While the holiday season is often viewed by marketers as a time to relax after the whirlwind of Q4 with its overload of marketing campaigns, there's a lucrative opportunity you could be missing out on: Q5 marketing. As the chaos of Christmas settles, this period between December 26th and early/mid-January offers a unique window for strategic marketing efforts.
Here, we'll delve into the often-overlooked advantages of Q5 marketing and provide you with the insights you need to harness its full potential.
What is Q5 marketing?
Q5 marketing, also called the hidden quarter or invisible quarter, is the time after Christmas until early/mid-January, when people are typically on holiday, or slowly back to work, and the frenzy of Christmas shopping has subsided; it’s the onset of Q1.
While many marketers use this time to take vacations, unwind, evaluate Q4 or the previous year, and prepare for the year to come, some forward-thinking brands seize the opportunity of this seemingly "invisible" quarter to enhance sales and their brand presence.
Why is Q5 marketing important?
But you might be asking, why should marketers care about Q5. Let's explore a few reasons.
1. Less competition during Q5
During Q5, the competition is notably lower in the marketing landscape. Marketers are taking a well-deserved break after the holiday rush, and a significant portion of their budgets are typically allocated to cover the campaign promotions of big shopping events like Black Friday and Christmas during Q4. This financial planning leaves them with limited resources and a reduced appetite for promotional activities during Q5.
For example, in the Playable platform, there are on average, 1163 live campaigns per week that receive a minimum of 10 visitors. However, during the week from December 26th, 2022, to January 1st 2023, there were only 1026 live campaigns. The same goes for the two first weeks of January when there were only 927 in the first week of January and 913 live campaigns in the second year of January.
There is a noticeable decrease (60%) in the number of live campaigns on our platform after December 26th.
2. Ad costs in Q5 are lower
During Q4, advertising costs reach exceptionally high levels due to events like Black Friday and Christmas. The week leading up to Black Friday, in particular, witnesses a surge in Facebook & Instagram CPM, with prices remaining significantly elevated thereafter. However, a noteworthy shift occurs post-December 26th. We observe a substantial drop in Facebook CPM. This decline continues steadily until mid-January, presenting a lucrative window for marketers to capitalize on reduced advertising costs and reach a broader audience at a more affordable rate.
There is a significant drop in Facebook CPM (26%) and in Instagram CPM (33%) after December 26th, which stays until mid-January.
3. People are still shopping after Christmas
There is a misconception among many marketers that Q5 is quiet in terms of consumer activities. This misconception stems from the fact that people are often at home, recuperating from the holiday hustle and not actively shopping.
But, according to the National Retail Federation, 70% of holiday shoppers were planning to shop the week after Christmas in 2022.
- 47% planned to take advantage of holiday sales and promotions
- 27% planned to use gift cards
- 18% planned to return or exchange unwanted gifts or holiday items
4. Consumers are still active online
Another common misconception among marketers is the belief that consumers are inactive online during Q5. The question then arises: why invest time and resources in Q5 marketing?
Contrary to this belief, while consumer activity might not reach the peak levels seen during the pre-Christmas season (from Black Friday to Christmas Eve), it still remains significantly higher than the yearly average. People continue to engage online after Christmas Eve, making Q5 an opportune time for businesses to maintain their digital presence and connect with potential customers.
For example, on the Playable platform, the weekly average number of sessions per campaign is 1419. However, during the week from December 26th, 2022, to January 1st, 2023, there was an average of 1837 sessions per campaign.
The level of activities (sessions per campaign) on our platform is significantly higher (29%) during the week following December 26th compared to the yearly average.
Q5 marketing is a current trending topic and there is a consensus that Q5 includes the period from December 26th to mid-January. It's recommended to create marketing campaigns during this time to leverage the advantages we're discussing here.
However, by digging deeper into the data, we’ve discovered that the Playable platform's activity data reveals a noticeable decrease in activity in the two first weeks of January.
The level of activities (sessions per campaign) on our platform is lower during the two first weeks of January compared to the yearly average (14% lower for the first week, and 16 lower for the second week).
This leads to this question…
Should you launch marketing campaigns in the first two weeks of January?
In summary, while lower ad costs present a promising opportunity, it's crucial to recognize that the engagement levels are also lower in the two first weeks of January. This implies that campaigns might yield less favorable results.
The key question lies in determining whether the reduced costs can compensate for the decreased engagement, ultimately impacting your return on investment (ROI). Careful analysis and strategic decision-making are essential to strike the right balance between cost savings and campaign effectiveness during this period.
Rather than viewing Q5 as one big period, considering it as two smaller ones — the week following December 26th and the first two weeks of January — might be a better approach.
What strategies can you use to boost sales in Q5?
5 strategies to keep in mind when leveraging Q5 marketing.
1. Focus on 'New Year, New Me'.
Yes, it sounds very cliché. You might be thinking, 'Duh, every article says this.' But it’s true! While before Christmas Eve, people are pondering what gifts to buy for their loved ones, after Christmas Eve, they focus on themselves. They want to purchase items that align with their New Year resolutions, redeem their new gift cards, exchange gifts they didn’t like, and so on.
