You’ve already been told by everyone (including us) what an unprecedented situation we are in. While comparisons can be made to WWII and the GFC, I feel that the disruption to our personal and professional lives has been unique in its reach and impact.
Before we discuss what we should do with our Google Ads campaigns, let’s first qualify the situation we are in.
The situation is uncertain and evolving daily. Whilst we may not yet be in full lockdown, the restrictions placed on all of us are regularly increasing. Businesses not directly affected by government policy are feeling the ripple effect. Some in terms of increased business, but the vast majority, negatively.
We are all in this together. The governments of the world, including Australia, are aware of the problems being faced and have been active in dealing with them.
The real positive, however, is that even if people are physically restricted, they still need some products and services. They might not be in a position to make a decision and act on it now, but they fully expect to pick things up on the other side. And, there will be an ‘other’ side, so it is important that you don’t just disappear on your customers during this extended consideration and research phase.
Disclaimer: This is my advice based on the situation as it is today. Don’t lock yourself into an approach unless you have a strong reason for doing so.
With the disclaimer out of the way, here are some ways how your Google Ads campaigns can evolve and adapt.
Advertising is about communication and communicating out of context is useless at best and damaging at its worst.
Our lifestyles have been altered quite significantly and your ad messaging should acknowledge this shift. This could be as simple as a restaurant changing its call to action (CTA) from ‘Make A Reservation’ to ‘Free Delivery’, or SaaS providers highlighting their ability to automate tasks, keep teams together and maintain efficiency in this critical time.
On landing pages, offer a softer interaction like a guide download, a virtual tour or a phone call to provide information rather than a commitment heavy ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Book A Consultation’.
So far, we have not seen cost-per-acquisition (CPA) increasing massively. But we have started seeing a drop in impressions and traffic overall. In fact, we have seen cost-per-click (CPC) dip, no doubt due to advertisers pulling out of the market.
So it is a bit early to tell what to do here, but where you do see CPAs and CPCs increasing, consider switching back to manual bidding to retain more control over the various elements of your campaigns such as keyword bids, ad schedules and demographic and device bids.
For most smart bidding options, you are required to allow about 2 weeks for data collection and for the system to learn. With the situation changing daily you might be better off managing it yourself.
Pro Tip: When looking back at historical demographic and ad schedule data, remember that some of it might have changed now with many people working from home. For e.g., we have seen younger users, female users and users searching outside of 8am-8pm no longer being as cheap to convert as before.
At the moment, it seems possible that the tight restrictions might relax to some degree in a few months (just my personal opinion). This means that while people may not be comfortable deciding on a product or service right now, they are fully expecting to make a decision eventually. This also means that with fewer things to do, they are spending more time online.
This may then just be an extended consideration and research phase and might be a good opportunity to invest in top-of-funnel awareness activities.
This could take the form of a low budget video campaign or a content promotion campaign via search or Gmail that educates potential customers while you have a bit more of their attention.
If budgets are limited, then this might be a good opportunity to pull the plug on high spending – low performing campaigns. Although you will lose some traffic, this will certainly bring down your CPAs and reduce your expenditure in the short term.
The situation we are in is uncertain. It requires your marketing and your entire business to be alert, agile and ready to adapt, not only to survive the next few months but hit the ground running on the other side.
Pro Tip: Crises present opportunities to stand up and stand out. I expect many businesses must be fielding calls from stressed customers, and top-notch customer service at this time could create a lasting impression.
At some point, things will turn for the better. This will likely happen in a gradual way in terms of marketing results. Don’t be that company who leaves the early part of the recovery to your competitors. Sometimes it can be hard to know when the bottom is reached, especially if you’re no longer active in the market.
If you’d like to have a chat about what we’re seeing across all of our campaigns, then get in touch. We’d love to provide you with some insights specific to your needs during this challenging time.
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