In the past few weeks, much like the rest of the service sector, the digital marketing landscape has been thrown into disarray by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Every single business owner is having to make unprecedented decisions based on what they believe is going to benefit their company the most. Inevitably, this has affected the investments that are being made into organic SEO, paid search and other online channels, as entrepreneurs struggle to justify these outgoings while times are tough.
Many are pulling back on their search engine marketing spend amidst worries about their finances. This is understandable; cash is king, and sometimes sacrifices need to be made to keep the organisation afloat. Others, like Amazon, are reducing their budgets because they simply can’t cope with heightened demand at a time when social distancing measures must be followed to the letter and staff are - quite rightly - choosing to take time off work to self-isolate.
However, a high percentage of directors and their marketing managers are seeing the value in maintaining their market share throughout the coronavirus crisis by continuing to spend with prominent platforms like Google Ads.
The message we’re keen to push to our clients and followers is this: spend what you can now, and you’ll reap the rewards later when your industry returns to a new normal.
Consumer behaviour has been forced to change (in the short term, at least). Families aren’t just concerned about the health of their loved ones; because of working restrictions, they’re worried about making ends meet. They’re reluctant to spend out on luxuries until they’ve ridden out the worst of the storm and they’re back in the black.
But that’s not to say they’re not dreaming of a time when they have disposable income again. Forced to spend time in doors, these people are spending up to double the amount of time on the internet, according to Virgin Media. As well as working remotely, they’re researching their buying options, ready for when they have cash to hand.
Here’s an example. The travel industry has been one of the worst hit by COVID-19, with the International Air Transport trade body calculating that worldwide revenue within the sector could decline by as much as 20% in 2020. However, a report published by Izea suggests that up to 55% of regular holidaymakers may, or will be likely to, book their next break during the coronavirus outbreak. This means that, despite the uncertainty and the prospect of plans having to be cancelled, there’s a big chunk of potential customers out there who are looking for a great deal. And quite frankly, travel businesses that aren’t advertising will not be found.
Unless you’re trading the essentials, you may see a drop in actual conversions. This doesn’t mean your web traffic has no value, though. Your customers’ search intent may be different to usual, but they’re likely to be making a mental note of your brand, ready to return for your products or services when their bank balance allows, and social distancing measures have been relaxed.
If companies within your sector that are usually highly prominent in search are bringing their Google Ads campaigns to a halt, this presents you with new opportunities for exposure.
It’s no secret that the top spots are often reserved for big corporates with seemingly bottomless click spend budgets. Now is the time to make the most of the dip in demand for auction space and bid for placements that would normally be out of your reach.
Tidy up your account with a view to reaching a wider audience. Pay more attention to your targeted keywords (and whether they’re actually generating a good return); work harder on filtering out unnecessary terms using your negative keyword lists; and, crucially, optimise your accounts to make sure you’re not losing visibility and money to some of the most common Google Ads mistakes. A little work in the coming days and weeks will set you up for a far better ROI when the worst of the pandemic is over.
Given the current situation, sensitivity to the market is key. You need to avoid coming across as a brand that wants to capitalise on everything that’s happening in the world – and, with 57% of people believing that humorous or light-hearted advertising is chronically out of place in these uncertain times, you need to cut out the unnecessary noise and maintain a message of practicality and empathy if you want to avoid alienating your prospects.
Control where your placements are showing, especially if you’re running a remarketing campaign with Google’s Display Network. Also, take some time to address your ad copy. Search Engine Land’s Ginny Marvin recently put together a great article on adjusting your PPC ad messaging to highlight your response to the new market environment.
Don’t want to tackle these tricky tasks yourself? Help is at hand. Our Google Ads consultants can advise you on the best way to level up your paid search strategy without leaving a poor impression on your audience.
Imagine taking a break from paid search during the worst of times, then returning when the dust has settled to find that your once loyal customers have found a new favourite brand. This is the risk you’ll take if you choose not to manage your Google Ads account effectively during the COVID-19 outbreak.
As we mentioned earlier, people are still searching. If your ads aren’t appearing for the keywords that are relevant to your products and services, somebody else’s ads will be ranking instead – and you’ll risk losing business to another player in your space.
What’s more, by continuing to invest in Google Ads, your competitors will have more data to help them refine and optimise their campaigns moving forward. By the time you re-enter the fold, their targeting will be watertight, their messaging will be on point, and their Quality Score will have improved, meaning you’ll find it even harder to compete with them at auction.
Don’t get left behind. Keep a close eye on your Google Ads account during the coronavirus crisis, even if it means lowering budgets slightly. Adopting a leaner approach will almost certainly benefit you more than pausing your paid search strategy completely!
Not sure if your Google Ads campaigns are set up to perform well in today’s challenging market? Contact our dedicated paid search managers today on 01245 934167 or request your FREE account audit now.