Q4 is upon us. For brands and marketers alike, it is both an exciting and stressful time of year. Add COVID-19 and the US elections to the mix and that anxiety is likely amplified tenfold.
Undoubtedly, Q4 2020 will be unlike any other we’ve experienced. That being said, recognizing and preparing for emerging trends will help brands and advertisers adjust and execute their marketing strategies accordingly.
Despite all of the craziness, this holiday season can still be the most wonderful time of the year.
Read on for the e-comm trends you need to be aware of going into the new year.
4 e-commerce trends to look out for in Q4 2020 and beyond.
1. Unusually high Q4 competition
This is a big one. Because of the pandemic, a lot of shopping will shift from in-store to online. In fact, according to consumer research, 52% of adults plan to spend less time in stores, or visit stores less frequently, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On top of that, 33% of those who weren’t purchasing online regularly prior to the outbreak plan to spend more time shopping online after the outbreak. This extends through the Q4 period.
What does this mean for ad spend? Well, competition online will increase drastically around the holidays (even more than usual). Especially on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram, expect higher-than-normal cost-per-clicks (CPC).
To throw another wrench into the works, 2020 is also an election year, with election day falling on November 3rd. Social feeds (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), as well as YouTube, will be extra competitive with both candidates spending a lot on these platforms.
In fact, over the last 60 days, both presidential candidates combined have spent over $136 million on Facebook and Google.
2. More promotions (and way earlier, too)
With increased competition, e-commerce brands will need to do more to set themselves apart from their competitors. For this reason, expect to see a lot of promotions throughout Q4 2020. This certainly isn’t unusual for the holiday season, but we anticipate more promotions than ever before.
Additionally, with less people shopping in-stores, it’s likely that big retailers will shift a lot of their in-store promotions to an online format. Be on the lookout for Black Friday giveaways and doorbusters happening online instead of in-stores.
Not only will there be more promos this year, they will also show up a lot earlier in Q4, too.
According to Hilding Anderson, head of retail strategy at Publicis Sapient, “Amazon’s Prime Day (in October) marks the earliest start of the full assortment holiday shopping season in 50 years, as COVID permanently reshapes the holiday calendar. Black Friday may not exist as a recognizable form this year.”
Already this quarter, big retailers like Walmart, ASOS, and Best Buy have offered customers Black Friday deals as early as October.
With limited in-store shopping and higher competition online, e-comm retailers will be eager to capitalize on holiday-related spending as early as possible.
3. An increased emphasis on unique & engaging creative
Like every other Q4, users’ social feeds will be inundated with ads. It’s crucial that brands create and utilize fresh and engaging creative to grab peoples’ attention.
Especially on Facebook and Instagram, higher click-through rates (CTR) mean cheaper cost-per-clicks (CPC).
With overcrowded social platforms, now’s a good time to diversify and stay top-of-mind with an omni-channel approach.
Vibrant (and festive) colors sprinkled in with some eye-catching animations will also go a long way in Q4 2020 and beyond. Don’t let users miss your unbeatable deals because your ads blend in to their feed.
4. The continued importance of AI-powered strategies
The rise of machine learning has taken e-commerce digital marketing by storm in the last few years. More and more, e-commerce advertisers are relying on machine learning to optimize campaigns in the moment.
Embrace machine learning, because it's not going anywhere.
On Google, don't hesitate to test Target ROAS, Smart Shopping, and Smart Display. As an added benefit, these smart campaigns are incredibly easy to set up.
On Facebook, use Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) to let their algorithm do the heavy lifting when it comes to allocating budgets across ad sets. With the extra competition, Q4 2020 will also be the perfect time to embrace Targeting Expansion and Automatic Placements to get in front of additional eyeballs.
But keep in mind that AI-powered features always have a learning phase, so implement these at least two weeks before peak holidays, just to be safe.
It’s never too late to adjust your Q4 strategy and embrace trends in digital. And with COVID-19 expected to last well into 2021, these trends are here to stay.
Looking for more e-commerce insight? Download our free resource, How to Put Together a Successful Social Ad Campaign for E-Commerce.
Perfect Search is your partner in everything e-commerce. Our team are experts in paid search, social media and display advertising, and more! Contact us today for a free, comprehensive site and strategy audit.