Peak trading: 4 tips from a brand-side CMO

May 20, 2021 Chris Simpson

Peak is a challenge, even at the best of times. However, the beauty of peak is that we know customers are open to trying new brands and those who have avoided pandemic-induced job losses may find themselves with a little extra disposable income. Small savings add up – especially those from train fares and daily coffee from Pret (or the independent coffee shop of your choice!).  

That said, marketers still face the challenge of standing out from the crowd and making sure those new customers come to you and not your competitors. Many retailers have been forced to pivot to digital channels sooner than expected in response to lower footfall and consumer unease. This means that the jostling to be heard online this year will be more competitive than ever. 

As everyone ramps up their spend and offers more and more discounts, it’s a tough time of year to enter the market or test something new, even without Covid-19. And although the exact dynamics of this year’s peak season can’t be mapped out, our expectations here at more2 are that seasonal buying will start early, kick-started in part by Amazon Prime Day on the 13th October. 

So how do you prepare and ensure you get the very best performance you can from peak this year? I’ve put together 4 strategies I used with my teams as a brand-side CMO to help you focus on what really matters. 

1. Keep your budgets flexible 

Agree budget flexibility with Finance up front. If things pick up early, you want to be ready to feed your campaigns with more budget and bring spend forward from later in the season. This is beneficial for two reasons: 

  1. Those customers you acquired early are more likely to spend again this season.
  2. CPMs climb quickly as Black Friday approaches and, although conversion increases too, you’ll probably get better efficiency by spending at lower CPMs. Take a look at last year’s phasing as a guide. 

Work with your budget through to the end of the year (at least) and be ready to move it between months according to results and market conditions.  

2. Be responsive 

It’s easy to get wrapped up in your creative and campaigns and to want to stick to the plan you’ve set out. But you have to be ready to respond to the market – and your competitors. Make sure you have tactical creatives and offers ready to go and allow enough flexibility in your schedule to bring messages forward or extend offers if they’re working well. And remember the golden rule of marketing: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Consumers don’t see enough of your ads to find repetition a problem – if you can’t beat your top performing creative, keep it running. 

3. Balance your investment to get the best return 

Peak is an opportunity for high intent shoppers to discover your brand. However, media costs climb as we approach Black Friday. Upweight acquisition spend well ahead of peak and then turn the dial towards existing customers and conversion (remarketing) for the most expensive weeks.  

During the most expensive weeks, your ad performance will be stronger which will give you an advantage in the auction over those who are still spending on acquiring new audiences. As I mentioned above, if you acquire customers early, they’ll have more time to buy from you again this season and you’ll have more opportunity to help them fall in love with your brand.  

On top of this, it’s so much harder to land a new brand story amidst all the noise at this time of year, unless you have a very seasonal product. Your time is finite so make sure you’re spending it wisely – on the customers who are most likely to convert.  

4. Protect your customers! 

Everyone and their grandmother will be bidding on your customers so make sure you’re doing everything to can to ensure they’re seeing your ads and keeping you front of mind. Upload your custom audiences and bid enough to reach them at the market’s height; they’ll be saturated with ads, offers, and content so you need to make sure Google and Facebook’s AI are working for you, not against you. 

These are just some of the tips I’d advise retailers to use, especially as so many are pivoting to digital and competition online gets fiercer.  

To help, here at more2 we offer complimentary Paid Social Health Checks and Consultations for D2C brands – you can sign up here and one of our expert team will be in touch. 

Thanks for reading! 

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