Retail Q5: Secrets to Maximizing Holiday Social Advertising Campaign Impact

The holiday season has arrived, which means a deluge of mega sales, cyber deals, and the like. For small and large retailers, this time of year should be a boon to the bottom line as everyone gets out to shop. And while everyone has read a headline (or two, or three…) about the “death of retail” with the advent of online shopping, in actuality, retail sales are expected to grow during the holiday period this year. The National Retail Federation forecasts a sales increase of 3.8% and 4.2% for retailers in the November–December period. In fact, retail sales have averaged 3.7% annual increase for the past five years.

The heightened emphasis on shopping is also a boon for advertisers, of course, as brands flood all of our social feeds and airwaves with hot deals—not to mention the ever present cadre of e-commerce offerings also trying to break through. Spending on digital ads is also expected to increase as more advertisers shift their efforts to social media over television and print.

Naturally, much of this social media spending will go to Facebook. It can seem difficult, especially for SMB retailers, to break through the noise. But there is hope if you know how to game the system to be able to maximize the impact of your Facebook ads. There is this concept of “Q5,” which refers to the ~15 day period during just before and after the holidays where the lead time on ground shipping makes shopping online difficult. You’ll hear differing definitions on the exact time frame, and there is a regional element, too, as not everyone lives within one- or two-day shipping distances. 

Q5 is of particular import for retailers, but it is also an important consideration for advertisers. For smaller retailers looking to maximize their impact, this period represents an incredible opportunity to get noticed. For larger CPG brands as well, even if working a more long-tail holiday advertising strategy, they too could seize on this moment to further enrich their campaign strategy.

Think about what “Q5” means; if you’re a retailer, you’re the only game in town in a lot of regions, due to shipping constraints. Secondly, with all the traditional emphasis on pre-holiday shopping, it is easy to discount post-holiday shopping, where many consumers are still off work and now also equipped with gift cards and gift receipt returns. Advertisers should not leave this potential revenue for their retail clients on the table. The third advantage of the Q5 period is that the pre-holiday campaigns will also have ended, presenting the potential for lower rates on digital ads. 

Think about the strategic possibilities Q5 brings: awareness or reach campaigns in the few days leading up to the holidays to catch any procrastinators who need last-minute gifts as they shop for others. Then, there are subsequent campaigns in the week leading up to the new year to capture folks who now have extra time and gift money to shop for themselves. Getting local is key to this strategy, even if you are servicing a larger CPG brand that sells through big-box retailers. You will need ads that are locally relevant to get noticed and ensure you reach consumers within reasonable travel distance to shop in-store. 

Last year, Tiger Pistol ran holiday campaigns that covered the Q5 period for a beverage brand to drive consumers to the nearest retailer or restaurant to enjoy their products. Our technology produced thousands of local ads, each individualized to the brick-and-mortar location, powered by the brand’s creative resources. Consumers who were near a particular location would see ads pointing them to the nearest stores.

The benefits of strategizing to the Q5 period are there for the taking. It’s just a matter of leveraging the right tools to ensure you can get in front of consumers where they are already spending most of their time (i.e. their Facebook and Instagram feeds) and to serve them relevant creative. But most importantly, these local ads must represent the path of least resistance between the consumer and the on-site purchase. You can do this through the use of hyper local geo-targeting with integrated geo-navigation to the nearest location. Even better, you can also  further incentivize them with easily redeemable offers and specials from their mobile devices.

So, while we all want to start planning execution strategies for the new year, don’t sleep on the end of the year, as you might miss the chance to impress your retail clients as well as the opportunity to start 2020 off with a major win for both you and them.

Chris Mayer is Project Manager, Client Solutions, at Tiger Pistol. After earning his Masters in Mass Communications in 2015, Mayer worked at Facebook prior to joining Tiger Pistol as a Project Manager. He specializes in helping digital agencies and national brands build scaled Facebook advertising solutions with an emphasis on local activation. Outside the office, he enjoys, basketball, Formula One, and sharing opinions on film and television.

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