Seasonal affective disorder? How the seasons affect customer acquisition and what to do about it

Author: Jasper Martens, Ambassador, Financial Services Group

When you work for a financial brand you’re probably familiar with seasonality in your customer acquisition. For example at PensionBee, we tend to see a nice uptick in customers in January and September. But aside from the initial hallelujah from your performance marketing team, CEO and customer success teams, there are some pitfalls too. The trick is to be aware of them and develop ways to mitigate the negatives by applying these four top tips.

1. Compare conversion rate changes
In January you’ll notice more customers coming through your acquisition channels and you’ll instantly notice conversion improvements. While that is great news, it’s a perfectly normal seasonal movement: January is famously the month where people like to tidy up their personal finances. There is plenty of noise from the media and other financial brands so most consumers are sucked into this dream of finding financial bliss.
Tip 1: do a comparison with January last year. Does your conversion rate increase still stack up? How does your CTR’s compare with a few months ago? If you’re still winning after this, break out the cake.

2. Expect a higher cancellation rate
One negative side effect of a frantic January is a resulting increase in the cancellation rate. Your customer is feeling stressed to sort their finances out and is short of time, so might sign up more easily to products they might not totally understand. Particularly sign up journeys with low barriers may spark more eventual cancellations when customers emerge from the seasonal effect.
Tip 2: cancellation waves can last a few weeks but don’t give yourself all the blame. Introduce clarification messages in the form of email or push notifications post sign up, re-iterating what your service offers. When you provide a high value service, think about introducing a welcome call so that your customer knows exactly what they have signed up to.

3. App installs are more prone to increased seasonal cancellations
The recent Open Banking trend has brought a wave of new customers to financial apps through marketplaces of banks and other money apps which is fantastic, however it can also attract too many customers who are not fully aware of what you do. App store descriptions and T’s and C’s are often not read, and app introduction tutorials are often skipped. Combine this with your time pressured January consumer and you potentially have a toxic recipe for higher cancellations.
Tip 3: experience the journey yourself. Is it clear enough to you what you offer? Make sure you use a stopwatch and complete the sign up in the same amount of time as your average customer through that channel. This low-tech sense check of the whole sign-up journey will help you understand where to make changes if needed.

4. Intent on Google search affects your brand’s search results
When search intent increases and your product is becoming ‘in season’ Google will alter its algorithm and suddenly boost your visibility. While your potential customers might not search for you during a low season, in high season, traffic can dramatically increase. High intent search volume with relevant search terms is not to be sniffed at. But don’t be caught sleeping on your SEO during low season!
Tip 4: make sure you’ve done your SEO homework while it’s low season. Investigate latent intent from your audience, optimise your online content and give it time to rank on the right keywords.

By using these four tips, I really hope you’re able to on-board many committed seasonal customers, without the hangovers!