We often discuss trends in digital marketing, but it’s usually focused on marketing algorithms and dependent upon the platforms being used. One thing we’ve not discussed is something more foundational to all forms of marketing that has been a factor throughout the ages: Seasonality. Whether we are talking about the 50’s, the 80’s, or today, seasonality is an aspect of marketing planning that has stayed consistent. Technology and web analytics, however, have offered huge improvements in our ability to both measure and respond to seasonality. So let’s take a look at how modern businesses should measure and incorporate seasonality into their online marketing strategies by using one of our clients as an unnamed example.
What is Seasonality?
Wikipedia defines seasonality as “…the presence of variations that occur at specific regular intervals less than a year, such as weekly, monthly, or quarterly.” While that is a pretty uninspiring description, when it comes to business, it aptly applies to the ebb and flow of the patterns that emerge year after year. At some point, the predictable recurring patterns experienced throughout the year become a comfort to the marketing team – it makes the planning much more efficient and precise. As technology has evolved, we’ve seen just how it has affected the seasonality of a business through analytics, and now we can crunch numbers in real time to support or contradict the decision-making process.
Seasonality Examples and Trends
One doesn’t have to look far for examples of seasonality. Everything from holidays to weather to the school year to even wedding seasons, all affect businesses for better or worse. Retail businesses will often find they do more business around the holidays or when the school year is about to begin. Hotels and restaurants, depending on where they are located, will find a higher rate of attendance during peak seasons (ski season in the mountains, beach season for the coastlines). But are there trends that defy seasonality? Of course! While these shorter, or cyclical trends are dependent on the boom or bust of the season, secular trends are based on the long-term and can take a much longer period of time to show itself.
Cyclical Trends and Technology
Though the short-term aspects of seasonality don’t seem to hit hard with major technology growth, it can affect the immediate needs of businesses and how they use various platforms. Planning for the seasonal flow for vacations or holiday shopping will directly affect the marketing plan for many businesses, and allows for planning sessions during the off-peak times. Using social platforms effectively during both peak and off-peak seasons or revamping tech infrastructure during down times can be a boon to many small businesses in the long run.
Secular Trends and Technology
Something we’ve been seeing grow in the past few years is automation in digital marketing, as well as artificial intelligence in content creation. These are new trends, but they’ve been slow growing and continuous in both their growth and usage. While many have begun to question their applications, there’s no doubt that they will continue to evolve and become more and more prevalent throughout online business marketing.
Case Study: Seasonality and Online Business Marketing
One of our Florida clients in the residential/commercial construction business has been with us for over five years of solid growth and we have been monitoring traffic data from their online business presence the entire time. One reason for doing this is to be able to assist them in planning for the seasonality they encounter, and to offer proof of what works and what doesn’t to keep their marketing moving forward as efficiently and productively as possible. Understanding when and why their business experiences a boom or a lull will allow them to plan efficiently and effectively from year to year, but many trends take years of data to reveal themselves. Among the diverse trends we’ve encountered throughout our relationship with them are the following:
- How the school year and holidays affect business: When people are focused on family and friends, they are less likely to initiate construction projects.
- How weather events like hurricanes can affect business: While a hurricane may not be predictable months ahead of time, hurricane season is and the effects on business from both the prep for a potential storm and the actual landfall of a storm is very measurable and can help the marketing team make informed decisions. Just as a physical storefront may need to be battened down for a weather event, so too should the marketing.
- How identifying common yearly trends (like an identified yearly increase in traffic between every Jan and April) can help provide a good baseline to measure growth. Every business has trends very specific to only itself. These trends can have a variety of influences that may be impossible to discern, but taking the time to identify them is the important part. When they are consistent despite other outside influences like market changes and the aforementioned season events, they can be especially helpful in assessing year over year growth.
- Long term business health: Ultimately we always want to see business growth despite the seasonal and situational ups and downs every business faces. Long term business growth shows that we’ve properly navigated the downs and leveraged the ups. This is the ultimate prize in utilizing seasonal marketing!
Seasonality has always been a factor when creating a business marketing plan, but now we can use analytics, social media, and search data to drill down and see exactly how it affects a business’s bottom line. If your business is in need of analytics assistance in order to expand online marketing, reach out to us via the contact form below. As your tech partner, Blink;Tech is here to help you make your mark!