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Christmas season is the funhouse version of digital marketing where all your pay-per-click (PPC) advertising metrics get distorted.
- The cost-per-click (CPC) for Facebook ads go up by 140% on Black Friday (Shopify)
- Instagram average CPC in Q4 grows by 40% compared to Q1 (AdEspresso),
- Amazon sales grow by 250% from October to a week before Christmas (Prestozon)
Let’s be clear: Christmas is not just the week leading up to December 25. In the marketing world, Christmas is really a season that starts in October when 22% of people start their online Christmas research and shopping (Wordstream), although the major Christmas digital marketing push happens between Black Friday/Cyber Monday and the end of the year.
Your B2B business might want to sit this one out. Here are 5 reasons why.
1) Ad Prices Skyrocket for B2B Christmas Campaigns
The last quarter of the year is a paid advertising feeding frenzy, and ad costs are a big deal. In a Shopify study of eCommerce brands, 80% of marketers say they are concerned about the rising cost of ads during the holiday season.
There are many factors that impact the cost-per-click (CPC) of a Google ad, including the quality score of your ad, which is based on your ad copy, the quality, relevance, expected click-through-rate, and user-friendliness of the landing page.
Then there are some supply and demand factors at play. Since there are more people researching and doing Christmas shopping online during the last three months of the year, there are more opportunities to put your Christmas advertising campaign in front of potential customers. Many advertisers, especially in the retail sector, push their ad spending hard during the holiday season. After all, Q4 revenue is crucial for a lot of those businesses. This increased competition with the many Christmas ad campaigns translates into a spike in CPC for a lot of keywords.
This graph from Merkle, which includes the 2017 holiday season, demonstrates the dynamic between advertising spend and CPC.
Of course, if you’re advertising in an industry that isn’t targeted by Christmas shoppers, there’s a good chance that the ad inventory dips because your audience is… busy Christmas shopping (more on that later!). The same number of advertisers competing for the same ad inventory means— you’ve guessed it—an increase in price.
Use can use Google Ads keyword planner to check if your keywords are affected by seasonality by analyzing historical trends. While most B2B businesses see a year-end dip in interest for their focus keywords, this is not the case across the board, so you’ll need to put in a bit of legwork before landing on an advertising strategy and Christmas ad campaign that works for your business.
2) Why Would You?
Do you need these sales? Even some retail businesses are trying to find ways to rethink their Christmas-season holiday advertising campaigns, and if your business doesn’t rely on Christmas sales to survive, it’s probably best to lay low and avoid launching a Christmas advertising campaign.
The retail-world concept of a Black Friday hangover is also relevant for B2B businesses, as it ties together the ad costs, discounts, and profitability. In order to stay competitive, most retail businesses offer massive Black Friday discounts and market them with super expensive paid ads, but discounts and ad costs east away at their margin to a point where businesses might lose money on each order.
For B2B businesses, it’s worth considering whether there is an expected profit from investing in paid advertising during this peak-cost season, which makes it especially hard for small businesses to find ideas for Christmas marketing strategies that are competitive and cost-effective. Also worth considering is whether you have an advertising edge for a B2B Christmas campaign that makes you stand out from the crowd.
3) Your Audience is Busy
People are busy preparing for the holidays themselves, which means less traffic and fewer people to direct your marketing efforts towards.
If you feel as if engaging other businesses in the pre-Christmas season is hard, there’s a reason for that! In a CareerBuilder survey, 49% of employees admitted to doing some of their holiday shopping while at work.
Some of your key contacts might also be MIA this time of year. B2B buying decisions often rely on multiple decision-makers, and chances are that some of those key people are out of the office. Travel, vacation, and going to Christmas events are physically pulling people away from making purchasing decisions to the detriment of your sales.
This is a season of being preoccupied, and there’s lots of noise and conflicting priorities, which means your audience’s attention is very difficult to capture. If you want to rise above the noise, your B2B Christmas email or your Christmas ad campaign must be much more compelling and ultra-focused compared to the rest of the year.
4) …Let’s Talk in the New Year?
Businesses are getting ready for the year-end, which can either mean that their budget is depleted and any spending is postponed until the new year, or that they are looking to use up any remaining budget. A US study showed that government agencies spend 5 times more in the final week of their fiscal year – and this trend is not unique to the public sector. You’ll want to check in with your customers to try to get a feel for where they stand.
Another way to keep your current customers engaged is to focus on a retargeting campaign to mature your leads for the new year rather than running an ad campaign to generate new leads.
In general, Christmas-focused marketing like B2B Christmas emails are a tough sell for B2B businesses due to the noise during this time. Instead, addressing year-end issues could be a legitimate angle to capture any prospects who have budget to spend or to start setting yourself up for success in the new year.
5) You Could be Spending Your Time and Money Better
For B2Bs, it is best to be strategic about where to spend money and effort. It would be nonsensical for retail businesses to spend a large chunk of their advertising budget in late summer when their peak season is Christmas shopping season. Similarly, if the analysis of your historical sales trends confirms that, like many other B2Bs, Q4 is slow but the new year is peak season, then use the Christmas season to prepare for a Q1 advertising push.
Instead of wasting money on ads with a low return on investment, there are a number of Christmas digital marketing tactics that can help set yourself up for success in the new year.
Keep Publishing Content
Focus on creating informative content that keeps your business top-of-mind for decision-makers in the new year. According to LinkedIn, 73% of B2B decision-makers research products during the evening and 51% during weekends. With more time off work, there’s a higher chance that you can reach an otherwise disengaged audience with your content on holidays and off-hours.
This time of year is also a great opportunity to repurpose content and re-post your greatest hits from the past year on social media.
Plan Next Year’s Campaigns
The off-season is the perfect time to plan your marketing campaigns for the new year. It takes time to plan a successful pay-per-click campaign, so put in the legwork now to generate results in the new year.
Focus on Maintenance
If business is slow, why not do some maintenance work that you’ve been putting off the rest of the year? Make sure your website is in great shape, and your SEO is optimized for your peak season.
Seasonality is a factor you should consider to get the best value for paid advertising dollars. Depending on your particular B2B sector, PPC ads might not be the way to go. Instead, focus on marketing strategies that help your seasonal businesses thrive.
High PPC ad prices, questionable profitability, low audience engagement, and customer budget constraints make Christmas a difficult season for B2B digital marketers to get right. If you’re wondering how to navigate seasonality in your digital marketing or need cost-effective Christmas marketing ideas for small businesses, we can help advise you on making the right investment at the right time.