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A Q4 Set to Soar: The 2021 MuteSix BF/CM Playbook, Part 1

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October is here, officially kicking off what is already looking to be the most profitable Q4 in years.

Heard that before? Well, this year it’s happening, according to consulting firm AlixPartners. Based on their estimates, holiday sales in the U.S. are expected to climb 10 – 13% YoY, making this the strongest holiday season … in over 20 years!

Despite the spread of the Delta variant, it’s clear that pandemic-weary shoppers are craving that once-in-a-year holiday cheer they were denied last year and are planning on making up for lost time by digging deep into their pockets. 

Such pent-up “revenge shopping” is estimated to increase consumers’ expected budgets to the tune of 25.4% more than what they spent in 2020, according to JLL’s annual holiday survey.

One thing that’s not changing? How they shop. Even with brick-and-mortar stores having opened their once-shuttered doors, more than half of Americans still plan on clicking their way through Black Friday/Cyber Monday into the early days of 2022.

In other words, e-commerce will continue to reign supreme this holiday season.

However, this Q4 looks a little different for e-commerce brands given the increased competition, anticipated shipping delays and supply chain disruptions, as well as rising CPMs. 

In order to combat the unique challenges of Q4 2021 and unlock its infinite potential, MuteSix has established a “Rule of Three” that will ensure you not only keep up with but crush the competition. 

1. Start Early: November 1 is Go-Time.

Thanks in large part to the pandemic, 2020 looked different than years prior, and 2021 is shaping up to be another early, digital-first shopping season. This may come as a surprise for seasoned advertisers, considering pre-COVID, the most significant surge in revenue came as late as Black Friday weekend and the days following it.

However, last year, when e-commerce shopping skyrocketed amongst quarantined consumers and the competition for online deals was at an all-time high, conversion rates spiked the first week of November, suggesting that bargain-hungry consumers were taking action on deals as soon as they came out. 

At MuteSix, we saw firsthand how our clients who started as early as November 1 with their promotional strategy enjoyed lower CPMs, higher conversion rates, more revenue MoM, and higher ROAS through the end of the year. 

The case for a November 1 promo push is still strong, if not stronger this year. Much like in 2020, consumers are anxiously waiting for deals and will be quick to jump on them. In fact, according to AlixPartners, 53% of consumers are planning to kickstart their holiday shopping as early as October 31. 

What’s more, with Facebook’s CPMs expected to be the highest ever, an early start will allow your brand to take advantage of lower CPMs prior to the anticipated end-of-November / December surge. 

Let’s also not forget about the pandemic-induced “Shippageddon,” which is expected to hit once again this year–due to port congestion and supply chain bottlenecks–making it essential for brands to meet consumer demand and get ahead of shipping delays.

Key Takeaway: The Early-November Bird Gets the Worm. 

2. Start Early: November 1 is Go-Time.

So, you know when to start, but how? When it comes to your BF/CM promos, remember our motto: “Make it simple and don’t hold back.” Here’s what our simple yet successful promo breakdown looks like:

  • For Low-Priced SKUs: If Margins Allow, 20-40% Off Sitewide 
  • For High-Priced SKUs: Spend More Get More (Tiered Offers)

This Q4, we urge brands to avoid their typical Gfit(s) with Purchase, BOGOs, and product-specific offers, and instead opt for promotions that scale and appeal to wider audiences. In particular, tiered deals–where the percentage off depends on the total amount spentare a tried-and-true promo that boosts Average Purchase Order (AOV). 

When it comes to the promos you serve up, we also recommend that you start early when purchasing behavior is at its peak, maintain the same offers throughout the season, and promote them via email and SMS often

Lastly, break the habit of changing deals daily, making them overcomplicated, and most importantly, waiting until BF/CM to go live with them. 

Key Takeaway: Simple Promos That Scale = Success.

3. Diversify Your Paid Social Mix.

As mentioned earlier, CPMs, especially on Facebook, are expected to be astronomical this year thanks in large part to the massive uptick in online shopping and heightened competition that comes with it.

In order to maximize reach and traffic during high-cost auction periods, balance total Paid Social costs across multiple platforms. If your current Media Mix currently consists of, say, Facebook, e-mail, and Google, consider a more balanced Media Mix carefully divided up to leverage SMS, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Influencer Marketing, Amazon, Programmatic, e-mail, Facebook, and Google. 

Why? Well, aside from the fact that lesser-tapped-into channels like TikTok and Snapchat are becoming social commerce forces to be reckoned with among high-spending demographics, inventory is a fraction of the cost of Facebook. By leveraging these channels, your brand will be able to maximize Share of Voice (SOV) and impressions without burning through marketing dollars on one Paid Social channel alone. 

Here at MuteSix, we’re setting our sights on TikTok. With an impressive 77% of TikTokers saying the short-video platform will inspire gift ideas this year, it’s more than earned its stripes as a destination for consumers to search, discover, and purchase, as well as a more cost-effective Paid Social channel for e-commerce brands. 

Key Takeaway: Maximizing Means Mixing It Up.

Let MuteSix Help You With Our Rule of Three This Q4

E-commerce is set to soar this Q4, but that doesn’t mean every online brand will fly high. 

As Q4 fever heats up, so will the competition, making it essential that your brand start early, choose promos that scale, and diversify your Media Mix to get the most bang for your buck. 

MuteSix has carefully strategized a foolproof BF/CM checklist to follow, mapping out the smartest moves to make on the most critical dates to ensure success at every step of the customer journey. 

For more detailed information, reach out to the MuteSix experts today for a free marketing consultation and stay tuned for Part 2 of The 2021 MuteSix BF/CM Playbook where we’ll dive deeper into channel-specific tactics to maximize success during another digital-first Q4.

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