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
Set yourself up for success throughout the busy Q4 period by implementing our housekeeping essentials for Business Manager, your website, and your business operations.
With Q4 officially in full swing, here are the housekeeping essentials you need to implement to grow and develop your ad campaigns during the busiest (and most profitable) time of the year. By nailing your ad strategy in October, November, and December – aka the golden quarter – you’re in for a successful 2023.
Because here’s the thing – while many businesses are slowing down for the holiday season, now’s the time for the outdoor industry to shine. But to do this, you’ll need to eliminate operational hick-ups and align the essentials to ride the wave and keep your outdoor business safe from unexpected avalanches.
By taking care of these three things: Business Manager, Website, and Business Operations, you’ll set yourself up for the rest of the year and beyond. We’re not going to lie - the process won’t be easy, at least not at the start. But persevere, and we promise you’ll be thanking us when your operations are as smooth as butter.
Without further delay, let’s dive right in with the foolproof, expert tips you need to know for a successful Q4.
First up – Business Manager. We don’t need to remind you how important this tool is for managing your marketing and advertising activities on Meta Ads - be it Instagram, Facebook, Messenger or WhatsApp ads that you’re running. That’s why it’s so important to check things over in Q4 to ensure your business assets and information are as organized as they can be.
You’ve no doubt got several punchy ad campaigns lined up throughout Q4. Think Black Friday, Christmas – you know the drill. To ensure you don’t reach your daily or monthly caps, triple-check your spend limit. Credit card errors aren’t uncommon, and you certainly don’t want to experience them when your Q4 ads are in full swing.
A low budget cap could derail your entire Q4 campaign. Normal accounts increase themselves from $250 to $750 every day. But once you’ve hit that limit, you’ll have no more money to spend, hindering your results. If you’re scaling and plan to spend more than this during Q4, increase your billing threshold to ensure your campaigns continue to support your growth.
You may need to contact your payment provider to remove anti-fraud blocks that flag unexpected spending as fraudulent. You’d also benefit from having a backup account with enough ad spend in it to mitigate any further issues.
This seems like an obvious point, but you’d be surprised at how many CMOs gatekeep or forget to give their team access and permissions to essential ad accounts and pages. Q4 is chaotic enough as it is – giving your team access prevents time-wasting and operational delays caused by petty access issues.
If you run multiple ad accounts across different outdoor brands or territories, review the settings for each one in Events Manager. For example, ensure AAM is enabled and pixel data is pure. We know what you’re thinking – what is ‘pure’ pixel data? To explain: a pure pixel collects data exclusively from the website you currently own and operate. It doesn’t collect data from anything else – including an old or partner website.
Next, check in with the Media Buyer from your marketing team to remove any bid caps that are too low. Set a spending cap to stay within your Q4 budget.
You should also ask them to schedule your ads. We can’t stress how important this step is! You wouldn’t believe how many ads don’t run or have limited distribution simply because they haven’t been scheduled. Instead, avoid lengthy approval times by building your ad campaigns ahead of time and scheduling them to go live exactly when you need them to.
Though it’s super-important to get everything ready in the background, your website’s the only thing your customers see. It should be fast-loading, visually appealing, and prepared to handle a steady flow of increased traffic. Fail to deliver, and your customers will flock to your competitors. Not ideal!
Check your website to make sure pixel and CAPI are set. If not, fix them. If they are, keep an eye on them throughout Q4 for any errors that could derail your ad campaigns.
Also, if you’re unsure of your Meta Ads metrics (maybe you see they’re delayed or feel they’re wrong), check GA and your back-end data, e.g. paying special attention to Shopify, your server and CRM.
Deep dive into the policies of your funnel to ensure you're compliant – especially if you're launching brand-new ads. Start by testing your ad with a small audience and then move on to running traffic to check that nothing gets flagged by Meta Ads. It's not uncommon to accidentally violate policies you're unaware of, so it's always best to be prepared before you launch full-scale ads.
It's easy to panic when you see an unexpected bounce rate increase. But before you let the anxiety kick in, it’s important to keep a calm head. Instead, use the situation to break down your funnel into specific sections, users, and devices to identify any issues that need fixing. Doing so will help you return your bounce rate to lower levels.
Unexpected bounce rates often form part of a larger problem, so use this opportunity to examine the entire funnel to see what’s gone wrong. Next time it happens, you’ll be more prepared.
