Part Three: YoY Q1 Comparison

If you’ve been following along with our holiday marketing 2020 series you’ve seen us dig into recapping your 2019 performance while it’s fresh, and performing a budget analysis. Today, we’re extending this analysis of your holiday marketing effort to a Q1 year-over-year comparison. When we look at Q1 business figures in 2020 do we see an overall lift when compared to the previous year? The goal here is to establish what total impact there may have been from the holiday campaigns we ran. Were we able to drive net-new leads/sales and show sustained growth or can we identify if the campaign cannibalized business that would have happened later in Q1? This may not be an easy analysis, but as with other tasks we’ve been talking through in this series the process itself can be a useful experience for you when preparing for the 2020 holiday season.


How To Get Started

Depending on your business, compiling the proper information may be really easy or kind of challenging. If you’re an ecomm store pulling sales figures from Shopify it will be very straightforward to find your sale data from Jan 1 to March 31. If you’re a B2B company it may require working with your finance/accounting or sales teams to identify volume of closed and open leads to estimate revenue. Have that revenue for this year? Perfect! Perform the same exercise for 2019 so we can have Q1 data for both years, then we can move on to the analysis.

Comparing To Q1 of 2019

Don’t overcomplicate this, but let’s go through this in a few scenarios with example figures: 


2019 Holiday Ad Budget: $50,000

2019 Holiday Revenue: $350,000

2020 Q1 Revenue: $1,000,000


2018 Holiday Ad Budget: $35,000

2018 Holiday Revenue: $350,000

2019 Q1 Revenue: $900,000


In the above scenario we invested another $15,000 in holiday 2019 ads vs 2018 holiday and the Q1 total revenue was $100,000 higher. If this was the case we wouldn’t necessarily draw a direct correlation between the increased holiday advertising and higher Q1 overall figures but this serves as a jumping-off point for us to take a deeper look at what happened. Did our leads around holiday time go up from the previous year? Were we running any Q1 marketing efforts that were new and may have driven the increase? Was there one huge sale? These are the kinds of questions to ask.

That’s a simple way to compare YoY performance. The second more difficult question to consider is, can we tell if holiday sales were net new or if we just closed leads/sales that would’ve closed over Q1 anyway? Let’s look at some approaches to determining an answer.


B2B: Look At Your CRM

If you’re a B2B firm with a longer sales cycle and a CRM that is kept up to date you should be able to conduct an analysis to see how many of the total sales closed during the holiday period were already in your funnel. Our goal is determine if our holiday promotion mainly served to accelerate the conversion of existing leads into sales or if we were able to kick start the sales cycle with net new leads. Run an analysis comparing the date a lead was created in your CRM vs. the date that is closed. Depending on the length of your typical sales cycle, you’ll need to go back and pull leads prior to the start of the holiday season all the way through Q1 2020 to get an accurate picture. How many actually originated over the holidays? Next compare the length of the sales cycle to the creation dates. Do we see a consistent shortening of the sales cycle? 

If you are seeing a shorter sales cycle but no measurable increase in leads (or even a decrease in leads in Q1) that’s an indication your holiday promotion helped close leads quicker that were likely to close anyway. However if you are seeing increases in lead volume but little change in your average length of sales cycle, then those leads are more likely to be net new as a result of your holiday promos.  Ultimately, this could lead to internal discussions about what the purpose of holiday promotions should be – if they’re almost entirely closing existing leads, think of ways to keep that in mind when designing your promotion next year!


Online Sales: Google Analytics Returning/New Users

If you’re a big Google Analytics fan this is likely a section you’re familiar with, but we’ll break it down. Under Audience -> Behavior you will find a really great report called New vs Returning.

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Here we’ll be able to see all our typical site metrics such as sessions, session duration and leads/laed value broken down by new and returning users.

NOTE: This information is not perfect, Google Analytics is not going to be able to track everyone cross-device and you should consider this information to show returning users as people who have had multiple sessions on the same device within a 28 day period.

This is valuable because it tells us how many of your goal completions or sales came from trackable returning visitors. As we mentioned above this is not perfect, but it gives you a very solid starting point to determine how many sales were likely from brand new customers during your holiday promo. Similar to our B2B example above, comparing data between date ranges (pre-holiday, holiday, Q1) can also shed light on how much difference your promos made.


Final Thoughts

How does this all lead to a great 2020 holiday strategy? We’ve already dug into performance and strategy recaps and budgeting. Now we’re taking a look at the bigger picture around our last holiday to see the cumulative impact. By performing these exercises you are better able to make informed decisions about what your 2020 holiday ad campaigns should look like. You may want to offer 25% off new subscriptions but if the numbers show that a large proportion of new revenue coming in from holiday promotions was from existing customers buying at a discount, use that to tailor your promotions to give them the best experience possible. 

Your business may also have other ways of tracking down this information to see how much of business at holiday tends to be new. Talk to your team and brainstorm how to get this the best information possible and what to do with it. We’re here to help you start these conversations and translate them into success, let us know if you need more help!