Outdoor Industry CMOs Guide To Navigating Q4 Ads
The most profitable quarter for outdoor retailers, brands and service companies of 2022, Q4, is around the corner. Here
In the previous article, I shared the ad strategies you should use as an outdoor industry CMOs in Q4, 2022. Now, it’s time to discuss the tactics for the holiday season!
Recently, many ads managers have been impacted by bans, instability, and loss of targeting, tracking, and revenue. All this can be very stressful, and feel far away from your mission of getting folks outdoors. But remember, Meta Ads has still got a lot of GOLD for you in Q4 - you can leverage cool Reel ads on Instagram, Marketplace ads on Facebook, or direct contact with customers via Messenger or WhatsApp Business.
During the holidays or Mega Sale Days (MSDs), people expect experiences that are tailored to them as individuals. You see, holiday shoppers want to be entertained and inspired. Outdoor shoppers want to give gifts that can help realise a dream outdoor activity or adventure. And once they discover something they love, they anticipate a fast and easy path to purchase.
So, trust me, there is still time to bring in a lot more cash into your business before the year is done. For your outdoor company, don’t waste this golden opportunity.
I hope that you’re now motivated to dive into the tactics for Q4 2022. Alright then, let’s begin.
Before we hit the pavement, let’s address a very crucial issue. As you all know, we’re living in a world without pixels. Given the iOS 14 disruption, I encourage you to use Meta’s in-app ad solution to generate in-app audiences.
The point is to rely less on the pixel to bypass the effect of iOS 14. Instead, rely more on the data Meta can track and remarket. The less dependent you are on pixel-based remarketing, the less you lose data and stability.
That said, while relying on only what’s reported in Meta should be your priority, it’s not the only thing to do. You could crank it up a notch and leverage offline conversions and Conversion API Gateway to get first-party data. Enabling you to have the best possible sources for your lookalikes based on seasonal data. And how to do that? I recommend booking a session with us to set up a Data Audit. A data audit is kind of like taking your bike to a mechanic – it helps you visiualize if you are collecting the right data, and if it’s being measured properly. Like fine-tuning the gears on your bike, after a data audit you’ll be collecting the right data to help you succeed..
Alright, now let’s discuss some practical tips, tactics, and recommendations around audience targeting in your Q4 campaigns. For this one, I’ll divide my advice into 4 steps:
First, use a seasonal source for LAL (lookalike audiences). So, for holiday campaigns in general (e.g., Mother’s day, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, etc.), you should use seasonal data as a source for your LAL. And I’m assuming you have enough data to go analyse things frame by frame.
Now, when it comes to Christmas campaigns, you could use the following sources to gather data:
Apart from this, you could also experiment with purchasers during the COVID-19 timeframe as a source. When you go for a seasonal source, you can target people who qualify themselves as ‘holiday shoppers.’
The next step is to re-engage the audiences from the first step. Which audiences in particular? Well, you could target Instagram as well as Facebook engagers. You can also re-engage 2-week ad engagers from the previous pre-BFCM (Black Friday/Cyber Monday) video ads and 50% watchers of that video. Re-engaging audiences that have viewed videos is also not a bad idea.
Let’s begin this with every advertiser's biggest disappointment—an abandoned cart. According to Statista, 7 in 10 shopping carts were abandoned worldwide in March 2021 alone. But an abandoned cart isn’t an abandoned opportunity. Maybe the customer just popped out for a run. Now the challenge is to get them to come back later. With the right tools in place and a larger customer base, you can break through the clutter and focus on customers who have already expressed interest.
Here are the audiences I recommend for retargeting:
To make the most of retargeting audiences in Q4, narrow the time intervals for your custom audiences. So, if your objective is sales at scale and not predictability, then tighten your time windows for custom audiences. It’s like zooming in on the path you want to take.
And finally, you could push a bit further and try to re-engage inactive email subscribers. Because, well, why not? You should try to bring them back and reactivate them. If your brand inspired them to get outside, enjoy nature or play sports once before, you can capture their dreams once again.
Re-engaging customers keeps your brand on top of their minds and builds retention. Remember, the customer journey doesn’t end at purchase. Re-engaging shoppers can drive repeat purchases and strengthen brand loyalty. As an advertiser, you should strive to reach shoppers who have visited the website/app or shop and guide them back towards a purchase.
I’d focus on three types of audiences here:
Based on frequency
And finally, you can use the purchase amount as a basis for targeting. For instance, purchase over X dollars.
Ad creatives can make or break your campaigns. That’s why I have created a separate section for Q4 tactics from an ad creative perspective.
Let’s face it: previously, you could get away with good-enough-level creatives thanks to Meta’s algorithm's incredible targeting capabilities. However, it's no longer the case, and targeting has become much less efficient. Hence, your biggest barrier to growth is the lack of on-point creatives and offer angles. And customers are expecting more too.
Don't get me wrong, without proper targeting, there’s no one to sell to. This makes it the important part. But nowadays, it’s not the hard part—creative is. So, let’s understand how to make this hard part a bit easier.
Yes, the most important aspect of creating ad creatives is to actually design them in a creative way. Consumers can get tired of seeing the same ad creative over time, and this can result in declining ad effectiveness. They want to imagine themselves in the add – it should act as a mirror for how they see themselves (or want to see themselves) interacting in the outdoors. That’s why you should diversify your creative mix to speak to the different motivations that influence holiday purchases.
One more thing: People consume content differently on mobile, so utilize creative best practices to ensure your ads capture attention. You could use mixed formats (carousel, reels, stories) and asset types (video and static images) to connect with audiences with different viewing behaviors.
Based on Meta’s internal data, video watching comprises 50% of time spent on Facebook, and video production peaks during the holiday season. Combining video creative for longer storytelling on in-stream ads, along with short entertaining bursts on reels, stories, and the feed, helps maximize reach and align with consumer behavior.
