For eCommerce merchants, each time of year brings its own challenges and opportunities. For online businesses, understanding and navigating market fluctuations and seasonality is crucial to success. Every business goes through its own unique seasonal patterns. This article aims to shed some light on marketing strategies for different periods: peak season, marked by high demand and increased competition, and off season, moments that are often underestimated, but full of potential. These tips are designed to help you maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns throughout the year.
Understanding fluctuations in eCommerce and their impact on advertising strategy
Identifying and understanding busy and low seasons is essential for an effective advertising strategy. Peak season are times when consumer demand is at its highest, often including the holiday season, Black Friday, or seasonal sales. During these periods, your customers are actively looking for products, resulting in a significant increase in traffic and sales. These times call for aggressive, targeted advertising campaigns to capture the high demand. For eCommerce merchants, especially brands, BFCM is a very critical time: in 2023, more than 55,000 merchants achieved their best sales day on Shopify during Crazy Friday (1).
On the other hand, the low season that generally follow these more intense shopping seasons, such as early in the year after Boxing Day, present a drop in consumer demand. Although these periods are less intense in terms of sales, they offer valuable opportunities not to be missed. These times are ideal for focusing on brand-building and customer-engagement advertising strategies, enabling you to strengthen your positioning and prepare the ground for upcoming peak season. It’s also the ideal time to test advertising campaigns, as prices (CPC) are often lower.
To learn more about how your eCommerce promotion strategy can be a pillar of resistance, click here.
Harmonizing high, low and product seasonality in the overall advertising strategy
Peak seasons, while offering high sales potential, are also characterized by increased advertising costs. Increased competition for your customers’ attention during events such as Black Friday and the holiday season drives up advertising costs, such as CPC. So you need to navigate skilfully to maintain their visibility without compromising your budget
Conversely, off seasons present a unique strategic opportunity. With reduced advertising competition, costs for ad space drop, giving you the opportunity to promote products still in demand at a lower cost. These periods are ideal for campaigns aimed at boosting brand awareness or testing new advertising approaches. In other words, to reach out to a “top-of-funnel” target group.
Careful planning is essential, especially for products with specific seasonal demand. Continuing to advertise products such as winter goods, even after the holiday season, can be a cost-effective strategy. Although overall sales volume may decline, targeted demand for these products may still be very robust, enabling you to take advantage of lower advertising costs to effectively reach your target audience. Ultimately, it’s crucial to rely on data to determine historical product demand trends and seasonality.
Effective marketing strategies for busy seasons
The personalization of campaigns takes on particular importance during these periods. It’s not just about sending marketing messages, but about resonating with consumers’ expectations, understanding what they’re actively looking for. In-depth analysis of your customers’ behavioral data makes it possible to develop targeted offers that respond directly to their current needs and preferences.
At the same time, optimizing digital marketing channels becomes crucial. Whether through email marketing, social networks or paid advertising, strengthening efforts on the most effective channels can make a significant difference. Offering special promotions and limited discounts not only encourages impulse buying, but also increases the average order value.
The key to success during these busy seasons lies in responsiveness and adaptability. Being able to quickly adjust strategies according to campaign performance and customer feedback is essential. Real-time analysis tools play an essential role, enabling you to track performance indicators and adjust advertising strategies accordingly to maximize effectiveness.
A finely-tuned strategy is essential to ensure that every dollar invested in advertising generates maximum ROI.
Examples of effective marketing strategies during high seasons:
- High-value promotional strategies (e.g. BOGO, % off, free shipping);
- Offering a loss-leader product on your site to entice consumers to discover your brand and product offering;
- Campaigns that encourage consumers to subscribe to your newsletter or your various platforms to receive exclusive offers;
- Offers on bundles or discovery boxes with a sample of several products;
- Gamification campaigns with gifts with purchase (e.g. wheel of fortune);
- Mystery boxes or bonus items with purchase;
- Campaigns to support a good cause and make donations;
- Discounts on gift cards to build customer loyalty and encourage them to return during the off-season;
- Flash advertising campaigns with time-limited offers that mention elements such as “Offer valid today only” to encourage impulse purchases.
