When I’m sweating bullets in the oppressive August heat, I want nothing more than to dive into an ice bath fit for a polar bear. But when it’s snowing boatloads, I dream of lounging like the inner feline goddess I am, sprawled out in front of every sunbeam in my reach. I like to think I’m always ahead of the seasonality curve—ready for the change in weather, in activities, in clothing.
And, most importantly for marketers like us, the seasonal changes that impact advertising.
Not the case for every business …
Some cases of seasonality can be expected: A local florist can assure their paid search accounts soar near our loving predictable Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day holidays (even if she would rather have jewelry—sorry, Mom!). A costume shop can expect to see wigs and accessories flying off their virtual shelves come October; lawn care companies to surge in spring; ecommerce to boom for our now week-long Black Friday celebrations.
But other seasonal changes are less predictable, and we need to be ready. Every single advertiser experiences some kind of seasonality. How do we identify our lull periods and more importantly how do we optimize for success in our lull periods? Well, my dear Watson, I’m glad you asked!
In this guide to planning for PPC seasonality, you’ll learn how to:
“So, Lauren, how do I know when I’m experiencing seasonality if it isn’t as obvious as it is for a florist?”
The first step I recommend is to pull up some year-over-year comparison reports to look at fluctuations in impressions served between years. Take the example below. This client, who is a chiropractor, surprisingly sees a consistent dip in the middle of the year around June and then again when the holiday season starts to ramp up.
Although my client below had a pretty prevalent dip at the same time every year, this data can fluctuate and change a bit from year to year depending on culture changes and adaptation—I mean, how many articles this week have you seen titled “10 Things Millennials Ruined This Year”? (Sorry, everyone.)
Things are going to change, but you can use these “seasonal” bumps and fluctuations to revisit and tap into your creative prospecting instincts to come up with new ways for people to be intrigued by your brand with display advertising. Even if it is only one month every year, use that month as the catalyst that builds your pipeline to thrive through the quarter that follows it and drives sales and success throughout the rest of the year—here’s how.
When search volume is low for a season, most advertisers’ initial instinct is to shut down all of their paid search efforts until they think they have picked back up again. I want to challenge you to think of this time instead as an opportunity to “build the pipeline” using other tools to raise brand awareness and really pump up your remarketing lists.
The next step is to think of creative ways to capture an audience within that slower search period. For this particular client, we thought about how the summer can be stressful: the kids are out of school and the parents turn into a chef, nurse, playmate, and chauffeur. All of those activities put a lot of stress on the body where it isn’t usually. So now would be the perfect time for parents to come see a chiropractor to assist with any summer aches and pains.
For the holiday ramp-up we went along the same train of thought. The holidays are a stressful time and self-care is important in the midst of constantly thinking of others—also, we wanted to stress that people had the potential to lose their unused insurance benefits.
So what do we do with these creative advertising ideas? Use them with the power of display on both the Google Display Network (GDN) and Microsoft Audience Network (MSAN). I know immediately the mind probably went straight to the ole Googs. But MSAN puts your business right in front of millions of users daily. And the best part? The network is growing so rapidly. Bing, Amazon, Forbes, Yahoo, AOL, and CBS are all a part of the Microsoft Audience Network—so these are all platforms where you can get in front of your own audience.
So when you see these dips in search impressions, I recommend that you invest in both GDN and MSAN.
Why both? Because they work together like peanut butter and jelly. Advertising on both platforms actually boosts your branded search impression share on Google: Cross-platform advertising increases your branded impression share on Google search by a minimum of 26%.
So what are the best strategies for display ads?
Seasonality hits everyone in one way or another, it can be a season of influx or a season of minimal traffic. It’s important to identify when it’s happening, why it’s happening, and how we can take advantage of that time to take a softer approach or a more aggressive approach in some instances. Either way, display is an effective way to combat seasonality to assure you are maintaining brand awareness and foster product/service adoption for your audience.