Seasonality in Paid Ads
The world of social media advertising can be an extremely complicated place, largely due to how quickly things change and develop. On top of that, there are so many factors that can impact your ads, one of the key factors being seasonality. Let’s take a look at our top tips for working with seasonal marketing to drive the best results.
For every industry, there are different seasonal peaks and troughs. It could be that Black Friday is your make-or-break week of the year, or that you sell outdoor furniture and really need spring sales to propel you through the year. Perhaps you sell highly gifted products and rely on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day etc. Or, if you’re a lead gen business, any peak seasonal change might negatively impact your conversions. Your seasonal trends on social paid ads might also be completely different to those on your Google Ads! With so many potential scenarios, we’ve covered the fundamental need-to-knows here.
If you’re looking for tailored advice on how to market your brand whilst factoring in seasonal trends, get in touch with our team of experts by phone at 0161 327 2635 or email [email protected].
Understand seasonal behaviours
Before you even look at putting together some kind of plan for peak/slow seasons, it is vital that you understand how different periods impact your customers. There are multiple aspects to this that you need to consider:
Trends change every year
Just because one specific week last year saw really high sales, doesn’t mean that it is going to happen again. Use data to inform your decisions but don’t assume that it’s always going to stay the same.
Just as trends change, social media advertising platforms also change! If you saw great results last Black Friday with super specific audiences, but the current general trend of Meta ads is that broad is working better. It would make sense to factor this into your plans.
Are your products unpopular/popular in seasonal times
Don’t try and force your products/services on customers in traditional ‘peak seasons’ because you feel like you have to. If your product isn’t relevant to Mother’s Day, you don’t have to try and tie it into your marketing plan. Similarly, if a particular holiday usually has a negative impact on your ad performance, it might be worth looking into scaling back your ad spend during peak times.
Costs might be higher
Traditional peak times; Black Friday, Christmas etc. are extremely competitive on the platform and therefore drive up the costs for all advertisers. You might need to invest more during this time, otherwise, you will get outbid in the auction.
It isn’t just holidays that impact behaviours, but also wider environmental changes. A Christmas period during a cost of living crisis is going to see customers behaving in completely different ways than during COVID, for example. Take into consideration the bigger picture.
Have all your basics in place
Now you’ve worked out how seasonality impacts your performance and you’ve chosen specific holidays to jump on, the key thing to remember is that you must have all the basics in your account before you do anything. As we’ve discussed, busy, peak seasons, like Christmas, see huge investment from lots of brands, so it’s important to be in the best position possible before even going into that competitive period.
Some key things to have in place:
Your existing audiences will be a godsend when it comes to advertising in competitive seasons (we’ll touch on this more later) so it’s imperative that you have been building up audience funnel structures for a while.
Account that spending consistently
Your account will not take well if you go from spending £500 a month to £10,000 a month overnight. The best way position to be in is having an account that’s been consistently spending a decent amount of money to remain competitive year-round so that it only needs ramping up a little in peak seasons.
Probably the most important is to make sure that you’ve been experimenting with different creative, copy and targeting styles in your off-peak seasons so that you can take advantage of the learnings that you have. Your most important weekend of the year is not the time to decide to change your TOV or try a new creative approach.
It goes without saying, but if there’s any time to make sure you have your tracking spot on, it’s going into a highly competitive peak season.
Plan early but be flexible
The key to success in seasonal marketing is all about planning. And when it comes to paid social plans, the sooner you plan, the better. That being said, it’s equally important to ensure that your plans are flexible and subject to change. As we’ve discussed, paid social trends can change overnight and you need to be able to adapt.
When looking to advertise during a holiday or peak time, we recommend the following:
Get started early
With key seasonal periods, although it may be tempting to run your ads as close to the key date as possible, you will see improved performance by starting your ads early. By launching your ads early, you give the campaigns time to get out of learning and be in the best shape possible come more competitive periods. This can be tricky, particularly if you have a short window to run a specific offer, but is recommended where you can.
A great way to run ads and build data ahead of your peak window is by planning teaser campaigns. This allows you to gain momentum, encourage your audience to keep checking in closer to the time and test what the landscape is like. Teaser ads put you on the radar of some of your potential customers ahead of peak time.
Follow the data
If you’ve got a 6 week rollout strategy in place that’s been meticulously planned, that’s great, but you also need to make sure that you’re willing to adapt this if needed. Once you start your campaigns, take the time to analyse the results and see if any tweaks need to be made ahead of the busy period. You’ll thank yourself further down the line if you’ve saved yourself wasting loads of money.
Utilise existing audiences
One of the best ways to achieve success during peak seasons and slow seasons is to utilise your existing audiences.
The reason that costs go up during peak times is that there are more advertisers competing for the same audiences. That being said, the way to drive success in peak seasons is to use your retargeting audiences. Utilise your lists of engagers, previous customers, people who signed up from the teaser campaigns – these audiences are more likely to convert because they’re already aware of you, and your competitors are less likely to try to reach them too.
Similarly, if it’s a real off-season time for your brand, you might still get conversions from those who are further down the funnel than you would cold audiences, so the same applies here.
During peak times, cold audiences are usually the most competitive and therefore the most expensive. (I say usually because as we’ve said, things always change!) They’re important to factor into your campaigns, as otherwise, you will struggle to reach new customers, but ensure you are remaining competitive enough here from a budget and offering perspective to drive any kind of results.
Tailor your creative content
A key area that we can’t forget when discussing seasonality in paid ads is creative content. When platforms get extremely competitive, or on the reverse, it’s a really difficult time for advertisers, it is even more important to make your creative stand out.
Tailor to the funnel
If you’re doing what we’ve advised and are focusing quite heavily on your existing customers, it’s a good idea to tailor your content to each stage of the funnel to ensure you get the most engagement. With so much competition, make your existing audiences feel special and treat them for their loyalty. For new customers, your copy needs to convince them to pick you. Therefore, you should have very different content for each stage of the funnel to drive results.
Be creative but lean on learnings
Although peak times aren’t really the best for trying new things (in case they don’t work and your make-or-break period has now in fact broken) you can still be different and creative but ensure you’re leaning on your learnings from previous campaigns or years gone by. Regardless of your approach, your creative needs to stand out and be engaging for you to achieve any kind of success.
Paid social advertising as a whole is multifaceted and ever-changing, so it is understandable why adding in the extra layer of seasonality can just make things seem overwhelmingly complex. However, by making sure you’ve got solid foundations, aren’t leaving things too late and are working with the data you have, yet allowing yourself the flexibility to adapt, you can achieve success.
We’re experts in paid social advertising with experience working on a variety of brands in peak and off-peak seasons, so if you’re looking to partner with an agency that understands the importance of seasonal marketing, get in touch today.