The holidays are just about the best time to be in the business of online marketing. It’s a time when spirits are high and so are the amounts people spend on buying all kinds of new products and services.
But every crest has a trough and that is true of the lucrative holiday sales period. The bump in sales is followed by a slump, meaning that Q1 can turn into a testing time for those who work in online marketing.
If you’ve seen that sales graph go down, don’t throw your hands up in defeat just yet. There are several tried-and-tested content marketing strategies that can come in handy as you try to reinvigorate sales after the holidays. Read on to learn more about the content marketing strategies that can get you out of the post-holiday sales slump and how you can deploy them most effectively.
Is the Post-holiday Sales Slump Real?
Unfortunately, the short answer is yes. There does appear to be a predictable drop in sales after the holiday season, spanning November to December each year. This phenomenon is illustrated in this graph created by Gallup visualizing monthly aggregates in US consumer spending over several years.
You will notice that in most cases the graph rises towards the end of the year and then shows a precipitous drop in the months that immediately follow.
The period of increased sales begins, as you might expect, around Black Friday. Most retailers now start dropping discounts or hints of discounts around mid-October. Consumers are quick to jump on attractive prices, especially during a period of inflation.
Black Friday is followed by Cyber Monday and sales continue to remain strong. In fact, most brands will see positive sales growth through Christmas and right up to the end of the year. And the end of Q4 is when the sales slump hits. Consumers are done buying gifts and making merry and tend to become more conservative with their spending.
But a historical trend doesn’t mean that you have to resign yourself to poor sales outcomes. When it comes to making sales happen, content marketing strategies can help buck the most persistent trends.
Beat the Post-holiday Sales Slump With These Content Marketing Strategies
Here are a few strategies that you should put to work to help you sustain the sales numbers that you did through the holiday season.
Plan Your Content Well Ahead of Time
When it comes to content marketing strategy, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that it doesn’t yield benefits instantly. The good news is that when you play the long game, it can produce some wondrous results.
Keeping that in mind, you should know that any content marketing strategy that you use to deal with a post-holiday sales slump should be planned well in advance. You cannot start planning things on January 1 and expect to see your sales numbers go up.
Ideally, you’d start warming your content marketing machine up during the holidays. November is a good time to begin the planning phase and get your content ready. There are a few key dates that you will want to create content for in Q1. Make sure that you have multi-format, multi-platform posts ready for all those dates well in advance.
Use data from the holiday period to gauge what’s working. Which demographics are responding most to your content? What kinds of content and hashtags are performing the best? Make sure you have all that data in your arsenal as you prepare for your post-holiday sales battles.
Analyze Previous Q1 Marketing Content
Sometimes the answers to your present problems lie in history. One of the things that you should definitely do as part of a post-holiday content marketing strategy is taking a look back at what you’ve done during the same period in previous years.
Start by doing an inventory of all the platforms where you’ve posted content in the period between January and March in previous years. Sort the content pieces out by content type and the audience persona that you were targeting with each of them.
Follow that up by assessing the performance of each of those pieces of content. You should make sure that you conduct those assessments based on the KPIs that you’ve selected. Here are a few questions you might ask during this process:
- What kinds of posts get the most impressions?
- Do there seem to be specific topics that resonate with the audience?
- Are there specific times of day during which audience interaction is boosted?
- What content formats yield the highest clickthrough rates across platforms?
You will, of course, ask more questions as you unearth more data from previous years. What’s important is that you build the discipline of studying posts from years gone by and can glean what seems to work for your audience in the post-holiday months.
Repurpose Content Tactfully
This step might seem like it’s cheating but it really isn’t. Repurposing content is a standard practice in the world of content marketing and one that can help you give your audience more of what it wants.
What’s important to remember during this step is that you can’t be lazy about it. Repurposing content isn’t simply about taking blog posts or images you’ve posted previously and reposted them in the new year. Not only is this a bad SEO practice, but it will also lead to your audience quickly finding you out.
The whole goal of this content marketing strategy is to repurpose content in a tactical manner. You already know what kind of content works from analyzing content from previous years. All you need to do now is take the best-performing posts and find new ways to share that same information with your audience.
For example, let’s say that you had a blog post about sticking with resolutions that performed well in a previous Q1. That means that your readers are looking for that kind of information as they head into January. So for the current year, you might write a post about building a new habit that borrows from the post about following through with resolutions.
New Year, New You
So far, we’ve talked mostly about ways in which you can gauge what was already working and do more of the same. But your post-holidays content marketing strategy doesn’t necessarily need to be conservative. There are times when you might consider hitting your audience with an innovative new approach to content and surprise them in a good way.
There are several ways in which you can go about doing a rejig of the kind of content you’re serving up to your audience. Here are a few tactics you can consider in that regard:
Experimenting with new content types such as memes, infographics, and whiteboard videos Picking an entirely new topic to cover in depth across multiple posts on your blog * Tapping into the power of user-generated content and highlighting fun and interesting content pieces produced by your users
These are just a few ways that you can go about revitalizing your content marketing efforts at a time when you might see a sales slump. They can all be ways for consumers to sit up and take notice of your brand again and encourage much-needed sales in the post-holiday phase.
Although it might be tempting, you cannot take a spray-and-pray approach simply because you’re experimenting with your content. You should continue to use a strategic approach with these new content pieces. Analyze what’s working early on and double down on the kinds of posts that are doing well for you.
Retarget Q1 Customers
There is a segment of your audience that is more likely to make a purchase in Q1 than during the holiday season. These are often consumers who prefer to splurge on purchases to start the new year off the right way rather than on the holidays. You can bump your sales during the post-holiday phase by retargeting these customers between January and March.
You can retarget customers based on a whole host of behaviors, including the number of page views, intent-based actions (like clicking on a blog post), and past purchases. In this specific case, you would retarget based on past purchases made at a specific time (post the holidays) and target them with your content marketing efforts. Read more about designing a content retargeting campaign here.
Trust the Process
The new year can be an emotionally tumultuous time for content marketers. You’ve just seen the sales graph go up during the holidays and popped a champagne or three in celebration. But now it’s January and things aren’t looking as rosy as they were a month ago. You might find yourself doubting your approach or trying too many new things as a result.
It’s important to go back to the basics at this time. Content marketing is all about strong planning and having a long-term perspective. You might not immediately get the results you want in January but that doesn’t mean you hit the panic button right away.
When in doubt, always return to doing two fundamental things the right way. Firstly, create content pieces that serve your audience’s needs. The only way you can do that is by researching your target demographics and gaining an understanding of what their burning needs are.
And secondly, produce content consistently. That doesn’t mean you have to have a new blog post up every day. Just make sure that you keep in touch with your audience regularly and that they know when to expect new content from you.
The post-holiday sales slump is a very real phenomenon. Most consumers have just come out of a period of high spending and are more hesitant to open up their wallets during the months of January through February.
You can spur sales during this period by relying on the content marketing strategies that we’ve laid out in this post. Make sure that you earmark one or two of these strategies as contingency plans in case you notice a drop in sales after December. If you get it right, you’ll ensure that you have not just a happy holiday but also a happy post-holiday period in the new year.