2020 has already been full of surprises, especially for many small and medium-sized businesses trying to manage the impact of COVID-19. With various industries’ demand declining and supply shortening, what can paid search experts do to keep and boost online search volume during this time? (un)Common Logic recommends focusing on two areas:

  • Focus on the changes affecting your customers and employees and communicate how you’re responding to those changes
  • Modify your marketing strategically, evaluating channels, campaigns, and messaging for updates and tweaks which demonstrate awareness and value

Check out (un)Common Logic’s data-driven approach to digital marketing here.

Read on for our suggestions on how to make the most of your paid search efforts during these crazy times.

To Reassure Existing and New Customers, Create Dedicated Content on Your Company’s Actions During This Pandemic

No one has experienced a crisis like this before, so it’s good for your clients and customers to know that you and your company are prepared. Having a specific landing page about how the company is coping with the current situation is helpful in assuring customers that they are not alone. To better maximize the page’s effect, put a banner on the home page or other high-volume pages which links to the landing page, so that your response to COVID-19 does not steal the thunder of the main business, but provides information for whomever is interested.

It’s beneficial to include:

  • The company’s plan to further support existing customers and sustain the supply for new customers. For example: free shipping, more online events, fast delivery, etc
  • What the company is doing to protect its staff
  • Handy links to additional relevant resources on this topic: local government ordinances, industry-specific or association guidance, etc

How to Keep Paid Search Volume As High As Possible

First, maintain a full funnel strategy to stay in front of potential customers

The first step in keeping your paid search volume as high as possible is to maintain a full funnel strategy…but be more strategic. Customer behaviors are shifting during this crazy time, and the most predominant change is that people are spending more time researching the market and/or brand before making a purchase. This makes higher funnel marketing efforts more important than ever before. Remaining in higher funnel bidding can be challenging, especially now with budgets being reduced for some advertisers. (un)Common Logic recommends taking a tiered bidding approach:

  • Reduce bids 30% – 50% on higher funnel keywords. Keywords that target higher in the funnel are responsible for bringing in new traffic, nurturing the remarketing list, and developing brand awareness. It is important to strike a balance between quantity and quality
  • Reduce bids 15% – 30% on middle funnel keywords
  • Keep bids the same on lower funnel keywords. Keywords here are mainly brand terms. For most advertisers, brand category is the best performing aspect in the account given searchers are already familiar with the brand and in the bottom of the buying funnel, meaning they are ready to convert at a lower than average cost-per-acquisition

Keep an eye on the competitive landscape, because your competitors might take a bigger hit than you and back out of the market. This could be an opportunity to dominate the industry or significantly increase market saturation.

Here’s another tip to keep your paid search volume up: Google Trends is your friend. For example, are you still targeting “spotted boots” while customers shift to search on “polka dot boots”? You are missing out on quality traffic:

Using Google Trends to determine customers’ preference on your products and making changes accordingly can help keep your account constantly up to date with the latest trend.

Second, utilize Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) to capture additional search volume

This pandemic is changing the way people search and the terms they search, resulting in potential new traffic for your business that may be missed by current keywords targeting. Want to capture this traffic but not sure what new keywords to add? DSA is a good tool.

DSA is short for Dynamic Search Ads, an ad type with great flexibility and variety. Google crawls the website you provide, dynamically fills in headlines and paths in the ad, and matches relevant search queries to the page Google deems as relevant. For example, if you want to target all searches to /product page, you can include “URL contains /products” in URL targeting. Advertisers will need to provide description lines and ad URL targets for Google to crawl, but that’s pretty much all that is needed to set up DSA. Once URL targets and ad text are set, Google will crawl the site and match any queries to pages under /products subdomain to DSA ads.

Please see visualization example below:

(image source: https://adaplo.com/dynamic-search-ads-adwords-ecommerce)

DSA is a useful ad type due to its ability to harvest search terms that are missed by current search keywords in the account and capture more traffic volume to the pages that are not already used as ads’ landing pages. If you are not sure which page to target, it’s always safe to start with “all webpage”; it essentially includes all the pages under the master domain. After the initial running period, you could utilize URLs’ performance data to further segment specific URLs to their own ad groups.

Third, re-examine performance across multiple levers & make corresponding adjustments

With changes such as Work-From-Home and Shelter-in-Place impacting people’s lives, they are also changing the landscape of paid search on many levels such as device, ad schedules, audiences, keywords, placements and queries. It’s always good to check the performance for the past couple months as it reflects more up-to-date searchers’ behavior shifts. For example, with people staying at home more often, time spent browsing on desktops or mobile devices will increase; weekdays’ volume will be higher than before due to more time spent at home.

For display campaigns, especially remarketing targeting options, it’s important to run placement reports frequently and make sure to add COVID-19 pages as negatives. Showing ads on COVID-19 related pages is insensitive and might be considered capitalizing on tragic events.

It’s worth paying special attention to check query matching. On the one hand, Google’s match type has become looser than ever in terms of going beyond the actual keywords to contextual matching; on the other hand, the surge in coronavirus related searches will also impact your business given the potential match, especially if your business is in the hospital/medical vertical. Generally, it’s recommended to block COVID-19 related terms preemptively to avoid high spend on irrelevant queries.

Fourth, customize ad copy to reflect time sensitive value propositions

Considering the shift in work/lifestyle during this special time, advertisers need to update ad messaging quickly. For example, if you are in the lead generation business, host more online sessions and create more micro-conversion formats, such as downloading eBooks or sending whitepapers; if you are in the e-commerce business, highlight fast shipping or no-contact delivery.

Hope these tips & tricks are helpful in making the most of your paid search management during these crazy times!

Contact us if you want to talk about how these trends may apply to your marketing efforts or about digital marketing in general here.