We asked several specialists this question: What are the Proven PPC tactics and strategies during the COVID-19 outbreak and the most effective tools for online business recovery?
Each professional offers unique insights that can give your campaigns an extra boost. Many of them have shared their successes with the solid, proven results of their campaigns.
We are one foot in the coming year, so we asked our experts to present tested tactics.
Still asking yourself how to save your business in times of crisis, or maybe you want your sales to continuously flourish?
Let's find out what the experts think:
Experts Will Advise You Well
Matthew Post || Pay Attention To What Your Competitors & Prospects Are Doing
Alex Keyan || Embrace A/B Testing
David Green || Offer A “Buy Now, Pay Later” Option
Emily Deaton || Keep the Balance Between Automation & Manual Optimization
Eagan Heath || Vary Your Tactics Depending on Channel
Collin J. Slattery || Leverage Greater Shopping Inventory & Intent
Matt Bertram || Try Out Targeting Less Obvious Audiences
Adriene Raynott || Maximize Your Loyal Customer Engagement
Pedro Campos || Build the Bridge Between Online & Offline
Brett Downes || Be Visible!
Paige Arnof-Fenn || Combine Organic And PPC to Increase Brand Exposure
Pay Attention To What Your Competitors & Prospects Are Doing
The most important area to pay attention to during COVID -19 is what your competitors and potential buyers are doing. Their actions will affect your business more than ever, especially if you are dealing with limited ad budgets. Also, take this time to carefully review your account and make sure that your ad budget is going towards the products that drive your ROI.
- What do your buyers need?
This is a great time to analyze what products are selling best within your current inventory and which ones are not. Adjust your ad budget accordingly. Do not forget to check your inventory and place orders if needed for items that are selling faster than usual.
- What are your competitors doing?
For some industries, you might notice that few of your competitors are no longer running ads. Or maybe they have increased their bids even more as a last effort to stay afloat. Either way, pay close attention to them and your ad's visibility to determine if your current bids need to be adjusted. This is especially important if you are using manual bidding strategies.
- Increase Incentive
This is the time to offer additional incentives such as free or discounted shipping or relevant add-on opportunities. If your buyers are already on your page, focus on increasing the conversion rate and increasing the cart value.
- Pay Attention to Your Devices
Don’t forget to check where your sales are coming from. As more people are starting to work from home, the search trends might adjust as well. Keep a close eye to make sure that you are advertising on the right devices where your shoppers are searching from.
- Suppress your back-order products from feeds
Don’t automatically run ads on items that are out of stock. And if you do, make sure that there won’t be any delivery interruptions and let your buyers know the expected shipping date.
Embrace A/B Testing.
While most PPC experts recommend monitoring your ad performance every week, there is also a need for A/B testing your ads.
Google Ads is a great tool to experiment and test with your ads. It recommends text ads and creates three to four different messages for testing. Creating those experiments on Google lets you test various factors, including bids, audience targeting, location targeting, and much more.
Having this information lets you compare your experiment performance with a control group. You will be able to make data-backed decisions when optimizing and improving your PPC strategy. Using these experiments allows you to have actual data from your audience instead of guessing if your strategy will work or not.
Offer a “Buy Now, Pay Later” Option
Ecommerce has obviously shown tremendous growth during COVID-19, but it has also created a lot of uncertainty across the world for consumers. Many households have lost jobs or had declines in their incomes and for those fortunate enough to retain their employment, there still is some uncertainty as different countries go through various waves of this pandemic.
We’ve helped many eCommerce brands adopt a “buy now, pay later” solution such as Klarna, Sezzle, Afterpay and Affirm to name a few. We’ve seen increases in conversion rates that have ranged from 5% - 60%, especially on items priced above around $50 USD. We ran remarketing campaigns that have reminded engaged past site visitors that they can ‘pay later’ - and our CTRs and conversions on those campaigns have increased as well.
In these challenging times for many people, providing an option for them to better manage their household cash flow is not only beneficial for them but also helps eCommerce brands to grow revenue and build a larger audience.
Keep the Balance Between Automation & Manual Optimization
PPC strategies had to be altered because of the COVID outbreak, and the most crucial strategy to take account of is to maintain the balance between automation tools and, at the same time, monitor performance manually.
You have to watch over performance manually and modify plans as needed. Good data is required for automation for the algorithms to build their forecasts. In the search platform, algorithms can reply relatively fast to the changes in practice and know the changing signals to do modifications to bidding strategies.
It is not advised to switch to manual bidding, rather if you use manual bidding strategies, you have to switch as soon as you can as automated bidding will keep you on top of the dynamic marketplace.
Vary Your Tactics Depending on Channel
Our eCommerce clients have been thriving during COVID by running PPC campaigns on Google and Facebook.
One of our customers was originally a brick-and-mortar health supplement and vitamin business, but this year their online sales have grown by over 200% year-over-year.
Here's what's been working and here are the results they've seen.
Strengthen Top and Bottom of Funnel on Facebook
On Facebook, we run bright and crisp product and lifestyle photography to lookalike and remarketing audiences, with headlines about protecting family's health and calls to action to sign up for their Klaviyo email list for 20% off the first order.
This is a new channel and has returned 5.33x Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) this year.
When All Else Fails, Try Smart Shopping
When Google totally hampers because of what you’re selling on your site, find a workaround at least with Google Smart Shopping, which has returned for our client a better than break-even ROAS of 1.89x and allowed them to expand their customer base nationally.
Dominate Each Sub-channel Within Google Ads
Search campaigns are tightly targeted for products based on years of negative keywords we've built up.
Display Ads have been amazing at 7.29x ROAS. These simple ads target remarketing and custom intent audiences based on what people search.
