Editor’s note: The following is a guest post from Carl Weber, director of business development at WeatherAlpha.
Weather impacts our everyday lives, from what we wear, to what we do, to where we go.
Many marketers are acutely aware that certain weather events affect behavior. Despite this reality hiding in plain sight, the task of implementing a marketing campaign around weather can be challenging.
At WeatherAlpha, we get a lot of questions about how to use weather data: Which weather conditions should you use? What severity of each condition should be included? Should you message customers before, during, or after a weather event?
So we pulled together the top five best practices for brands to see success with using weather data in their campaigns.
1. Boost campaign efficiency with weather-targeted media buys
Some products sell better when it’s warmer out, and some when it’s colder, rainier, etc. Marketers whose sales are affected by weather events can increase campaign efficiency by delivering their messaging when and where customers are more likely to purchase their products.
For example, a retailer who sells sandals can target their media buys to locations that are experiencing (or will be experiencing) pleasant weather. In doing so, the retailer is reaching customers when their product is relevant for them.
Conversely, they’re saving money with their weather targeting campaigns by not serving ads in locales that are experiencing colder, rainy conditions. [Editor’s note: for more on suppression, check out this slideshare Targeting 101: Audience Suppression.]
2. Find greater scale and relevance by targeting forecast or past events
For many brands, the majority of their sales happen during certain seasons or certain days of the week. Charcoal is mainly purchased when people are inspired to fire up their barbecues: in warmer months, on the weekends, and, especially, during nice weather.
But if charcoal brands were to only serve ads during this window, they’d have a very limited time to get their message in front of potential customers. Instead, they can leverage forecast weather data to reach customers during the week in advance of good grilling weather on the weekend.
In doing so, their weather targeting campaigns can reach customers several days before the event, raising awareness when and where it makes the most sense, and give them time to plan ahead so they can run to the store or place an online order during the week.
3. Use weather-based dynamic creative
Weather is always an easy conversation starter, so how can you use it to talk to you customers?
Incorporating weather data into dynamic creative executions can help your messaging reflect the weather targeting you have in place, and relate with the environmental events your customers are experiencing.
An air conditioner brand found success with serving ads that dynamically show their customers’ current and forecast temperature in advance of—and during—hot, muggy weather. Users interacted with their message to see when the heat wave would end, and as a result, site visits and sales increased significantly.
4. Apply a weather-based strategy across multiple ad channels
After running a successful weather-targeted campaign on one ad platform, many marketers look for ways to extend similar targeting across other channels. Doing so can allow them to deliver a consistent message, and best leverage how weather impacts customers in each stage of the purchase journey.
But not all channels behave the same way, so it’s important to keep in mind which weather triggers complement which type of media.
Paid search, for example, is generally an in-the-moment touchpoint, so the weather trigger that works best revolves around current weather conditions. Weather-focused email messaging works best when targeting based on a forecast or recent past events.
5. Tell a weather-related story
While weather targeting is largely leveraged in direct-response campaigns, some brands have used it to align their product or service with specific environmental events. Some obvious use cases include a cold/flu relief brand only targeting their messaging during seasonal or local outbreaks; or a smartphone company that wants to target rainy weather market the water-resistant qualities of a new device.
Other, less obvious examples include a running shoe brand prompting customers to get outside and be active on nice days; or a portable video camera brand targeting snowfall around ski resorts in order to align their product with the experience of skiing or snowboarding.
However you use data, it’s important that you’re targeting your customers in ways that are accurate and relevant. Weather data has the potential to give you a way to connect with your customers and deepen your relationship based on what’s happening all around them.
For more information about WeatherAlpha, visit their partner page, or take a look at our Masters of Marketing Spotlight featuring WeatherAlpha’s co-founder Dan Alexander, and their director of business development (and author of this blog), Carl Weber.