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Q4 success starts in Q3. And the most successful brands on Black Friday have one thing in common: They plan their entire marketing effort around four distinct revenue “mini-peaks” within the holiday season.

On this episode, Richard talks with CTC Director of Growth Strategy Luke Austin and Senior Ecommerce Data Analyst Steve Rekuc, breaking down our comprehensive four-part plan to tackle BFCM for our clients in 2023.

⁠Show Notes:
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  • The Ecommerce Playbook mailbag is open — email us at to ask us any questions you might have about the world of ecomm

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[00:00:12] Richard Gaffin: Hey folks. Welcome to the E-Commerce Playbook Podcast. I'm your host, Richard Gaffin, director of Digital Product Strategy here at Common Thread Collective. And I'm joined today, not by Taylor, who is in fact in the still in the construction ridden office right now, but I'm actually joined by our, I'm trying to remember what the metaphor I used before was, but I believe it was frontline war reporter Luke Austin, who is, Director of Growth Strategy, here at CTC.

Luke, how are you doing?

[00:00:38] Luke Austin: Doing well. Excited to be here again. I think we got some good, good news from the front lines.

[00:00:43] Richard Gaffin: Yeah. No, no. I, I'm excited to dive into it a little bit more. And then of course, we're also joined by senior e-commerce data analyst, Steve Rekuc. Steve, how are you doing?

[00:00:53] Steven Rekuc: I am doing great and excited to talk about this Q2 versus Q4 data.

[00:00:57] Richard Gaffin: Yeah, so, right, like the reason that we have these two gents on today is because, So it's August or at the time of this recording. Anyway, this is, we're recording this on August the eighth, which means that Christmas is basically around the corner. For those of us in e-commerce, it's time to start thinking about Q4, thinking about holiday and doing all of the necessary prep to make sure, that holiday goes as well as we need it to in this business.

So what we wanted to do here is Dive a little bit into the Q4 planning and strategy presentation that we're actually giving to our clients right now. To give you a little bit of the, of insight into what our tactics are, like, how we're approaching this, and then b, the sort of general data context or the sort of macroeconomic context really that we're moving into in this Q3 and Q4, and how that's gonna affect what Q4 2023 looks like as opposed to Q4 2022. opposed to Q4, 2021 year since Covid has been different than the last, and I think this year is, is again, perhaps ironically no different in the sense that it is very different. So I'm going to, we'll maybe start off by kicking it over to you, Luke. And for those of us who are watching on the video feed, we're gonna have some slides pulled up from the deck that goes along with some of the strategy presentation. So you can get some visuals on this. but Luke, why don't you set this up for us in terms of what, what is the sort of environment right now? and yeah, how are we, how are we presenting that to clients?

[00:02:26] Luke Austin: Yeah. So I think step one for us in this conversation is really identifying what sort of a moment is Q4 2023 going to be specifically Q4 of this year, and zooming in Black Friday, cyber Monday time period. What, what sort of a moment are we heading into? And so. Part of that conversation starts even outside of Q4, looking at the prior quarters of this year.

So the, the slide that is up right now, which I'll describe is actually one that a few months back on our podcast, we initially gave this insight around what we are seeing, seeing in our broader data set, which is that returning orders were flat this year for the first for the first coming into the first quarter of 2023.

Compared to Q1 of 2022. And really, essentially what that means is 2020 and early 2021. Given the macro environment what was happening, a lot of brands realized their new customer growth during that time period and then extracted the marginal value really relied on the returning customers to drive the profit over the course of the remain remainder of 2021 to 2022 without seeing the same new customer growth.

So coming into the beginning of this year, what we're seeing across our broader data set is flat returning customer growth compared to last year. So, no growth in returning customer revenue or margin for from returning customers. Meaning that if brands wanted to see growth top line, growth of any sort or growth in their marginal outcome that needed to come from new customers.

'cause they're across the data set On average returning customers. Was flat. And so we saw this trend continue through Q1 and Q3 of this year. And really our main focus and objective over Q1 through Q3 of this year has been and continues to be new customer growth. We have to fill back up the sponge of new customers for us to be able to have a Q4 that's gonna result in the outcome that brands wants.

And so, That's what we're seeing so far this year. Returning customers have stayed nearly flat over both Q1 and Q2. We've seen growth in new customers and that sets up the broader picture of, alright, that's what's happening Q1 through Q3 of this year. Now what sort of a moment moment is Q4 going to be?

