Your Q4 Marketing Strategy Plan Should Already Be Underway
Bullseye | October 2021
As we begin the Q4 shopping season—the most crucial time of the year for eCommerce brands—now is the time to return to your marketing plan to optimize activity for the upcoming months. In an overview of eCommerce shopping, it’s clear that sales spike every year during the fourth quarter, with holiday sales projected to reach between $210 billion and $218 billion this season alone.
Holiday retail sales are forecasted to grow 11% to 15% compared to the 2020 season, meaning more profit is on the table for your company to grab. So, if you don’t have a Q4 marketing strategy by now, what are you waiting for? A Q4 marketing plan is your chance to turn potential leads into loyal customers.
A marketing plan is a comprehensive course of action that determines how a company will allocate financial and operational resources to reach organizational goals. Without strategic planning and a marketing plan, a company is at risk of wasting time and money pursuing unnamed and unmeasured objectives.
How to Create a Marketing Strategy Plan that Converts
To create a successful marketing plan, begin with clear goals to work towards, a solid understanding of your customer, and comprehensive implementation objectives that include your budget, marketing channels, and timeline. There’s no time to spare to craft your Q4 marketing strategy, so you’ll need all hands on deck.
Gather your creative, sales, and marketing teams, and let’s get started with creating a marketing plan that converts.
1. Set Your Strategic Marketing Goals (Make Sure They’re SMART!)
The first step to creating a marketing strategy, whether it’s your Q4 marketing plan or go-to-market strategy (GTM strategy), is to set goals. To set goals, you want to determine what you’re trying to achieve with this plan—lower customer acquisition cost (CAC), bring in more qualified leads, increase return on investment (ROI), or something else?
Begin by identifying your key performance indicators (KPIs). These metrics put a tangible value on your marketing goals, like revenue, gross margin, or ad spend. By setting KPIs, you can measure your progress towards these goals and potentially make adjustments along the way to stay on track. Keep in mind, if setting goals strictly for Q4, make them attainable in this short time frame.
To ensure your goals are attainable, construct SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for:
Each SMART goal should explicitly specify the area or KPI you want to target, how you can quantify it, what it will do for your business, and how long it will take. For instance, your marketing plan may have a SMART goal like, “Drive more email newsletter signups by increasing the click-through rate on our paid search ads to 4% by the end of this month.”
2. Identify and Define Target Market and Buyer Personas
Your marketing tactics must be targeted. Businesses waste both time and resources throwing advertisements at users who are not interested in their products or services.
The next step in a marketing strategy plan that converts is identifying and defining your target market, also known as a target audience. This refers to a specific group of consumers whose demographics make them potential buyers of a product or service. For instance, the target market for a high-end beauty product is likely women aged 25 to 50 with an annual income of at least $40,000.
Next, establish a buyer persona, a semi-fictional portrayal of your target customer. To embellish on the above example, a buyer persona for that target market could be Jill, a 30-year-old mom of two who works at an office and likes to splurge on high-end items to feel more confident. With a better understanding of how “Jill” thinks, you can better understand your potential customer.
3. Evaluate Previous Marketing Strategies and Plans
Now that you have a set of goals and a clear idea of your target audience, you have the bare bones of a strategic plan. To finetune for success before launching a marketing campaign, save yourself the hassle by evaluating previous marketing plans. This will help you determine what worked best and which channels your buyer persona prefers.
By identifying potential mishaps now, failures can be avoided down the line. For your Q4 marketing plan, it’s best to work out any kinks before consumer spending starts ramping up. Take a look at operations from the past three quarters (QoQ view), as well as the previous few Q4s (YoY), to locate areas of improvement.
4. Define Your Budget
Something you might have noticed that went awry in your past strategies was scope creep: changes or uncontrolled growth in your marketing plan’s scope once it was underway. This can look like more hours than allotted spent with creative teams or more money spent on paid ads. But, no matter how you look at it, scope creep takes away resources from your company.
Instead, define your budget early in the process to help avoid scope creep in your marketing plan. This is especially important considering that when more ideas get added to the project over time, key revenue-driving activities that should be prioritized end up taking a back seat. So, establish a clear budget based on previous quarters, Q4s, and return on investment (ROI).
Most businesses look to achieve an increase in sales and income around Q4. If this is the case, it could be helpful to rank previous marketing efforts based on ROI. For instance, if you are willing to spend $50,000 in Q4 based on previous years, and your revenue goal is $300,000, your marketing efforts have to achieve an average ROI of 5.
