Use the offseason to optimize seasonal accounts
Published: November 26, 2012
Author: Bob Sturges
In the world of SEM, there are many industries subject to pretty heavy levels of seasonality (I’ll bet nobody knows anything about that today, right?). Even outside the holidays, there are huge spikes — education, for one, is known for having its busiest months in August and January. One of the first things we often do with a new client at PPC Associates is look at some long-term charts and identify patterns of seasonality. This helps us to prepare for any inevitable down or upswings. In times of downswings, even if volume is significantly reduced, there are still plenty of things that can keep the account manager busy. Here’s how to stay on top of accounts that aren’t going crazy over the next few weeks.
First and foremost is designing landing page tests. These often can take weeks to get approved in the first place, requiring back-and-forth between designers and the brand manager on the client side. I’ve found that clients are able to get responses and feedback from their side much more quickly during the offseason, which greatly helps expedite the process. Additionally, you are able to launch the test at a time where low performance on the test page is not going to kill a month’s numbers. Volume will be low enough such that you can catch a low-performing page early in the process. In an industry where clients rely on just 2-3 months to make their whole year profitable, even a few days of low performance in those months can be extremely detrimental to their bottom line. Going through iterative testing during the down season can prepare an account to “put its best foot forward” as it heads into peak months.
On the account side, the account manager can take a step back from managing the day-to-day and iron out a cohesive strategy for the year’s high-volume months. For highly seasonal clients, I like to schedule a strategy planning meeting 1-2 months before the busy season actually starts. This helps us pitch our strategy to them and ensures everyone is on the same page for when the volume starts ramping up. If you wait until the season has already started to review strategy, it may be too late to actually implement it in time.
Low season can also be a good time to find and test other networks. Maybe it is an expansion on GDN, or trying out something entirely new such as a search retargeting service, Infolinks, or a new display network. During times of low volume, these alternate sources of traffic can be a good way to find incremental conversions for the account. The Account Manager also has the resources to devote toward making the test a success. Active management of smaller networks in the offseason can help set up an account for success once traffic starts picking up.
These are just a small sampling of tasks to undertake while a client is suffering from a seasonal drop in traffic. If an account manager remains vigilant and proactive, the majority of planning and testing can come during the lowest-traffic times. That way when the high season hits, the account is running at maximum potential for the entire duration.