Digital Marketing: Seasonality and Search Trends

Tom in marketing always buys a new pair of running shows in April, a new home brew kit in October and doesn’t buy anything at all in January. Now, he’s really weird so his behaviour may not be typical, but stick that data alongside 2000 other consumers and you’ll have something solid to look at that might inform how and when you market certain products. 

How do you know when your users will buy your products?

It’s pretty easy for things like Christmas – you know when that is, but how can you find less obvious seasonality trends? Having this information helps you manage your inventory, staff levels, marketing budget etc.

And it’s not just the end goal. How do you know when users will start their path to purchase? In order to maximise sales, you need to be visible to them not just when they are ready to buy, but when they start researching your product/service. Look at this visualisation of how a consumer might travel from awareness to being a repeat customer:

Users typically search on multiple devices, and if your product/service is complicated or expensive there might be a high number of touch points to their journey as they research and consider. They might start looking on their mobile, then go away and come back a few weeks or months later on their desktop.

So how do you find out what a typical user buying cycle is for your customers?

First of all, you need to know how long your average customer’s buying journey is. You can look into that in Google Analytics, on the Time Lag page:

Remember that some users may take more or less time and if you’re not there at the beginning of their journey, the time lag data may be misleading. But it’s a good place to start.

Try to get your customers on your site at the beginning of their journey.

You can use keyword research tools (such as the Google Keyword Planner) to find which searches are relevant to your business. Separate those searches into the part(s) of the buying cycle they apply to – ask yourself why those users are looking. Do they know what will help them, do they want more information or are they ready to buy?

  • Searches relating to the user’s problem or need are at the Awareness stage, the beginning.
  • Educational searches about the product/service, and questions about how the problem might be solved are at the Interest stage.
  • Searches describing desired attributes of a product/service are at the Research stage.
  • Queries relating to specific products or services, such as exact models or prices are the the Purchase stage.

SEO and PPC marketing campaigns can then be used with these keywords to reach customers at all buying stages, and you should see the time lag in Google Analytics get longer as it becomes a more realistic picture of what your users are doing. You can refine your marketing efforts with this updated information. For example, use the time lag as the cookie length for a remarketing audience and remind users of your brand as they continue along their buying journey.

Now you know how long it takes for a user to buy from you, but how do you know when they’ll buy?

Use the same keyword research tools as before to find relative seasonal search trends. This will show when in the year users are looking for your product or starting their research. In the below example, May is showing the most searches. 

This will help you decide when to increase/decrease your marketing spend/inventory, etc., and determine what kind of queries you can expect when.

Now refine it.

Look at the search queries in Google Analytics (under the Google Ads and Search console sections):

If your site users are asking research questions can you shorten their research time by answering those questions in your ads or with site content? Consider using remarketing ads to answer their questions before they need to ask them, or maybe target them with offer ads when you expect them to be ready to buy so they purchase from you instead of a competitor.


Want to know more? Contact us.

If you have any questions for us, about any of the above or how to implement this sort of work within your business, please get in touch.