Katie Leitner

Uncertainty around COVID-19 has put many businesses on edge. It is easy to think the best course of action is to stop all marketing efforts, but it is important to think critically about your paid search program and what it means for your business today and a few months down the road.

Considering the current environment, we have put together our top 5 considerations to help you navigate your paid search program.

1) Determine where you fall on the scale of essential vs. non-essential products

Essential products include groceries, personal care, medicine, whereas non-essential products include luxury goods like high-end clothing, electronics, entertainment, and anything that is not a necessity.

A few weeks ago, we saw huge spikes in grocery/essential purchases. This evolved over the past week, and we are starting to see a surge back to the luxury goods’ side of the scale. Customers are spending significantly more time at home with nowhere to go and this free time can be filled with online shopping. While customers may not feel comfortable splurging, they may be enticed to online shop a little more than they have been as of late.

Understanding where your products fall in terms of necessity is easier than predicting customers’ purchasing behavior and if you have a general idea, it can help you predict performance trends. If your product falls in the same place on the scale as buyer behavior is currently exemplifying, you should expect to see an increase in traffic, conversion rates, or a combination of both.

2) Lean into or adjust based on performance trends

If you are seeing increased revenue at no additional cost due to increased conversion rates:
Lean into these trends by investing additional budget while conversion rates are high and the cost is not.

If you are seeing increased traffic AND increased conversion rates:
Definitely lean into increased demand and higher conversion rates so you are not leaving revenue on the table. Take advantage of these strong consumer purchasing trends!

If you are seeing traffic and/or conversion rates decrease:
Cut back on the least profitable traffic for cost savings. Brand search traffic will be most representative of consumer trends towards your brand and product type based on the bucket you fall into on the scale of essential vs. non-essential purchases.

If you are seeing decreases from a traffic perspective rather than a conversion rate perspective:
Invest in non-brand. You may be seeing a lull in brand searches as customers take a step back to regroup, but that doesn’t mean users aren’t searching. Re-allocate budget you’re not using from the lull in brand demand to non-brand efforts. Being a demand-based channel, paid search has the benefit of customers meeting us halfway with their search intent, letting us know what it is they’re looking for. Take advantage of the opportunity to invest in higher-funnel, new customer acquisition tactics.

3) Keep Amazon in mind

On March 17, 2020, Amazon announced it’d be temporarily prioritizing “essential” products coming into their fulfillment centers, following with customers noticing (and Amazon later confirming) delayed shipping times, even for Amazon Prime members.

This poses a unique opportunity to differentiate yourself with shipping offers if feasible. There is an opportunity in lowering free shipping thresholds or offering expedited shipping at reduced or no cost (if your warehouse can support it from a fulfillment perspective).

4) Stay competitive with promotions

Alongside shipping incentives, you can stay competitive with sitewide discounts or offers to encourage customers to purchase. Look at what your competitors are doing in your space specificallyit’s no secret that eCommerce retailers have turned to the steep sitewide promotions in the past few weeks.

But the heart of eCommerce cannot be forgotten: you must still consider your distribution centers. If you’re not experiencing a slowdown of orders coming through and your warehouse has limited staff, you may want to adjust planned promotions accordingly.

Weigh these considerations alongside your current performance and what your competitors are doing to determine the best course of action for your brand.

5) Use appropriate messaging

You’ve got your game plan from a budget allocation and promotional perspective, so what messaging should you use in your paid search ads? You don’t want to be insensitive, but you don’t want to ignore the current situation. The most appropriate messaging is to acknowledge the situation gently.

For example, if you are an athletic apparel brand, it may not be the best time to encourage customers to “Get Outside.” However, you should still encourage customers to “Stay Active” or “Crush Their In-Home Workout.” Keep in mind that paid search must speak to users’ search queries and intent first and foremostthe sweet spot will be a balance of the two.

Stressing about fitting it all into the limited character count of your ad copy? Include multiple creatives and let the system optimize. You can also use your site and landing pages to further the message and supplement ad copy post-click. Above all, make sure your messaging, both in ad copy and on your site, is genuine and true to brand (as it always should be).

Be sure to check out our tips for the best and most appropriate messaging for your display and paid social campaigns.

Still have questions? Reach out and we’re happy to dig in and provide our expert opinion. We are offering free COVID-19 strategy brainstorms if you are interested in connecting with Blue Moon Digital.