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Seasonal Fluctuations - how to Compensate?

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# 1
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Like every summer, we're experiencing a seasonal slump but this year it's been much worse than usual. The funny bit is that all the competitors are keeping their ads up despite the decrease in sales. Is it an attempt to control the market?


Who knows. My today's question is about ways to persuade some of the organic searchers.


To describe my industry, there are 10 smaller players (including myself) spending steady money on PPC every month, then there are 2 larger companies spending ridiculous amounts of cash on PPC.


Also, we've got a few smaller companies who don't participate in PPC but with whom I maintain good relationships because we're involved in all sorts of JVs. They have different marketing channels and they too report a significant decrease in market activity.


BUT, there are a couple of bigger companies (also not spending money on PPC) who report an increase in activity. Now, how is that possible? I think it's because they're doing so well in organic listings.


So, the question is, do I turn off my PPC campaigns and wait or do I try to go after the customers of those few bigger companies? Someone said it's not advisable to turn off campaigns completely as that may affect QS once you decide to turn them back on. Is that the case?

How do you usually approach seasonal fluctuations? What do you do to compensate?

To be fair, we're not talking about a drastically seasonal niche like Xmas cards. Summer is our quiet period but we do generate sales all year round.


Thank you!

2 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Seasonal Fluctuations - how to Compensate?

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# 2
Top Contributor

Hi John;

This is a very nice question  which "goes deep" into the core of Adwords strategy;


As you already pointed out,  stopping a campaign is not an action I would take. An  Adwords campaign,  once stopped, and (later)  re-activated, has the a "transition period" before it gets back to its  past performance (if at all...)

I would take two courses of action:

  1. "Go after" the competitor customers,  with a seasonal tailored campaign. (Ad-copy which targets them, maybe a  dedicated landing page...)
  2. Start working on your SEO / organic ranking.  This is a process that will take some time.., but should start.
Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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Re: Seasonal Fluctuations - how to Compensate?

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# 3
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Hi John, as Moshe has said, it's a great question, thanks for asking it!


I would actually disagree slightly with Moshe in the first instance - pausing Campaigns should have no effect on their Quality Score or performance unless they're using a bidding strategy that relies upon historical data - such as conversion optimisation.  If they are, you should turn this off before pausing, and leave it off until the re-enabled Campaign has accrued sufficient conversion data for it to be effective again.


What you do in the "quiet period" will depend a lot upon the nature of the product and what causes this seasonal change.  For some products you may be able to change the advertising approach; to use a simple example, if you sold umbrellas you may target your advertising around their use in the rain in the winter months and their use as a parasol in the summer.  If the seasonal change is due to other factors, you may need to change where you advertise.  People may spend less time online in the summer, so you may find that using traditional print advertising works better, or you may find that Display Campaigns work better during this period because more people are simply browsing the web rather than actively searching.


From a business perspective, I often advise companies to look for alternative product ranges that suit the different seasons (like making sure you stock pastel coloured frilly umbrellas to sell as parasols) and this could be an entirely different sort of product from your usual sales, or could be related.  For example, if you sell heating supplies in the winter, consider stocking air conditioning supplies for the summer, and make sure you adjust your advertising focus at the appropriate times.


In terms of why one or more businesses might be seeing improved sales, don't forget PPC isn't the only source of traffic!  These companies may have had an article mention them on a popular site or news article, may have launched a print, TV or radio Campaign, or may simply have improved their site or checkout process.  They may, of course, also be exaggerating their performance!


I think there is a benefit in continuing to advertise during a slump so long as that advertising remains profitable, but you may find you need to alter the Account structure. For example, if during your peak period you have 10 Campaigns, all of which return a positive ROI, you may find that during the slump only 4 of them continue to do so, so you'd pause the other 6 (or possibly pause selected Groups/Keywords within them).  I'd recommend using Labels to identify these seasonal pauses so it's easy to re-enable them at the appropriate time.


In terms of budget, since I'd always recommend following a net positive ROI, that should also determine your budget.  While ROI remains positive, you should be spending as much as you can, when it's negative, you need to change your structure or pause those elements.  Bigger companies can often afford to run "loss-leading" Campaigns to encourage brand awareness, but few can continue to advertise at a loss for long so if you're seeing competitors continue to advertise strongly during your slump, you may need to look for why.



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Re: Seasonal Fluctuations - how to Compensate?

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# 4
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Jon; @Jon_Gritton 


Just to clarify: I have noticed that when re-activating a campaign after pausing (i.e a "full stop"),  there is a transition period before the campaign is up and running in full gear / "steady state", as before.  In other words, it is back to its past performance (well.. almost), but after a transition period.  To avoid that, I rather reduce the budget to a minimum (e.g. 10%) than pausing completely.

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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