Digital Marketing Blog

6 COVID-19 Paid Search Strategies

by | Mar 23, 2020

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The COVID-19 coronavirus is changing our world by the day, or even by the hour. And as much as our personal life is changing — from where we work to how we shop and interact with people — we still need to manage our paid search campaigns.

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Here are some ideas that paid search marketers can use during this time.

1. Don’t Pause All Your Campaigns in a Knee-jerk Reaction

While you may end up pausing them anyway, make sure you let the data guide you. You may be seeing a down-turn in orders, but if you are also seeing a drop in clicks and spend, your return on ad spend may be the same or even better. 

Evaluate whether the decreases are in line with each other. If you can support the orders that are coming in, stay the course. The situation is changing so rapidly that your order volume could start to increase again, and pausing your campaigns would mean you couldn’t take advantage of that.

One more piece to keep in mind before you decide to pause: Amazon has stopped advertising on Google Ads, which means that you can take advantage of lower cost and increased position with the decreased competition.

2. Check Your Attribution Sources

If your average attribution window is long, use the new Conversions by Time columns. These columns can help you judge your campaigns based on what’s happening right now, day to day, for the short term. I have several clients who have a 28-day average attribution window. Monitoring the conversions by time is helping us determine how the campaigns are doing right now, while things are changing so much. 

Google Analytics can also be a source to monitor day by day, since it uses last touch attribution.

3. Pivot to Push Different Items

Some business sectors are actually seeing an increase in business during this time, including incontinence products; vitamins; fitness products; DIY home products like seeds, plants, and pond kits; ebooks; kids craft kits and toys; batteries; and ink and toner cartridges. 

Do you have products on your site that maybe weren’t your best sellers or most important, that you could push at this time?

4. Consider Cheap Branding

Google Video, Display and the new beta Discovery campaigns can be an inexpensive way to increase brand awareness. History has shown that companies that cut their spending during times of trouble take longer to recover and thrive than those that maintain or increase their spending. 

Google Video and Display campaigns can potentially cost very little and allow you to retain a brand presence. While you might not get the business now, this investment can pay off later. If you have a Google representative and are part of the Discovery campaign beta, this might be a good option as well.

5. Offer Virtual Services

If you are an in-person service provider, like a lawyer, cleaner, or Realtor, is there a way to offer your services virtually? 

For example, Realtors could offer virtual home and apartment tours. If you were offering some kind of in-person event, can you transition to a virtual webinar or Zoom call? What about virtual lawyer or therapist consultations? 

Many businesses could give virtual estimates using Facetime or Facebook Messenger so that they have business lined up when customers feel comfortable using in-home services again. Change your ad copy to communicate how customers can feel safer working with you today based on your new business practices.

6. Spring Clean Your Accounts

If you do decide to pause your ads or reduce spend, use this time to clean up your accounts. Review and freshen ad copy, expand your ads with Ultra Expanded Text Ads (ETAs), check all your extensions and make sure they are timely and relevant. Get rid of outdated ads and extensions, as well as ads that won’t ever be activated again. 

Spend time looking at long-term data to see what you can adjust. Take a deep dive into search query reports to expand your keywords and add negatives. Your PPC account will be in much better shape when you turn your campaigns back on.

Bonus Idea: Keep in Contact

Consider continuing your email marketing program. Emails can be an inexpensive way to boost sales and it can keep people on your remarketing lists.

But watch your messaging: Life is not business as usual, and your emails shouldn’t be either. How are you helping when people are homebound?  Do you have a solution to a problem, or something to offer that might help that they didn’t know about? 

As a final note, these resources can help you manage the business impact of COVID-19.

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