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What does seasonality mean from a marketing standpoint?

When you consider the four seasons purely from a consumer's perspective, you almost immediately enter the minds of marketers when they develop campaigns for the four fiscal quarters.

Seasonality has a major influence on the strategies that ecommerce organizations put in place. It's pretty simple: Purchasing habits tend to shift based on the activities that consumers participate in, and online businesses need to take this into account well ahead of time.

Spend enough time forecasting

Some products or services require significantly more forethought than others. In other words, you have to consider lead time when developing marketing strategies based on seasonality(1). Take, for example, the amount for planning it takes for a customer to purchase a pair of skis compared to a winter hat. The price tag associated with these and the risk involved in using them vary greatly.

Accordingly, marketers hoping to move a specific number of skis during the fourth quarter of the year would benefit from planting the seed in shoppers' minds during the summer months. While this sounds counterintuitive, you're in a much stronger position to meet your sales goals if you give consumers sufficient time to consider their big ticket purchases.

Especially for ecommerce merchants, there's an inevitable connection between search engine optimization and marketing success. Consumers tend to give hints as to what they're interested in based on their search habits. For instance, Google Trends can be a beneficial tool to help highlight broader search habits over a given time frame (2). The tool is free and even helps you identify when the season for specific products tend to begin and end.

Furthermore, when you're able to identify which search terms are most popular, you can adjust either your SEO or paid ads campaigns to ensure your digital marketing has the greatest impact possible.

Ensure the budget aligns with seasonal changes

Especially for online companies that see higher sales volumes during specific months, it's critical marketing budget takes into account that there will likely be more capital needed in the couple of quarters leading up to the busiest time of year (3). Without sufficient financial backing for pay-per-click, email, mobile or affiliate campaigns, it will be difficult to gain enough visibility in your target audience to really drive profits and generate growth.

For marketers, seasonality means getting into the mindset of consumers and considering what it takes to motivate them to make both large and small purchases at given points in the year. While the holiday shopping season is the most obvious time of the year that ecommerce stores are booming, each merchant likely flourishes at different points. It's up to the marketing team to plan accordingly to make that happen.

1. "Seasonal marketing strategies" 2. "Seasonality in advertising: How year-round marketing can help your seasonal business succeed" 3. "How seasonal marketing opportunities can drive sales"

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