The holidays are upon us, which means your B2B web traffic is likely smack dab in the middle of its end-of-year slump. It also means that even fewer of you will read this article as you shift away from your business responsibilities to use up those final days of PTO, or rush to wrap up your holiday shopping. (Don’t worry — we won’t judge if your other browser tabs currently include Amazon.com or a Google search for Hatchimals.)
Fluctuations in your web traffic can be disconcerting, but they’re totally normal. And understanding the factors behind these shifts can help you make more informed digital marketing decisions. Here are four tips to help you make the most of seasonal B2B web traffic.
Get to know typical B2B web traffic trends
B2B seasonal web traffic trends can vary greatly depending on your industry, peak buying seasons and customer behavior. Since most B2B decision-makers search online during business hours, there are multiple time-based factors that can cause fluctuations in traffic and in turn impact your lead and conversion goals. Seasonality, day of the week, time of day and even the number of weekends in a month can have a significant impact on both paid and organic search results.
Most B2B websites experience a significant dip in traffic in November and December as B2B decision-makers spend less time online for business purposes. The good news is that most B2B websites also tend to see a spike in traffic at the beginning of the year, as decision-makers come back online with new budgets, goals and initiatives in place for the year ahead. January web traffic tends to ramp up slowly as B2B decision-makers get back into the groove of their day-to-day activities, but traffic is usually full speed ahead by the end of the month. Depending on the industry, spring and fall are typically the most consistent months for web traffic, while summer tends to be slower for all B2B brands due to vacations.
The day of the week and time of day can also impact your web traffic, with Tuesday through Thursday being peak traffic days for most brands — and for obvious reasons: Mondays are about getting back into the swing of things, and Fridays are for wrapping up business. Most B2B websites see a significant decrease in traffic over the weekends (as much as 50 percent less). And depending on the year, the number of weekends in a month can also impact year-over-year results. These trends may seem obvious, but it’s important to keep in mind that not every industry follows the 9-to-5 workweek.
Determine what to analyze
When analyzing your web traffic for seasonal trends, it’s important to look at both year-over-year and month-to-month figures. Year-over-year traffic can help you identify seasonal (cyclical) traffic trends tied to your audience’s behavior, such as buying seasons and downtime throughout the year, while month-to-month traffic can help you evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, including product launches, paid media tactics and SEO efforts.
Use Google Analytics or a similar web analytics tool to capture your website’s organic, paid and referral traffic throughout the year to help you identify obvious peaks and valleys in your web traffic for further evaluation. Pro tip: Use annotations to indicate any product launches, marketing campaigns, website design and content changes, or any other factors that may positively or negatively influence activity on your website. This will help you more effectively and efficiently identify causes of fluctuations in your web traffic.
Dive headfirst into the data
Since B2B web traffic trends can vary by industry, it’s important to analyze more than just the numbers to understand what’s driving customer behavior. Your web analytics can tell you how users are engaging with your website, but additional research can help you better understand why they’re visiting your site and exactly what they’re looking for. Use Google Trends to evaluate different phrases and keywords relevant to your business to see their historical performance over time (even over years). Google AdWords Keyword Planner provides the same information, and can also help you identify new keywords that reach your audience during peak buying seasons.
Additional qualitative research can also help you gain an understanding of the underlying reasons and motivations behind customer website engagement. Consider interviewing customers to get an idea of what they’re searching for during peak times and off-seasons. And don’t forget to keep tabs on your competitors’ off-season activities. All of this research can help you identify opportunities to create new content to increase traffic during slower traffic seasons that could potentially help you for years to come.
Turn your data into actionable insights
Once you’ve evaluated your seasonal web traffic and identified the factors that are impacting your results, use this information to develop and implement a marketing strategy that capitalizes on web traffic peaks throughout the year and increases traffic during downtimes. For example, increase your paid search advertising during months when web traffic is more active to maximize your exposure, or consider creating fresh content that caters to your target audience’s mindset during the off-season. Most importantly, never stop evaluating and adjusting your strategy. A successful web strategy requires ongoing analysis and optimization to adapt to your customers’ ever-changing needs.