There is no doubt about it; PPC can be a confusing business. When faced with endless tables and graphs of data, campaigns that are spending thousands a day, and a list of ads which run for pages, it is no wonder that many people can be reluctant to continue optimising their campaign once it is up and running and achieving a reasonable return on investment. As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
Yes PPC can be overwhelming, but to really get the most out of your investment, it is vital that you (or your agency) are constantly monitoring your account to adapt to any seasonal changes which could dramatically affect its success.
Say for example, you are a producer of luxury sausages, selling your product via mail order. You make the decision to invest in PPC in the wintertime, set your account up, and after a couple of months of fine-tuning you’ve got your campaigns achieving a high conversion rate and low cost per conversion. Great you think, everything is running smoothly so I don’t need to spend any more of my valuable time on PPC.
Summer comes around, the temperature rises and barbeque season begins, and when you should be seeing an increase of conversions through your Adwords campaigns, in actual fact what happens is that your sales through PPC begin to drop and whilst you had left your campaign running at the same level, all of your competitors were busy increasing their investment, eager to take valuable market share during the key months.
So what can you do to ensure that your campaign is optimised for seasonal changes?
1. Be proactive, not reactive.
You know your business better than anyone else, so you will know when your busy times of year are. If the summer months are your peak period, don’t wait until they arrive before planning your attack, ensure that you have a clear plan of action ready to capitalise on the uplift as soon as it begins.
The festive season may just be ending, but if Christmas is a busy/quiet period for you, now is a great time to review your results from the past couple of months and put into place some action points to be implemented when Christmas comes round once again.
If your business is affected by the weather, then keep an eye on the weather forecast. If your sales increase as the temperature rises and you know that there is a hot week coming up, then make sure you increase your budget for this period. The great thing about PPC is that you can make instant changes to campaigns to capture market share.
2. Make sure that your ad content is relevant
Selling sausages as the “perfect winter warmer” may work wonders during the colder months, but come summertime is this advert really going to work? Make sure that your ad copy is something which your audience can relate to right there and then. Ad relevance is vital if you are to capture the interest of your customers.
3. Optimisation is key
Don’t be afraid to reduce budgets as well as increase them. Many B2B companies find that their clients shut down over the Christmas period, and purchasing decisions are very rarely made, so why waste your money on ads which won’t produce the desired result during this period? It is alright to reduce CPCs, budgets, or even pause campaigns completely for a short while if your research and historical data shows it to be worthwhile, and the budget which you save during the quieter periods can be used to increase sales during the busier ones.
And seasonality doesn’t just have to be month to month, if you see that sales decrease dramatically at weekends then make sure to decrease your bids/budget during the weekends and even consider not running your ads at weekends.
4. Don’t just guess – help is out there.
Whilst for some industries the busy periods may be easy to spot, for others they may be less obvious. Fortunately, help is out there in a variety of tools. Google Trends/Insight for Search is probably one of the best for spotting patterns, allowing you to see search volume and other historical data for certain terms. This is a great tool as well for narrowing down your research by location, or category.
If your campaigns have been running for a while then the many free reports that you get in Adwords are ideal for really breaking down past data. The dimensions tab is a great tool for breaking results down yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily and even hourly, so there is no excuse not to know inside out how seasonality affects your campaigns.
5. Don’t forget to undo changes once the busy/quiet period is over!
So you successfully researched, planned and implemented key changes to your accounts in response to seasonality; and your ROI, conversion rate and cost per conversion were great. Is it time to relax and congratulate yourself? No. Optimising for seasonality is a constant process, and one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to forget to re-adjust your campaigns after a busy/quiet period.
It may sound obvious, but if, for example, you have paused your campaigns over the holiday period, make sure you diarise to restart them as soon as traffic returns to normal, otherwise all your hard work may be undone!