Good morning, internet fans. Ryan Perry here, Simple Biz Support. Today is Thursday, May 12th. Therefore, it is Internet Marketing Thursday. As usual, I have Virginie Dorn with Business Website Center in Petaluma. How’s that phone system working out for you, Virginie?
Virginie Dorn: Very good. I can hear you just fine.
RP: Okay, good. We both have the same mic, and we were having some audio issues earlier. Anyway, we were having fun, dammit. On a less fun but educational point, we’re going to talk about seasonality of websites, and that I think a lot of business owners, especially when you get into your smaller business owners that don’t necessarily have a marketing team who have been trained to think about seasonality, a lot of times when they build a website it’s static and it’s like, “All right, if I need any moving parts, I’ll incorporate a blog, and that way I can add new content. But other than that, my website really doesn’t change over the course of a year, two years, three years.” There could be some money being left out on the table by not being seasonal. When we talk about seasonal, we’re not necessarily talking about the four seasons of the year.
VD: That is correct. It could be if you’re a clothing kind of business, of course, you have summer, wintertime, very different type of sales you will have within your own clothing line. But for certain industries, and maybe specifically for your type of companies, you might have different season. It might start in mid-June and end mid-October. You do have to find out, first and foremost, if your website is prone to seasonality. I mean, are you seeing more sales at certain times, or different types of sales at various times throughout the year. Those time periods is what we call seasons, therefore, website seasonality. Once you have established that indeed you have seasons, and in truth there’s a lot of websites do even though they don’t realize that, then you have to adapt some sort of marketing plan for your sites. And by these we mean two things. First, you should be adapting your website to your unique seasons, so you stay relevant and you connect more in-depth with your visitors, but also understanding your analytics and what kind of keyword searches your visitors are using during those various seasons.
RP: Okay. Let’s, first of all, talk about some of the obvious ones where businesses are directly affected, they actually have different parts of their business. Clothing, I think, is super obvious. Obviously you don’t want to be selling winter jackets in June, but at what point? I always think it’s kind of silly, it’s December, or maybe it’s January and you go into the clothing stores and it’s all bikinis and shorts and all that type of stuff. And it’s like, “But I need to buy a jacket,” but the reality is we plan ahead typically, and so understanding how far do you plan ahead is important. Again, clothing, I think, is super obvious. But what about other companies, such as… We talked about HVAC. If you’re an HVAC company, and let’s make this really simple, all you do is heat and air conditioning, is your website designed to showcase the fact that you do heat and air conditioning, and how could you take advantage of the seasonalities then, as far as web design goes?
VD: Yes. And this particular example when you are a HVAC company, sometimes it’s just a question of moving things around and putting at the forefront what’s more relevant to that moment of the year. Just before winter people are going to start looking at the heaters, then the first cold wave happens in your region and then everybody now is desperate because their heater is not starting up and they need your services. You might want to move those pages and those services on your home page or closer to the top left of your navigation bar, giving them more attention and then move the AC maybe a little further down the page. Sometimes it’s just a question of moving things around. But oftentimes you also have to edit the site, so not just the textual content, which can be very important, but also the visual and, again, what are you going to put at the forefront, are you going to change your slides in your slider.
VD: For instance, if you are in the clothing line and it’s the middle of November, putting a bunch of bikini in your slide is irrelevant. ‘Cause really you’re not in season, you’re really selling items that should be either on sale, that’s okay then if you have a special super sale end-of-the year kind of thing. But if you’re trying to sell jackets because the winter is starting, you want to put those jackets in the slider, for instance. So again, visually and textually. And to help the site owners and managers on what to decide to do on their site, I came up with six very easy questions one should ask themselves.
VD: For instance, first and foremost “When are my website’s season?” You should determine when they are, when they start, and, again, the fact that you sell a lot of them in June might mean you start in May. You have to understand what your particular unique seasons are for your particular situation. It can be even different between competitors. You understand that, you ask yourself that question. Then you have to ask yourself, “What type of changes do I truly need to make?” Are they, again, just textual changes? Sometimes it’s sufficient. Are they visual changes “Do I need to change graphics, videos, photos throughout the entire site?” That will be number two.
VD: Number three will be, “What timeframe again?” I’ll go back to the timeframe. “What timeframes do I need to make those changes?” Again, going back to… “If I need to sell a lot of this in July, that’s where I’ll have a high demand for it, how early do I make those changes before that season hit me?”
RP: Right, and even just the marketing message maybe tweaked when you talk about these different components. Another one that I think of is a roofing company. During the summer time, they really want to promote the message of “Preventive maintenance. Don’t wait till the storm hits.” They’re not necessarily… They don’t want to do repairs. They want to do a whole roof job. However, once it starts raining, then the whole focus, the conversation needs to change, and now, we need to talk about, “Okay, do we just need to do repairs?” Maybe they have a special on-site repair work done in a day, or something along those lines because they’re not going to be able to rip your roof off and put a new roof on while the storm’s going on, but they could do just maintenance to hold you over until there is a break in the weather.
VD: That’s so very true, and big marketing agencies understand the concept of seasonality and they do it for their marketing efforts like on TV, radio, billboards. But somehow on website, it’s still a concept that has not been pushed forward even though it can make the difference between a good website and a great website, that truly relate to visitors and stay relevant throughout the year. We talked about those changes and you have decided they need to be made. Now, you also have to ask yourself, “Is this something I can personally do on my own or one of my staff members can do? Or, is it something I have to pass on to my web designer?” ‘Cause if it’s that case, you have to also prepare that person and give them the heads-up, then, “Hey mid-May, I needed to make all those changes.” That person might say, “Well, it’s going to take me 10 hours but unfortunately I’m out of town.” Just really you have to anticipate when the changes have to be made by and decide if you can make it on your own. That’s why it’s always great to have a content management system and to know how to do it because you can do it by yourself and you’re not tied in with a web development company.
