Start leveraging data from previous Q4 publishing efforts to gain a better understanding of what your customers do and don’t want. Use this guide to ask yourself five questions that will outline a template of what you’ve done in the past that has resulted in your success, how to innovate on that success, and what to avoid doing.

Ask Yourself the Following…

1. Which of my campaigns performed the best last year?

Understanding what was successful in previous holiday seasons is the first step to laying the groundwork for another successful Q4. If you saw that certain types of content, specific promotions, or keyword phrases resonated better with customers than others, take note and build those insights into a template. This will be your foundation for a Q4 strategy.

2. What promotions produced revenue for me?

As the publisher, YOU have a direct line to the customers. The importance of that connection cannot be overstated enough. After all, that connection drives marketing results…assuming, of course, you’re appealing to your customers correctly. You know what your customers like, so you know what they look for in promotions. Start analyzing what offers worked last year and consider how those promotions can be reapplied this year. If you can’t think of a way to reapply old promotions, that’s okay too – instead, draw a connection a new promotion from an advertiser to a similar one that was successful last year.

3. Which products have generated sales for me?

One of the reasons why this review is so important is because it gives you an opportunity to see exactly what sold and what didn’t. That way you don’t have to waste time trying to guess which products your visitors will be interested in this season. For example, if you run a content site related to video games and you saw that there were a lot of purchases for console games that catered more to a specific genre and age group, try to promote similar products this year and produce content around those products, highlighting similarities to last year’s high-selling games. Create categories in your review to place certain products in and, in some cases, do independent research as to why those games could have sold well. Was there additional content coming out for that game? Did it have a price drop? Was it a newly released sequel to a popular series? The more information you can gather, the better your strategy this year will be.

4. What should I avoid doing?

For everything you review to help you understand what you should incorporate into your content strategy, there’re plenty of things you should be making note of that you should avoid doing as well. The phrase “those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it” rings true here – you can find your affiliate strategy falling apart quickly in Q4 if you fail to recognize things that didn’t work last year. Take notes of details both big and small – sometimes the solution to why something didn’t work has to do with the time or day that it was published, and not an issue with the content or promotion itself. This lends itself to the last question you should be asking yourself…

5. What key dates performed best for my publishing calendar?

You know your customers, so you know when they’re accessing your content most often. But the holidays are a crazy time and can lead to an increase in traffic with customers looking at your site more often by visiting at times and days that would normally be less busy This is why looking at previous Q4 and holiday promotion effort is so crucial – it helps you understand your customer’s behaviors during a time of the year where that behavior differs. If you can identify customer visit patterns from previous Q4’s you’ll be able to build a content calendar that better caters to that abnormal behavior.

The Benefits of Answering These Questions

If you’ve answered these questions thoroughly then you’ll have information, and potentially a lot of it. This data can be used to help you in a few ways beyond just building an overarching holiday strategy – it can be applied to the content you publish, the advertisers you reach out to, and more.

You can use this information to:

  • Create a Sell Sheet: Working with your advertisers requires communication, and this information you’ve gathered is definitely something you should be sharing with them! Use the information to reach out to advertisers and show them what worked for you last year and what you can do to help them reach their advertising goals during Q4.
  • Identify New Advertisers: Did you notice that some products sold well? Did you also notice that there are plenty of other advertisers that offer similar products? Reach out to these advertisers by applying to their affiliate programs and show them the results from last year as a way to grab their attention and start working with them.
  • Create New Website Content: If you’ve been paying close attention to your content review you’ve probably noticed that some content works better than others. Use this information to generate content that has proven to be successful, and in formats that your customers tend to enjoy. So, if you saw that video review products did better than written shopping suggestion lists, try producing more video-based content around products that your customers are already interested in learning more about!
  • Build Focused Pages: This data you’ve curated from your previous Q4 results can help you build pages that have more evergreen content such as product features, gift guides, and shopping for different people in a customer’s life. These pages don’t need to be a single post – they can live on throughout the Q4 holiday season, and for many more seasons to come!

Want to learn even more publisher strategies, tips, and tricks for the holiday season? Check out our on-demand webinar with everything you’ll need to know!