The advertising landscape has changed virtually overnight with the spread of the COVID-19.
We’re now seeing majority of commerce shutting down across the United States and the world.
This will require advertisers to be brave, agile, creative, and patient with our ever-changing environment.
Here are five tips to help you manage your paid search campaigns during this pandemic.
1. Business Value Props & Messaging
In many cases, companies can shift to promote different products or services that have more demand in the current environment.
Can your product or service be a priority right now or be considered as essential?
The main trends to consider for pivoting value props and messaging now:
- Social distancing
- Working from home
- Home schooling
- Family togetherness
- Entertainment / streaming / communications
- Essential and medical services
If your product or service be can be tied into or can be modified to fit into one of these areas, shift into a temporary plan to promote these initiatives.
Also, look into shifting into virtual services or virtual consulting and providing online workshops or webinars.
Review the current campaigns and determine if the messaging is still a good fit and what should be added to accommodate the changing landscape, for example:
- Review copy CTAs for “Visit us in-store” and revise.
- Display and social ads sensitive images with people in groups or touching.
- Add curbside pickup information.
- Include shipping information with features of free, fast, etc.
- Hours of operation and any deviation from the normal services.
- Messaging on your company’s response to the virus.
Some of this messaging can be used in the primary ad copy, but don’t forget to fully utilize ad extensions such as sitelinks and call-outs to convey the information.
Be sure to include this clearly on the landing pages.
Retain a brand presence and continue to feed the upper funnel because it may be harder to recover later after losing momentum.
It is possible to acknowledge the crisis and take a softer sales approach.
Don’t make it difficult to ramp back up later.
2. Budgets & Spend
Now is a good time to reevaluate your budgets and reconcile your budgets vs. spend.
You may want to shift budgets into those products or services that have more relevancy during this national emergency.
You will definitely want to shift budgets to best performing campaigns to maximize results.
Take some tips from managing PPC on a small budget.
Take the time to review budget versus actual spend to find nuggets of budget that may not have been utilized throughout the year and apply it to the campaigns that need it most.
Depending on the platform, instead of daily budgets, consider settings such lifetime spend or monthly spend limits to better pace campaign spend.
This will free up your time for more important account management tasks.
Smart Bidding in Google and other platforms offer automated bidding features.
This allows the platforms to automatically adjust CPC bids in real time to match the advertiser’s goals.
This is an automation feature that can help you be the most agile as users’ behaviors quickly change.
Do review the reevaluate your maximum CPCs while using these features.
3. Search Behavior
While people are social distancing, they will still be researching, purchasing, and living the dream online.
Communicate about what services can be delivered virtually and turn-around times for delivery of services.
Use ad copy or ad extensions to communicate benefits like free delivery, fast delivery, curbside pick-up, porch drop-off, etc.
Depending on your industry, it is likely you will see minor or majors shifts in search queries triggering your ads.
This will require a two-pronged approach:
- Reactive: Reviewing search terms and display campaign placements in real-time for COVID-19 keywords and content.
- Proactive: Predicting searches that may trigger your ads and create negative keyword lists that can be shared among all campaigns and easily updated.
For example, exclude COVID-19 related keywords, like:
Also consider job/unemployment, vaccines, home schooling, or any related consumer searches if you are B2B.
A great resource with the latest information on search behavior is Google Trends: Coronavirus Search Trends.
People staying at home will be consuming more content like news and videos and using more online communication tools than ever before.
Facebook reports a 50% increase in messaging, with voice and video calling more than doubling on Messenger and WhatsApp.
With a large percentage of usage centered around messaging, groups, and livestreams, Facebook says many of these features are not monetized, so they are seeing a decrease in ad revenue.
Despite this, overall, many people are returning to Facebook who had previously jettisoned the platform over privacy concerns.
The decline in revenue in many digital ad platforms means there is an opportunity for advertisers to see less competition and increase market share without a change in their current budgets.
The opportunity to reach more people at the top of the funnel through PPC and paid social ads is now in full swing
Opportunities worth exploring now as people consume more content:
- Display ad expansion on the Google Display Network and Microsoft Audience Network.
- YouTube and in-video ad placement options.
- Pinterest for consumers discovering products for purchase.
- Twitter, but with strong consideration for brand reputation issues arising from negative behavior on the platform.
5. Pivot to Normal-ish
At some point, various bans and restrictions will be lifted – in whole or in part.
When that happens, consumers will be eager to get outside and re-engage.
Whether that will be the same as pre-virus is yet to be seen.
But it good to prepare for any and all future developments.