Seriously, there's no reason to twist yourself in knots over reduced traffic to your website over holidays - if you're looking at the right information for your business type. The B2B and B2C markets are such opposites that if you're looking at data for the wrong business type, your decisions could be disastrous for your business.
Here's just one example of why you should be careful you're not comparing plums with apricots. Similar fruit, very different taste and texture.
If you get on the internet and search for discussion on the impact of website traffic declines and find a 2010 Gomez report cited, consider this. As frequently as this study is quoted, the report isn't discussing website traffic declines at all. It's primarily focused on the impact of website performance and conversions. It's focused on what happens after the traffic has arrived, not why traffic declines.
Drawing conclusions on the importance of traffic volume from a study having little to do with volume could lead to serious inaccuracies in strategy development. Let's center our attention on how to recognize when changes in website traffic matter.
Differences between B2B and B2C Website Visitor Volumes at Holidays
If you own a B2B enterprise, you already know the buying process for your customers takes much longer. B2C customers speed through the interest to information gathering, comparing and then purchasing cycle. Why? When the business day ends, most B2B decision-makers switch into B2C mode. This means they reserve their information gathering, comparing and decision-making primarily to work hours. Of course, there are exceptions. However, not everyone takes work home. Thus you can expect B2B traffic volumes to drop on weekends and holidays. It's natural, and you aren't losing money because of the dip.
On the other hand, B2C customers gravitate to weekends and holidays as opportunities to catch up on their shopping. If you aren't seeing an increase in traffic during these times, you may want to revisit your marketing strategies.
Regardless of whether your business targets the B2B or the B2C market, you need to market your business properly across the entire year. The four seasons and holidays are opportunities for both B2B and B2C. However, if these are the only times you focus upon creating customer-magnetic content, you'll attract far less traffic than you could.
1. Consistent Content Generation
We know this is your greatest challenge, especially when we're also telling you the quality of your content must be high in the eyes of your customers. Holiday content is no exception.
One thing that will help you is to stop thinking seasonally. Don't wait for the next season to come before you begin content marketing and capturing leads. Seasonal B2C enterprises need to recognize it is almost as important to capture leads as it is for B2B enterprises. It's likely customers who liked you this year will remember you the next time they're in town. However, you want to also make it easy for them to share you with their friends and colleagues. Make sure you have a social media presence. Invite people to 'Like' or 'Tweet' or 'Instagram.' Ask them to write reviews and/or share their testimonials. Invite customers to sign up for a monthly newsletter.
Get creative with your off-season content. Offer travel accommodations? Consider hosting a podcast on places to see and things to do during the off-season. Help people get to know your destination from a new perspective. Hubspot recommends adding an off-season twist to your content. They don't tell us whether the berry farm in their example is a strawberry farm or offers all types of berries. However, it's clear there's only a three or four-month window to berry picking season.
So how could a berry farm keep website traffic strong during the off season? Hubspot shared titles. We'll share some creative ways you can engage any customer group during off months regardless of your industry.
- Write about how to use your product during the off season (berry recipes using frozen berries, for example).
- Produce videos on how to use or enjoy your product during the off season (canning jams or berry pie fillings).
- Suggest ways to enjoy your product that expand its applications (smoothies, beverages, sugar replacements, etc.).
- Recommend off-season pursuits where your product could complement the activity (dried berries in homemade trail mix).
- Produce written and visual content that's related to your customer's reason for visiting your business (benefits of picking your own berries).
- Open discussions with your past customers about what they would like to see you do in the future, how you can improve your product or service, etc.
- Staying active with content generation will benefit your business whether your target is B2B or B2C.
2. Optimized Homepage
What works on a B2C home age could be disastrous for a B2B home age. The visitor's needs contrast sharply.
A B2C website can fill the page with 100s of buying choices. Consumers will scan the options and are quite likely to move deeper into the website. Consumers also respond well to the personalization of their experience.
