget, ask them to spend more of it now—in Q3. Also, they should pull back on prospecting in Q4, especially in phases two and three of Q4. Instead, they should move the prospecting-related tasks to Q1 in January 2023—that's a great time for audience creation in B2B.
Unchristmasy product or service
To sell any product that has no built-in urgency and cannot generally be categorized as a gift, you’ll need some creative solutions. For example, you could promote gift cards or exclusive offers one can only buy online. For instance, a Christmas edition box of beer as a gift. Also, understand that gifts require "pull marketing," not "push marketing." Sometimes, it might just be good to wait it out. Remember, CPMs in Q4 are going to be high, so don’t waste money trying to sell the wrong products.
Well, this one needs a whole different section of its own. So, let’s walk through each phase of Q4 from the eCommerce lens.
Step #4: Set Q4 marketing goals
Once you’ve set your business objectives for Q4, it’s time to set your marketing goals. Marketing goals are carefully planned and trackable objectives that help you stay focused and motivated throughout the quarter. Let’s shed some light on how to create marketing goals for Q4, shall we?
Have a pragmatic view
Social media advertising is not what it once was, and neither is Q4. This new landscape is really, really hard. So, what makes it so difficult? For one, measuring ads is highly challenging and frustrating nowadays. On the data side, specifically, the unfortunate truth is that you can’t effectively compare the data reported in the Ads Manager to the data of the past.
Although we can compare performance across platforms for directional signals, it’s still not 100% clear what to turn up, down, or pause. These data discrepancies are difficult to explain to clients who like things cut and dry and black and white.
The clients may think that you’re a magician. They want you to crush it. However, you should be transparent with them regarding the current state of Facebook advertisements.
Reflect on last year’s performance
Before you jump into a conversation about Q4 strategy, it is important to reflect on your client's sales and marketing performance for this year and last year’s Q4. Through this, you can review key wins at the channel, campaign, and product levels and also find areas for improvement.
Here are two key aspects to consider:
- What were the top-performing categories, SKUs, and search terms? (both in terms of Facebook engagement and on the e-commerce website)
- Which SKUs, brands, categories, and terms saw the largest quarter-over-quarter growth?
A recap of this year's (and last year’s) performance should help you get more clarity on the potential of an ad account, and this will assist you in setting attainable goals for Q4.
Set your client’s marketing goals
Bear in mind that during Q4, clients get nervous, antsy, and love to move goalposts. Please avoid this. Lay it all out first, and start with the numbers you saw last year and the state of the economy/inflation. Also, set the expectations straight and let them know what goals are achievable and which ones are not. Be firm.
I suggest setting certain goals from the get-go. Define what success looks like internally (for your agency) and with your clients, both qualitatively and quantitatively. This can be another way to ensure responsibilities are being honored and goals are being achieved.
Begin by understanding the client's finances and determining the numbers they’re trying to reach beforehand. Break them down as specifically as possible. Include data like COGS, gross margin, CPA, ROAS, MER, etc. Then, extend into even more detailed questions, like what numbers the client is looking at each day to attribute success.
What to do during each phase of Q4
The holiday season is everybody’s favorite time, but over the years, people’s behavior has changed. Now, they start preparing for the holiday season much earlier and stay engaged in it for much longer.
Christmas actually begins in October, and Boxing Day extends all the way up to Q1 of the year that follows. And Black Friday, well, it is no longer just a single day of shopping frenzy—it is followed by Cyber Monday. Before that, there’s Halloween and Back to School. Finally, there’s also the World Cup. The opportunities are limitless!
But still, it’s not as easy as it sounds. You must know what actions to take during different phases of Q4 and the previous quarters, too. So, let’s divide Q4 into 4 phases and discuss what you should focus on during each phase.
Phase 1: Establish foundations
Once your objectives and goals are in place, you’re ready to make a plan—a promotional, content, and financial plan. Meaning that you can build a promotional calendar for Q4. To establish strong foundations, you must set up a strong data, creative, media, and measurement foundation well ahead of your sales event.
