The summer slump: 8 ways to navigate your business during seasonal lows

Business Models Monetize Your List
13 min read
In this Article

People are trading in business suits for swimsuits and browser tabs for bar tabs.

It can only mean one thing: summer is here and people are unplugging for the foreseeable future.

Most people rejoice when summer rolls around. But as a creator, you might have mixed feelings…

Happy to finally get some time off. Anxious that sales are low. Excited for summer to end and for biz to get back to normal.

Whichever camp you fall in, there are plenty of ways to navigate seasonal lows in your business.

What’s the deal with the summer slump?

The summer months are notoriously slow for ecommerce businesses and online creators. People are itching to hit the open road and travel more than normal after spending the past couple of years cooped up inside. As a result:

  1. People shift their spending habits and spend less money online and more in-store and dining out
  2. Web traffic dips down—except for those in leisure and hospitality—as more people spend less time online (web traffic dipped nearly 10% in July 2021 compared to July 2019)

It’s important to remember you aren’t the only business experiencing a blip in sales. Take a deep breath, regroup, and try some of our strategies to get through the summer slump.

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8 strategies to navigate the summer sales slump

1. Focus on filling your funnel

Try to avoid pitching big offers during the summer. Your audience is likely thinking about travel plans and time off and aren’t as focused on buying courses and other big purchases.

Instead, focus on filling your email list with new people interested in your offerings. Spend the summer months warming them up so that when summer ends, you can pitch your big offer, and close more sales.

How to do this:

Create an automated email sequence in ConvertKit that sends your best content for the duration of the summer.

Add a date into your automation that pitches your product (aim for mid-September when everyone is settled back into the regular routine). To make things easier, we’ve created an automation that’s ready for you to use!

Grab the summer warm-up automation here

2. Focus on your brand fans

Just because people are spending less time shopping online doesn’t mean sales come to a screeching halt. And if you’ve got products you want to launch and sell, you don’t have to postpone them until the end of summer.

It’s easier selling to current customers, especially considering that returning customers spend 67% more than new ones. This summer, focus your effort on those who are already fans of your brand.

How to do this:

ConvertKit Commerce tracks who buys what and how much revenue they bring you.

To start, go to Grow > Subscribers. On the right-hand side, under Segments and Tags, there will be a section with your products.

Click into each product and then click into the different subscribers to see which subscribers bring the most revenue.

You can also manually tag subscribers who have a healthy lifetime value (LTV). Customers with high LTVs are valuable to your business as they tend to spend more and are more likely to turn into brand fans.

Not sure how to calculate a good LTV? According to Klipfoliothe value of a customer should be three times more than the cost of acquiring them.”

You can also choose to send certain emails exclusively to those who have purchased from you in the past. To do this, select Subscribed to > Products and choose your products from the dropdown.

3. Build referrals

Want to take a few weeks off this summer without slowing down your business’s growth? Try adding a referral system into the mix. With referrals, your subscribers get rewards for growing your email list for you.

Creator coach Justin Moore has different incentives. The more people his subscribers refer, the bigger the reward. Image via Justin Moore.

SparkLoop—a newsletter referral tool that integrates with ConvertKit—found creators grow 35% faster using their tool. You can take all the time off you want without compromising your growth. Take Sahil Bloom and Greg Isenberg, for example, who grew their list by 500 subscribers in only four days with referrals for their email newsletter.

How to do this:

To integrate SparkLoop with your ConvertKit Creator Pro plan, you need to set up a quick onboarding call with our friends at SparkLoop. After integrating ConvertKit with SparkLoop, you’ll be ready to add different referral rewards to your email list.

