Whether you’re selling email marketing tools, office furniture, or call-center solutions, you’ve likely experienced the challenges of the dreaded slow season.
While many businesses come to a halt or choose to offer discounts and run sales, there are ways to use these seasonal fluctuations to create advantageous opportunities for business growth – without compromising on your average order value.
Let’s look at the right strategies to beat the off-season sales slump and use the “off-season” time to lay the foundation for rapid future growth.
You will probably know your historically slow and peak seasons, but if you don’t or if you want to double-check, look at Google Trends to see when the search volume for your products or services goes up or down during the year.
The example above shows trends for a rather generic term. In this case, even with a generic search, we can see slowdowns during summer months. Brand name search on Google Trends is even more informative, but oftentimes there might not be enough data for your brand. In this case, search for larger competitor names and the names of brands that operate in a similar niche.
Other indicators of a slow season are fewer sales and reduced customer support tickets, decreasing site traffic (though not always the case), and a shift in your Google Ads. In the case of the latter, you’re likely to see a decline in impressions and clicks for your branded and short-tail keywords, while the long tails might go up. However, a decline in long tails is also a “norm” in the off-season.
So what are you going to do? We’ll share the best slow-season strategies and divide them into two groups: the first group will focus on practices with a longer payoff period. The second group is what you can do to still get some new sales.
We will not include discounts and sales in this guide because (A) Tapfiliate has proven it possible to run marketing sustainably without discounts, and (B) discounts have a long-term effect on your relationship with clients and prospects and thus need to be applied very carefully.
In low season growth-oriented SaaS and B2B marketers double down on tactics that pay off later in the future.
Take this time to dive deeper into analytics and go back in history to analyze your channels and initiatives, spot funnel leaks, and potential growth points.
Interview customers, prospects, and competitor clients and get a better understanding of your target audience and their needs.
Run your new designs, prototypes, and marketing copy through customers where it’s too early to A/B test, select and refine proven pieces, then design experiments you’ll run when traffic spikes.
Take time to explore and test the channels you’ve been neglecting before. What’s in your backlog? Most of us have something with a lower priority that we’ve planned to assess forever. It could be new explainer videos for YouTube, some new review sites to create listings on, events, offline initiatives, communities to engage with, even a ProductHunt launch, or new partnerships with a yet-unclear ROI.
Focus your efforts on strengthening relationships with your power customers and moving more customers into that power category. It can be tempting to start looking for new leads and clients in an attempt to smoothen the drop in sales. Still, we recommend using this downtime to pay more attention to the customers you already have. It’s no secret that acquisition costs more than retention. In slow times, the gap is even bigger.
Think about how you can give value back to your customers and deliver that value: via email, push notifications, social media, or the product itself.
It is also a good idea to do small things that don’t scale but help build up customer loyalty to your brand: user groups, case studies, success stories shared on social, Customer Success sessions.
As it gets busier, this relationship with customers will reflect on the lifetime value (upsells, upgrades & clients not moving on to competitors) and on the efficiency of your campaigns.
Slow season is a good time to engage more with your community and build better relationship. Your customers might not be ready to buy but quite ready to talk. Use this off-season time to launch new community projects or stir up your community with more (engaging) content.
Engage more with your current audience, spend more time on social media, create a wider variety of content (informative, in-depth, as well as fun and viral).
This will help your brand or product stay top-of-the-mind with both customers and leads. As your relationship warms up, you can use community activities to motivate your customers to share word-of-mouth and leave reviews about your products, thus bringing in more sales.
You can try to do the same with the 3rd-party communities as well. Engage more with communities on Quora, Reddit, or even Stackoverflow, and use this time to build authority and get more visibility for your brand.
Bonus tip: Find and join niche communities relevant to your business. Search within Facebook groups, or try to google online forums. The paradox here is that the smaller a community is, the bigger the chance they become your fans because you get to build more trust with smaller audiences.
Use top-of-the-funnel content to build brand awareness during the slow season, to make sure you stay top-of-mind when your target audience is ready to buy.
Think top-of-the-funnel and put more effort into informing and educating rather than converting.
Focus on awareness, and build your marketing strategy around that. With SaaS and B2B leads in niches that experience slow times in the Summer, aim to generate awareness and interest as early as June and July. That way, they’re ready to move further down the funnel in 2-3 months.
While the search volume for your important keywords is low, it’s already time to invest in SEO so that you rank high in time for the peak season.
SaaS and B2B businesses repeatedly see the amount of link exchange requests increase every year at slow times. This is a good moment to revisit your links and get some new exciting opportunities – oftentimes not limited to SEO.
Amplify your content distribution. Focus on your best ToFu content, think of ways to repackage it, and employ more distribution channels.
Let’s say you have a blog post that stands out in Google Analytics: more traffic, better bounce rate, longer sessions if that blog was the entry point, etc. You might be using other metrics as indicators of “best content.” For example, social media sharing of your blog posts if it helps with your brand’s reach or even conversions to free trials.