RP: Right, okay. Then let’s transition from the obvious maybe to the less obvious, and that is that maybe you have seasonal peaks. And so, maybe your website message doesn’t need to change because what you sell is consistent throughout the year. We were talking before the show that for you, a lot of times, December and June, you get a spike in receivables. However, your message on your website… It hasn’t changed at all. There’s actually outside factors that are affecting that.
VD: That is correct. For us here, it’s because we mainly deal with corporate accounts, so there is seasonality but it’s not so much something we will need to do. For most of our customers, we work with various seasonality and there are changes they need to make. They need to ask themselves how extensive the changes should be and how much time they want to spend doing that, and should there be on throughout the entire site, or just some specific pages because sometimes just changing the messages like you explained it about the roofer and doing it on the homepage, is sufficient enough to stay relevant to the season.
RP: Yeah, I was actually thinking with somebody like you. You were tied to a corporate budget since your clientele is corporations. A lot of times, you’re going to get a bump once the budget is renewed and there are set times throughout the year. If we look at a dentist, we also talked about a dentist or an orthodontist who’s doing braces, that there are certain times that kids are going to want to get braces or not want to get braces based on seasonal effects that are outside of the control of the business. So, a roofer is controlled by the actual season, whereas a dentist may be controlled by the school year. You may have an influx or a drop in business based on the corporate calendar and when money is available to make major changes.
VD: Yeah, also an example two opportunities to change the marketing message just like you mentioned for the roofer, the orthodontist during summer time say, “Getting ready for the school year? Get it done now. Get your kid in the office when you have the time, and there is no classroom schedule restriction.” You can really… It’s almost like a call-to-action, “Get it done now before September starts cause then things get really crazy with life, school and work.” That’s a great opportunity for marketing and getting people to actually take an action and book that appointment. Now, we talked about all the changes one could do and why they should do them, and when they should do them. But before you can do all of this, you have to know when your seasons are. You and I are big on having some sort of analytics program on your website on every single page of your site. I’m a big proponent of Google Analytics for the simple reason that it’s a free program. It works great, it has very accurate data. Again, it is a Google product and we are trying to please Google after all.
VD: For all these reasons, we always install Google Analytics, but you, as a site owner or manager have to take the time to log into your Google Analytic account and analyze that data, and I know you, Ryan, are an expert at it, and you looked at millions of… Maybe not millions, but lots of those Google accounts. Let’s explain to our viewers today, how they can compare year on year, month-to-month.
RP: Without going actually in into a Google Analytics account. Basically, what you’re looking at is going to be the time frame that you’re looking at, and there is an option to do year-over-year if you want to, and essentially a lot of times, I like to break it down… I like to look at big pictures first, so I’ll look at a couple of years and see if there’s any major blips and then I start asking information, “Okay, I was able to nail down here we had a blip. What caused that?” And then it’s a matter of, do you see seasonal blips if you’re looking over a three year period, as an example. Do you see that there’s an influx? And then trying to zoom in on each one of those influxes and find out what is that correlation to your business.
RP: We talked about the dentist… June, July, and August, there’s… Especially at the orthodontist, as an example, if there’s an influx, and hopefully their account is also tied to their webmaster tools, which I forget the name of webmaster tools now, it’s something else. You can get some additional pertinent information that will let you know what people are searching for. And that’ll give you a clear understanding of what’s going on, and essentially, we want to see as it starts rising, let’s pick a day before and really import what you talked about earlier is that you can’t go, “Oh, June 30th, everything changes, so let’s have a meeting on June 30th and put a plan in place and have our web developer make changes and do all this stuff.” It doesn’t happen. You need to start a couple months beforehand to do it properly and to make sure everybody has enough time to do their job.
VD: Yes. People have to take the time. It makes a huge difference on the success of your website and your company’s revenues. That’s if you think your website is important to you. If it’s not, you’re wasting your time. But, if you’re here watching us, you know it’s important to you and it can increase your revenues and help you capture more prospective customers throughout the year.
RP: Right. And we’re just about out of time. Did you have any last minute information?
VD: No, just take the time. And also schedule the time once a month to look at your website, think of seasonality. If you have a marketing company helping you with your website, make sure you mention it to them, if they have not brought it to your attention. Ask them, “What are my seasons online? Have you looked at them, exactly what they are? And are we adapting the site accordingly?” If the answer is no, maybe you want to shop around, but if… Again, start the conversation. Be an informed client.
RP: Yeah, definitely. And the last little, I guess, bonus information that I’ll throw in there is additionally, if you’re doing any advertising online, especially Facebook, it’s very inexpensive. Is that marketing message changing based on your seasonality and what’s hot? Again with the dentist, you should be focusing on kids are out of school, let’s get all this stuff taken care of now while you have extra time. And then additionally, at the end of the year, people that have health savings accounts that expire at the end of the year, we want to make sure you remind people, “Hey, come in. Use that money now before you lose it.”
RP: Alright, perfect. That is it for today’s show. I appreciate you watching all the way until the end. Virginie, as always, I appreciate the time and energy that you put in and the great information that you share with our audience.
VD: It’s always my pleasure. Thank you.
RP: Alright, perfect. That’s it for today’s show. We will be back here next Thursday. Same time, same place, same computer. Look forward to see you then. Take care.