Seasonality in a Digital World: How to Adjust Your Strategy Accordingly
by Heather Sumpter
Seasonality is one of the biggest factors impacting the world of digital marketing on a regular basis. For example, florists typically expect a boost in traffic around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Retailers of prom attire are well aware that March is the month where search engine traffic for prom dresses tends to peak. And of course, every online marketer with a pulse understands the importance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
True, those kinds of seasons almost go without saying. But there are other, more nuanced, effects that seasonality has on your marketing, which can lead to misallocated resources and missed opportunities. Below are some tips to keep in mind to help you adjust your marketing strategy in a way that takes seasonality into account, so that you can take full advantage of these important windows of opportunity when they emerge.
Use Google Trends to find out more about the seasonal patterns of your business.
Google Trends is a gold mine of information for marketers looking to understand what type of seasonal patterns might be typical for their business. Simply enter a popular search term for your business, and Google Trends will show you a graph that details the popularity of that term over a period of time, broken down by month.
By ramping up your marketing efforts during the times when search volume is heating up, your business will have a prominent presence online when your target customers are at their highest point of interest.
Use your own website stats to discover seasonal trends in traffic patterns.
If you have a website analytics program installed on your site (and you should), you already have a wealth of information at your disposal to help you discover seasonal trends in traffic patterns. Create reports that show you how many visitors are coming to your site on a monthly basis, and expand the time frame to include at least the past two or three years of activity.
You might notice that your website traffic tends to see a boost during the spring and fall seasons, or maybe you receive the majority of your visitors right around Christmas. Whatever your traffic patterns might be, take note of them and use that information to develop a strategy that will capitalize on these times of increased interest.
Be aware of seasonal supply and demand fluctuations in online advertising rates.
Online advertising rates go through seasonal cycles as well. For example, it’s pretty much a given that if you want to pay for an ad placement on a major online portal such as CNN.com or MSN.com, you’re going to shell out more money during the holiday season than you would in January or February.
The reason for this is that the holiday season is a time of increased retail activity online, and advertisers are battling for impressions in a very crowded space. The laws of supply and demand definitely kick into gear due to the seasonal nature of online advertising, and as the number of advertisers vying for virtual real estate continues to climb, clicks, impressions, and search traffic becomes more valuable. This ultimately means that you will need to factor in higher click costs and more expensive CPMs during the times when the online advertising competition in your given niche is at its highest.
If you’re working with a RTB (real-time bidding) platform or other automated system to buy impressions, you’ll more than likely notice this, as pricing automatically begins to adjust upward to reflect increases in demand for online ad space. This higher level of price sensitivity means that you can’t leave your campaign budget on autopilot; you’re going to have to pay close attention to these price changes in order to control costs and optimize your online ad spend.
Being mindful of seasonality will help you refine your marketing strategy so that you can capitalize on times of peak interest in your given niche. Use the tips and ideas above to help you develop an effective marketing strategy that will get your business in front of the right audience at the right time.