How trends and seasons drive your online marketing strategy
Sending out a barbecue campaign in January might not be the best of ideas. And let’s face it, DVD players are hardly the latest hype today. Our point is: staying agile to current trends and seasons is crucial if you want to build a solid online marketing strategy. In this blogpost we’ll show you how to analyse hidden time and trend patterns in your data and how those insights can help you make your online marketing strategy more efficient.
Detect relevant trends
The starting point is a time series model: a series of data divided by time units – let’s say, per month. By showing the time range in a graph, you can often already detect whether or not there are trends and seasonal effects.
For example, if you have search data of the past 12 months, you can display the data points in an axis. Then try to connect the data points onto a straight line — called the trend line or regression line — as much as possible. Calculate that line so that sum of the squares of the distance between each data point and the line is as small as possible. To illustrate this, you’ll find some examples below.
The angle created by the trend line shows how big the trend effect is. The more the trend line moves up, the stronger the trend. A falling trend line indicates a decrease in the trend. You can also measure the seasonal effect using the above chart. The stronger the data points are different from the line (see the graphs at the bottom), the greater the seasonal effect. When there is no seasonal effect at all, the trend line is on the data points.
How to find the right keywords
In the new Google Keyword Planner you can export the monthly searches for the last 12 months. When you use this to calculate the effects of trends and seasons, it will become much easier to answer these questions:
- Which keywords grow in importance and therefore need to be given more attention in our strategy?
- Which keywords have strong seasonal effects?
- Which months are best suited for setting up display/social campaigns, and for which products?
Below is an example with some words from the Keyword Planner. All keywords have seasonal effects, but according to the calculations, they are the strongest with "buy tent" (peaking in July), followed closely by "buy barbecue" (peaking in June). Books and laptops are mainly searched for in November.
* These results are based on a Dutch search in Belgium.
Optimise your budget throughout the year
Do you want to set a budget for SEA or advertising for next year? Determine how much budget you should reserve for each month or quarter by making predictions based on seasons and trends.
This will reveal to which extent your campaign will be searched for on average per month. Adapting your online marketing budget to those specific searches will help you get the most out of your campaign.
This approach will lower the chance of ‘overbidding’ in periods when the demand for your product or service is lower. Plus, you’ll have some extra budget to spend during the peak months for your service or product. By clustering keywords (i.e. bundling your keywords by product group), you can also assign the right budgets per product group level throughout the year. It will also help you determine the right time to advertise for every product group.
How to detect aberrations
The time series model also comes in handy to detect large changes in the data. Are there any great jumps in the dates, which you should follow up on?
Predict the results of the last month based on the effects of trends and seasons of the previous months. If you notice a large discrepancy, look for the cause. It may be caused by a measurement error or a conversion problem.
Keep track of trends and seasons with a solid content plan
Developing a content plan for your digital marketing program may seem a bit tricky, but along the way you’ll notice it’s completely worth the effort. Having your content clearly mapped out holds many advantages, both for you and your readers. Because if your content doesn’t compel your readers to keep clicking, your email’s potential revenue is wasted. When you create engagement with your audience through relevant content, it’s proven to result in a higher ROI.
Don’t really feel like scanning the web for relevant themes and dates to build your email campaigns on? No worries. At RAAK, we compile a yearly Content Planner with over 100 Belgian and international key dates as an inspiration for email marketeers. It’s free, so download your copy of this year’s edition here.