4. Create recurring subscriptions/memberships

Weekly meal kits. Streaming services. Unlimited ebooks every month. Consumers love subscriptions, and you don’t need to be a big brand to offer your own.Rather than watch sales dip in the summer, implement a recurring subscription to give you a steady stream of sales all year long. You can turn just about any offer into a subscription:

  • Monthly coaching/course content
  • Paid newsletters
  • Exclusive communities like networking hubs, fan clubs, or book clubs
  • Retainer packages
  • Live classes
  • Unlimited access to resource libraries full of things like fonts, stock photos, or designs
  • Access to software as a service (SaaS)

You’ll also be happy to hear that running a subscription won't take much additional time; 46% of creators running subscription sites spend less than 10 hours a week maintaining their subscriptions.

How to do this:

You can set up recurring subscriptions in ConvertKit Commerce in a few clicks. Start by creating a new product and choose Subscription under the pricing method.

Set your recurring price to monthly, quarterly, yearly, or include all three. And that’s it—ConvertKit Commerce handles everything, so you don’t need to chase payments down every month.

5. Focus on cross-selling and upselling

Cross-selling and upselling are clever strategies to boost sales. Both methods involve pitching additional products to your customers but differ slightly in their approach:

  1. Cross-selling is when you promote related or complementary products to customers during checkout
  2. Upselling is when you entice customers to purchase a higher-ticket item over the one they have in their carts during the checkout process, or when you pitch them a higher-ticket item after their purchase

You don’t need to search long to find examples of upselling and cross-selling in the wild. Here’s how I use upsells to encourage customers to buy my ebook bundle rather than one single ebook:

Image via Dana Nicole.

And the Women in Business Club uses cross-selling through a Related products widget underneath the product.

Image via Women in Business Club.

Overall, cross-selling and upselling increases the total order value of each purchase. When you’re selling less in the summer months, increasing the order value helps compensate for the loss.

How to do it:

Adding cross-selling and upselling capabilities to your ecommerce site requires some technical know-how, but thankfully, plenty of plugins exist depending on which CMS you use. And with ConvertKit, you can start upselling to your email list today—no coding required.

In ConvertKit, create an email sequence that upsells specific products to your customers depending on which products they buy from you. We’ve already created an automation template to get you up and running faster!

Grab the upsell automation template

6. Offer discounts

Sales and discounts attract new customers and entice people who initially wouldn’t buy your products. RetailMeNot conducted a study and found that 67% of consumers went ahead with an unplanned purchase solely because of discounts and coupons.

But before putting all your products on sale, it’s worth noting that discounts aren’t for every creator. Customers who see your products on sale often may wait for deals rather than pay full price. And if you offer premium products, discounts may erode the value you’re trying to convey through the price.

The best way to know whether discounts are the right choice for your biz is to experiment before diving straight into a massive sales campaign. Test your discount with a small segment of your email list and see how they respond. To avoid your audience relying on—and expecting—discounts, make it clear that your discount is a limited-time event.

How to do it:

You can add discounts to your products in ConvertKit Commerce in a few quick steps.

From the product builder, head to Settings > Discount Codes > Add a discount code.

Then, send an email sequence to your email list with your discount code. Using ConvertKit, you can even add a countdown timer to your broadcast so subscribers know that the sale is time-sensitive.

You can also experiment with Pay What You Want pricing (PWYW) where you let customers name their price.

To test PWYW pricing, select Pay what you want for your pricing method within ConvertKit Commerce.

You can choose to set a limit—so people don’t pay less than a specific amount—or give customers complete control over how much money they pay.

Ev’Yan Whitney lets people pay what they want (minimum $5) for an event. Image via Ev’Yan Whitney.

7. Experiment with paid ads

If you’re struggling to grow organically in the summer, try pairing ads with your SEO strategy. Creating ads for platforms like Facebook or Google helps you:

  • Reach a brand new audience. Promote an opt-in and drive people to your email list so you can warm them up throughout the summer.
  • Target people interested in your products. Show ads to remind people of your products to increase conversions.
  • Reach people like those already on your email list. Create a custom audience on Facebook and show ads to people who share interests with those already on your list to increase the chance they’ll be interested in your offerings.

Keep in mind that warm audiences tend to be cheaper to advertise to than cold audiences. Advertising to your email list or people who have visited your website often yields more bang for your buck than advertising to people who don’t know you.