And Steve's gonna jump into that data in terms of how we're thinking about what sort of a moment Q4 of 2023 is going to be.

[00:05:03] Steven Rekuc: Thanks, Luke. I think what we wound up looking at in terms of determining that was looking at the relationship that we've seen in the past between Q2 data that we Closed out a month ago and some of that and how that relates to Q4 data particularly with Shopify G M V. How much did they take in from e-commerce stores in Q2 versus Q4? Found a really good correlation actually, so where we can see that there's a pretty linear relationship, between the growth that Shopify has seen in G M V for Q2 versus what they see in Q4 for those years.

So you could see 2020 is this massive outlier out there, but it's an outlier both in Q2 and in Q4. And likewise all the other kind of years almost line up along that line. when Shopify's G M V grew 17.3%. Q2, we can kind of correlate that out and see that we should expect around that 17.5% growth in Shopify G M V for Q4. And that's not necessarily the same set of stores. Shopify also increases the number of stores that have, Shopify installed. So it's a, it's a growth of both the volume for the existing stores as well as the volume of total stores. So it's a little bit of both. But that's why it's also good for us to take into context our stats data where we're being selective about the stores that are included.

So it's a consistent data set reliable amount of stores. So we're looking at the year over year in stats on the next slide, we can kind of see that. Do expect around, we had around a 15% growth in that. In Q2. So based upon that we could see kind of projecting out to the holidays. So we were using some of the other holidays to help project what we could potentially seeing in 2023 for Black Friday.

Cyber Monday, we already had Memorial Day, where we saw like almost a 15% growth, year over year in revenue 4th of July, where we saw around a 14% growth in revenue. So those are two similar holiday moments that a lot of brands take advantage of. They offer discounts. so based upon that, we were kind of projecting out around a 12.5% year over year growth somewhere between 10.6 and maybe as high as even 18% growth year over year in our, our revenue that we to see, for Black Friday Cyber Monday.

[00:07:41] Richard Gaffin: But it's also potentially worth pointing out that the, the growth rate this year is going to be lower than it was for, let's say 2022 growth over 2021. Is that correct?

[00:07:53] Steven Rekuc: Yeah, I, I anticipate that. Yeah. Partly because we saw a lot of great growth in 2022 for a Black Friday, cyber Monday. So it, it, it's hard to kind of up that bar another level and grow another 30% on top of the 30% growth that we last year.

[00:08:10] Luke Austin: I was just gonna add to that what what's interesting though is if you go to the previous chart that we were just walking through, which is the Shopify G M V prediction, what that view gives us is actually an increase in Q4 and the Q4 outcome compared to last year. So what we're seeing there is the 2023 dot being plotted is higher on both Q2 and Q4, year over year growth compared to 2022.

So this is gonna segment into the broader discussion, which is why I wanted to point out is Black Friday, summer Monday, that time period, isolated by itself. Potentially we don't see anything much different than last year potentially. It's hard to comp up as much as last year did for that time period.

Q4 overall represents actually higher growth opportunity. We're projecting about 17.5% year over year for 23. Last year was was about a 12.7% year over year growth for that time period.

[00:09:09] Richard Gaffin: Okay, so the upshot of that is that there, there will be some growth over year and some growth or, or the, the growth will be greater than, the growth was 2021 into 2022 in some ways. okay. But then given those data points, what's the upshot of that for this affects your strategic approach?

[00:09:29] Luke Austin: Yeah, so essentially what we are calling this moment, so just to recap, right, we've been growing new customers. Because returning orders have been flat. So that's been a focus for Q1 to Q3 growing new customers. Now we're seeing based on both Shopify G M V and our holiday projection model, that there is opportunity that we're seeing in Q4 of 2023 overall for, for the brands.

So the question becomes how do you maximize your Q4 2023 outcome because there is opportunity there for those brands that are ready to capitalize on it. And. The strategy for doing that is what we are calling the four peaks of the fourth peak. So we are getting meta here on the four peak strategy. Which just to recap it, we have a lot of, a lot of content out here around four peaks and a marketing calendar and making sure that over the course of a year you have four core marketing peaks, inclusive of different promos, sales, product launches, et cetera.

