Can we trust the current techniques of campaigning during the coronavirus epidemic? Will the automation tools work fast enough and provide the expected results? Or, in times of uncertainty, should we instead return to the times when we were looking at the screen 24 hours a day and watching, in real-time, how various figures change?
A very turbulent time has come for online marketing. Fast and controlled action is necessary. Despite this, however, we should not return to the old SEM practices. Below are the basic aspects to look out for in order to be able to respond adequately to the changing situation, and thus, to ensure the success of the advertising campaign in times of crisis. The case of each advertising campaign is different, so it is worth approaching each of the points individually, in terms of a specific campaign.
Note the bid adjustments
The bid adjustments determine how often ad data is displayed depending on where, when, and how a user searches for information. COVID-19 has put a significant part of the world in hibernation. Many potential customers work remotely at home; their lifestyle and behavior has changed, and so has the time of day when they use the internet. The metrics have most likely changed for your campaign as well, which is why it’s vital to verify your bid adjustments so that your ads run while your customers are online.
We can also expect changes in geographical coverage. A significant number of employees no longer commute to work; many people returned home from abroad, so searches will mainly take place from the cities where they live. Given that the rules on social distancing have changed, one can also expect changes in local searching. It is important to verify geographic bid adjustment and to make sure your pre-crisis settings work just as well in a crisis. You may need to allocate your budget.
It is also worth noting what devices users use. It is possible that due to restrictions on moving around and spending most of their time at home, your customers use stationary devices more often than mobile ones. In such cases, it will be necessary to modify the indicated devices on which the ads are displayed.
Smart bidding–keep your finger on the pulse
It can be assumed that most of the bidding algorithms take into account data from the last 30 days. It is worth looking at them and assessing how the recent, unstable period affected your campaigns. If there was a big increase and then a fall (or vice versa), it is important to know if the tool makes the right decisions in this situation while at the same time not decreasing the effectiveness of the campaign.
The best way to predict the future is to look into the past. Check what the best day or week in the campaign looked like and compare it with the worst. This will verify if the Smart Bidding Tool was making the right decisions in these situations. Could it be that smart bidding acts too quickly or assumes that a good period would last longer than it actually did? It is impossible to give a simple answer to this type of question without a thorough analysis of a specific case, which is worth carrying out to make sure that the tool works in the way you expect.
Expect slower ad approval
During the current crisis, Internet search engines are overloaded to the limit. As a general rule, both Google and Bing approve ads within 48 hours, although this period is usually much shorter. Unfortunately, the outbreak of the coronavirus also affected the work of the support teams of both companies, which means that the time it takes to approve ads is longer.
For instance, the promotion may have already been launched automatically before the new ad was approved by Google. It is quite common practice among advertisers to pause old ads while starting new ones. Currently, however, it is better to wait until you are sure that new ads are already active.
Communication with the customer must come first
It is also worth investigating each of the conducted campaigns and checking whether they are up-to-date. The ad’s text should be adapted to the current situation and, above all, not mislead the recipients. For instance, there may be a situation in which the non-updated content of the ad will inform users about the possibility of a personal meeting at the company’s headquarters, while everyone is working remotely and there will be no possibility of meeting a representative. Similarly, if we sell products online, it is necessary to update the product shipping time or hours when telephone consultants are available.
If you make a promise in your ad that you cannot fulfill, your client may no longer be interested in the services or products you offer. Google also indicated in its campaign management guidelines during the epidemic that it should be assessed whether the content of the ads reflects the actual capabilities of the company. The best way to achieve success is reliable communication with the client, even if it would not be optimistic news.
“It seems very obvious to update ads, but the reality is very few advertisers are doing it.”
These words were said by Rik van der Kooi, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft, during a live broadcast for partner agencies. He pointed out the importance of updating the content that companies use in their ads. Currently, companies should primarily focus on communication with users so that after a crisis, they become customers of a given brand.
In uncertain times, people are looking for a source of consistency and certainty. Regardless of whether you guarantee customers a specific and reliable shipping date, free shipping, or free downloadable materials, when you display empathy for the difficult situation they have found themselves in, it will be remembered. In this way, the relationship with the customer grows and their trust in the brand increases. But this proves true only if you are able to keep your promise!
The hard time has come for online marketing, but that does not mean that all activities associated with it should be suspended. Evaluate how your ads work, whether automation works well and adapt to the prevailing reality. The coronavirus crisis is the time to strengthen your brand’s position and to talk to the customer one on one. Take advantage of this, and, when stabilization comes, you will start from a well-established and robust position.