External influence is something very little, if any, marketers talk about, even though it can play a huge factor (we have seen up to 300% increase/decrease) in how effective your campaigns are.
So what do I mean by external factors…
External factors that could affect your online marketing campaigns are other things that are going on in the world, (sometimes not related to your business at all) that influence your campaigns profit or loss.
After working on many campaigns over the years I get to see trends that continually effect how campaigns perform yet on the other hand very little people who react in a sensible calculated way toward them.
Some clear examples:
1) World Events
Like in all economics when something is changed it has a butterfly affect on the rest of the world and internet marketing is not protected by this.
When the elections were going on in the US we saw some B2B markets in Australia slow, because some businesses were waiting to find out the result before they made any large purchasing decisions. So while the election was on, people held back on spending and once Obama was elected all those people that were sitting on the fence went ahead and all made purchases at the same time.
While the election was on many were complaining that their campaigns were not profitable and some even stopped marketing, but as soon as the announcement was made all the sales from the marketing that was done during the election were realised and a positive ROI achieved.
The Olympics is always a big event that shapes the way we buy online and offline for that matter. Think convenience. There are a lot of die hard spectators that want to get as much action as possible without leaving the screen, so think about how you can make it easier for people to find and buy what you have when relevant to the big event.
Each time a scumbag news reporter comes up with a new way of striking fear into the hearts of the general population with the “doom and gloom” of the economy we see sales drop almost across the board.
There is a hidden lesson here that I need to highlight and that is; the press and all forms of news are in the same business as us. The business of selling ideas and at the end of the day the better marketer wins.
2) Local Events
We all know that events like Christmas and Easter have a large impact on our sales and marketing, but many forget about other events like long weekends. Typically we see businesses slow down the week before and the week after a long weekend as people are generally rushing around organising to go away and they are not in the head space to think about purchasing. That is unless you are in the travel market where we see large spikes.
We have worked with some businesses to leverage long weekends as a marketing tool and seen sales sky rocket. Australian’s love camping and getting out and about on long weekends, so we tie this in when selling solar camping kits by doing a huge push a few weeks before a long weekend.
What’s the best way you can tie in long weekends to your marketing?
School holidays are another commonly overlooked event that affects sales while parents are pre-occupied with organising the rug rats between Grandma’s house and bumper bowling. Depending on what market you are in this one takes a little more creativity to leverage off, but if you think about the problems that need to be solved it will make it easier. E.G kids need looking after, parents have less time, and kids need transport.
In life and business I run my own race. I don’t spend hours looking at what other have or do because it breeds laziness in thought. I do however monitor what the competition is doing every now and then to see that what are doing isn’t effecting what we are.
The most common things that happen with competition are:
They run a special and your marketing stops converting – In this case try pausing your ads around this particular product or service OR re-position your ads so that price is not the focus. Instead shift the focus to quality and other benefits of doing business with you like; service, added bonuses, speed of delivery, guarantees, customer satisfaction, etc.
The start or stop advertising – If they start advertising in a space you were already, then hopefully you were already split testing and tracking your ads which will give you a competitive advantage of knowledge. If they blatantly rip off your ads then you need to get more creative OR slap an “Original” label on your ad 😉
If they stop adverting in a space – If your ads are working there, then ramp them up and take market share by setting up another site that either reviews your site (sending traffic back) or models off the success of the first one.
If you have an ecommerce store you need to be mindful of what your suppliers are doing. We have seen suppliers offer the same product to the competition for a lower rate, so they then undercut our client. Inexperienced or greedy suppliers will sometimes run specials that can also undercut the online retailer. You combat these with the same methods above and good communication with the supplier.
It’s quite common that suppliers will get picked up in the press or run a marketing campaign of their own for awareness. You need to be aware of when these happen to ensure you have enough stock to cater for the flood of orders you can receive if positioned correctly.
We have seen this happen where GoPro announced a new model of camera, the GoPro 3.
What happened was, there was a huge swell in search engine traffic and so our client started getting an unusual amount of clicks through Adwords for GoPro’s. The problem was, all the people clicking on the Ads where looking for the new model when it hadn’t been released yet. Instantly Ad Spend/traffic went up but sales went down, because people stopped buying the version 2 and waited for the 3 to be released.
People sometimes laugh when I talk about this one, which is fine because the smart marketer has the last laugh. In summer when we have a spike in temperature (usually the first hot day), it’s not uncommon to see air conditioning companies traffic go off the scale. I mean they can get 50-70 more traffic in one day than they usually get and the same goes for the first cold day in winter.
Now that’s an obvious example, but you would be surprised at how much the weather effects people’s buying habits in more subtle ways. With E-commerce becoming the norm now it’s common to see sales increase for online sales on a cold and miserable day when people are stuck inside snuggled up on the couch in front of the TV with their laptop or iPad.
In summer when we have heat waves not only do we see people decide to get that air conditioner installed but also people take longer to make decisions about other things because they are hot and flustered.
6) TV Shows
Now I don’t watch TV myself because I believe there are much better things to be doing with my time on the planet than sitting staring at a box, but what I can tell you is that when the big seasons start you can see a shift in online sales. Particularly the younger generations are watching what the stars wear, what car they drive and what animals they have. Think about how you can best tie into the latest trend and make your products or services relevant.
The Worst Part
If you start a campaign in one of these periods you could easily be mislead to thinking that either you are going to be a Billionaire overnight or that internet marketing doesn’t work. Both are going to end up in tears…
This is why it’s so important to pre-plan your online marketing campaigns and be prepared for some waves.
THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL ONLINE MARKETING
Never jump to conclusions because there are always more things in play than you know about.
Always go into a campaign with pre-determined goals for the length of time you are going to stick with it.
Create your marketing budget based off a 3 times multiplier of what you are prepared to pay to acquire a new sale.
In summary – As marketers we need to think outside our direct spheres of influence with the broader world and utilise what is going on around us to help catapult our online marketing in the direction we choose.
Have you seen any external factors affect your online marketing campaigns? Please comment below.
Samuel Junghenn is the Managing Director of Think Big Online and has over 12 years experience in Online Marketing. He is passionate about building businesses using the power of automation and the Internet along with the thrill of motor racing.