To increase data reliability, you should create a direct connection between your marketing data and the Meta systems through the Conversions API. And to check the strength of data connections, ensure Conversions API is set up properly, and your Event Match Quality score is higher than 6.0.
And don’t forget to simplify your account structure. To help increase revenue, consolidate ad sets based on similar interests and avoid audience overlap. This way, you can focus your ad spend on people who are most likely to drive sales for your business.
Phase 2: Build momentum
Period: September to mid-November
This is the time to conduct acquisition campaign testing. During this period, the competition is lower, and it’s relatively easy to get customers into the funnel. Your goal in this phase should be to get discovered and bring new people to your site.
The month of September should be used as a runway to get ready for what's coming up in October, November, and December. Think of it as a time period for audience building. You must bring quality buyers to your site before the holiday season starts and load up the top of your funnel.
A/B test different product offers and discounts to see what works best for your store. Make sure you're testing multiple variations, such as items in a purchase, size, color options, etc. Then use those results to create future marketing campaigns as you head further into Q4. This is the time to optimize everything. So test ad funnels, get better quality clicks, achieve higher conversion rates, and push order value.
Personally, I’d recommend Madgicx’s Creative Insights tool during this phase. This AI tool offers a comprehensive creative analysis for Facebook ads. How? First, this tool can unify billions of data points. Then, it turns them into actionable insights. Trust me; you don’t have time to go through thousands of data points and analyze their meaning yourself in Q4—just use the Creative Insights tool, seriously!
Phase 3: Maximize sales
Period: Late November to the last pre-Christmas shipping date (for most brands, it’s December 20th)
Online consumer activity peaks during this phase. This is the time when consumers are expecting an offer and are keen to shop & purchase. During this phase, you should use ads to target customers only—avoid prospecting and focus your effort on retargeting the audiences generated in phase 2.
In other words, phase 3 is about reconnecting with people who found something in your offering that they were glad to discover. Your goal is to help them discover even more! Also, during this stage, you should go all in with cross-selling and upselling. Get people who bought your products during phases 1 and 2 to buy again.
Pro tip regarding delayed attribution from November onwards: Don’t panic if you experience a drop in sales around mid-November. People know that the biggest sale of the year is coming up, so they 'window shop' a lot more and plan to come back on the day of the sale. You see, customers know when they'll receive the best offers.
Phase 4: Post-holiday
Period: Whole of January (optionally, also February)
It's the period during which the Christmas presents are already purchased and consumed, people have sorted out their budgets, and there is some money left over. For advertisers, it's the golden moment of the year during which the CPM on Facebook is the lowest it's going to be on annual basis.
So, how about turning new customers into repeat customers? The customer journey doesn’t end at purchase. Re-engaging shoppers can drive repeat purchases and brand loyalty. Brands can reach shoppers who have visited their website/app or shop and guide them back towards a purchase.
It’s very wise to stay on top of customers’ minds during this period because quite a few customers who have received gift cards as presents are keen to sort them out and buy something. Many people have cash that they received as a gift, and in the US, people start receiving tax returns in February. Last but not least, the weather in the Northern hemisphere— well, it’s really cold, and people would rather stick to online shopping than go out and freeze.
So, don’t give up after the holiday period ends. People still have purchasing power, and they’ll buy if you target them with ads.
My fellow ad agency owners, it’s that time of the year again. It is the time to go hard! The time to give your 100%! The time to not leave anything in the tank! Especially if your client is an e-commerce business.
Unlike many other companies that have the same level of revenue throughout the year, advertising companies have a lot to gain in Q4 and make more revenue than they did in the past nine months combined.
So, use the strategies I’ve mentioned in this article, and remember what actions to take during each phase of Q4. Good luck.
From tracking and attribution to ad automation, Madgicx has all the solutions to optimize your advertising workflow and ensure you’re getting maximum results throughout the last quarter.
Following his passion for outdoor adventures, Madis founded BirkAds - the only agency in Europe that specializes in Optimizing Ads ROI for the Outdoor Industry. He has audited over 3,000 campaigns, conducted over 672 hours of coaching sessions, and managed ads for more than 70 companies worldwide.