Seasonality: When is the best time to advertise?
[Tokratni blog zapis je prispevala Lucie Pokorna, vodja iskalnega marketinga v interactive.agency]
With the winter drawing to its close, many of us are planning for our advertising activities in the spring and summer months, maybe even as far as fall. I’ve previously talked about the advantage of running seasonal advertising campaigns around major holidays and seasons. Today I would like to look into the question of timing.
When should we start our seasonal campaigns?
It depends on the type of product or service you are offering, as each product will have its own seasonality. However, another important aspect that clients often neglect, is the length of the buying cycle, the product lifecycle and how it connects to seasonality.
The length of the buying cycle can be – in an extremely simplified way – summed up as: the more expensive it is, the longer the buying cycle. I will definitely spend more time on research and decision-making when I’m planning to buy a new car than when I’m buying a new pair of shoes. Consequently, you need to know two things:
- When is my top season?
- How long is the buying cycle? (i.e. How much in advance does the majority of my potential customers start looking?)
Let’s have a look at concrete example – I will use the travel vertical for this purpose, but a similar theory applies to many different products, ranging from winter tires and tire-changing services, over gardening equipment and bathing suits, to school supplies for children and skiing gear.
As you can see from the Google Trends image above, Slovenians start looking for their holidays in April, but the true peak is in July and August.
You may notice that each peak roughly follows a typical product lifecycle curve:
Therefore, in Slovenia, you might want to start advertising your travel packages in early April to reach those buying in the »Introduction« phase, then increase your budget slightly in May (»Growth« phase), then extend most of your efforts from mid-June to mid-August (»Maturity« phase) and then finally let the cycle trail out with decreasing your budget towards mit-September.
However, keep in mind that the same rules do not apply universally. Have a look at the image below, which shows a Google Trends graph for similar, vacation-related terms in the German market.
You will notice two things. Firstly, the peaks in the summer months is not as steep as in Slovenia, meaning that the volume of searches is more consistent all year round and that the main period for vacation bookings is more spread out, from early April into early October. The other significant difference is the secondary peak in January – these are the “early bookers” hoping to get great offers at good prices. A similar trend is common in the UK market as well:
Logically, your budget distribution in Slovenia should be different from your budget distribution in other markets, simply because the user behaviors are different. While the steep and relatively short peaks in Slovenia suggest that Slovenians make last-minute decisions regarding their vacations, the spread out curve in Germany and the UK lets you know that vacation planning is a long process and that there is a sizeable group of potential customers to be captured outside of your main season.
The lesson to be learned from this? If you are in a seasonal business, invest your budget smartly in accordance with local trends, the length of your buying cycle and the product lifecycle for your type of product.