5. Define Marketing Channels and Initiatives
Once a budget is established, and goals and target audience are secured, it’s time to move on to the actual digital marketing strategy. In today’s increasingly digital world, it’s not enough to have just one marketing channel, but aim to have a bit of marketing mix, utilizing both inbound marketing like social media campaigns and outbound marketing like banner and display ads.
Marketing channels that can align with your objectives and target audience include:
- Web content: blogs
- SEO efforts: site speed updates
- Paid search: SEM ads
- Paid social: influencer-generated content
- Organic social: user-generated content (UGC)
Likewise, do not negate the power of awareness campaigns and other marketing efforts that may not directly show an impact you can calculate. For instance, brand awareness, customer experience, and customer satisfaction are elements of a marketing strategy plan that should fit cohesively with chosen objectives to drive company goals.
6. Match Marketing Efforts with Budget and ROI Goal
With a marketing budget, potential channels, and business goals in mind, it’s time to reanalyze and optimize. Return to previous strategic marketing campaigns to compare upcoming marketing efforts with a budget and ROI goals. This process will allow you to be confident that you are spending the right amount on each marketing objective.
For example, if a marketing activity like paid search yields a 12 ROAS and blogs have only yielded just five sales in the past year, chances are more effort should be going towards paid search than blogs. In other words, it may be more beneficial to scale paid search since the ROI is better. Analyze which marketing efforts have optimal ROI and allocate the budget for your Q4 goals accordingly.
7. Create an Implementation Plan
Once you’ve reached this point in your marketing initiative, it’s time to create an implementation plan. First, establish a type of marketing strategy template that dictates when the plan will be deployed, which key players will be involved, and where the budget should be along the way. There are several different ways to organize a timeline that your business can adopt.
For instance, the implementation plan for your Q4 marketing strategy can look like a:
- Gantt chart
- Project network diagram
- Kanban board
- Scrum board
- Project dashboard
- Tasklist or checklist
Your marketing strategy plan must have clear dependencies for your marketing team. It should be obvious who is doing what (such as turning on a social ad), when they’re doing it (November 10 by 3 p.m.), and how much they’re spending ($10,000). Just like your SMART goals from earlier, your implementation plan should be highly specific, attainable, and, most importantly, time-bound.
8. Identify Competition and Potential Roadblocks
The previous seven steps have all included ways to safeguard your marketing strategy plan from disaster—especially since a Q4 marketing strategy does not have the time to waste on silly hiccups. To ensure you have a truly effective marketing plan, take a second look for potential roadblocks or any competition in the marketplace that could ruin your plans.
What (or who) could potentially mess up your marketing strategy plan? Are you mirroring your competitors, or is there something your brand can uniquely capitalize on to earn a greater share of the market? With the current landscape still murky, are there any priorities you need to re-evaluate? Gather your entire marketing team to give your plan a once-over, raise any objections, and identify room for improvement before moving forward.
9. Create a Way to Measure Success
Lastly, round out your marketing roadmap with a way to measure success. After all, how will you know if your plan is working if you don’t have a way to track it? Your SMART goals should have outlined a precise measurement to monitor over time. So, establish how often you will compare progress to the goals for the quarter.
On average, most businesses take a quick overview of marketing budget spending by the end of each week. To stay on top of quarterly goals, be sure to take a deep dive into your analytics at least bi-weekly to ensure you’re not overspending or wasting time in areas with minimal ROI. In cases of B2B versus B2C marketing, B2B buyers often have a longer buying cycle than B2C consumers, so factor that into your measurements as well for an accurate look at progress.
A Comprehensive Marketing Strategy Takes Time
At the end of the day—or the quarter—a marketing strategy plan that converts takes time. While you can’t rush the process, you can expedite it with a digital marketing agency. Bullseye Strategy is a full-service digital marketing company with more than a decade of experience crafting successful strategies, headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida..
Our team will work alongside your brand to help set strategic goals grounded in relevant KPIs. We’ll conduct a deep dive into your target audience and previous marketing campaigns, identifying areas for improvement and locating the most favorable marketing channels. Even better, we’ll implement your marketing strategy plan for you, all while you focus on other areas of your business.
Don’t let another day pass you by without your Q4 marketing strategy. Contact Bullseye Strategy today to learn how we can help you with a successful marketing plan.