The Buy Cycle: Ecommerce Copy for January Sales

When you run an ecommerce site, you need to think differently from your customers.

Sure, you'll see the advice 'think like a customer' all over the place, but you actually need to be one step ahead of them.

And online, they're likely to already be one step ahead of bricks-and-mortar shoppers, so you need to take that into account too.

I'm referring, once again, to what I call the Buy Cycle, the regular pattern of ecommerce trends that repeats year on year on year.

Let it guide you, and you can make sure you've got ecommerce copy for January sales and promotions in place when people are searching for it, and don't miss the rush.

The January Sales Buy Cycle

In previous posts, I've discussed the Christmas buy cycle, which begins to make its impact known in the search trends as early as October and spikes in late November.

Similarly, the January Sales buy cycle starts before January itself arrives.

Let's look at some Google Trends data...


This maps search queries for the term 'january sales' on Google between December 2010 and December 2011, and is UK-specific.

But wait... is that peak in December? Are people really sat around eating leftover turkey and already planning what to spend their Christmas money on?

In short, the answer is yes, they are. So if you've got your January sales ecommerce copy in place by Christmas, you've already got the jump on your competition.

The Buy Cycle in Focus

Let's look a little closer at that December spike, and see what's going on there.


Well, for most of December, nobody's thinking about January sales - they're all focused on Christmas.

But the number of queries begins to rise before Christmas Eve, on December 23rd. And it peaks on December 26th before beginning to tail off as January itself approaches.

That means, for the best chance of appearing in those search results, you need your optimised web copy to be uploaded, crawled and ranked in time for December 23rd.

Depending on how regularly Google checks your site for updates, you might want to add those new pages a few days in advance.

User Notes

Google Trends charts data based on the average number of search queries for the plotted date range.

So in the December-only chart above, the peak is at roughly eight times the month-long average.

In turn, in the 2010-11 chart up top, the December peak is almost 20 times the year-long average, and roughly three times the January level.

By all means, publish your January sales information on New Year's Day if you expect people to visit your site anyway, and want it to be there when they arrive on January 1st.

But if, like most of us, you rely on search traffic to deliver people to your (virtual) door, you'd be wise to start thinking now about your ecommerce strategy for the new year.

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