Smart Shopping wins again at 20.82x ROAS, but we take this with a grain of salt because we believe it mixes Branded searches and remarketing with top-of-funnel prospecting.
Leverage Greater Shopping Inventory & Intent
The value of search for eCommerce companies has decreased over the last couple of years, and the percentage of queries that Google is including shopping ads on increases. And I don't see this trend decreasing with the introduction of free listings, surfaces, and other platforms to further extend the reach. And more people than ever are searching for and purchasing products online.
Simply put: DTC and eCommerce advertisers absolutely must be running shopping ads on Google. But the levers you can pull to improve shopping ad performance is far more limited than search.
The biggest lever you can pull to improve your shopping ad performance is an optimization of your product listings. Generally, the default information that is pulled into your product feeds are insufficient. You should be including as many optional fields as are relevant. (found here: Product data specification - Google Merchant Center Help) The more data that you give to Google, the better your data feed quality and the happier Google is. And a happy Google makes for a happy advertiser.
In addition to optional fields, you should be optimizing the required fields as well. Product Titles that are pulled directly from shopping platforms like Shopify are unoptimized. By using a feed management system like DataFeedWatch, you’re able to add additional information to make your product titles more relevant. Brand + Product Name + Size/Color (depending on vertical)
The description is another area for potential optimization. Product descriptions frequently pull bullet points and other formatted text that doesn’t translate well to shopping ads. By leveraging custom rules, you’re able to strip that data and improve your product feed.
Try Out Targeting Less Obvious Audiences
Audience tools like demographics, customer match, and retargeting are now incorporated in Google and Bing. This allows you to customize messaging, fine-tune your bids, and target exactly who you want. A good tip is to hone in on people who are actively researching with the intent of making a purchase.
You can also find out what else your audience likes and target your ads accordingly. If you’re selling organic food, you might find success in targeting people into yoga. Google’s Audience Insights tool will help you identify your audience’s likes.
The most effective tool for online business recovery I recommend is Perpetua which offers growth optimization and reporting technology for eCommerce brands.
You can set strategic goals and rely on the software’s AI to optimize your bids. The algorithm will make daily adjustments to your bids, improving your profit margin. The interface is clean and user-friendly and the customer support is top-notch.
Back to top || Matt Bertram on LinkedIn | EWR Digital
Maximize Your Loyal Customer Engagement
According to the Pareto principle, 80% of your sales revenue comes from 20% of your loyal customer database. If COVID-19 has reduced your sales rate, then only your loyal customers can keep your business booming. So, it’s necessary to maximize your customer engagement. I’ve listed some strategies that can help eCommerce businesses in a time of crisis:
Executing an eCommerce marketing plan during the crisis:
- Determine your sales and lead generation strategy
- Get technology and reporting software like
- Google Data Studio
- Refine and expand your eCommerce marketing strategy that includes
- Content marketing
- Paid advertising
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Optimize your eCommerce store
- Offer discounts and promotions
PPC ads are the most effective advertising channel, but you also need to focus on Google ads, Linkedin ads, Twitter ads, Facebook ads, and Instagram ads.
- If your business deals in body-care, beauty products, you can find your audience on Instagram.
- If you have a business service, Linkedin is a better platform for you.
- If you have a businesslike addiction treatment service, you should focus more on Google.
Build the Bridge Between Online & Offline
Google reports that during the outbreak, searches for "in stock" increased by 700% and "available near me" by 100%, globally. With this in mind, local inventory ads now have a "pick up later" feature, for products you'll have available in the future that customers can pick up.
If you have a physical store as well as an e-commerce site, these stats can help you build a bridge between your online and offline sales. For online, you can focus on expanding your targeting by adding "in stock" to your most valuable keywords/products. On the other hand, you can take advantage of local inventory ads using that new feature to maximize your physical store revenue.
Remember that in these uncertain times, people appreciate convenience more than ever. The more relevant information you have in your search ads, the more qualified buyers you'll bring to both your e-commerce site and store.
Due to the COVID outbreak, PPC strategies had to take a necessary shift and the most important strategy to consider during this time is to be more visible.
Customers are exploring and we’re viewing searches increase across sectors, which indicates that the length of time from when they started searching for buying has increased. This extension of the customer decision journey has given consumers more possibilities to research before they make their choices.
You need to think about some areas such as cross-Channel tactics to join the paid search with other media channels which will increase your search strategy.
Make sure that your business data is refreshed. You can also reach new audiences and drive growth through regional ad placements.
Combine Organic And PPC to Increase Brand Exposure
Using organic and PPC together is ideal now as main search engines are constantly changing their algorithms for rankings, so stop thinking of SEO and SEM as rival forces. When used together they are complementary services that help boost your marketing strategy/increase brand exposure.
Building brand awareness and trust in your brand/business begins by getting your business name to appear in prospect’s searches. Seeing your brand name appear twice, both on organic and on paid results creates more brand awareness and intensifies your businesses’ trustworthiness.
Research shows that if there are two brands that have apparently the same products, people will be more likely to choose the one they are familiar with. When a brand is shown in organic results alone it only gets 60% of clicks, whereas a brand that appeared in both organic and paid search results, attracts 92% of total clicks. When paid listings are shown beside organic, the click-through rate of paid ads increases. This means that clicks increase for both organic and paid listings when they are both featured and do not detract from each other.
Back to top || Paige Arnof on LinkedIn | Mavens & Molgus
The past year has taught us a lot. It was especially difficult for SMB’s. But the giants also faced difficulties and struggled to overcome the crisis.
We look into the future with uncertainty but also with excitement. We believe that in 2021 the eCommerce growth will continue and bring stability. Let’s take a look and wait for the big picture of changes ahead.