That then helped to get the, the revenue growth, right? It doesn't come linear. It comes through these building of these peaks. Now in q. A lot of folks think of that as the final and fourth peak. I've made it through all three. Now I just have one more to go. And then we can close out the year and it's going to be great.

But what we've seen is actually the most successful brands in Q4 don't approach it as one marketing peak as the final peak, but they ap approach the fourth peak Q4 as being composed of four separate marketing. Mini peaks, thus the four peaks of the four peak, fourth peak. So we have some examples here of what that looks like.

So the fourth peaks of the fourth peak. Now what we did for this is we looked across our dataset. It's about 576 million in revenue 62 million in spend in terms of aggregate numbers from our dataset for Q4 of 2022 of last year. And we saw that the best performing brands from Q4 22 U utilize this four peaks of the fourth peak strategy.

And what those four mini peaks were is one, an early bird sales strategy, second, a Black Friday specific strategy, third cyber Monday specific offer strategy, and then fourth holiday gifting. And we have some visuals here of what that looks like. So the first one here is showing across our aggregate dataset for that time period, those four peaks, and how they show up.

And so what we can see is the first peak. Early bird leading into early to mid-November. Then it culminates in a Black Friday peak, which is the second one, a third s Monday peak, and then a final peak of the holiday gifting, shipping cutoff time period near in the beginning of December. And for our best brand.

So this is aggregated across our dataset, but for some of our best outperforming brands, we pulled the same view as well, and that's where we started to see this consistent theme. Show up on a store level basis where there are four distinct peak peaks where these brands were harnessing their Q4 outcome.

Not treating this moment as one final marketing moment of BFCM, let's go capitalize, but there are actually four mini peak moments in Q4 that since there's opportunity, if you want to maximize that opportunity, that's saying you need to approach the strategy for this Q4 of this year.

[00:13:05] Richard Gaffin: Okay, so one place where these four, the four peaks of the fourth peak show up pretty clearly in C P C and C V R data from both and Google.

So maybe, Steve, do you wanna speak a little bit to we see here in terms of, both of these metrics as they relate to this?

[00:13:22] Steven Rekuc: Yeah, the conversion rate, of course, is a A good measure of customer's ability and propensity to purchase, to convert over. And see that kind of spike up around Black Friday, cyber Monday. Those are the obvious two peaks of the four peaks, but you also see it rise up earlier, both in Facebook and as well as Google, maybe even more pronounced in Google

prior to Black Friday, cyber Monday and then afterwards as well. You see that the first peak that Luke was mentioning, the early bird, and then the last peak, like the cutoff shipping cutoff date, you kind of see a higher conversion rate with being significantly lower than they are in Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

[00:14:07] Richard Gaffin: Right. And so just for our listening audience to describe this particular chart, this is four, Google, CPC versus CVR, or rather, both of those metrics plotted against each other for Q4 of 2022. And one thing that's interesting is starting about two weeks prior to Black Friday, which would be November the 13th, we see a clear ramp up in CVR. And CPC as well. But obviously CVR is sort of a little bit more pronounced, but there's a clear ramp up starting about November 13th that kind of bumps up Black Friday, where there's the clear, the obvious peak, another peak on Cyber Monday, which again is very clear and in this big sort of round. Long peak kind of coasting into the end of the year right before Christmas when everything starts to drop off. And then of course, for certain brands, things pick right back up again as soon as January starts. But I think it's, it's pretty clear, it's like there's, there's two little humps at Be be rather before Black Friday, and then one after Black Friday, cyber Monday as well. So its pretty clearly.

[00:15:10] Luke Austin: Yeah, and it's interesting, the conversion rate by itself represents opportunity like Steve was walking through, but what the CPC and the conversion rate do together, why? Why these are plotted against one another is it represents an arbitrage opportunity and the time periods where CPCs are really low and conversion rate is still pretty strong.

So the early bird time period, early November, . The conversion rate is still in a, a strong place, you know, near a brand's average, whereas the CPC is substantially lower than you're gonna get over BFCM week and weekend. And the same is true for that holiday gifting time period. So, Why these four peaks of the fourth peak are really opportunities and the best brands have learned to capitalize and, and craft their offer strategy around them is is because of the opportunity that exists at the intersection of low CPCs and strong conversion rate.

