Create a seasonal marketing strategy

1. Review your company’s historic marketing and sales data to identify seasonal trends in your audience engagement and buying behavior.

Quantitative data can identify major shifts in audience behavior that you can later map to holidays, non-traditional holidays, and seasonal or cultural events. Consider reviewing: Email open rates. Email click-through rates. Organic website traffic, paying particular attention to when certain types of content receive higher rates of engagement. Ecommerce traffic, paying particular attention to when certain types of products or product category pages receive higher rates of engagement. Store sales, paying particular attention to when specific products or product categories drive the most revenue. Customer service inquiries, especially requests for gift guidance or shopping suggestions.

2. Review search trends to identify when your audience begins to search for seasonal products or topics.

Your store may sell more flowers and chocolate before Valentine’s Day, but do you know when people first begin thinking about Valentine’s Day and appropriate gifts? Search trends help you identify when user interest starts to rise. Platforms like BuzzSumo or Sprout Social can reveal seasonal trends in online activity. Or, use the free Google Trends tool. Look at your marketing and sales data, and identify when specific types of content or products see the most engagement in your own analytics. Make a list of three to five keywords that best describe the high-performing content or products you’ve identified.  Enter those keywords into Google Trends. Review the Google Trends report to see when those keywords experience the most traffic on Google. Write down when search volume starts to rise for your chosen keywords, and when activity peaks. For the best results, use a spreadsheet to track the keywords, the dates when those keywords begin to see increased activity, and the dates when those keywords have peak activity.  If you’re a brick-and-mortar brand, consult industry groups. For instance, the National Retail Federation publishes seasonal retail trends.

3. Map your internal historical data and external web trends data with seasonal events, holidays, and important dates.

Official holidays like Christmas are prominent in seasonal marketing, but seasonal marketing encompasses more than that:  Official holidays like Independence Day and Thanksgiving. Non-traditional holidays, such as Earth Day, International Women’s Day, or niche days built around a specific topic, such as Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Annual cultural events that mark important shifts in the year, such as back-to-school season, spring break, or the date that the IRS requires your taxes. Align your sales and marketing data with these dates. Note in your tracking spreadsheet the specific holidays and dates that occur simultaneously with higher engagement and search intent.

4. Choose a specific content and product category for every major event, holiday or important date highlighted in your data.

Seasonal marketing works best when you have one focused category of content and products aligned with the individualized needs of that holiday or seasonal event. Identify what type of content you produce, and which of your products people need, for each major event in your tracking spreadsheet. Content example: Home improvement store Lowe’s publishes seasonal how-to guides. Lowes then promotes these guides when their audience is contemplating doing each activity. In November, Lowes might send out its guide on putting up exterior Christmas lights. In the early spring, they send out guides on getting your yard cleaned up after a cold, wet winter.  Product examples: In each seasonal guide, Lowes calls out specific tools and products you can buy that meet your seasonal needs.

5. Create a compelling seasonal message and offer for each major event or holiday.

Your offer and message should: Tie directly into the seasonal trend Address a question or need your audience has Be consistent with your overarching marketing strategy, yet tailored to the specific holiday or event In some cases, this may mean creating brand-new content or products to address an unmet need that your brand is well-positioned to service. In others, it might simply mean updating your standard offer or curating your existing content or products into a special landing page or product listing in your online store. For example, recipe website simply creates new landing pages that group together pre-existing recipes that are appropriate for an upcoming seasonal trend. For example, quick weeknight dinners for back-to-school season, or turkey dinner recipes for Thanksgiving.

6. Distribute your updated, seasonal messaging as early as possible.

Time is of essence when you’re doing seasonal marketing. The search intent data you collected earlier informs when your audience is beginning to contemplate the seasonal trend or event that’s coming up. All of your content and marketing channels should be updated with your seasonal messaging on or before your audience is beginning to search for gifts or information.