However, personalizing a returning B2B customer's experience could be problematic. Proof you've been tracking a visitor's exploration of your website by populating your homepage with links to pages he or she visited could be seen as invasive.
Also, offering too many options on the homepage to a B2B customer creates confusion. Too many options suggests, 'Jack of all trades, master of none.' A streamlined organizational structure and clear message suggests competence and the ability to deliver.
For either business model, be sure you website is optimized for mobile devices. When your customers step away from their desks, they're using their tablets and smartphones.
3. Traffic-ready Website
If your website can't handle the traffic, bounce rates go up. Don't expect patience while your website struggles to load or handle transactions. This is true for both B2B and B2C businesses.
However, B2C sites are at even higher risk during shopping seasons--Valentines, Halloween and the biggest one, Christmas. Unanticipated upturns in traffic can take a website down. Look for a scaleable solution so your level of customer service stays high.
4. Holiday Strategy
Just because you expect your B2B traffic to dip during holidays doesn't mean you have a good reason to stop trickling out content. Some of the businesses you serve are targeting consumers. Leverage this.
- Create offers that help your partners serve their customers better.
- Update your LinkedIn company page daily with useful information for navigating the holidays, including offers.
- Produce an eBook or info-graphic with information valuable to your clients.
- Customize the look of your social media pages to reflect the holiday by changing the background.
- Curate content from within your industry. Nearing year's end? Then a 'best of the best' is a solid strategy. Setting up for the New Year? Use past data to show trends and create predictions. Curation works for every milestone from February's Black History Month and Day of Romance through Tax Filing Day to Christmas.
- Repurpose existing archived material, updating to renew currency.
To ensure B2C traffic doesn't dip during holidays, add content to your website early enough to capture customers who like to plan ahead.
- Identify whether your market is national or international. Shipping takes longer for international destinations, so shoppers may start holiday shopping earlier than domestic buyers. Savvy international travelers research their tickets and accommodations, and plan their sightseeing routes up to 335 days before they travel. (Asian fares are at their lowest at 318 days pre-departure.) So posting content for Christmas in March, if your business targets forward thinking seasonal customers, will support traffic to your website during the holidays as well. Smart domestic travelers in the U.S. and Canada usually buy their tickets 47 days in advance. Posting content for an upcoming holiday 50 to 60 days before a holiday fits if you're major market is domestic.
- Leverage social media with curated content and vivid visual materials (pictures, videos, infographics).
- Create special holiday eBook releases to draw customers. For example, a bicycle shop or a B&B could offer a travel guide. A salon might offer a holiday-centered hairstyling guide.
- Recognize your customers are looking for more than buying opportunities. They may be bored! So produce entertaining content (both holiday focused and evergreen).
Ultimately, you never want to take a vacation from content delivery. Produce ahead, and schedule the release.
Traffic fluctuations are normal. Whether the metrics behind a dip are important depends primarily on whether you've made any significant changes to your website. If you haven't, it's always worth knowing what happened, yet it's rarely worth fretting over.
In fact, if you've added other strategies, such as developing a mobile app, to your marketing mix, the drop may just reflect the mobile preferences of your customers. The app is increasing your level of customer engagement, even if users bypass your website.
The Garmin Vivosmart offers a solid example of this. They offer an iPhone app that handles all the data the watch captures. There is a browser-based solution for handling data as well, though it requires the watch be plugged into a computer. App and web interface don't communicate with each other, yet there's traffic between the watch's owner and Garmin regardless of which method the watch's owner selects to store data.
Knowing these facts, drop the anxiety. Just focus on marketing to your ideal customer year round. Then when he or she shows up, your content will do its job--convert lookers into buyers.
About Ellen Morrison
After studying to become an Auror at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Ellen decided to put her skills towards helping businesses grow through the Inbound Marketing Process. In her free time she loves to hike and explore the outdoors, while at the end of the day curling up with her cat, Champ, who is truly a champion.
More posts by Ellen Morrison