The value of seasonal marketing strategies

Editor’s note: Linda Vetter is the SVP of marketing at Allant Group. This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “Maximizing Customer Engagement Through Seasonal Data Analysis.”

Sales and revenue naturally ebb and flow throughout the year, but what if you could predict when the next flow will be? Taking a data-driven approach to seasonal marketing allows brands to capitalize on key sales periods by targeting the right audience with the right product at the right time. 

What is seasonal marketing? 

Focusing or boosting your marketing efforts around specific moments in the year is known as seasonal marketing. This category is split into two types: cultural and natural. Cultural events like music festivals, school holidays or Christmas are important moments for your audience and present a focus for marketing communications. Natural seasonality is when business and demand are impacted by natural factors. For example, ice cream sales are likely to be slower in winter. 

The value of creating a data-driven seasonal marketing strategy

Conversions and revenue will fluctuate throughout the year. You will probably have a general idea of events causing the peaks and troughs in some instances. The build-up to Christmas, for example, or simply a popular season for a certain activity – tourist attractions are typically more popular in summer. In other instances, you can only speculate.  

Using a data-driven approach to seasonal marketing helps businesses identify, predict and capitalize on the busiest times of the year. When should your marketing team up the ante? What caused that spike in sales, and will the opportunity come around again? Your data may hold the answer. 

How seasonal data analysis can increase customer engagement and revenue 

Determine which products or services are seasonal

Some products or services will be more seasonal than others – Christmas cards are very seasonal but birthday cards will be relevant year-round. In the middle, there is a whole spectrum of seasonality. For example, weddings happen year-round but are more common in summer so it is likely that more wedding cards will be sold in the sunnier months.  

To determine which products or services have higher seasonality, marketers must consult the data. Find recurring patterns in your historical data to identify seasonal demand within a specific time frame. From here, try to consider what may have caused the spike in sales. Was it a particular holiday? A change in the weather? Identify the variables influencing your customers and how they impact purchasing behavior towards specific products or services. 

Who should be targeted each season?

Once you have identified which products have more seasonality, it is time to consider which customer segments are behind that season’s sales. Understanding which customers are buying which products or services at which times throughout the year is a crucial step to a truly effective seasonal marketing strategy. Every extra data point can improve the relevancy of your communications. 

To go back to the ice cream example from earlier – we can safely assume that sales will be higher in the summer months. It logically follows that a global ice cream brand should boost promotions during this season. The only problem is the sunniest months are not the same ones in the U.S. and, say, New Zealand. Trying to send the same message out to the entire audience simply will not work, knowing where each customer resides becomes essential. 

When is the consideration stage? 

When looking through your historical data, it can be easy to focus on conversions and sales – but these are only part of the overall picture. Marketers need to analyze when customers are considering and reviewing which company to use and which products to purchase. This is particularly relevant for big-ticket items with hefty price tags. Look at the customer journey and determine which moment will be the most impactful. 

Take vacations, for instance. The summer is generally when most people head out for a break away. But boosting promotions around this time will be too late to make an impact. Travel companies typically receive a peak in bookings in January when customers attempt to stave off post-holiday season blues. However, before they get to booking, customers are deciding where they want to go and which travel operator they want to use to get there. This is the time to make the most impact. 

What are the campaign goals?

As with any new strategy, it is essential to agree on performance goals from the outset and to track your progress to meet them. Historical data should give a benchmark to measure success against and help determine targets for your new campaign. Consider how the seasonal marketing campaign supports your overall business goals. 

Track and regularly assess campaign performance, and do not be afraid to make changes. Being agile when managing a marketing campaign and adjusting your strategy, when necessary, will help improve the outcome. Once the campaign is over, perform a thorough debrief of the seasonal marketing strategy – what worked, what did not and whether sales improved. 

Taking advantage of seasonal strategies

Taking a seasonal approach to customer data analysis will reveal new opportunities for brands. By identifying and predicting seasonal spikes in customer engagement and sales, brands can develop strategies to capitalize on the sales peaks throughout the year.