It always seems to go down the same way – we blink and, just like that, we’re in the last quarter of the year, the busy season.

Between Black Friday and the December holidays, Q4 is the most important time of year for e-commerce brands, and often where companies make a majority of their revenue.

That’s why it’s so important for brands to have their holiday marketing strategy dialed in – ideally, having planned a bit in advance to craft your marketing strategy in preparation for this huge quarter.

A Focus on Facebook

Specifically, Facebook is a great way to drive awareness and build out top-funnel traffic for potential customers who may have yet to hear of your brands. With the platform’s marketing tools, you can be as broad or as granular in your audience targeting as you’d like. You can use indicators like ad relevance or engagement metrics to understand your audience better and discern if your target consumer is active and engaged with the platform, or if there might be a better medium for gaining traction and driving sales. The platform offers great visual ad formats that are ideal for e-commerce brands and help at any stage of the e-commerce funnel.

Because the fourth quarter of the year is so important to e-commerce companies, taking advantage of Facebook’s advertising options is crucial to reaching customers on your way to hitting desired outcomes and revenue goals.

Making the Most of Q4 on Facebook

Here are a few things you can do to get the highest ROI from your Facebook marketing strategy, specifically during Q4:

1Start Increasing Your Ad Budgets… Now!

The early bird gets the worm – so don’t leave your holiday marketing to the last minute. Start increasing your holiday budgets ahead of heavy e-commerce holidays to help drive brand awareness and get in front of potential consumers before things get competitive and cost-per-impressions increase.

Focus on prospecting. Start collecting data and insights on different audience segments. Figure out which users are engaging, signing up for email lists, creating accounts on your online store. and adding items to their shopping carts or wishlists.

The cost of advertising is typically more expensive in Q4 since there’s only a finite amount of ad inventory and many, many competitors during this time. You need to understand which of your audiences engage most and perform best so you can segment them, optimize your ads and budget accordingly. By planning ahead, you’ll know what gets the best results so you can focus heavily on remarketing those specific users to drive sales during busy e-commerce holidays and promotional periods.

With every brand vying for consumer attention, their resources are extremely limited. A user is much more likely to buy from a brand they’ve had multiple interactions with over a brand they’ve never seen before. Establishing this early trust with the right messaging will keep you top-of-mind as you approach promotional periods.

2Produce HolidayCentric Creative

Make your ads personal by focusing on creating ads unique to each of your targeted customer demographics and interests. Play into your audience’s emotions by using promotional copy that’s focused on various holidays to get people into the “holiday” (aka “shopping”) spirit. Develop different creatives for each so that ads are timely, relevant, and create desire.

If you have a physical product like jewelry, accessories, electronics, etc., try developing an image reflective of whatever holiday your target audience is likely to celebrate and incorporate your product as part of that celebration. For example, a Christmas tree with your company’s necklace hanging as an ornament from it.

If you have a brand that “gives back” or has a cause, make sure to leverage that so your ads are as powerful and relevant as possible.

3Understand Your Purchase Cycle and Customer Journey

Understanding your own brand’s purchase cycle and customer journey will not only help you with budget allocation but will also assist you with your prospecting and retargeting strategy. This allows you to optimize each stage of that e-commerce funnel we mentioned earlier through messaging and imagery that gauges interest, drives awareness, creates desire, and produces outcomes.

If you have a shorter sales cycle, you can allocate a heavy majority of your budget to prospecting because, once hooked, your potential customers have a low barrier to purchase. This allows you to spend more time attracting new customers.

For longer sales cycles, it makes more sense to build out mid- and bottom-funnel strategies, relying more heavily on remarketing. In this case, you should create multiple touchpoints over a longer period of time to stay top-of-mind. Utilize different messaging that caters to the appropriate stage of the funnel.

4Use a Lead Generation Strategy for More Expensive Products

More expensive products typically have longer sales cycles and can be risky purchases for consumers. This is why things like messenger bots are so helpful. They can engage in conversational dialogue around the clock with potential consumers.

Messenger bots allow you to have a much larger number of conversations with prospects in a matter of seconds. This lets you collect more information and develop insights on each of your audience segments, discovering popular questions or pain-points in real time. You can then analyze this data and address pain-points in your advertising or even on your site, via a FAQ or product details page.

5Think LongTerm and Contextually

Not all products are created equal. That is, some products (like supplements, wellness items, workout products, etc.) may be best suited to “new year, new me” types of campaigns, whereas other products (like kitchen items, house decor, etc.) may be more suited toward “family time” campaigns. The point is, different product categories require very different messaging and themes.

If your product doesn’t sell during a certain holiday because consumers aren’t in that mindset, try promoting your content through thought leadership, how-to guides, explainer videos, and other creative methods. Focus your efforts on driving awareness and engagement to stay on customers’ radars, setting yourself up to effectively remarket users at the appropriate time – when they’re most likely to convert and take action.

What would that look like in practice? Here’s a hypothetical example: let’s say you sell a workout supplement. Very few customers are going to be thinking about that during their gluttonous holiday feasts, so don’t try to sell them with ads. Post thought leadership pieces before and during Thanksgiving to establish credibility. Then, time your ads to run right after Thanksgiving dinner while also publishing content with headlines like “Top Workouts to Burn Those Thanksgiving Carbs.” You can keep on this same track by publishing a how-to workout guide in early December, informing users on how to stay fit during the holiday season. Finally, toward the end of December, turn on advertising to drive sales ahead of your “New Year, New Me” campaign. This plan builds trust, keeping your products relevant and memorable throughout the entirety of the holiday season, even during the times when customers are not as likely to purchase.

Go Get ‘Em, Tiger

The holidays are a busy, busy, busy time for everyone – especially e-commerce retailers. The key is to prepare early, stay top-of-mind, and think long-term – we can’t stress this enough! Utilizing these five tips will help you and your brand crush it on Facebook during the last quarter of the year.

If you need some additional assistance, Hawke Media is here to help! Give us a shout and we’ll give you the gift of making your holiday campaigns the most successful they’ve ever been. Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.