For more tips on how to maximize your opportunities during Q4, click here.
Taking advantage of off seasons
Although often regarded as slow periods, off seasons actually offer key advantages, particularly in terms of advertising costs and competitiveness.
During these quieter phases, competition for advertising space is generally less intense, which translates into lower advertising costs. This is a boon for brands looking to optimize their advertising budgets. With lower costs per click (CPC), it becomes more profitable to test new advertising strategies, target specific customer segments, or experiment with innovative advertising formats. These tests can provide invaluable indicators for future campaigns, especially in upcoming periods.
Also, during low seasons, you can take the opportunity to develop branded content that is engaging, improve your storytelling, and even fine-tune your online presence without the pressure of busy periods. This groundwork helps to establish a deeper relationship with your audience, essential for long-term loyalty. Campaigns with larger audiences allow you to accumulate information on your target clientele and create more relevant audiences. These audiences will then be well warmed up and more likely to convert during the peak season.
For companies with highly seasonal products, this is an opportunity to hold liquidation sales. This enables them to sell off end-of-batches and acquire new customers. It’s important to continue to nurture this new clientele through personalized communications, continuous upselling and cross-selling.
The off season is also a good time to work on key eCommerce projects. The redesign of the platform, the addition of new functionalities, the opening of a new sales channel, the implementation of a new tool, and so on. This way, everything will be up and running and stable for the high season, reducing risks.
In other words, these periods allow for in-depth analysis of previous campaigns and strategic planning for the future. Reflecting on what worked and what didn’t during sales peaks, and adjusting strategy accordingly, is essential to being better prepared for the next peak periods.
Examples of effective marketing strategies during the off season:
- Off season product liquidation;
- Brand awareness or repositioning campaigns;
- Content strategy that engages customers with your mission or brand;
- Discoverability campaign with a new target group, market or sales channel;
- Launch of a new collection or product line;
- Sale of samples or products with slight defects;
- Sale of exclusive products for VIP customers;
- Pre-sale of a new range or collection;
- Campaigns that encourage consumers to provide information (e.g. by e-mail or by creating an account);
- Campaigns that encourage customers to provide references or reviews;
- Retargeting campaigns to encourage purchases from those who have visited your online store without making a purchase.
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The importance of KPIs in mastering eCommerce marketing trends
When it comes to mastering eCommerce marketing trends, the adjustment of key performance indicators (KPIs) according to the season is essential. Your KPIs need to be carefully chosen and monitored to align with the specific objectives of each season, whether during peak or low seasons.
Peak seasons: During periods of high sales activity, KPIs such as conversion rate, cost per acquisition (CPA), click-through rate (CTR) and return on advertising investment (ROAS) are more relevant. For example, during Black Friday or the holiday season, the conversion rate is a key indicator for judging the effectiveness of special promotions or limited-time campaigns. CPA and ROAS are also essential for measuring the effectiveness of advertising spend in a competitive environment.
Dead seasons: During dead periods, the focus can be on KPIs that assess customer engagement and brand awareness. Indicators such as the rate of engagement on social networks, the number of new subscribers to marketing channels such as newsletters, the customer retention rate or the Net Promoter Score (NPS) become more appropriate. After the holiday season, for example, focusing on NPS can help assess customer satisfaction and identify areas for service or product improvement. Tracking interactions on social networks can also provide valuable insights into how your customers perceive your brand outside of busy seasons, creating opportunities to strengthen customer loyalty and engagement.
To find out more about eCommerce trends to watch in 2024, click here.
Navigating through the highs and lows of eCommerce with well thought-out marketing strategies and rigorous KPI analysis is crucial. Continuous adjustment of campaigns based on solid data, preparation for future trends and the ability to remain agile and adaptable define successful brands.
Would you like a Novatize specialist to advise you on how to adapt and optimize your marketing strategies? Contact us today.