How to Build a Custom Marketing Attribution Model
by Frankie Karrer
6 Min Read
Don’t let Q1 slow you down
5 Min Read
The holidays tend to get all the credit (and budget). And while it may be tempting to slow down after the marathon that is Q4, stopping to rest before Q1 might just set you back at square one. Which is why we don’t treat January through March as Q1, but rather as Q5 — a time to take advantage of all that Q4 has brought and to keep up the pace. Here are a few reasons why Q5 might just be our favorite quarter and how to make the most of it.
You’ve heard of Qs 1 through 4, but if Q5 is a new revelation for you, don’t worry, we didn’t just discover extra months in the year. (Although with the strategy we outline below, it may feel that way!) Q5 is an alias for Q1, but it’s also so much more. While Q1 is the beginning of a new year, a clean slate that starts over with the calendar, Q5 maintains last year’s momentum to start the new year off on the right foot.
Ok so we know what Q5 is, but … why? What’s the point of thinking of Q1 as Q5? There are a few reasons this quarter has untapped potential:
Gift Cards: While the holidays may be in the rearview by January, many people are heading home from their holiday travels with their pockets (emails?) full of gift cards. Gift cards are a popular gift — it’s estimated that Americans will spend $198 billion on gift cards this year, with a majority of that spend happening in Q4. But gift cards involve two separate groups of consumers — the card givers and the card recipients — and the latter’s experience with your brand, which happens after Q4, matters just as much. Advertisers can take advantage of Q5 to market to these gift card holders, many of whom may be new to the brand altogether.
There is no time to waste marketing to this valuable pool of customers — Q5 is the perfect opportunity to reach this new audience, especially since many gift cards go unspent. Take it from Starbucks, which reported $181 million in unspent gift cards in 2021.
New Year, New You: The new year is a valuable time of year for many categories, including health and fitness, self-improvement, home organization — the list goes on. For brands in these categories, Q5 can be just as big as Q4, since people with New Year’s resolutions are ready to spend to support their goals.
“Oh my god, we’re having a fire…sale!”: Tobias Fünke’s eternal words are music to any marketer’s ears looking to balance their budget at the beginning of the year. The cost of reaching and converting customers on CTV tends to decrease in January and February. This makes Q5 the perfect time to implement new learnings with refreshed creative and spend less money for bigger returns!
While you may be in the thick of managing Q4 right now, setting aside some time to work on your Q5 strategy will be worth it in the long run. Rather than preparing for a big push in Q4 and letting your campaigns go dark, only to restart from scratch the next year, there are some easy actions you can take following the holiday for accelerated success.
This strategy doesn’t need to start on January 1st, mind you. In fact, it shouldn’t. As we’ve seen from our first party research, those who maintain an evergreen campaign of both prospecting and retargeting see the fastest path to profitable spend. So while your holiday assets may no longer be relevant, your creative can still do a lot of work at the end of the year. After your final ship dates, consider swapping in creative that speaks to gift cards for those last minute shoppers. Then, be ready to make a swap after the holidays as well to advertise those post-holiday deals that price-conscious consumers are searching for. Don’t let the holiday lull affect your campaign; be ready to adjust and make the most of a valuable time of year that your competitors may not be.
Your audiences will likely need a refresh, as well. Targeting gift-givers? Switch that audience to bargain hunters to capture those savvy shoppers. If you fall into a resolution-friendly category, such as beauty, health and fitness, etc., be sure to target “New Year’s Resolutioners” to reach people looking for ways to hit their 2024 goals.
A beauty company advertising with MNTN did just that last year. Following the holiday season, when they had been targeting “Gift Givers” and “Interest in Holiday Makeup,” they shifted their targeting strategy to test new audiences for the upcoming year, including “New Year,” “Interest in Skincare,” and “New Year, New Me.” They monitored these new audiences closely so that by January, they had a strong audience strategy. In Q1 (Q5!) of 2023, they saw spikes in their performance that surpassed the majority of the weeks’ performance in Q4 2022.
As you shift from the holidays to the new year, you’ll also want to be sure to shift some of your budget back to your prospecting line so that you can start to rebuild your sales funnel after all the holiday purchases. This is the perfect time to create some video assets that speak to gift card holders, as well, so you can convert those potential new fans early.
The beginning of the year is a time to refresh — not restart. By entering strategically into Q5, advertisers can start the year off at an accelerated pace rather than building momentum by treating the first few months as a time to ramp up. With the right targeting and creative messaging, Q5 is an essential part of a well-thought-out CTV strategy.