Feeling the summer slow-down? You might be like many other businesses between the Fourth of July and the end of August. It’s hot, sticky and lazy; the holidays are still months away; and employees, clients and customers are often away on vacation. No matter your industry, odds are you’ve noticed a seasonal decline in engagement and sales. From indexes like the S&P 500 to tech giants like Yahoo and Oracle, organizations across the board often report a loss in productivity and ROI during the summer, according to CNBC.
Just because the mid-summer slump has begun, it doesn’t mean you can’t build your brand and keep your engagement healthy, while preparing for a productive fall. Your content is always important, even in the slow months, but you expect to find a magical solution to boost your traffic and ROI when it naturally dips. Instead, take advantage of the dip to try something new, take a risk with something outside your comfort zone and set the stage for upcoming campaigns so you can hit the ground running come September.
Understand summertime audience interactions
Think about what you’re like when you go on vacation. You’re in a good mood, you’re busy, you’re outside and on the go, and you’re certainly not thinking about work. The best way to reach someone in this mindset is with enjoyable content that they can check while sitting at an airport terminal, lounging poolside, browsing their phone. You’ll want to use mobile-optimized video, short-form blogs and emails, and social media ads to best appeal to your target vacationer.
Publish content that’s easily digestible, fun and light. The few minutes your targets are killing when they pick up their phone on vacation will pretty much be your only way in, so make your content enjoyable and exciting.
Engage your audience now
Bust out your summer promos
If you are a B2C brand feeling the summer burn, running promotions, contests and coupons is a tried and true tactic to keep customers in the loop. Whether your audience is away on vacation, enjoying a staycation or stuck grinding their summer hours away in the office, email blasts with promos ranging from swimwear, to vacations, to back-to-school are effective summer choices.
B2C brands can get in on the promo game as well. Software demos and trials that extend beyond what you typically offer are effective ways to keep your mid-funnel audience engaged and open to your brand even if they’re not going to be ready to buy until the weather cools down. It’s almost like a summer vacation from your regular content strategy. As an added benefit, you’ll be refreshed when it’s time to tune back into your regular programming.
Take a risk with your content
The low engagement and readership during the muggy mid-summer might be the perfect opportunity for you to experiment and try a campaign or a one-off project you wouldn’t normally go through with in a high-traffic month. The stakes are lower when things slow down, and with the right content, you could even bump your engagement and traffic, and forge a new path for opportunities going forward.
This is your opportunity to have fun with your content – try branching out from your industry, and write about something summer-y, or use the tropical theme as a metaphor. If you’re a Chicago-based brand in the finance industry, try out “7 investment lessons you can learn from The Cubs.” For a brand in the medical industry, it might be time to roll out a “Mind, body & soul: 3 reasons why sunshine can make you healthier and happier” piece.
Be social & keep in touch
Social is the best way to get your content in front of your audience, and there’s more to it than leveraging the content I just recommended creating during the summer.
Use the slower period as a chance to improve your relationships with your customers across social media. You’ll have fewer distractions, and the number of messages, comment, inquiries, reviews and ratings is also likely to drop and be more manageable, allowing you to tackle your responses in a meaningful way. People notice when a brand includes them in the conversation, so use the summer to build a solid foundation of outreach and social conversation that you can carry into the future.
Facebook displays a business’s average response time, and many review services, such as Google, Yelp and Glassdoor, allow brands to publicly respond to reviews. This summer could be your chance to improve how you are perceived across these channels. Engaging personally with individual comments, as well as sharing and liking posts (whether they mention you or not), will improve your brand’s public image and expand your social reach.
Summer is also a great time to test out what is most effective for your social strategy, and help to design your social campaigns during the busy months ahead. Change the way you’re posting and try out some new social features (have you tried Facebook Live or 360 video yet?). See what resonates with your summer audience and what doesn’t – that feedback could help you reshape your social media marketing strategy.
Option 2: Use the slow time to plan for the busy times
Your other option is to use the summer to prep for the fall when business picks up again. Part of planning for future campaigns, involves actively developing the larger assets that will support them. You can take your time and begin researching, writing and designing an eBook, whitepaper or webinar. It’s also the perfect time to plan when you publish it, which will help you sync it with supporting blogs and social.
If you’re a B2B brand and you have a conference or trade show coming up in the fall, now’s the time to start mentioning the event in your content, and plan when you’re going to publish directly related content as the event draws nearer. Take your social buzz-building a step further by targeting LinkedIn ads to a Group hosting or attending an event.
Bonus Option: Finish your forgotten projects
This is also a good opportunity to tackle projects that have been on the backburner for far too long. Create your buyer personas. Build a content calendar. Dig into your analytics to anticipate the upcoming season.
The best time to innovate, plan a content marketing strategy and set the foundation for building your long-term brand is when you know your engagement is typically lighter than usual. The beach beckons, school’s out, Europe collectively takes a vacation, and even the U.S. Senate breaks for a few weeks. Take advantage of the natural lull in engagement to think ahead.