What Marketers Can Expect in Q4 2020
If you had to overhaul your 2020 marketing plan back in March, you’re not alone. If you’ve been holding on to your holiday marketing plans for Q4 with the hope that things would be back to “normal” by now, it’s time to let that go, too.
Nothing in 2020 has happened as we planned. Retail has certainly taken a hit from the pandemic, and marketers have shouldered the herculean task of bridging the gap between existing customer habits like brick-and-mortar shopping to direct-to-consumer lockdown shopping online. Take Home Depot, for example. Instead of a single in-store Black Friday sale, it has extended its Black Friday deals from a single day to two full months.
This is just one example of an unprecedented change in an uncertain year. Between a U.S. election, COVID-19, and the next breaking news story, marketers should expect this holiday season to look unlike any we’ve ever seen.
Beware Best Practices
Best practices are “best” for a reason, right? Sometimes, but best practices also lead to average results. If they’re “best,” then everyone is using them, and you’re not going to be able to stand out from your competitors.
Dig into your data. If the best practice has been to include a lot of people in your ad creative, does your clickthrough rate (CTR) or cost per click (CPC) reflect that? Instead, take the opportunity to try something new. Data trends for Q4 2020 show that ads with just one person — or even none at all — have a lower CPC and are therefore more cost effective.
The key here is measurement. You have to know what has and has not worked to try something new and then measure its effectiveness. Analysis tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning will allow you to measure your data much faster than poring over pivot reports, enabling you to mix creative up quicker for better results.
Be Agile and Inventive
Maroon and orange color schemes were associated with low CPC in 2019. Did they evoke the spirit of autumn and Thanksgiving for your brand last year, too? Don’t copy and paste that campaign. Consumers have changed, in some cases drastically, and marketers need to keep up. Tried-and-true campaigns aren’t going to work anymore, and marketers are going to have to reinvent their creative and marketing plans to react quickly to changing consumer preferences.
That Q4 marketing plan lurking in your Google Sheets may be comfortable, but it doesn’t allow for the agility to test new campaigns every week.
No Time or Money to Spare
We know most retail marketers used to start planning their holiday advertising campaigns in the summer. We know you want to be ahead. However, if you can’t measure your campaigns’ effectiveness or follow your audience’s changing preferences in real time, your ads will always always be too late and waste too much money.
Unique and one-of-a-kind campaigns are likely going to see the most success this year, and we know that takes planning. Measure your current successes, examine the coming trends as we approach the holidays, and don’t be afraid to try something new. Adding Tik Tok to your ad rotation or increasing your spend on video may not have originally been part of your plan, but neither was a pandemic.
Every brand is different, and you know your brand better than anyone. However, don’t rest on your laurels hoping what worked last year, or even last week, will be the right fit this fall.
R.J. Talyor is CEO and founder of Pattern89, predictive marketing AI for Facebook, Instagram and Google ads. It's the first artificial intelligence for marketers and ad agencies that want to know what will make their social ads work, before they spend a dollar.
R. J. Talyor is founder and CEO of Pattern89, an artificial intelligence-based software company that optimizes paid social media advertising campaigns. Previously, R.J. was the driver behind ExactTarget’s mobile strategy, including the launch of SMS marketing in 2002 and spearheading mobile marketing during the launch of the iPhone. His leadership was also instrumental when Salesforce acquired ExactTarget for $2.5 billion in 2013, where he became the vice president of mobile products.