Bloomberg Businessweek has an interesting article on the infidelity economy this week, noting that registrations for AshleyMadison, the online dating site aimed at married people, spike the day after Valentine’s Day. But nowhere near as much as they spike the day after Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
It’s an interesting example of the sometimes ideosyncratic seasonality of web businesses. Knowing the seasonality of your business can help you market to, merchandise for and communicate with your customers most effectively.
Everyone is familiar with the Q4 seasonality of retail businesses, driven by the holidays. But each industry has its own annual seasonality cycles that may be less obvious in foresight, but are always obvious in hindsight. For example, in Shoedazzle’s first year of operation, we missed a few months of the winter boot season. Having the wrong merchandising mix from October to January in 2009/10 definitely dampened sales – women don’t buy as many open toed shoes when there is snow on the ground!
Another example is Mercantila, a company that sells a lot of exercise equipment, rowing machines, elliptical trainers and the like. They see sales spike not in Q4, but in Q1, when people are making their new years resolutions. When many online retailers are easing up on their online marketing and SEM, Mercantila is ramping up what it is willing to spend to reach new potential customers.
Smartphone app developers have learnt that the launch of new iPhones and heavily marketed Android phones is a period when they can rapidly increase installs, as are the days after Christmas, when many new phones are getting unboxed. The first thing a new smartphone owner does, is go to the appstore to get some apps. Being high in the “best-sellers” lists at that time can provide a real boost to your installs. Making sure that your release at that time is bug free, well reviewed and fully featured, is of course important too.
Seasonality is not confined to annual cycles either. As the number of ecommerce businesses relying on email increases, rules of thumb for weekly and daily seasonality are also starting to develop. For example, Mondays and Tuesdays of the first and last week of a month are when people tend to balance their checkbooks, so are bad days for subscription services to send e-mails. They have a higher probability of getting canceled on those days and don’t want to draw attention to themselves. On the other hand, emails sent Sundays after Church show high open rates for some ecommerce merchants. And for deal sites, open rates are higher when you are above the fold when someone first opens their email, which rewards sending emails in the weekday 5am-7am time slot to work based email addresses.