5 Principles for E-Commerce Brands to Crush Q4 with Paid Media

If you’re an e-commerce business, you already understand the importance of the last annual quarter. As a share of total US retail sales, Q4 has climbed from under 5% in 2010 to nearly 13% in 2021…and it shows no sign of slowing.

And your competitors know it, too.

So what do you do to win with your paid media campaigns?

These 5 best practices come directly from the brains of our seasoned digital advertising experts — think of them as your playbook to maximize the ROI of your Q4 paid media efforts.

1. Begin Preparing Now

Start your preparation now (or as early as possible) by aligning all stakeholders. This lets you win when your competitors are fumbling to catch up.

Questions to prompt this discussion include:

  • What external factors or new strategy implementation will impact performance YoY?
  • How have our markets (product and buyer) been impacted by inflation?
  • Have margins and sourcing changed for our core products?
  • Do we expect awareness from our brand/product offering to be up this year (increased investment in full-funnel visibility throughout the months prior) to increase the opportunity to drive more sales/revenue this year?
  • How much traffic do we need to our site to achieve the growth we want? (Here’s a handy calculator if you aren’t sure.)

2. Act Early to Maximize ROI

Maximize every dollar by driving pre-BFCM (Black Friday/Cyber Monday) users to an email capture offer to get early access to deals and discounts, so you don’t have to pay for every touchpoint and can still get a conversion off early-funnel campaigns.

3. Optimize for Speed

  • New ad approvals slow to a crawl during peak times. To avoid missing out, load your ads into platforms days or weeks in advance to get approved, then set them as paused until go time.
  • Decide on your benchmarks in advance, and create automated “offense” and “defense” rules to make bid and budget adjustments even when no humans are around. The higher your budgets, the more frequently these rules should run (hourly, every 4 hours, daily).
  • Set overall budgets for campaigns or multi-week sprints, but hold these loosely. Capitalize on your best days by letting budgets flow over a longer time horizon.

4. Set a Solid Foundation

  • You’ve worked hard to build strong lists of customers and email subscribers, so don’t let that go to waste! Have these updated automatically into ad platforms for retargeting, reactivation, and exclusions in your campaigns.
  • For e-commerce stores, your shopping feed might as well be made of solid gold. Are your shipping prices correct? Are your titles optimized for search queries? Is every product approved on key ad platforms? Whether it’s serving to broad audiences or familiar customers, the potential is enormous for high ROAS…or disaster if mismanaged.

5. Think Multi-touch

  • Having high sales during peak shopping starts well before those key dates. Allocate budget in the weeks leading up to holiday shopping to increase awareness. Optimizing for site visits, video views, and email capture allows you to build a warm list of users who are primed to hear about your best offers with existing brand familiarity.
  • Not sure where this budget should go? Check out your analytics platform for which channels drove assisted conversions or thrive in first-click attribution models. These are your drivers for net-new customer attention.


Q4 is harrowing enough without added stress in your paid media efforts. With these practical steps, your brand should see maximum returns, and you’ll be able to focus on winning new customers, emptying your warehouse, and bringing the magic to customers around the country and the world.

Looking for an outside perspective on your Q4 paid media strategy? Schedule a free digital marketing audit and consultation with our experts.

JP VanderLinden

JP has a passion for making the complex world of digital marketing simple and approachable. He is fluent in three-letter acronyms (TLAs), emojis, and gifs. Sadly, his high work quality does not extend to musical or food tastes, both of which have been described as "basic" and "trash."