As most responsible companies are following safety precautions recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), many of these businesses are wondering how to get over the economic impact of a COVID-19 outbreak – or the social distancing required to flatten the curve.
As governments worldwide slam on the brakes, the brick and mortar economy is being shut down and entire countries are being put on self-isolation. Most physical retailers, except pharmacies and grocery stores, are being closed and people are being instructed to stay at home.
And as we stay and work from home, many media outlets are reporting a worldwide increase in time spent in front of our screens due to having to accomplish much of our lives online. Moreover, many Pay Per Click (PPC) advertisers in the US are reported to be pausing campaigns amid coronavirus upheaval, and most probably out of a lack of comprehension of where the attention of their audience is.
Indeed, any entrepreneurial marketer understands the great opportunity for businesses to use Paid Search Marketing to connect with their customers and gain a competitive advantage. The coupled events might come with the silver lining of being able to save money within your digital marketing budget.
Perhaps it’s no surprise then that WordStream reports that, on average, cost-per-clicks (CPC) have decreased by 6 percent in the second half of March 2020. As CPC’s decrease might slow down shortly, the amount of money an advertiser pays a publisher for every ad click has been momentarily reduced. This gives your business another opportunity to scoop up that lost market share from others pulling back during this time.
If you’ve followed our blog on the impact of social media on your branding strategy, you’ll know that we’ve established the definition of a brand in the digital age as a relationship with its user. As research from the Duke University suggests, the briefest exposure to a brand can cause people to act in specific ways. To be successful, your business’ focus must be on positioning your brand in the lives of your customers. Knowing this, you are probably already on your way to fulfill some of these steps.
Remaining in that framework of brand as relationship, the following guide will ensure you’re covering all the steps of your customer acquisition funnel. Here is how to use Paid Search to amplify your brand and keep sales up amidst the coronavirus pandemic:
- Make choosing you easier
As a general rule, every audience is looking for a fast fix. This is even more applicable in times of crisis. If, as a brand, you can make things easier for your customers, and thus if you are making it easier for them to choose you, then you are succeeding in the first step of building your relationship with them. Two things to focus on at this step are the ad copy and the indirect search terms.
Starting with the ad copy, make sure it’s specific enough to your product or goal. Other things that can make an ad copy too broad are too many link paths and multiple calls to actions. Ideas to make your ad copy easier for potential customers to grasp are to:
- Organize sitelinks according to customer’s stage of interest
- Organize sitelinks according to customer’s need
- Give customers multiple ways to reach you, whether via your eCommerce, email or phone
- Keep it simple and avoid overwhelming your potential customer by, for example, mixing product info, social media referral, and spokesperson content in your ad copy.
Once you’ve polished your ad copy, focus on indirect search terms by answering their questions with helpful information they’re searching for. Bidding on these keywords might be cheaper than under regular circumstances, and good for your brand amplification, as they become indirect brand terms. Remember that you are probably already showing up for branded searches.
By applying these recommendations for your ad copy and your indirect brand terms, you will make it easier for your customers to choose you and increase the influx upstream of your funnel. Moreover, you will see a reduction in bounce rates, and the positive effects this implies for the rest of the funnel. These recommendations will indeed help mitigate the risks associated to the coronavirus crisis.
- Show your customers you care
In this time of coronavirus-induced insecurities, showing your customers you care is primordial to solidifying your relationship with them. In the framework of brand as relationship, you will show your customers that you care by anticipating their issues. Focusing on keyword watch for complaints about your company, or –better – complaints about competitors who aren’t easing these insecurities, represent true opportunities for you to step in. Building on what we covered in our blog on how to do omnichannel retailing, you now have the opportunity to garner the power of Paid Search towards omnichannel marketing wins. Harness that power towards reputation management by working closely with your PR and SEO teams (or efforts).
To begin, you’ll want to note that broad-match bidding can help PR with brand protection. Looking through broad-match search query reports (SQRs) can help to spot trends like recalls or a rise in negative sentiment.
In turn, Search Engine Optimized Content Marketing is a key way for brands to build loyalty, and PPC is an excellent way to get the content to the audience faster. Serving ads on key terms that support the content you have allows you to give your audience the info they really want, as long as you build this deliverable on the recommendations as covered under making choosing you easier.
By applying these Paid Search recommendations and working closely with your PR and SEO teams, you will easily respond to your customers’ pain points and increase the chances of sales, thus flattening the impact of the slowdown resulting from the coronavirus events.
- Make it easy to be a loyal customer
Growing customer lifetime value is one of the most worthwhile things a brand can do, especially in a time of uncertainty. There are a few clever ways to do this, and they are all based on customer loyalty. Two best ways to secure customer loyalty are to focus on the appropriate offering, and also to give back to your customers.
First, focusing on offering what is appropriate to the situation will have a ripple effect. This includes creating Paid Search campaigns linked to an eCommerce offering that yields higher conversion and lower cart abandonment rates. The best example of such are customized products. Employing the power of product personalization can have a positive impact on the major KPIs measured by the Paid Search engine. It increases your status within the engine algorithm and can be harnessed into remarketing for your larger offering. This tactic can be seen as helpful, as opposed to overtly salesy, which in turn builds brand loyalty. Nowadays, technology exists which allows you to support this addition to your eCommerce with minimal tweaks to your current go-to-market strategy, and a minimal upfront investment.
Second, engaging with the customer is the best way to make it easy for them to be loyal to your brand. Giving back comes in many forms and using PPC to communicate what empowers your customers is a particular effort that helps build loyalty, as it becomes a source of comforting for them in a time of insecurity.
Giving your customers what they want and making them feel empowered are undeniably two astute ways to secure their loyalty and grow their lifetime value, especially in a time where everyone feels like we’ve lost some control over our daily lives.
Finally, to survive the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, and more importantly the social distancing required to flatten the curve, businesses must reinvent what they do and find new ways to bring value. In this time of uncertainty, it is no longer about the stuff that you sell; the businesses that will get through this are the ones that are about the customers and focus on how to make it easier for them to choose you, to understand that you care, and that incentivise their loyalty. Thankfully Paid Search can help address this.