An example of a campaign you could run to follow this advice is to utilize a personality test to help shoppers easily find items that fit their styles and preferences. Adding special discounts on the items shown in the results of the personality test might also encourage customers to add these items to their basket.
The "What’s your thing" personality test by DFS prompted users to answer a series of questions related to their sofa style preferences and fabric choices. Based on the responses, the personality test categorized participants into specific style profiles. These profiles then directed users to sofas at DFS that best matched their individual tastes and preferences. Essentially, the test enabled customers to uncover their unique style, guiding them to sofas tailored precisely to their liking and thereby enhancing their overall shopping experience.
2. Promote on Social Media
One of the key advantages of Q5 marketing is the lower ad cost on social media. Therefore, promoting your campaigns on social media during Q5 should be a must in your Q5 marketing strategy. However, just because there's less competition and the cost is lower doesn't mean you should underestimate the importance of creating engaging and attention-grabbing social media ads to get higher CTR.
For instance, leveraging interactive social media posts is essential!
An excellent example of using interactive posts on social media to achieve results is from Aqua D'Or. They employed interactive posts to raise awareness about their Bobli Vitamins water. They introduced a personality test called "Which Bobli are you?" through sponsored and organic interactive posts on Facebook and Instagram. To expand their reach, they collaborated with influencers who shared the personality test with their followers. Users participating in the test had a chance to win a year's supply of free Bobli Vitamins & Minerals. This comprehensive strategy, involving interactive posts, influencer partnerships, and enticing rewards, enabled Aqua D'Or to enhance awareness for Bobli Water while engaging their audience in an entertaining and interactive manner.
3. Use gamification
As a gamification platform, we advocate for using game mechanics in your marketing campaigns to achieve superior results. And, it’s a proven technique:
- Gamification leads to 40x more engagement time; from an average of 1.5 seconds to 67 seconds — that’s the difference with gamification.
- Gamified ads work harder. Consumers are 56% more likely to click a gamified ad than a static ad.
These figures underscore the effectiveness of gamification in capturing and sustaining audience attention, making it a powerful tool to enhance the impact of your Q5 marketing efforts.
Nordisk Film Biografer
Nordisk Film Biografer, a leading Danish cinema chain, developed a thrilling shoot-it game inspired by the latest Batman movie. This is a great example of a campaign that was very engaging and could be used during Q5. In this game, players aimed to shoot Batman Oreos while dodging hits, with the chance to win a year's worth of free cinema tickets and Oreos.
Leveraging Instagram, they shared the game, drawing in players and enhancing engagement. By highlighting that only the top performers could claim the prize, they encouraged active participation and generated excitement through their interactive posts.
4. Capitalize on your Christmas marketing campaigns
As marketers, we can often make the mistake of viewing each campaign in a silo. Consider this: Christmas marketing campaigns that yield excellent results can be repurposed effectively for Q5 marketing. For instance, if you create a fun advent calendar during Christmas, you're likely to gather numerous new marketing permissions. These permissions can be valuable for sending remarketing ads and nurturing emails during Q5.
Even more advantageous is leveraging the data insights gained from your Christmas campaigns. If you've acquired valuable information about your contacts, such as their styles, preferences, and Christmas wish lists, you can use this data strategically. For instance, sending emails like "Did you miss out on the headphones you wanted for Christmas? They're now available at a 15% discount!" can be incredibly effective, capitalizing on the knowledge you gained earlier and enhancing your Q5 marketing efforts by personalizing them.
Hi Fi Klubben
A great example of a Christmas campaign where the gathered data could personalize Q5 marketing efforts is Hi FI Klubben's Swipe It game. In the Swipe It marketing campaign from Hi Fi Klubben, Participants swiped right for products they liked and left for those they didn't, building their holiday wish list. Afterward, participants filled out a lead form, providing their contact details before they could see the results of the Swipe It test. Hi FI Klubben then displayed the liked products, allowing for further browsing, and ultimately nudging them to share their Christmas wish list with family members as Christmas gift ideas. Utilizing this data, Hi Fi Klubben can tailor their Q5 marketing campaigns to individual preferences.
5. Automatize your campaigns
Our final advice is that engaging in Q5 marketing should not hinder your well-deserved rest during the Christmas holidays! Therefore, it's crucial to automate your campaigns as much as possible, ensuring they don't require immediate actions while you're on vacation. By doing so, when you return to work in January, you can kickstart the year with well-executed campaigns and excellent results already in place.
One effective approach is utilizing a gamification platform to prepare your gamified campaigns in advance, set start dates, and plan your promotion strategy ahead of time, enabling a seamless and stress-free marketing experience.
Ready to tackle Q5 marketing?
Putting an end to the misconception that post-Christmas days are a marketing lull, Q5 is a dynamic duo of the week after December 26th and the initial weeks of January—each with its distinctive advantages. Seize this window wisely, and you'll find a wealth of potential waiting to be tapped.
Ready to transform these insights into successful Q5 campaigns? Look no further than Playable, the gamification platform for marketers. Empower your Q5 marketing strategy, engage your audience, and make the most of this calmer yet often overlooked period.
Get started today and unlock the full potential of your Q5 marketing efforts!