Expert commentator | Smart Insights | Thu, 20 Oct 2016 10:00:00 +0000

Bending The Budget: Adapting Your Marketing Budget To The Season

As marketing professionals, we’re beholden to the seasons – some times of year are simply better for sales than others. For this reason alone, it doesn’t make sense to evenly distribute your marketing budget across the year, but there are other relevant reasons you should be budgeting seasonally as well. When we pay attention to our target audience and the needs our products fulfill, we can make smarter decisions about marketing budget allocations.

Identifying Your Strategies

One thing you’ll need to take into consideration when breaking down your digital marketing budget each season will be the question of format. There are many different ways to build your digital presence, but they come with varied expenses.

Search ads – the ads that appear on search engines when someone enters relevant terms – often take up about the same portion of the average digital marketing budget as digital display ads. If you find these are an especially high conversion source for your business, however, you may want to increase your spending in this sector. The same can be said of any part of your marketing strategy.

Peak Season Preferences

Most companies spend the bulk of their marketing budgets during peak sales periods for a few reasons. First, purchasing rates are up during this time and people are looking to buy, so even if you’re spending profligately to attract the most customers during this period, you company is still likely to post a substantial profit. There’s no reason to hold back spending when you know that revenues will more than cover
it.

You might even consider launching your new ads early to beat your competitors. This is why you’ll hear people say that the holiday season starts earlier every year. Retailers push the season forward to get ahead of other companies trying to claim the same share of the market.

The other reason your company should spend more during peak sales seasons is because advertising space typically costs more during these times. Consider Super Bowl commercials as an example – it costs many times as much to show a commercial during this few hours span than during any other timeslot. The viewership and attention your ad will get from this positioning, however, makes it a sensible investment.

Remember, not all businesses benefit from the same peak seasons. While most retail outlets will see a lag during spring and summer when there are fewer commercial holidays, some – a florist, for example – might see early peaks at Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Others will experience a boost with the school year or as the fiscal quarters shift. Tune in to when sales are best for your business for the most effective budget distribution.

Off-Season Strategies

During periods of lower sales levels, you have a few options in terms of your digital marketing budget. One great thing you can do during this time is spend more of your budget developing new marketing strategies, rather than trying to sell during a saturated or off-peak market. In order to do this effectively, however, you’ll need to have a good, long-term record about prior marketing strategies.

Start by looking at what your typical website and advertising stats look like during this sales period across the last few years. How much web traffic do you normally see during the third quarter, for example? Look at your third quarter over a few years and use that to judge any new strategies you might develop. If you can produce an increase in sales during a time when they normally lag, you may have a powerhouse marketing strategy on your hands for peak season.

Consider the Professionals

If you think that you’re missing out on some real sales during the slow season – that there’s a market, but it just isn’t on people’s minds – then you may want to allocate some of your off-peak marketing budget for hiring professional consulting services. SEO specialists can really help draw attention to your company when you fall out of the spotlight.

When you’re in the process of developing new promotions for peak-season, hiring professionals can also take some of the pressure off you, as well. You can also take this time to prepare for the sales season by updating your website and handling other in-house logistics while the pros wrangle your off-season social media presence.

Boost Your Analytics

In some cases, it may be clear from past years and from competitors’ performances that you’re in a low sales season with few prospects in sight. That’s okay! During these seasons – summer and shortly post-holidays, for many businesses – spend time working on your marketing analytics. Today, some companies have data specialists who spend all year doing this work, but if you develop a strong system within your marketing department during the off-months, you may not need these specialists.

Google Analytics offers valuable data about your content performance, but their stats aren’t the only ones that matter. Instead, you need to find ways to harness data about all of your marketing ventures, including the reach of individual social media posts – something sites like Facebook and Instagram are making easier than ever to measure.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re keeping a close eye on your site rankings. Your site ranking shouldn’t be falling relative to your competitors during the off-season, even if you aren’t making sales. If you find this is the case, it means they’ve found a market segment that you aren’t reaching or have developed a great new strategy – keep an eye on what the competition is doing, even when it seems like there’s not much to be done.

The Last Word on Seasonal Budgets

Your company’s digital marketing budget isn’t a monolith, and learning to employ it flexibly is one of the most important things you can do. That includes for costs that aren’t direct marketing expenses, such as research, outside consultations, or site redesigns. If you see some extra money in the budget for an off-peak month, consider how you can use it strategically rather than directly. Budgeting is a long view type of undertaking, so think about where you’re headed, not just where you are.