Outdoor Industry CMOs Guide To Navigating Q4 Ads

Written by
Madis Birk
Published on
Oct 31, 2022
Ads Strategy
Outdoor Industry CMOs Guide To Navigating Q4 Ads

Table of contents

For regular people, Q4 is simply the last quarter of the year. But for outdoor industry CMOs it’s high tide for sales! 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 the CMO of an outdoor brand, retailer, or outdoor provider, you have to begin the preparations ahead of time. Think of it as waxing your skis before the first big snow – you’ll be able to hit the slopes without a moment’s hesitation. I’ve seen people beginning the Q4 digital ads planning in November, but this is already too late. Just like packing a hiking pack, planning is the boring, unsexy part, but it's the action successful outdoor industry players must 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 the clients of BirkAds.

4 steps for nailing your 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 your customer’s buying habits

Every business is different, but for the purpose of this article, we’re looking mostly at outdoor industry companies who sell B2C.

Q4 and the holidays that come with it offer a big opportunity for outdoor brands. In 2021, despite the pandemic, many outdoor brands reported revenue gains, all the way up to double-digit sales growth.  Even companies struggling in recent years like GoPro posted impressive results in 2021 - +9.3% in Q4 of 2021, which boosted their YoY revenue up to 10%! Customers love to buy outdoor gear around the holidays – it’s your job to reach them. 

Step #2: Examine other key variables you’re facing

2021 was wrought with challenges for outdoor brands and retailers: supply chain shortages, enormous demand, and the ripples of uncertainty left by the pandemic. 2022 has seen the supply chain problems smooth out but new factors like inflation are now giving consumers worry lines. How can outdoor CMOs adapt?

So, let's quickly discuss these factors. 

Objectives: When it comes to ad budgets in Q4, not every outdoor CMO should be making it rain like they’ve just won Wimbledon. Start by asking yourself: What objective is more important for the company here and now—is it growth and scale or predictable stability?

Resources: Even if you have a great plan in mind for equipping every possible customer with your gear or service/experience, it needs to match your ad resources budget. What kind of ad-spend are you working with and how can you make it work harder for you?

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: Outdoor recreation has seen a 26% bump in new participants since January 2020. Remote work offers workers more free time and possible access to outdoor activities. This is positive news for outdoor brands. 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. Due to rising inflation, many people are switching into saving mode, and this adds to the unpredictability.

Step #3: Collaborate with your team to set the Q4 objectives   

What does success in Q4 mean to your company? After you have considered the nature of your business and other factors that I mentioned above, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start listing objectives. Segmenting objectives based on audience or product type can be helpful. 

For example, you’ll push to your core audience more than new customers and with a different message. But that doesn’t mean you can forget about new acquisitions. Think of people shopping from your brand for the first time in order to give a gift to family or friends; you should have a retention strategy in place to transform them into repeat customers once the holiday season is over.

Pushing seasonal products also means setting a different objective than your evergreen classics. Seasonal products may be part of your new retention strategy - a customer who purchases a seasonal product may be inclined to purchase another product in the future. Creating meaningful ties in your advertising and product descriptions between seasonal products and a classic, evergreen product should be part of your retention strategy. This helps increase customer lifetime value. 

Step #4: Set Q4 marketing targets

Once you’ve set your business objectives for Q4, it’s time to set your marketing targets or KPIs. It seems simple but we’ll say it; these marketing KPIs should be:

  • Carefully planned 
  • Trackable 

  Why? To 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 CEOs or VPs who like things cut and dry and black and white.

The rest of the team 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 Meta and digital advertisements. 

Reflect on last year’s performance

Before you jump into a conversation about Q4 strategy, it is important to reflect on your brand’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 ad 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 concrete marketing goals

Bear in mind that during Q4, your team may 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, both qualitatively and quantitatively. This can be another way to ensure responsibilities are being honored and goals are being achieved. 

Begin by understanding finances and determining the numbers you’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 management team will see when analysing if your Q4 is successful. 

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 shopping 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

Period: June-August

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. Work closely with the product and sales team to know which star products you’re prompting this year.


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. We get more into the tactics you’ll need in part two of this series.

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. 

At this stage, I recommend a session with our agency to implement the AI tools that will creatively analyse your digital ads. How? Our tools can unify billions of data points. Next, we 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 – but we do!

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 for digital ads 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.


Ok CMOs of the outdoor world. You’ve got the strategy playbook in your backpack to take on Q4. It is time to go hard! The time to give your 100%! The time to not leave anything in the tank!. 

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. Keep the momentum rolling and dive into the concrete tactics to use in part 2 of this series.

Madis Birk
Oct 31, 2022

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