Capitalising on Seasonal Trends: A PPC guide

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With the great British summer coming to an end, there isn’t a better time to discuss the importance of seasonal trends and the impact they have on your PPC campaigns. One of the great benefits of paid search marketing is that it’s highly customisable, allowing you to make changes whenever needed. If you’re not utilising this for seasonal trends then you are limiting yourself from achieving maximum results.

Analyse Your Seasonal Curve

The first step would be to identify any high-level trends using your Google Analytics or AdWords account. The more historical data you have available to you, the more accurate your assumptions about traffic changes can become. The diagram below, taken from Google Analytics page, shows the page views over the time period from January 2011 to January 2014 for an e-commerce furniture website. The most obvious points we can identify are the drop in page views in December each year and the steep increase in page views for January each year. The rest of the year seems relatively stable looking at the overview.

Google Analytics Overview


A Trend is your Friend

Once you’ve identified the fluctuation points in your company’s sales cycle the next step is to attribute them. In this case, the indoor furniture industry is notorious for having big sales each year in January so therefore, we can attribute the increase in traffic to the January sales. Using this data to forecast, assuming January sales continue as normal (we have no reason to believe they won’t) we can predict there will be a drop off in traffic in December and a significant increase in January.

If you don’t have the luxury of looking at a past few years’ data to identify seasonal trends, then I suggest you use Google Trends. Google Trends allows you to analyse the volume of specific search terms from 2004 – present in an easy-to-read month by month graph.

So you’ve done the hard work of analysing historical data, identifying seasonal trends and predicting future increases in traffic. Don’t stop now. This is your chance to plan ahead and get an edge on the competition.

‘Tis the season to be jolly

With the winter holidays just around the corner, the inevitable battle begins between the retail giants to see who can create the most compelling Christmas TV advert. In 2013 John Lewis spent a total of £7 million on its Christmas campaign (with the advert shown below costing £1 million).

So why should paid search be any different? You’ve got an opportunity to get a head start on the competition and create the perfect ad or the best Christmas themed landing pages. Analyse your season holiday-specific keywords such as ‘free delivery’ or ‘free Christmas gift’. It could be these phrases included in your ad text that influence your customers’ buying decision. Take a look at the previous year’s data in the run-up to Christmas and determine which keywords generated increased activity and conversions.

There are countless ways for you to optimise around the holiday season, you can generate Christmas specific remarketing lists to target users looking to purchase Christmas gifts online and target them with money off vouchers or free delivery offers. Another way to take advantage of the seasonal trend would be to create festive banners for your GDN campaigns.

Debenhams Advetsing banner, 2013

Debenhams Advetsing banner, 2013


Be prepared to change your budget accordingly depending on your forecasted seasonal trends. Most industries tend to excel over the Christmas period. If you can identify an increase or decrease in future traffic, budget planning is essential. As the demand increases, so does the cost-per-click. If you don’t accommodate for traffic increase accordingly, your average position will suffer and you’ll be left behind wondering why you haven’t maximised your ROI.

It may seem absurdly early to be even thinking about Christmas but currently being in the midst of back to school season and Halloween being just 70 days away, it’s quite easy to find yourself in the middle of November wishing you had prepared this months ago.

Analyse, summarise and learn

So the seasonal trend has passed and you’ve got your results. Make notes on the things that worked and the things that didn’t do so well. Look at ad and keyword performance. Use the data to make better informed decisions next time the seasonal trend comes around.

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