Once you’ve identified your top blog posts, think of other shapes that same content may take:
Use repackaged content to access and engage with your audiences from different places. This will help you maintain Search Engine rankings for your most efficient content, stay top-of-mind with your audience, and compensate for the traffic channels that have taken the biggest blow.
Example from Tapfiliate
Here’s a brilliant example from Tapfiliate.
In January 2021, our Content Marketer Jessica published a blog post titled Affiliate Marketing for Influencers in 2021. This one turned out to be what we call “evergreen content” – after the initial publishing date, it gave us a substantial traffic boost which also resulted in subscriptions to Tapfiliate free trials. Months later, the traffic still kept coming in. So we created this infographic and added it to the initial post.
This added us even more traffic coming in via image search. The next step would be to update the infographic with more info and distribute it via channels like Reddit, Pinterest, and SlideShare.
Although focusing on long-term strategies is essential, there are still ways to get more clients during slow times.
Offer incentives to your affiliates so that they are motivated to promote your brand more actively. This is especially useful with affiliates who promote your brand alongside competing brands.
What kind of incentive should you offer? It could be an increased commission, longer recurring commissions, or performance bonuses based on the number of sales or on the affiliate conversion amount.
Commission percentage, recurring/lifetime commissions, and possible performance bonuses – all of these are supported by Tapfiliate.
Many influencers working in the same niche as your SaaS or B2B business will be going through slow times, too, so to maintain their authority (both for platform algorithms and for their audiences), they’ll post, post, post. Count on that and contact them with an invitation to your affiliate program. As you send invites to join your affiliate program, make sure to outline your benefits upfront.
You can check out an exhaustive guide to influencer marketing inside this more general blog post on finding more affiliates.
However, one vital thing we need to mention immediately is: to look for micro and nano influencers. Marketing via “celebrity” influencers and influencers with huge followings are showing consistently declining results in 2021.
Impact agency found that an increase in followers results in a decrease in engagement; and influencers with 1,000 followers had engagement as high as 85%. High engagement rates can mean high conversion rates. This makes micro-influencers and nano-influencers ideal affiliates for your program
Customer promotions are more effective than other marketing channels, with 92% of global consumers trusting word-of-mouth more than other forms of advertising.
In fact, your existing customers can promote your brand in a way that traditional marketing cannot. And they may have access to the faraway corners of your target market that you cannot reach.
Slow season is a great time to capitalize on your good relationships with your customers and ask for their attention and for referrals.
Although quite some clients will likely be happy to recommend you without any incentive, you will see more enthusiasm if you offer a commission, a referral bonus or another reward for the new sales or customers they refer.
All these types of commissions and bonuses are supported by Tapfiliate, and you can check out the features with our free 14-day trial.
Tapfiliate offers a great way to automate this part thanks to our Affiliate Recruitment feature. That way, you can automatically invite each new client (via email) to become your affiliate and promote your brand.
Check our article for the proven how-tos on turning your customers into affiliates.
If you’ve got too few leads in the pipeline, be it a self-serve or high-touch business you’re running, you can still boost your sales by remarketing to the customers that didn’t convert earlier.
Every business has those: people who took an interest in your product or service but never converted to paid clients. Think of new ways to approach those unconverted leads, like repackaging your product benefits in order to meet their needs better or just reminding them about your business.
The two most widely used channels are remarketing ads and email marketing. However, you can make use of other methods, including even push notifications (browser and smartphone), WhatsApp messages, and SMS notifications.
Off-season time is also a good moment to connect better with your own team and educate adjacent teams on how they can benefit each other. Thus you can help your business serve more clients and serve them better. Train yourself and your teams to spot opportunities everywhere. Here are some things for your teammates in your company’s other departments to consider.
SMM manager: Once you warm up your audience, ask for reviews, or reach out to key clients for case studies or referrals.
Community manager: while working with Reddit, Quora, and other 3rd-party communities and forums, spot the use cases for your product that will help you discover new markets or narrow down and/or improve product market fit. Collect insights on what people think about your brand/website/product, spot influential figures whose audiences might be interested in your product.
Customer support: Keep an eye out for more techie clients who are building cool stuff on top of your product. Ask them to share their use cases and solutions with you (to improve the product) and with other clients (to improve their experience with your product). They will also feel your genuine interest in their work and develop more attachment to your brand.
SEO: Got a link exchange request from someone with a similar target audience and a cool product? Think of co-marketing opportunities, like joint webinars, collabs on whitepapers and blogs, cross reference in social media, etc.
With the slow season being a reality for most businesses out there, we hope this guide will help you structure your work and consistently gain more business year after year.
Feel free to take Tapfiliate on a free 14-day trial to see how it can help getting more clients via influencer marketing, customer referrals, and affiliates.
Want to start an affiliate, influencer or referral program? Try all the features: ?get a 14-day free trial her
I’m a growth strategist and a storyteller. In my free time, I’m a bookworm, a foodie, and the Beatles admirer. Connect with me on LinkedIn.