If you are starting out with your own business, particularly an enterprise that is seasonal, you may quickly experience a steep learning curve. Almost every marketer adjusts budgets to link into seasonal trends, dependent on your industry. Some businesses may wrongly assume that they can take their foot off the pedal during off-peak periods – specifically when it comes to marketing.
For seasonal e-commerce sites, digital marketing efforts and analytics can provide a perfect insight into seasonal trends. From this data you can figure out how to best manage budgets and it will allow you to expand your brand awareness via digital marketing campaigns.
The unpredictability of seasonal business means that expectations have to be aligned with variables such as the weather or unexpected events. It is imperative that before you conduct a digital marketing campaign you conduct baseline test using Google Analytics to establish a trend graph. This will give you good groundwork in order to prepare a strategy.
The case study and advice below provides an insight into how important time, preparation and analysis are to seasonal success.
Case study: Turtle Mats
Rebecca Wilson, marketing manager at Cotswolds-based Turtle Mat, provides an insight into how a seasonal business strategises their budgets and marketing efforts. Turtle Mat provides all-year-round doormats for the home.
Rebecca spoke of the seasonal impact on the business and the factors that can affect revenue:
“The business cycle for Turtle Mat is, as you’d anticipate from a doormat specialist, quite seasonal with the focus on autumn and winter where the doormat comes into its own and there’s an increased need for it in UK homes. We also find rain, especially prolonged periods, at other times of the year leads to uplift in sales.”
It is essential that businesses generate strategies in advance before the peak period hits. For e-commerce sites online marketing can provide a fruitful means of ensuring that you are maximising your potential.
Rebecca explained how Turtle Mat strategises seasonal peaks and troughs:
“As our peak periods are clearly defined by seasonality, planning of resource and marketing campaigns for autumn/winter are prepared over the summer months. Crucially, we ensure everyone from the warehouse team through to the digital team and customer service are given forecasts of what we can expect over our peak period and specifically when these peaks will be - driven by our marketing campaigns.”
By spreading the budget throughout the year and keeping momentum throughout the low season, Turtle Mats have made use of down time by focusing on online and offline marketing to generate brand awareness. Trade shows, PR campaigns, online content and social media have all proved to be a successful means of creating generating revenue.
Rebecca explained: “We plan for it and often the surge is driven by our marketing campaigns, whether on or offline, so we know exactly when to expect increases and increase resource accordingly. We let customers know of delivery dates for Christmas orders quite early in December before the pre-Christmas peak and will communicate this a few times in December to decrease the last minute surge just before Christmas.”
Tips for planning a digital campaign
The key points will give you some food-for-thought during the off-season. By creating a strategy and tweaking certain of your seasonal business you can maximise your potential to gain revenue, as well as greater search engine rankings.
Maintain your website - Ensure that your website is fully optimised, all contact details are up to date, web pages are acting how they should be and that you include various call-to-actions. Encourage customers to sign up to newsletters, company updates and blogs.
Monitor Google Analytics to track your website traffic. You should notice seasonality’s in your data. Google Trends is a great tool to see when people are searching for they want. You may want to increase your SEO efforts for specific keywords before a peak period.
Social Media – Social media can significantly help your overall marketing efforts and allow you to stay relevant. It can also boost your content and PR efforts. Users can still share content and engage with you, even during off-peak periods. Remember to plan your social media and be prepared for surges during busy periods.
Seasonal PPC – Google Adwords is an ideal tool for marketing your business during a seasonal period.
Firstly you can turn it on and off as you see fit. If you notice a peak in traffic and conversions you can easily increase advertising, but if you notice a drop you can turn it off immediately.
Secondly you can restrict the ads so that they are seen only by people in the local area. This may be ideal for a small business that only provides local seasonal offerings.
Thirdly, you can investigate the path that users take to make their purchase. This can provide a useful insight into how to reach a relevant audience who are searching for a specific term.
Search engines do not have an “off-season” – Just because your industry is not producing much around a specific period, it does not mean that you cannot generate digital marketing campaigns. Keep up momentum with you SEO efforts as this likely to benefit rankings and signal to your website.
Email campaigns – Email is a great way to stay in touch with customers throughout the year, whatever the season. A newsletter can inform your customer base about any discounts or promotions. This is a low-cost marketing approach which is ideal to improve authority in your industry.
Be positive – Knowing that your business is not going to be making large quantities of sales all year rounding is a factor that needs to be accepted. Using your time and budget efficiently you can spur your business on to success.