Plus, of course, the Black Friday, cyber Monday abnormally strong conversion rate during those time periods. And so it's finding each of those pockets, each of those four pockets during this time period that represent opportunity to capitalize on.

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[00:16:49] Richard Gaffin: Okay, so speaking of capitalizing on those four pockets, let's let's transition to talking a little bit about tactical approaches to this sort of revelation that therefore many peaks within the holiday peak. So, Talk me through like, how, how are we advising our clients to approach the, let's say, let's start with early Bird.

How are we advising that we should approach that?

[00:17:11] Luke Austin: Yeah. So in, in true fashion to this to this , A view of the four peaks. We have four main strategies that you, you need to make sure that you have dialed in for each of these moments. So you can kind of view these on a matrix. You have four, four peaks, early bird, black Friday, sour Monday holiday gifting, and then you have your four key strategies for each of them as well.

Offer strategy. Email, s m s strategy, creative strategy, and then your forecasting and media strategy. So we'll start with the top of that, which is the offer strategy, which is the, the piece for each of these four peaks you need to have really solidified. And what I'll walk through here is how you should approach the offer strategy differently for each of these four mini peak moments, starting with early bird.

When you're viewing these four mini peak moments, the, the idea with your offer strategy is to craft offers ramping up to Cyber Monday being the highest sales volume and also the highest discount opportunity for your customers. So I'll say, I'll say that again. As we're viewing these mini peaks, we also have some broader industry data list.

So like last year, cyber Monday was bigger than Black Friday across the board in terms of revenue. So what you're doing is you're building up to Cyber Monday being your highest sales volume day, but it's also gonna be your best offer. You're gonna be giving away the best offer that you have, and you're gonna be building up early Bird, then Black Friday, then culminating in Cyber Monday in that way.

So that's the story you're crafting. With your offer strategy. Now, early bird, the offer that you want to be thinking about for that is in the context of what a lot of those consumers are looking for in that time period. It early Bird represents a really unique opportunity, which allows consumers to buy earlier outside of the craziness of Black Friday, cyber Monday week and weekend, which a lot of people enjoy, but also to ensure their preferred sizes and styles aren't in stock.

Right? If you're trying to buy on Black Friday, you run the risk of the, your, the core black sneaker in your size being in stock, and you'll have to find some other variant. To, to purchase so you can get outside of the craziness of the time period and ensure that some of those core styles are in stock.

And then you ramp up into Black Friday from there. And so Black Friday, the idea here is that it's going to be a better offer than early Bird. And it's going to be an offer that's tailored to the majority of . The, the customers, this is what you wanna make the most easily accessible offer.

Whereas Cyber Monday then is going to be the offer that is giving the best discounted value, but also the highest volume. And a lot of folks may not be wanting to buy that much of volume from you. And so that's what distinguishes Black Friday from Cyber Monday. So, as a quick example, Let's look at what a offer strategy example for early Bird Black Friday, cyber Monday could look like.

Early bird, could be a free $50 gift with your $150 purchase. The perceived value is 50 bucks. Your discounted marginal value is about 17 and a half dollars. Then you move up to Black Friday and you go 30% off, $200 plus for your store. Super simple offer applicable to the large majority of consumers, and it's a better perceived value and discounted value than early bird.

Then you ramp up into Cyber Monday, and Cyber Monday is gonna be buy two, get one. The perceived value, that offer gonna be higher than Black Friday. And the discounted marginal value as well as well as your A O V. So that's where you're gonna get your higher sales volume and your higher . Discount rates during Cyber Monday, but it's gonna distinguish from Black Friday, whereas Black Friday is, it's more accessible to a larger subset of users.

[00:21:11] Richard Gaffin: I see. So, so is the idea then, like the Cyber Monday, the Cyber Monday, offer appeals to You are more of your like M V P customer. Is that kinda like what you're

[00:21:21] Luke Austin: Yep. More of your, more of your M V P customers. It also moves closer to . To the holiday time period, whereas I, a lot of folks think of . The Cyber Monday being an opportunity, it heads right into Decembers around the corner. And so potentially you're buying multiple products from the same brand and using them as gifts for other people in addition to buying it for yourself.

And then, yeah then the other piece of it is is the inventory side of things where if you're giving a, a higher discounted marginal value on several Monday ,you're willing to, at that point, because you've already gone through early Word and Black Friday, you're willing to, at that point, give a higher sales volume, sell more units, more orders, more inventory, knowing that you've already gone through the two major sale moments.