Bounce rates are far from ideal. However, they’re not the only reason for low conversion. To check the behavior of website visitors that don’t bounce, go to: Google Analytics > Behavior > Behavior Flow. From here, you can ask yourself whether you’re offering a journey that encourages conversion or whether there are opportunities for improvement.
More often than not, the answers are right in front of you. For example, do all your landing page links work and go to the right pages? Are you linking to out-of-stock items? Are your images loading properly and showing each product off to its full potential?
Another thing to consider is how your customers find your items in the first place. Are your page designs enticing visitors, or are you leaving fruit on the table? Your website navigator is a valuable tool. It can tell you whether your customers found what they wanted or whether you’re going off-grid to search for what they need.
Bottom line: understanding where your website visitors came from and what they did with the information you gave them will help you improve your overall conversion rate.
Nothing’s more frustrating than a slow website. Customers live such busy lives that they don’t have the time to wait for your website to load. And not to mention, a slow website will cause your Google rankings will tank. That’s why you should run a speed test to ensure your site loads quickly and efficiently.
With mobile phones accounting for around 60% of the world’s web traffic, your funnels and landing pages should also be optimized for mobile. As a rule of thumb, they should load in under 3 seconds. Anything more is too slow. As part of your audit, check that your website’s easy to navigate and looks visually appealing to customers.
Another thing to check for is how well your website can handle heavy influxes of traffic. Q4 sees both the chaos of Black Friday and Christmas sales, so your site must be able to handle thousands of people at once without crashing.
Chat to your web host about the capacity of your server and how much holiday traffic you expect. They’ll be able to increase capacity to handle extra visitors if you need it.
Cluttered websites with no apparent visual journey discourage customers from sticking around. They bounce around without knowing where to go before leaving without making a purchase.
Then there are those long, unnecessarily big homepages that leave your customers with too many options to choose from and too much scrolling to do. Too many strategic pop-ups are a problem, too – particularly on mobile. They disrupt the user experience and leave customers feeling frustrated.
If your website needs a visual and UX overhaul, get in touch with a website designer (psst, we do website design, to save you the trouble) or get your in-house team to tweak the visuals to improve the customer journey. Remember – your customers come first. Always.
You’ve organized Business Manager; you’ve taken care of your website – now it’s time to smooth out your business operations. Don’t worry – there are tools that can help with that. But first, set your team up and ensure you have appropriate cover as you head towards the holidays.
Q4 is a busy time for outdoor companies – but it’s also the time when most people wind down and take time off to enjoy the holidays. Before things get too hectic, check in with your team to find out their holiday plans and set out your availability expectations. That way, your workflows will be covered throughout the quarter while everyone gets the opportunity to take a well-earned break.
During this busy period, remember to have the essentials covered. As a CMO, it’s tempting to take everything on yourself. But as you (probably) already know, that’s neither realistic nor sustainable. You’ll be treading deep waters.
Automate and schedule as much as you can to make life easier for yourself during the team’s downtime. Setting up a holiday out-of-office protocol will also help keep things ticking over when people are off.
Having the right tools at your disposal will make life so much easier for you and your team. Without them, you’ll have to work twice as hard to get the same results. Working in the digital space gives you access to workflow automations that reduce costs, save time, and provide more opportunities to scale. So why not use them?
You might want to consider AI tools to help with copywriting, Systems to mitigate ad account management problems, and first-party tracking software to increase your tracked ad ROI.
There are so many tools on the market, so spend some time researching what’s available and implement the tools that you think will help boost your outdoor company’s growth and productivity.
User acquisition costs are likely to rise in Q4 as you try to acquire new customers. While you don’t want to spend more money than necessary, you can preserve profits by:
Both are possible, but people are willing to spend more in Q4. That’s why it’s known as ‘the golden quarter.’
Try bundling products into bespoke packages or implementing money-off discounts to encourage people to spend more. You should also make returns as hassle-free during the holiday period. This will give people peace of mind that unwanted gifts can be returned without fuss.
By now, you should have all the tips and advice you need to achieve Q4 Meta Ads success in 2022. All that’s left to do is to put your brand into high gear, implement everything you’ve learned throughout this article, and hopefully make some serious cash.
To summarize – when other businesses switch into holiday mode, Q4 is the time to turn your efforts up a notch. Put in the work now – no matter how painful – and you’ll reap the benefits in 2023. That doesn’t mean you can’t take some time out. By automating your systems and putting the right tools in place, you can make life simpler while giving you and your team room to breathe.
Good luck with Q4, and happy holidays (once you get there).