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Why you need to think about nocturnal marketing

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When the sun goes down

Evenings are a really important time to factor into the marketing schedule, particularly from a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) perspective. The PPC pricing model is based around an auction system; generally, the more competition there is advertising on a keyword, the more expensive the click.

Therein lies an opportunity. PPC budgets are set daily, and they can often become exhausted by the evening if day-parting the process of dividing the day into several parts and providing unique programming during each – isnt applied. This means the evenings can be an extremely efficient time to advertise, as exhausted budgets means lower competition, and lower competition means cheaper costs-per-click. Across some of our clients, we see the evening cost-per-click as much as 50 per cent lower than the middle of the day.

However, it’s important to understand how purchase intent and internet usage differs at different times of the day. Just because people are connected on their devices, doesnt mean they are looking to take the action you want them to take.

Carrying out a strategic audit

The starting point is to use data to understand behavioural differences.

Here is a snapshot of real data from a piece of work we carried out:

  • White represents the standard average daily budget;
  • Red represents when we should spend less than the average; and
  • Green represents when we should spend more than the average.

This offers a basic understanding of the audiences general behaviour. From this we then audit the devices used by the target consumer during different hours of the day. We know that people use different devices in different scenarios.

We also segmented the analytics data to better understand how the clients audience act in different ways on different devices, and crucially, on different networks (WiFi or 3G).

This now gives us the ability to start pulling out trends that we can base a search marketing strategy around.

What we can determine from the data is that Monday to Thursday evenings are an open goal. Tablets and smartphones on WiFi networks see a really high sale conversion rate on weekdays between 20:00pm and 22:00pm. The audience are likely to be at home sitting in front of the TV. We can then link TV data into our strategy, and therefore use TV ad schedules from the clients media plan to ensure we have maximum visibility in-line with the plan.

Easy like a Sunday morning

While Sunday is regarded as the day of rest, it’s no time to relax your marketing activities. Sunday mornings are particularly great with low competition and high conversion rates but beware of the impact of the weather.

When we overlaid weather data over our conversion analysis we discovered with a number of clients that the conversion rate for ecommerce was significantly lower on a sunny Sunday morning compared with a cloudy, cold Sunday morning. Luckily, we can make use of our PPC tool weatherFIT to ensure we only have exposure during the cold dreary Sunday mornings, which makes the budget stretch even further.

Embracing another dimension of marketing

Successful marketing does not happen through sheer coincidence. You have to use data and insights from hourly device and network data, coupled with the knowledge that evenings are generally lower cost than daytimes.

The flexibility of modern PPC platforms gives you the ability to employ strategies that will reach the right people, at the right time, on the right devices. Its time to accept the dark side of marketing and build in sundown strategies that make the most of the Twilight Zone .

Tom Smith is director of search at Fast Web Media.

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