How to adapt your mindset and your PPC Strategy in challenging times

The current pandemic has changed the world as we know it, both in personal lives and from a business perspective. The landscape has changed across almost all industries during COVID-19. As a result, strategies have had to change too as businesses adapt to changing consumer behaviour, a new “normal”, and a new way of operating.

It’s interesting to see some contrast as some industries are seeing a surge of searches and traffic as physical stores have closed. Whilst sadly other industries are experiencing some of the most difficult times they have ever faced.

Travel continues to be one of the most challenging industries during this global pandemic. Search volumes have decreased dramatically, with up to a -90% decrease year over year. The automotive industry has also suffered, as people now have some hesitation on forking out for big-ticket items.

More surprisingly, retail has been one of the stronger industries as growth has shifted from in-store shopping to online for many retail businesses and categories.

So, depending on the industry you are operating in, you may be seeing either drops in sales or increased levels of interest in your products or services. Regardless, you should not keep doing what you have always done as the landscape is changing and will be forever changed.

We’ve highlighted some ways you can adapt in these changing times.

1. Find new audience and channel opportunities

As mentioned above, some businesses are seeing a decline in their usual sales or website traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst this presents a large problem for some industries, it does also offer some opportunities.

This is chance to consider what you are offering to consumers, and how you might be able to offer new or alternative products that are more relevant to the current needs of customers. Your KPIs are ultimately going to be different at this time, so you should look to adjust your campaigns, your offering and your attribution to reflect this.

You could consider shifting your focus to the promotion of digital and remote services or work from home tools and software. If you are a more traditional retailer you should focus on things that people might want or need whilst spending more time in their homes. If you sell clothing, for example, you should turn off ads for business dress and promote comfortable clothes that people will want to wear at home.

In terms of testing new channels, if you’ve primarily focused on search engines in the past, now is an ideal time to consider testing social channels. Advertising costs are down, and competition is lower which means you are going to be spending less to try out new opportunities for reaching consumers.

Many people are now on their phones more and are using social channels more to communicate, so there is a chance that you are going to reach a wider audience. Even if people aren’t in a buying mindset, you can direct them to your site to browse products or read content and then retarget them later.

As well as exploring new channels, try adopting a cross-channel approach. Combining paid search with other media channels from social to display to native, will amplify your search strategy and give you a wider reach.

2. Don’t keep your focus on the money

When you are so focused on ROI, as many marketers are, it can be difficult to adjust your ads so that you aren’t just focusing on driving sales and leads. However, as many people are facing uncertainty, many just are not in the mood for buying certain products and services straight away.

This doesn’t mean you should stop your ads, but instead you should tailor them to focus more on brand awareness rather than blatantly pushing a product. still talk about topics that make sense for your brand while not blatantly pushing a product.

You can change the messaging in your ads to let customers know that you are there, to talk about important topics, or even to promote good initiatives from other organisations that you might pair with.

This is about changing your mindset from focusing on ROI and sales, to considering the wider picture of how consumers might be feeling and approaching searching and shopping currently. You should also be thinking “what is of value to my customers right now?”, and should adapt your content strategy to reflect this also.

As mentioned above, your strategy can later be adapted again to focus on retargeting those who interacted with your content.

3. Don’t mention COVID-19 for the sake of it

Newsjacking has its place in marketing, but now is not the time to create ad messaging that mentions COVID-19 and the pandemic just for the hope of getting more clicks. Whilst you should test new messaging, channels, and product offerings, make sure you are offering benefit to consumers and are being supportive.

You can communicate clearly to your customers that you are open for business, and how your customers can communicate with you. This provides a clear and supportive message, without getting in people’s faces too much.

Keep your business listings updated with potential closures or new hours related to COVID-19 and use the Special Announcement schema-markup to highlight temporary updates and changes in services.

The key is to remain visible to customers in challenging time

During the coronavirus pandemic, and indeed during any time of hardship, the key for businesses is to remain visible to their customers. Whilst the consumer decision journey has lengthened, people are still searching across many industries which is a positive.

You shouldn’t just stop your campaigns, as this can sometimes have a worse impact on your revenue than reducing ad spend. Instead, you should review your campaigns and your KPIs to take a different approach to paid search.

This is a chance to explore new opportunities, rethink your strategy, and to gain a better understanding of your customer base and their needs. For more advice on managing and adjusting your PPC campaigns, get in touch with the team at AdPilot today.