So the state at the, the time of the month that you're in, going into holiday gifting, and then also catering. To those M V P customers, those folks that are wanting to buy more from you allow Cyber Monday to be that higher sales volume day.

[00:22:23] Richard Gaffin: Okay. And then how, what's the approach then to, you already sort of alluded to this a little bit, to the gifting season, to the, to the fourth peak like post Cyber Monday.

[00:22:31] Luke Austin: Yeah, so the, the holiday gifting time period is . Going to be thinking of products that people can give to other people and buy as gifts. Obviously the holiday shipping cutoff is another one to think about within this time period for, for people to get things for themselves or for others prior to the holiday.

But I think the two main things that folks should think about with holiday gifting is one urgency, the shipping cutoff date and getting it, getting it done, and then two, Where, where your inventory positions are at, you're about to get to the end of the calendar year. You're about to go into, you know, a new, potentially a new marketing calendar.

Many brands will be refreshing and a new January marketing schedule. And so what, what holiday gifting allows you to do is to look across your SKU set, look across your inventory, and see what offers you can put together based on what you have left. So a good example of this could be. For a brand that sells sneakers and they have slides, a lot of slides left over after the sales period.

Holiday gifting is a fantastic time to make an offer for slides or do a gift with purchase that allows you to move that excess inventory prior to the end of the year while focusing on a product that you can gift to yourself or to someone else around the holiday time period.

[00:23:56] Richard Gaffin: Gotcha. That makes sense. Okay, so lemme see if I can summarize this because I think this is, this is super helpful. So kick it off with, with the early bird, what you're trying to hit in terms of the messaging is the availability of certain things that will go out of stock over the, Black Friday, cyber Monday holiday gifting period, you sort of pair that messaging, let's say with. Your lowest margin discount, right? then you would ramp up into Black Friday, which is where you give a higher margin discount. But the buy-in, let's say in terms of like for the example that you gave was for the Cyber Monday offer was two pairs of shoes. You get a third free, the buy-in to get those two pairs of shoes is relatively high, so it's a lower buy-in, less or more accessible offer rather. The marginal discount is not as great as what's then trotted out on Cyber Monday, which is again for more M V P customers. For returning customers who are more likely to spend more with your brand, you give a much deeper discount. But again, the amount of money that you have to put up front to get to that discount is gonna be higher than what you see on Black Friday.

Is that fair enough? And then, Into the holiday gifting period. Focus on giftable items, that you need to move because you have excess inventory or, or items that you can move. And then focus the messaging on the urgency of the gift giving moment.

[00:25:14] Luke Austin: Yep, that's exactly it. And so, and so right away it becomes really clear, each of these are their own marketing moment, right? That has a unique a unique strategy within this overall fourth peak of Q4.

[00:25:27] Richard Gaffin: That's fascinating. Okay, so let's do, I mean, let's not get into them too much detail here, but let's do some sort of quick hits lightning round around. So again, you mentioned really what we're looking at is 16 strategies, which is four strategies across a few or four different channels for each one of these peaks. But so maybe remind me of So there's the offer, then there's your email retention strategy or

[00:25:50] Luke Austin: Email retention. Yep. Creative. And then what we could call your forecasting and target strategy. We, I, we called it the growth map for our sake, so, yeah.

[00:26:02] Richard Gaffin: Okay. So maybe like in, in example form or sort of as briefly as you can give, give us a breakdown of, of how you would approach. Each one of the holidays or each one of the mini peaks rather differently in those three categories.

[00:26:17] Luke Austin: Great. Okay, so we talked about unique offer strategy for each of the four mini peaks. And. If you've crafted that, now you have unique offers. Serve a unique function for early bird, black Friday, cyber Monday, and holiday gifting. Now, the other three strategies you need to make sure are, that are dialed in are the email s m s strategy, creative strategy, and then your, your forecasting and target strategy.

So starting, starting with email. What we like to say is the two highest impact levers you have to pull during Black Friday, Saturday, Monday and holiday to impact your revenue and marginal outcome are one, having four mini peak offers, which we just walked through, and two, sending more emails in that order.

