PPC advertisers had to learn to roll with the punches during COVID-19. Learn to manage paid search campaigns during this period of transition.
Advertisers must be poised to roll with the punches in an unpredictable world.
With businesses reopening across the United States and the world in varying states of managing the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that your PPC campaigns and targeting are on point.
Here are five tips to help manage your paid search campaigns as the world gradually recovers from the Coronavirus.
1. Pivot to Normal-ish
As COVID-19 vaccinations are being rolled out in many countries, guidance is changing constantly on everything from social gathering groups to organized sports to how we engage in our office buildings.
Various bans and restrictions lifting means consumers will be eager to get outside and re-engage.
Whether that will be the same as pre-pandemic is yet to be seen, but certainly, it will be a slow approach towards that goal.
Continue to advertise with compassion as businesses and individuals recover and rebuild.
Be aware of what people in the specific regions you’re targeting are experiencing and ready to change messaging or creative as conditions evolve.
2. Evaluate Business Value Propositions & Messaging
In many cases, companies can continue to promote their products or services that have more demand in the current environment.
How can your product or service be a positioned to the new growing trends?
The main trends to consider for pivoting value props and messaging now include:
- Vaccinations, safety, mask requirements.
- Social distancing guidelines expansion.
- Returning to work or working from home long term.
- Returning to school.
- Family entertainment.
- Travel and tourism.
If your product or service ties into or can be modified to fit into one of these areas, consider a temporary plan to promote these initiatives.
Also, look into shifting virtual services or virtual consulting to a hybrid model where safe gathering can be accomplished.
Review your current PPC and digital campaigns and determine if the messaging is still a good fit. What could be added to accommodate the changing landscape? For example:
- Review ad copy calls to action for “Visit us in-store” and add hours and safety requirements.
- Display and social ads should still be sensitive to images with people in groups or touching.
- Continue curbside no-contact pickup information.
- Include shipping information with features of free, fast, etc.
- Hours of operation and any deviation back from lockdown.
- Messaging on your company’s response to providing healthy environments.
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 messaging clearly on 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 still possible to acknowledge the crisis and take a softer sales approach.
Don’t make it difficult to ramp back up later. Anything can happen.
3. Optimize 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 while businesses begin to reopen. Be sure to account for any geographical bursts of activity as places reopen.
You will definitely want to shift budgets to best-performing campaigns to maximize results.
Take some tips from managing PPC on a small budget.
Review budget versus actual spend to find nuggets of the budget that may not have been utilized throughout the year and apply those to the campaigns that need it most.
Depending on the platform, instead of daily budgets, consider settings such as lifetime spend or monthly spend limits to better pace campaign spend.
This will free up your time for more important account management tasks.
Automated bidding features are becoming the norm, so look at implementing them in Microsoft Ads, Google Ads, and other platforms as the competition begins to pick back up.
This allows the platforms to automatically adjust CPC bids in real-time to match the advertiser’s goals.
This automation feature can help you be most agile as users’ behaviors quickly change.
Do review the reevaluate your maximum CPCs while using these features.
4. Consider Evolving Search Behavior
While people will likely still be 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, vaccine, safety 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 such as:
- Corona, epidemic, pandemic, hospitalizations, death.
- Vaccine, vaccine locations, brand names, news.
- Safety practices, guidelines.
A great resource with the latest information on search behavior is Google Trends: Coronavirus Search Trends.
5. Reconsider Your Channels
People will still be consuming news and video content and using online communication tools and map searches more than usual.
Facebook recently reported 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. They are seeing a decrease in ad revenue as a result.
Despite this, many who had previously jettisoned the platform over privacy concerns are returning to Facebook.
The decline in revenue in many digital ad platforms means there is an opportunity for advertisers to take advantage of reduced competition and increase market share without a change in their current budgets.
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).
When consumers are ready to re-engage, meet them with the ad messages they seek as they are searching and using social media.
Be cautiously optimistic! It’s good to poised for any and all future developments.
by Lisa Raehsler