Make the most out of your Q4 budget

The end of the year is approaching, and many marketers are feeling the pressure of making 2017 a strong year. At the same time, planning for a successful 2018 has already begun. Here are some tips to make the most of the last few months of the year and avoid getting overwhelmed in this busy time of the year:

Timing is everything

Despite what some say about the winter months, business hasn’t stopped, nor have marketing efforts fallen on deaf ears. In fact, based on a recent performance analysis by SmartBrief’s ad operations team, engagement remains consistent through the winter months. So, rest assured, your Q4 marketing efforts have as much potential for success as any other month in the year.

That being said, December is a bit tricky. While the first two weeks of the month tend to deliver open and click rates that are in line or slightly above annual averages, engagement does drop dramatically in the latter part of the month. In short, plan ahead and secure your inventory early. 

Don't be afraid to try something new

While the majority of the digital marketers we’re working with are looking to drive as much last-minute value as possible to their 2017 efforts, the real benefits aren’t usually felt until the following year. Most people overlook this time as one of the best to try something new. Take Q4 to test the products, audiences and strategies you were too hesitant to try earlier in the year.

Not only are publishers more willing to discount inventory, but there’s a lot less pressure for these efforts to perform. Try something new, track the ROI, and then utilize those findings to inform your 2018 planning. And as you plan new strategies, keep in mind how essential it is to maintain data quality and know what kind of data the solutions you use are employing.

Think (slightly) longer term

If you’re anything like the clients we work with, getting an approved marketing budget or plan in time to purchase for January is nearly impossible. Instead, think slightly longer term in your year-end efforts.

More and more people are starting to plan for January and Q1 as part of their Q4 efforts. It affords them all of the benefits of Q4 discounting, without any of the commitments associated with your traditional upfront purchase.

At the end of the day, your Q4 efforts are as much about finishing the year strong as they are about starting the next year on the right note. Hopefully, with these tips, you can tackle both those tasks with ease in the coming months.

Dena Malouf is the group publisher of SmartBrief's Digital, Retail & Technology Group.