If you only depend on non-video creatives, you’re really missing out on so many opportunities. So, hire a video creator if you have to, but don’t neglect this very important aspect of ad creative.
It’s a seamless ad format that helps convert demand into sales. A fast and easy path to purchase can enable businesses to maximize spontaneous purchases.
Ad formats like ads with product tags, Advantage+ catalog ads (formerly dynamic ads), digital circulars, and collaborative ads can turn discoveries into purchases. Let’s face it – most outdoor folks aren’t the most tech-savvy. Make this easy for them!
I’d like to elaborate on digital circular ads, though. Digital circulars are a new ad format designed to closely replicate the look and experience of print circulars. It leverages the collection ad format, clicking through to an instant experience with (optional) local inventory and pricing. Something worth trying this holiday season, especially if you have a shopfront.
Consumers in the outdoor industry are always looking for trusted practical brands to try. The stamp of approval from an influence or content creator can really increase social trust and desire to purchase a specific brand.
Branded Content Ads allow advertisers to turn creator content into ads, combining creator authenticity with powerful ad targeting and optimization capabilities and influence purchase decisions.
Co-create your story - let the creators use their voice for the brand. Success relies on using the voice of the creator, in a way that naturally communicates the brand and the message.
If you want to scale through audiences, your creatives must scale too. To do this, you should look to scale through audiences. For example, take your lookalike audience (LAL) from 1% through to 5% at least, and possibly 10% when scaling. If you find a LAL that's working, increasing its size can help you tap into bigger and more profitable audiences.
Scaling creatives means that you adapt your creatives for larger LALs. This is because the 1% LAL will be closer to your ideal customer than 5% or 10%. That’s why the creative needs to change and possibly the funnel too. The 10% is still the top 10% as far as your custom audience is concerned, but they may need more warming up and moving further up your sales funnel.
Your refresh rate should ALWAYS be higher than 1:1. Meaning that you should have more backup ads than you have running ads to ensure they're available when you need them.
I often run a ratio of 1:5 as a minimum—that is, five backup ads for every ad in operation. Ads that are not being used for scaling drop into a HODL campaign (PPE holding campaign for social proof), and I share the post ID when needed for scaling. It's like having a reserve team ready to go in case one of your players needs a break from winning. Sounds like a good strategy, doesn’t it?
And that brings us to the last part of this article. Now, I’ll teach you the tactics you should use during each phase of the fourth quarter. Remember, the market is different during every phase, and so is consumer behavior. It’s crucial to take the right action during any given phase to ensure the best results. So, let’s begin the phase-wise attack plan.
Even though this period is not in Q4, what you do during this period will determine how much revenue you can generate when the snow starts to fall (or the sun starts to shine for the southern hemisphere readers!). This is the time to diversify and test various ad types to uncover new audiences.
You can also spice up your campaigns with various ad angles. This is possible until August since you’ll most likely be in prospecting mode and simply trying to get more people to your website. Your ad angles don’t have to be holiday-focused yet.
Here are some ad angles you could focus on:
Period: September to mid-November
This is the time to test a variety of ads. You could introduce your brand with different types of video ads—reels, in-streams, stories, and feeds. Building connections through lead ads and ‘click to message’ is also a good idea. Don’t stop your benchmarking efforts to see what competitors are doing, but also don’t make any 180° changes with your strategy now.
When it comes to ad angles, you should focus on the actual sales, so you should probably only use product-focused angles. Products should be at the front and center of your ads, and yes, don’t forget to remind people of the activities they’ll enjoy with this gifts.
Here are some ad angles you could focus on:
In-store offers can also be a good angle. Get people in the shop with one item, and at all costs, make sure they don't leave with just one item. Gift guides can also drive more sales, especially for outdoor retailers. They can come in handy because they make it easy for customers to actually make a purchase instead of wondering what to buy.
Make sure you’re marketing your product as something giftable – if it’s marketed as something someone should have to pick out for themselves, or as something too cut and dry to be a gift, it will appeal less to potential gift givers. In my experience, clothing, gear or gadets, and gift cards are the top gifting categories. Try to fit your product in one of these.
List building is also a good strategy for this period. You could use the ‘Get on our VIP list’ or ‘Sign up to get 5% off during Xmas sale’ tactic.
Period: Late November to the last pre-Christmas shipping date (for most brands, this is December 20th)
Following are the ad types you can use for this period:
When it comes to ad angles, here are the ones I’d choose:
If it’s possible, you could also offer expedited or guaranteed pre-Christmas delivery. People are genuinely worried about not getting their gifts in time. So this one can give you a competitive edge. You’ll need to work closely with the operations team to ensure this is something feasible for the company.
Another strategy would be to create scarcity through bundles. Set up several products and bundles to sell so that you can rotate these offers to create different promos. This allows you to have real scarcity, and low supply usually equals high demand. So, if you have a large number of items and can create different offers around them, go for it!
Period: Whole of January (optionally, also February)
Alright, we’ll keep this one short and simple. A friendly reminder, though: The holiday season doesn’t end in December. You can still leverage it until January's end, and play off the motiviation to get outside more driven by New Year’s resolutions.
There’s only one ad type you need here—re-engage customers to help drive loyalty and sales using fresh UGC from phase 3.
And finally, here are the ad angles you could choose:
And that brings us to the end of part 2 of the Q4 ad strategy (review part 1 here!) and tactics for 2022. Now it’s your turn to roll up your sleeves and prepare for a personal best! If you can get your brand in front of your customers in Q4, you’ve got a good chance to see them in your gear on the trails next year. This is the time to take home big money and bring lots of value to your business. I know these strategies and tactics will help you achieve your goals in the last quarter of this year. All the best.