How to do it:

We’ve put together two helpful guides to walk you through the process of running ads:

  1. Advertise with Facebook
  2. Advertise with Google

8. Focus on global reach

Being an online business gives you a major advantage: the ability to target people from all corners of the world.

While it might be summer for you, there’s another part of the world where it’s not. Winter is just beginning in places like Australia, and folks in those places aren’t in vacation mode.

Ads are the easiest way to target people from other countries, as you can specifically choose to show your ads to people located within a specific region.

Beyond ads, research your audience in different countries to see which types of questions they have within your niche. SEO tools like Answer The Public let you select different countries when researching keywords.

Change the country to see what people from different countries are searching for. Image via Answer The Public.

You might find that people in other countries have unique search queries regarding your niche. Making content for those queries helps you attract a larger—and more diverse—audience over time.

For example, the queries around “swimming” are slightly different for the United States and Australia.

‘Swimming’ searches for Australia:

‘Swimming’ searches for the United States:

The nuance between different searches can give you ideas for content. For example, people in the United States search “are swimming lessons worth it” versus people in Australia who search “are swimming lessons compulsory in Australia”. Image via Answer The Public.

The nuance between different searches can give you ideas for content. For example, people in the United States search “are swimming lessons worth it” versus people in Australia who search “are swimming lessons compulsory in australia”. Image via Answer The Public

Writing blog posts that appeal to people from different countries helps you drive more traffic from search engines so you can alleviate seasonal dips.

3 other areas to focus on this summer

Lulls are the perfect opportunity to shift gears and focus on other areas of your business—especially areas you might neglect throughout the year. Here are a few activities you can do if you have extra time this summer.

1. Tighten your tech stack

Summer is the perfect time to check in with the tools you use to see which ones to trim and which to keep. Here are three questions to ask yourself about your tech stack:

  1. Which tools are helping me grow fastest? Keep any tools that aid your growth.
  2. Which tools do I rarely use? Consider removing tools from your tech stack that you don’t use.
  3. What tasks don’t I have time for anymore? Find a tool to complete tasks you no longer have time for—or enjoy.

2. Batch content

Batching content is a productivity technique to help you create lots of content at once. Rather than focus on working on a single task, you group tasks into batches.

For example, if you were writing and scheduling your newsletter for the month you would:

  • Spend 15 minutes coming up with newsletter topics for the month
  • Spend one hour writing the newsletters
  • Spend one hour editing the newsletters
  • Spend 15 minutes uploading and scheduling each newsletter in ConvertKit

Use your extra time this summer to batch create content for the rest of the year.

3. Improve your skills

Another productive use of your time is to improve your skills so that when your audience is ready to learn from you again, you can offer them even more value (and maybe even raise your rates)!

Find courses, read books, and connect with other creators in your niche to hone your craft and sharpen your skills.

4. Indulge in some guilt-free relaxation

And, of course, you don’t have to be productive every second of the day.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a slower pace and doing nothing when business eases. Rest is your best defense against burnout and feeling refreshed can help you tackle a busy Q4.

Let the summer fun begin!

Summer slumps are intimidating, but they (thankfully) aren’t forever, and there are plenty of easy strategies you can implement to keep your business in good shape, regardless of the season.

With ConvertKit, you can schedule all your email marketing and ecommerce activities, test new strategies, and minimize any lulls in sales.

Plus, you’ll still have enough free time for that road trip you’ve been dreaming of all year.

Sign up for ConvertKit and get your biz summer-ready today!

Support your growing business

ConvertKit helps creators like you grow your audience, connect and build a relationship with that audience, and earn a living online by selling digital products.

Start a free 14-day ConvertKit trial

Dana Nicole

Dana is a freelance writer who works closely with B2B SaaS brands to create content people enjoy reading. When she’s not working, you’ll find her sipping on a warm cup of tea and reading a good book (the scarier, the better). See what she’s up to at www.dananicoledesigns.com

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