Sat Feb 01 2020
Generally when you hear the words ‘seasonal trends’ you think of online retailers and the massive leadup to Christmas. Especially if you work in B2B you might be thinking “this doesn’t apply to my business,” but that’s not entirely true.
It’s definitely natural for businesses to experience peaks and troughs throughout the year. Anything ranging from launching a marketing campaign to a simple website change can result in a fluctuation in traffic – whether that’s big or small. However, in some cases, you may not be able to explain these fluctuations based on marketing efforts.
Obviously, not all businesses will have seasonal trends but that doesn’t mean B2B businesses specifically do not have trends – this all depends on your industry. So let’s take a dive into how to identify these trends and use them to maximise your sales.
Step 1 is research! Reviewing your website data can help uncover some very important seasonal trends that can send your sales through the roof.
To start identifying seasonal trends, you want to pull up your Google Analytics data. Looking at the last 3-4 years of traffic what can you see? It’s best to look at total website traffic, and then at organic and paid traffic separately to get a better picture. Start by looking at say January – December 2019 and comparing that to January – December 2018. Overlaying the years on top of each other enables you to easily see peaks and troughs that happen at the same time each year. It’s also good to keep in mind that single-day events (such as Easter) will need to be looked at specifically date by date as they change each year.
In the example below, you can see clear peaks in February, mid-August and also September. As well as a clear decline between December – January period and a smaller trough from June to July.
During your analysis, don’t get caught up in smaller peaks and troughs – you’re looking for significant peaks. Peaks that bring a surge or reduce the amount of traffic to your site. And the ones that happen at the same time each year.
It might be a good idea to have a list of annual or quarterly events at hand. For instance mark out the beginning of each season (summer, autumn, winter & spring) as well as other events like EOFY, Christmas, and events specific to your industry. This will help you identify any trends that may be linked to these events.
In addition to looking at website traffic trends, it’s also a good idea to map out conversions (goal completions on Google Analytics) to gauge whether your conversions peak at any particular times year-or-year. Just as you’ve done with website traffic, overlay conversion results on top of each other for the past few years. Do you see any consistent trends in conversions? Do your conversions match up with your website traffic? Generally, we would expect conversions to go up when website traffic increases and vice versa. If conversions go up at a certain period each year and website traffic remains stable (and possibly because you’re not doing any boost in marketing at this time), this could be a good indication that this time of year is a time to invest in marketing – to drive more customers to the website as people appear to convert higher. More traffic at a higher conversion rate = more conversions!
If your website is new with a small traffic base then you will most likely not be able to see any trends (although you should still start to overlay results year on year to check). When this is the case, rather than reducing advertising, shift your resources into driving top of the funnel awareness to introduce new customers to your brand during slow periods when you notice website traffic drop.
For most B2B businesses, EOFY is often the key peak season as other B2B’s attempt to spend their remaining budget before the end of the tax year.
The end of the calendar year is also a time when some B2B’s experience a fluctuation in traffic. It’s unusual to see B2B businesses completely stagnant in regards to traffic over this period. With many B2B’s closing over the Christmas break, some businesses will see a sharp trough in traffic. Other businesses who thrive on this period (for example, event organisers or Hamper suppliers) would see a sharp peak.
Every business has its own marketing budget and in most cases, that budget is split evenly throughout the year. This seems quite obvious and you might not even question it but what if there was a better way to spend your money? Get better returns and more growth?
Why spend money during troughs when you can reduce that spend and have more to play with during peaks to get a higher return? Allocating your marketing budget and spending it depending on the seasonalities in your industry can help accelerate your sales.
Allocating marketing budget is not limited to paid advertising. Prior to your seasonal peak, it’s also essential to focus on SEO tasks that can help prepare you for the upsurge in traffic. Interest for your product or service is piqued during seasonal periods so writing about a particular topic relevant to the trend can help. As SEO may take some time to see results it’s crucial you plan ahead and start early – we recommend you should begin implementing SEO for the peaks at least 4 months out.
For paid advertising, we recommend either stopping paid advertising during troughs or minimising the spend during those periods, and using the budget you save there to tip into extra media spend during the peaks to maximise sales.
Planning ahead is critical and knowing when to take initiative is important – especially to capitalise on your peak periods. Even if there is a seasonal trough, planning ahead can help you gather more leads during the peak season to overcome slower seasons.
To get started, investing time in creating a marketing calendar will help you plan what you need to do in advance. Depending on what marketing channels you are using, this can be further fleshed out into a content plan and/or social media plan. Once you’ve put together a calendar (including deadlines, which for SEO may be as early as 4 months out), it’s time to share it with your team. This ensures all areas of your business are prepared for the peaks ahead – from inventory to staff training to maintain quality customer service.
What do you think of B2B seasonal trends? If you’d like to learn more seasonal trends or explore the ones that affect your business then send us a message. We can help make it less daunting and assist you in planning for a better year ahead.
We’d love to hear about your digital requirements. Even if you don’t quite know what you need, get in touch as we can help formulate a whole digital strategy to meet your business objectives.