Driving Off-Season Sales With Holiday Campaigns

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July 29, 2021
Sporting Goods & Outdoor

Key Takeaways

Bike sales spike up in spring-summer months and decline during the cold months. Specialized attempts to balance the sales by investing in off-season promotional campaigns. 

Content & Messaging — Specialized Prioritizes Sales And Discounts in its Advertising Messages: During the last two off-season campaigns (Summer-end sale and Winter Holidays), Specialized led with sale-oriented messaging and directed users to the sale landing page. 

Budget Distribution — Specialized invests >80% of its Advertising Budget in Facebook Ads: Specialized invested most of its advertising to run ads on Facebook. During the last two campaigns, the brand allocated more than 80% of its budget to social media. Notably, Specialized didn’t run ads on any other social platform — neither Instagram nor YouTube.

Year on year, Google searches for bikes start going up in March, peaking through the summer and slowly declining by September.

Specialized’s website traffic follows the same seasonality trend — visits spike in the warm months and slowly decline throughout the cold season.

To incentivize sale during the low seasons, Specialized runs promotional campaigns during winter holidays and heavily invests in advertising their summer-end sale.

Over the last two years, Specialized ran three off-season campaigns:

  1. In December 2019, the brand invested $227K in promoting the Holiday Gift Guide. 
  2. The company aimed to prolong the summer momentum with a $122K investment into a summer-end sale in September 2020. 
  3. At the end of 2020, Specialized launched another winter holiday campaign supported by a $100K investment.

Holidays Campaign | Dec 2019

In December 2019, Specialized launched a campaign aimed at driving holidays sales.

Campaign creatives featured product flat lays and called customers to shop “gifts for roadies.” 

Top campaign creatives:

Ad #1: Spend: $93K | Impressions: 5.8M | CPM: $16.1
Ad #2: Spend: $49K  | Impressions: 2.9M | CPM: $16.7
Ad #3: Spend: $17K | Impressions: 1.4M | CPM: $24.1

For the Holiday 2019 campaign, Specialized invested 88% of its budget to desktop display banners. Facebook and Mobile display received $15K and $13K respectively. 

Top 5 Placement Websites

  • cyclingnews.com $153K
  • roadbikereview.com $22K
  • mtbr.com $20K
  • yahoo.com $2K
  • reddit.com $1K

Top 5 websites account for 99% of total desktop display spend. 

The brand curated a holiday Gift Guide on its website and directed 94% of the ads to this landing page. Specialized split the rest of the ads between the Joy Squad page and the Sale.

The Gift Guide

Summer-end sale | Sep 2020

The next off-biking-season campaign that Specialized launched was designed to drive sales at the end of the summer.

In September 2020, the brand ran a series of ads promoting summer savings and promising up to 40% off on Specialized gear.

Top campaign creatives:

Ad #1: Spend: $52.2K  | Impressions: 7M | CPM: $7.4
Ad #2: Spend: $10.4K | Impressions: 1.4M | CPM: $7.4
Ad #3: Spend: $10.8K | Impressions: 4.0M | CPM: $24.1

Specialized changed its approach to their digital ads format for the summer-end sale campaign. This time the brand allocated 90% of its advertising dollars to Facebook. The brand spent only $10K to run desktop display ads and less than $2K to run display ads on mobile.

78% of the end-of-summer sale campaign drove customers to the Sale page, while 21% directed to the regular Shop page and the remaining 5% to the Tarmac product detail page.

Holidays campaign | Dec 2020

In December 2020, Specialized changed its approach to the Winter Holiday campaign. The brand put more emphasis on communicating discounted prices rather than suggesting holiday gift ideas. 

The prevailing message on the creative was “we made too much” and only some ads suggested finding “the perfect stocking stuffers”.

Top campaign creatives:

Spend: $31.3K | Impressions: 3.3M | CPM: $9.5
Spend: $5.9K | Impressions: 0.6M | CPM: $9.6
Spend: $12.1K | Impressions: 1.3M | CPM: 9.5

Similar to the summer-end sale, Specialized invested heavily in Facebook ads, allocating $89K to this platform alone. The remaining part of the budget was split between desktop ($10K) and mobile ($1K) banner ads. 

While Specialized curated a holiday product selection on The Gift Guide page, the brand only directed $13K worth of ads to this page. 86% of the budget sponsored the ads driving users to the Sale page

Summing up, when comparing the digital ads investment to overall monthly website traffic, Specialized didn’t see any increases. 

Off-season promo campaigns:

However, diving deeper and looking into the web traffic to the specific pages that Specialized drove their ads to, there is a noticeable increase in traffic to both off-season campaigns the brand ran in 2020. 

The Gift Guide, Sale


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