5 ways to effectively spend your end-of-year marketing budget
The end of the year — and your Q4 wrap-up — is looming, and if you’ve got leftover marketing budget to burn, the next few weeks can feel like a scramble to use it or lose it.
Here’s the catch: although you don’t want to waste your remaining marketing dollars, you need to be sure that you aren’t throwing money away on half-baked additions that don’t deliver value. With only a short time to plan, you want options that are quick to deploy — but will still deliver strong ROI.
It can be done! Whether you’re looking for short-term returns or long-term investments, here are five ideas to get extra bang for your Q4 marketing buck — fast.
Tactics to deliver quick results
Maybe you’re looking to make an impact on a campaign you’re running right now. Or maybe you need results that will show up this quarter to help you start next year on a strong note.
Although the best strategies take some planning, you still have options to fuel up your holiday results and deliver ROI sooner rather than later.
Start by looking at your existing initiatives.
A new campaign takes time and money to get rolling — whether you’re producing new creative, researching your audience, or dialling in on a new strategy. These efforts might be worthwhile in the long run, but we’re looking to make a difference now.
To get a faster start, there are likely untapped opportunities with what’s already running:
1. Amplify your awareness-level budget
Topping up your budgets across existing channels is quick, simple, and capitalizes on the time and effort you’ve already invested in your campaigns. The holiday season is also a great time to give your ads a little extra gas.
Get a head start on B2B wins next year
If you’re in the B2B space, ad costs tend to be lower during the end of the year. As potential clients wind down and close up shop for the holidays, your competition for ad space declines. While it’s true that you might not close many sales in the final weeks of the year, that’s all the more reason to stay top-of-mind with potential clients — and those declining costs mean any extra spend you invest now will tend to go further.
Keep up with the B2C competition
Of course, things look a little different in holiday retail.
For B2C businesses, allocating extra budget might be the edge you need to stand out in a hyper-competitive sales season. Since CPMs, CPCs, CPLs, and CPVs all tend to be much more expensive this time of year, increasing your budget is a simple-but-effective way to protect your online presence over the holidays.
2. Make sure to top up and max out your bottom-funnel campaigns
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore the bottom of your marketing funnel, too.
For B2C businesses, the end of the year is the perfect time to win over consumers with a high intent to buy. Similarly, a focus on New Year’s resolutions means customers who are looking to invest in purchases, subscriptions, or tools that can help them improve in the year ahead. If you have the spare budget, revisit your conversion-focused campaigns to help drive consideration among these qualified audiences — and potentially even gain market share from competitors.
But there are other options to engage these potential customers. For example, look at the emerging Q5 season for cost-effective opportunities that you can leverage now.
Q5, or the period between the holidays and New Year’s, has traditionally seen less marketing competition — but consumers’ intent to purchase actually stays steady until early January.
Pre-investing in fixed media buys for the Q5 period using your Q4 budget can help you take advantage of this low-competition period with lower CPMs.
If you’re looking for new tools, investing in software like Cluep can help you zero in on consumers based on their social media behaviors, identifying and qualifying potential leads for your advertising.
3. Test new and emerging channels with the assets you already have
You can also use your existing campaigns to experiment with new options for the future.
It’s possible that the assets you’ve already built can be used in new channels, which means that you can both expand your reach and test future options with minimal extra setup. For example, investing in Microsoft Search if you’ve already built out marketing copy for paid search through Google. This will let you expand your reach without sinking more money into asset production, and can be an efficient way to test new ideas.
That’s also true of new and emerging channels. Walmart ads, Instacart, Uber ads, and so on aren’t typically chosen as priority channels for a campaign, but investing your extra budget in them can boost reach now while providing valuable intel for future campaigns.
This can also be your opportunity to try out completely different channels while the stakes for your budget are relatively low. Channels like digital audio (Spotify, podcasts), digital out-of-home, connected TV, influencer marketing, or new paid social channels like Reddit and TikTok all tend to fall lower in the digital priority list, but can help you reach new audiences for your business.
Strategies for long-lasting results
Of course, you can also invest your current budget into the foundation for future successes.
Quarterly targets can mean that marketing efforts are focused on immediate wins, and — although your strategy should always deliver value for your business — extra dollars in Q4 are the perfect opportunity to fund the sort of long-term planning that often falls by the wayside once your ads are up and running.
4. Invest in customer research to fuel big wins next year
This isn’t specific to your media budget but can inform your plans for the year ahead.
For example, awareness audits are a big-ticket item that can be a hard sell during your day-to-day marketing planning. Options like Google’s Brand Lift solution and Meta’s Lift Tests are fed by existing campaigns, and provide valuable insights into the impact your marketing has had over the previous year. LinkedIn offers a similar, self-serve option.
These solutions are focused on key metrics like brand recall, your impact on consumer affinity, and how you’ve affected their intent to purchase. In other words, metrics which let you identify your ads’ strengths and weaknesses beyond traditional indicators like impressions and clicks.
These insights can help focus your plans for the year ahead, but don’t provide the sort of immediate return that your regular budget might prioritize.
As you’re planning, just keep in mind that these solutions can represent a significant investment — Google’s Brand Lift can reach a five-figure price tag depending on your setup, while Meta’s solutions tend to come in at a lower price point.
From the infrastructure of your eCommerce storefront to the CRM powering your email campaigns, your business’s tech stack can provide you with the extra capabilities you need to connect with your audience year-round.
Did the holiday rush expose the limits of your current eCommerce setup? Explore a la carte options that add or improve missing features like email integration and product bundling. Are you getting bogged down by coordinating campaigns across multiple platforms? Explore comprehensive solutions like Hubspot that let you centralize and amalgamate your digital ecosystem.
If adding new tools would overcomplicate your infrastructure, perhaps your extra budget can be used to subscribe to additional features in the tools you already use. Google alone has a whole suite of solutions designed to refine your holiday targeting — and the Q4 budget can help invest in premium features you’ve been considering on any of your platforms.
Don’t wait — invest in happy holidays for your business
As the time crunch gets tighter, it’s important to execute these plans quickly and confidently. Moving now can be the difference between effectively squeezing the most value out of your remaining budget and wasting those dollars on flashy editions that won’t help your business.
If you want an experienced team who can help put those plans in place, get in touch today.
Sean Robinson, Copywriter
The comfort zone is the most dangerous place to be in.