Planning content around seasonal aspects and events is not a new concept. But as the old sales funnel staple is starting to get edged out by a lifecycle-based model, paying attention to the seasonal aspects of these lifecycles has become more crucial than ever.
What do people look for during certain times of year and why? How does your own audience respond to seasonal trends compared to your brand’s historical performance, and the industry in general? There’s more to seasonal content planning than simply taking note of weather and holidays, so here’s what you should keep in mind as you’re building out your editorial calendar for the year.
Centering Content Around Literal Seasons
For mass retail and other businesses, the Christmas season is the spindle in which their annual business cycle revolves around. There’s troughs and valleys for major holidays and times of the year, like Valentine’s Day which has a definite date and then “dads, grads, and weddings” because graduation and wedding dates tend to happen throughout May and June. This is a simple basis to start with for editorial planning depending on the audience in question.
However, if you have a brand with a completely different business cycle and purpose like a B2B IT service, a hilarious post about being lonely on Valentine’s Day and likening obnoxious couples on Instagram to DDoS attacks could prove to resonate with your audience but not actually align with the seasonal cycle of the business. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to capitalize on timely searches and topics or take bold risks when it comes to B2B marketing and using humor and memes for marketing. But for content that’s ultimately going to get results based on your brand’s seasonal lifecycles, you’ll need to pay attention to both predictive analytics and historic engagement and search data to get an idea of what next year’s editorial roadmap will look like.
For instance, akin to the retail example, many game developers and event planners revolve their plans around GDC every March while large segments of this audience do not participate in it. In the tax preparation world, the two chief business cycles are January-April for tax preparation then October-December for tax consulting. Depending on the clientele served, other tax offices have smaller distinct business cycles for extension season September-October and late filers May-June while it’s fairly universal that summer is the dead zone.
Those dead zones are the primetime to do that seasonal and lifecycle planning.
Comparative Resonance Across Seasonal Lifecycles
Quality seasonal content planning requires a blend of working what’s already worked and using predictive analytics to know what will be most likely to resonate with your audience next. The more data there is to back up these content planning efforts, the better.
Historical optimization is a frequently-overlooked strategy in seasonal content. If Memorial Day is coming up and you have a barbecue post that got lots of engagement and it uses keywords that get action during that time of year, you can create a new post or re-optimize the old one because people tend to like tried-and-true recipes. If certain industry events, like GDC in the example above, play a major role in your brand’s lifecycle, it doesn’t hurt to update a guide to this event that performed well and give it some new information and imagery to get more engagement.
Keyword research can be a major part of seasonal content planning because you can predict when people are most likely to search for certain terms and time your content to be posted then. Understanding your audience is equally critical because you just might have a loyal group of users who buck trends. This is especially important depending on whether the piece’s purpose is to capture search traffic and new people, or to engage existing users.
Seasonal content marketing has many moving parts and it’s not always about major holidays and the actual seasons themselves. Every industry and brand can have their own responses to these timeframes but should also have their own unique business lifecycle that should factor into content planning. Strictly seasonal content can still get high engagement during those peak times of year but lifecycle-based content can holistically get more results year-round.
Rachel P is an indie game developer, writer, and consultant. She is also a content strategist here at Writer Access and would be happy to help you with keyword maps, customer journey maps, and buyer personas in addition to writing for you. If you would to like to hire Rachel to devise a content strategy for you, please contact your account manager or send a direct message.