What Do I Do with Paid Search When My Seasonality Ends?

Blog Post - Uncle SamWe wait all year for summer, and then it seems to end so quickly! A lot of retailers feel the same way, as it happens to be the peak season for many businesses. So what are you to do with your paid search marketing strategies when seasonality ends?

We suggest treating it a lot like prepping a log cabin in the mountains for the coming winter – collect some fuel, stock up on good eats, and just make sure that the changes outside don’t creep inside.

Our summer-focused clients accept the grim fact that sales simply will not be as high outside of the magical warm months, so we focus instead on keeping their profitability up.

There are several ways to keep making money while sales decrease; the key is to simply make sure that you are paying less for each sale, and that you are still targeting those customers who are still coming in the door.

The most obvious tactic is to monitor profitability on a daily basis for products that are falling off in popularity, as well as those products that sell outside of high season. But you probably already know that. So what about the really juicy marketing stuff, like segmenting by demographics?

If you own or manage an account for a business that is dependent on good weather, you will want to consider where your customers are. Even if you only target the continental U.S., climates vary wildly. You may not even see much of a drop in sales in certain locales. Conversely, some regions will only bring in sales during balmy weather and sales will freeze as winter comes in. You can see how these different regions perform by downloading a user location report from the Dimensions tab in AdWords.

Consider the charts here showing an example summer-focused retailer’s sales in New York and California. California’s sales are barely affected by seasonal changes.

andrew screenshots

Autumn 2013 actually beat summer 2014 in this instance. New York, on the other hand, shows a complete drop-off in sales from October to March. This sort of insight should be put into action by adjusting bids on a regional level to emphasize advertising in those areas where customers still show intent to purchase.

If your account has some historical data in it, you should be able to get a good idea of which areas experience major ups and downs and which have fairly level performance throughout the year. Fit the information you gather into your own business mold; what works for one business will almost certainly have to be tweaked for another.

Here are some key points to remember when you are making seasonal geographic adjustments:

  • Know where your customers are. Making adjustments on North Dakota when most of your customers are in Florida won’t affect your bottom-line metrics.
  • Do not treat all regions the same. People are experiencing different weather and events in different regions, and your marketing should adjust to reflect those changes.
  • While you shouldn’t treat all regions the same, you can lump areas into similar groups for ease of analysis. The Midwest tends to experience pretty similar weather patterns, for example.
  • This is not a “set it and forget it” type of modifier. The savvy marketer will be checking performance by region every several weeks to see if further adjustments need to be made.

Even when you’re not selling your product or service like hot-cakes outside of the summer months, you will still need to stay on top of your paid search strategy. Shovel that snow and chink up those cracks, or you might just get snowed in!