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Seasons and events in the UK and the world over have developed an increasing importance for brands and marketers in appealing to consumers. One only has to look at the impact of occasions such as Valentine’s Day to see how lucrative an event can be for a brand.

Search offers brands a potentially engaging way to capitalise upon this, which may not be as hard as you think. The initial groundwork of a seasonal paid search campaign must be rooted firmly in the website in question.

Depending on the brand, there are two potential options to pursue...

In the first instance, CSS skins and styling applied to an existing site enables brands to build a page around the season or campaign topic, while not having to make significant changes to the site overall.

However, if a campaign or season is integral to a brand’s strategy, then it may be worthwhile creating a dedicated microsite to direct consumers towards, specifically tailored to a seasonal event. Either option can deliver success, depending on the campaign and brand.

Once a campaign is up and running and has been used one year, it can then be built on and improved for future iterations. The initial execution will provide all the nuts and bolts moving forward; an agency can slightly change the look and feel of a campaign to make it more successful and the supplier can be rewarded based on how much traffic a campaign has had in the past.

There are some simple rules for brands and agencies to follow:

Ad copy

For instance, a basic yet important rule of seasonal search is that the ad copy and ad groups shouldn’t just reflect the seasonal campaign involved, but must be painted with a broad creative brush, too.

Relying on the seasonal event alone to provide engaging copy could be complacent; it’s very easy for brands and agencies to rely on seasonal events to make their ad copy topical. The inclusion of the word ‘Christmas’ in an ad, for example, simply won’t achieve the necessary cut-through among many other uses of the term by competitors.

There are ways to work around this. It’s possible for brands and agencies to latch on to the trends that are popular throughout a certain season and make their ad copy much more engaging. Taking Christmas as an example once more, agencies could include hot toys of the year or other key trends and work them into their ad copy and ad groups.

Another example is to cotton on to programmes such as the X Factor, with the final traditionally broadcast around the Christmas period and offering wide audience appeal. Of course, any such practice should give due consideration to registered trademarks and operate within those parameters, but the principle of enhancing ad copy through seasonal trends is a good rule of thumb to try and follow.

It’s also important not to focus solely on the product. For example, to sell a Christmas product, a good way to engage the consumer is to focus on lifestyle, using the seasonal aspect to make the sale. This can be done through the landing page, which can reflect the mood of the season.

Consistency throughout the campaign

In addition to creating engaging ad copy, consistency throughout the seasonal campaign is essential to success. As we have discussed already, the landing environment for a campaign is of equal importance to the ad copy. The landing page needs to be consistent with the search terms selected, as do the keywords and ad copy.

The potential of a seasonal campaign is there to tap into. One only has to look at the success of brands such as Coca-Cola and Cadbury’s, which have now become somewhat synonymous with Christmas and Easter respectively.

Indeed, one might point to Coca-Cola as being the original instigator of the seasonal campaign. Such was their success in becoming synonymous with the Christmas season, that many thought that the popular image of Father Christmas we know today had been heavily manipulated by Coca-Cola.

In essence, good brands are always seeking to capitalise on any opportunity that might appear. Seasons and events have become integral part of marketing strategies for all brands, so it’s surely in the interest of both brands and agencies to get their approach right. Indeed, as social media continues to exert influence, the scope is there for brands to use this and other interactive platforms to make the most of their seasonal paid search campaign.

In following a few simple rules, it might be a lot easier than some brands think.

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Published 21 May, 2010 by Rob Pierre

Rob Pierre is managing director at Jellyfish, a search marketing agency, and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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