Can you beat the Christmas traffic lull?
Every year, after the frenzy of Black Friday and the run up to Christmas, there’s a significant decline in organic engagement during Christmastide, the period from 25th December through to 5th January.
While we’re all living different lives for two weeks and making the most of time with our families away from the office, traffic drops off to the sites we were visiting in the weeks prior. This has an effect on every business, no matter the individual seasonality of your service.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we stop googling – especially now that everyone is only one click away from being online on their mobile phone. But searcher behaviour does change as people switch modes.
In the above data from Google Trends, a significant dip in traffic for the search term “digital marketing” happens around Christmas, only to increase again a few days into the new year.
If we contrast this with something incredibly seasonal, like a turkey recipe, we can see that there is definitely still searcher activity during the Christmas holidays:
Can your content switch modes too?
Rather than trying to keep users engaged throughout Christmas with your “regular” content, and risk losing the tug of war for their attention, could your content switch modes to better suit the way that people are using search.
This might look like showing up for your same audience (and potentially capturing new ones) when they’re asking questions that relate to what you’re doing, but are perhaps less transactional.
Or this could be reaching outside of your usual focus entirely and engaging with the same things that your audience is already interested in, to strengthen and build a relationship with them that goes deeper than the content you usually serve.
Either way, shifting the focus away from a direct promotion of your products and services could be a way of maintaining your current audience’s attention, capturing new interest and setting you on a path towards achieving your new year’s business goals early.
The festive season can be a great time to:
Capture top of funnel interest
The majority of search queries around this time will probably only be tangentially related to your business (unless that business includes turkeys). But this doesn’t mean that there isn’t opportunity for your content to cast a wider net and appeal to the top of the funnel.
By providing valuable insights that meet the needs of the given moment, which could also be to entertain and engage, there is an opportunity to introduce your brand to a whole new range of people.
For example, one of the trends around Christmas last year was queries related to hiking boots:
While this might seem counterintuitive, at a time when most of us are on our sofas watching Love Actually for the tenth year in a row, this tells us that people are looking to get outdoors during the holiday season and are perhaps already thinking about how they can get healthier in the new year.
If you’re in hospitality, this could be a good time to feature and share content about some of the best hikes in your local area. Or if you’re in the retail industry, how about content on how to still look put together while you tackle the great outdoors?
Both of these are examples of meeting the searcher intent where it already is, applying creativity to make it relevant to a particular business or product and sharing specialist insight whilst resisting the urge to sell outright.
Plant a seed or test new ground
Remember, these kinds of interactions don’t necessarily have to immediately generate new leads for your business, the ROI could be long term and conversion happens down the line.
When speaking to your current audience this could also be a chance to plant a seed for future plans or projects, spark their interest, or gauge what the appetite is for a new approach or format.
Maybe you haven’t experimented with a lot of video content yet and you want to get a sense of what the engagement would be for this type of content. A fun video on social media that wraps up the year at your office could be a great way to dip in a toe without committing to a whole series of videos and see what the return is on this type of content.
This is also a great time to create roundups of content, such as listicles that show personality and are often relatively simple (not to mention fun) to create. If you’re a luxury travel brand, what travel-based gifts are top of your team’s list (to give or receive?)
Make new friends (and keep old ones)
The content you create at this time can serve an important purpose of making you new friends, particularly on social channels. That interesting blog piece you crafted and posted on your website? Make sure you share it across your social media accounts, making sure to include a snappy CTA like “follow us”.
Maybe this is a recipe even though you’re a restaurant, sharing a delicious meal for people to replicate for their families at home. Or a DIY makeup tutorial although you’re a cosmetic company, for people to look their best for family gatherings.
As much as this can be a time to capture new interest, you also don’t want to forget about your existing followers; it’s a poignant time to show them their value and reward loyal behaviour.
There are a multitude of ways to achieve this, potentially in the form of a loyalty program, incentives to ensure people are subscribed or pushing existing social content to increase its outreach (also a great way to make this process not very labour intensive).
In order to form long-lasting relationships with the people who use your service, repeat custom and sustained engagement needs to be worked for and what better time to appreciate the people around us than Christmas.
In keeping with the spirit of Christmas, thinking generously is the way to get the most engagement over the long term in return for the content you serve during those two weeks of lull.
When you ditch the hard sell and think about what you can give away for free– your expertise, your insights, your brand’s particular wit or style, it can make your business look confident and prosperous, which is great for your brand persona.
Whilst “giving away” your insider knowledge may seem counter-intuitive, in the long term it’s often a proven route to securing repeat business.
Crafting content that contains true insight and genuinely valuable advice also increases the chance of that content being shared online, which gives a boost to your ranking on Google by increasing your domain authority within your niche.
Think keeping in touch
Don’t do any of this without thinking about how you can gather leads to pursue in the new year. Strategically (and subtly) having appropriate calls to action will help to generate leads for future business that you may never have acquired during peak season.
Encouraging email subscription when you’ve shared an insight, linking to your social pages and generally keeping lines of communication open with users throughout the Christmas drop off, ensures traffic keeps moving to your site and uses the time effectively.
Fighting against the tide means that you could use a lot of investment to have very little in return. By shifting attention to keep in line with how people are already searching, as it relates to your business, valuable insights could be capitalised on when they are most effective – in the new year when we’re back in work mode.
A little bit at the right time can go a long way to share your brand voice and develop a long term relationship, by meeting people where they are at and with the kind of content they are already eager to consume.
Even if your seasonal content generates no leads, you’ll still have brilliant material that shows off your brand’s personality and the creativity of the people who shape it, that you can give away in your newsletters, share on social media and leverage to attract valuable backlinks that can help to boost your overall search rankings. There’s nothing to lose.