Those are the two highest impact things you can do within that time period to make an impact on. Your, your outcome, and we've looked, we've looked a lot at send, send rate on emails versus unsubscribe rate. That's usually the main concern folks have around sending more emails and the, the, trade-off of potential increases in unsubscribe rate rate, which we have not seen be substantial versus the revenue outcome.

It it. The benefit outweighs the, the potential risk way more so send more emails during this time period. You think about what people are getting hit with on Black Friday, emails from all the brands they've subscribed to ads on all their social platforms. You sending three emails that day instead of one email that day is not going to make a substantial difference in the, the, the customer's perception.

So, . The recommended email and s m Ss strategy that we have for Q4 is, is pretty consistent for each of the time periods, but differs based on the, the, the timing of the offer launch. So, one, the day or evening prior to launch, we recommend doing a V I P email and s m s. Getting the folks on your email list excited about it and getting them to purchase prior.

You can get initial momentum behind the offer, but two, what this allows you to do is not have to spend, you're not running your ad campaigns at this time yet. You're letting your email do the heavy lifting and not getting any of that overlap going on with your ad campaigns. So day one e day or evening prior to launch, v i p email r ss m s.

Then on the offer launch day, what you're going to do for the, for the day, the offer launches is three emails and two SMSs and email and ss m s in the morning and email to non-op openers and of the first email around midday, so people didn't open that first email, do a resend, and then an email and s m s in the evening as well.

Morning and evening, and then a non opener in the afternoon to make sure that you're really getting this offer in front of people during the day of the launch. Then that's the offer launch day. Every other day the offer is running. You're gonna want one to two emails a day, and one s m s each of those day days as well, just to keep it top, top of mind.

And then the final day of the offer. . With urgency. Last chance Messaging, right? Something to keep it to make sure that's communicated. You're gonna do three emails and two SMSs, same as the offer launch day as well.

[00:29:40] Richard Gaffin: Gotcha. That makes sense. Yeah. I think the, the, overriding message of, of send more emails I think is really important here. And I think your point too about, I hadn't really thought of it this way, but your point of that, like nobody's going to be specifically, let's say, annoyed at you. Emailing them because they're gonna be getting emails from everybody. And actually it's sort of, it's to your benefit to be the person who's making the most noise in their, in their inbox, right? Because email's

free and they're gonna be getting a lot. so the person who's sort of making the most noise is going to get the most, the most benefit out of it.

[00:30:14] Luke Austin: Yeah. Mo, they're most likely, they're most likely annoyed at everyone, right?

[00:30:18] Richard Gaffin: Yeah. Yeah. Right, right. or possibly less annoyed than normal because what they are expecting is like, okay, now

the time that you guys give me something in the, in, in my inbox. Right.

[00:30:28] Luke Austin: Yeah. Yep. That's true.

[00:30:30] Richard Gaffin: let's, then, let's talk briefly, let's talk creative. What are, I would imagine like the creative approach isn't that different across the four mini peaks, but maybe talk to me quickly about like what that looks like.

[00:30:40] Luke Austin: Yeah. So the creative approach isn't different across each of the four mini peaks, but it is, it is really important to understand that you need different, you'll, you should have different creative running during each of these moments. What I mean by that is you're not just gonna create. One sale ad toolkit for each of these moments.

And then that's what the only thing you're gonna be running. There should be four, four different things you have running during this time period as well. So one is evergreen ads, your Evergreen campaigns which means, you know, non-sale specific messaging or creative will most likely be some of your top performers during your sale periods.

For some of our best performing brands evergreen ads accounted for greater than 50% at, of the account spend during these sale moments at higher efficiency even than the sale ads. So these Evergreen ads, they have learnings optimizations behind them, and they're gonna work well for you. So keep those running.

Don't turn off all your evergreen campaigns. The second piece of this is dynamic ad frames. So for your daba D P A

campaigns, . Creating sales specific messaging to overlay on your Davos and DPAs is going to be super helpful for you. There's gonna be some of your top performing ads as well. You can do frames around the ads themselves as well as intro cards on those carousels.

The third one is what we call like graphic or like text oriented ads. So rather than sale messaging on lifestyle or product, product imagery, this is just sale messaging, front and center. Maybe you have some brand colors in your brand logo, but outside of that it's just big, bold text with the sale, the sale name.

