Planning for Seasonal Spikes

by James Hansen on Wednesday 8 November 2017

To the consumer, the seasonal calendar has changed in recent years. We have seen a transition from battling hordes of people in-store, fighting over the last HD TV, to donning a pair of pyjamas on the sofa, ensuring our virtual baskets are full, waiting for midnight to hit.  The importance of the online seasonal calendar cannot be understated, these are peak periods that can make (or break) the success of the year.  Here are some tips on how to make the most of those peak trading periods.


Don’t just plan for the day

Consumers begin related searches weeks before the event itself, in the lead up to the event it is important to bear in mind that consumers will be searching for information - this stage of the customer journey has proven to be a crucial moment for influencing brand preference.

Understanding the behaviour and activity patterns of the consumer you are targeting is vital, when, where and how do they browse? At midnight as soon as the sale drops? At home or at work? Are they using multiple devices to research and convert?



Optimise for Mobile

Leveraging the power of location can prove to be very effective, proximity targeting stores and specific locations can work well in high traffic areas, however, location targeting can be very limiting or not provide enough granularity if targeted incorrectly - remember to check the specific capabilities and limitations of the chosen technology.

Mobile is typically used as a research device and especially so during times of seasonality, tailor your creative formats, content and messaging accordingly.  


Specific landing pages

Typically one landing page will be created for a seasonal period, however cramming all the best offers, products and messaging onto one page can create something of a nightmare for users to navigate through.  Instead, have a couple of pages highlighting specific offers or products, then optimise based on best performance in the upcoming weeks to the period - this can help reduce bounce rates when the big event comes around.

Dynamic creative

Tailoring ads, be it search or display, is incredibly important during these periods more so than at any other time of year.  CTAs need to do more than just spell out an offer, every other advertiser is doing that so how can messaging stand out? By adding a geo location? Where is the nearest store? Time of day, where are your customers likely to be during the hours of 17:00 and 21:00? Think about incrementally building up incentives leading up to the period.

One of the best ways to nudge those slow-moving consumers along the conversion path is to add a countdown on creative, this can provide a great incentive to action.  Going one step further having dynamic creative linked to a live product feed for price or stock levels is another great way to promote action.


Reserve inventory earlier than you think

Seasonal periods mean there is a greater amount of inventory available, however, more availability means that targeting and optimisations need to happen with greater frequency to ensure wastage is minimised as consumers go into search overdrive on the final weeks leading up to and during the period.

However, one of the most important aspects of preparing for seasonality, is to begin preparing in plenty of time - and in the case of display advertising, reserving inventory earlier than you think.  As is the case for some advertisers, booking their reservations straight after a seasonal period or many months in advance to get ahead of the crowd.  Reservation deals are incredibly useful to lock in a guaranteed level of spend (no spiralling costs as inventory becomes sparse), number of impressions and viewability.


Whilst some may argue that if you’re not prepared for Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Christmas now, you won't be.  This isn’t the case, many of the points above can be adapted and be turned around in a shorter time frame and still take advantage of these peak times and the quality traffic they can bring in.