And the offer and keeping it as direct and in your face as possible so that people know what, what the offer is. Then the final fourth creative segment that you're gonna want running are what we call your sale product or lifestyle ads. So this is more the conventional sale messaging on product or lifestyle photography branded.

And some of those will perform well also, but you need those in addition to evergreen dynamic ad frames and then new graphic or text ads.

[00:32:53] Richard Gaffin: Yeah. I think one thing that I will say is like having been a creative strategist during this time period, one of the nice things about Black Friday is that it really doesn't require, Too much out of the box creativity. Like once you have the, once you have the offer nailed down, it's just about getting the offer in front of people in the right way. And then

and I think it's worth calling out because this has remained the case all the, every year that I've been here at C T C, which is that like that idea that your Evergreen ads perform best during Black Friday. everybody's aware of the moment. And so, Everybody is like, generally speaking, let's say your Evergreen ads describe or show off the product best. so people will be responsive to those in a way that they weren't over the rest of the year because there's, it's the peak, right? It's like pushing them towards the product anyway. And sometimes

about the sale itself isn't as interesting to people. Or rather yeah. Isn't as interesting to, let's say, new customers who aren't aware of the product already, but the, the actual Evergreen ad teaching them about the product for the first time will become interesting to them as they think about this gifting season, about buying something for themselves and so on and so forth.

So just a little creative strategist rant there, but I think it's it's definitely important thing to keep in mind. Okay, so let's quickly hit then our last. And to me the most interesting. But what does it look like to, let's say, manage your forecast during this period? Like what, what's, what's important there?

[00:34:18] Luke Austin: Yeah, so. You'll start with, you'll start with your monthly targets. As always top tops down approach in terms of setting what your monthly expectations are for each of those time periods. We obviously use our, what we call our growth map cohort level forecasting tool to, to get to the most accurate outcome in terms of what the forecast for Q4 could be for each of those months.

The, without going into more specific details on the forecasting side of things, I would just say like calling back to some of the data we saw previously, so Shopify Q4 G M V the work that Steve did there and the insights drawing out. It's projecting about 17.5%, I think it was 17.45% year over year growth.

So if your growth this year is unless your growth this year is widely different than that outcome, Forecast accordingly, right? To think that you're running at 15% year over year growth run rate at the current, you know, spend or efficiency levels that you are. And then to get into Q4 and expect, oh, we're gonna be at, we're gonna be at 35, 40% comping to last year, you, you'll probably need to be doing something significantly differently, spending a lot more.

In order to get that outcome. So that's what I'll say on contextualizing your forecast against what we're seeing in the broader data set from the Shopify G M V prediction.

[00:35:42] Richard Gaffin: Gotcha. Well I think that's, at least for the time being I think that covers all our bases. Obviously we're, there's a lot more to come, . On this. I think one thing that I'm really excited about this year is like we have a very, very clear idea of how we're gonna approach Q4 like both in terms of thinking about aggregate, what is the macroeconomic environment we're in, but also like having done this a lot, there's some clear signals about what does and doesn't work on Black Friday, and I think we're as best equipped as we've ever been to handle those.

So we'll obviously keep you everybody updated on On this, and there's plenty more to talk about about Black Friday as, as the day itself approaches. And then Luke, I believe you're also publishing an article to go along with this. Maybe around the same time this comes out. We'll see. But anyway, so for, for those of you who wanna see some of this in written form, that will also exist.

But yeah, for the time being, any, anything else you guys want to hit in terms of, of thinking about this? No.

[00:36:38] Luke Austin: Make sure those four peaks are there.

[00:36:40] Steven Rekuc: yeah,

[00:36:41] Luke Austin: Gotta have the four peaks of the fourth peak.

[00:36:43] Richard Gaffin: That's right.

[00:36:44] Steven Rekuc: Yeah. I think that was a real good point that like, we expect greater growth over the quarter than we do during the, you know, 10 days, the, the surrounding time around Black Friday, cyber Monday. So that would indicate, really take advantage of that first peak that Luke mentioned in the fourth peak. Because we, you probably have more growth opportunity there than during Black Friday, cyber Monday.

[00:37:05] Richard Gaffin: well that's, that's a really good point. The f the first peak and the fourth peak are the most overlooked opportunities. And so like, maybe that's, that's the place that you can get an edge this year. Okay guys, well thanks so much for joining me. And for our listeners, we will see you all next week.

Take care.

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