What Coronavirus Means For PPC

Daniel Wade

by

Daniel Wade

 / 

May 9, 2020

Over the last week or two, it seems that nothing is being discussed except in the context of the novel coronavirus and the resulting Covid-19 illness.

This is not likely to change for weeks and months to come. This global hyperfocus is as it should be, for everyone must do their part in stopping the spread of this disease. 

We all must remain vigilant in our social distancing efforts, wash our hands often, and stay home from work if at all possible. 

Everyone responds to a crisis in their own way. Some may experience an inclination to withdraw from all activity, taking the advice from medical professionals to “hunker down” to an extreme.

Fear and uncertainty can cause others to grasp for some level of control, which can result in behaviors such as panic buying or hoarding provisions. Others still will push against the fear by thoughtlessly disregarding their safety as well as the safety of others. 

Regardless of how you measure success in life, one characteristic of those that are successful is the ability to turn a negative into a positive. That holds for our current situation as well.

Table of contents

Not a Time to Compromise Your Ethics

Profiteering at the expense of victims is always wrong and should never be considered.

This post is not about seeking to make an excessive or unfair profit by exploiting the coronavirus pandemic. This post is about finding a way to work within the parameters of good health hygiene and fair business practices while strengthening your business at the same time.

The advice offered here is intended to shed light on ways the web marketing community can respond to the needs of their customers and secure a bright future by turning a negative into a positive.

When the Competition Shrinks, It’s Time to Strike

Warren Buffett once said that it is wise to be “Fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” Mr. Buffett was using this expression to highlight the buying opportunities that accompany fear-induced hesitation in others.

This principle translates well to the situation in which many digital marketers find themselves during the coronavirus crisis. 

Concern and uncertainty about the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic will undoubtedly cause some marketers to pull back from their advertising plans in an attempt to get a fix on what the markets will do.

It is easy to imagine that Warren Buffett would advise the exact opposite.

Buffett’s admonition to capitalize on the fear of your competitors seems apropos to our current situation. 

Because paid internet traffic operates on an auction basis, it is safe to assume that as advertisers shrink with fear, and limit their ad spend, it will result in increased opportunities for those willing to stand their ground.

The Cost-per-click (CPC) and the Cost-per-Thousand (CPM) impressions reliably follow basic rules of supply and demand. If fewer businesses are competing for ad space, the cost of ad space will decrease to make up the needed volume.

If done right, maintaining and even increasing your PPC ad spend with Google or Facebook in uncertain times can yield a lower cost per conversion. This lower cost represents a significant opportunity for marketers willing to make the necessary adjustments and resist giving in to fear.

This is what our ad agency, SparrowBoost, is highly recommending to the vast majority of our clients right now. Stay the course, and in some cases increase ad spend.

What It Takes to Do It Right

On Monday, March 16, the stock market suffered a stunning decline. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 2014 points. Business sectors that are expected to experience significant disruption include:

  • Travel
  • Transportation
  • Leisure & Hospitality
  • Food Service
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Advertising

One thing we can be confident of is that business is going to struggle for some time. No one knows just how long, but best estimates seem to be that it will be a matter of months, not days or weeks before businesses begin to get back to normal. 

Indications are that for all search categories unrelated to coronavirus, organic web traffic has dropped significantly. With organic traffic plummeting, paid traffic will save the day for many businesses. 

Make no mistake; if left unchanged, your current paid traffic campaigns are likely to drop in traffic, clicks, and impressions. It will take some additional effort to recraft your ad messages to align with the new world reality. The extra effort may cause some of your competitors and others bidding on your chosen keywords to drop out of the paid traffic auctions. This thinning of the field of bidders represents an opportunity for those willing to put in the effort.

It’s essential to stay on top of how changing markets might affect your paid traffic accounts, from changing click and impression volumes to changing costs. If your traffic or conversions drop below untenable levels, adjust your message.

A home services company, for example, would want to recraft their display ad message to reflect sensitivity to the need to keep a healthy distance from the homeowner and to use recently cleaned tools and supplies. This new message conveys confidence that the home service company is aware of the customer’s concerns.

You will want to give some thought to this recrafted message. Even unintentionally, it is easy to come off as sounding like a profiteer that is poised to take advantage of the suffering of others. Be careful not to project this image. Your product or solution fills a need that your customers have. In almost all cases, the need still exists even amid a crisis. Craft a message that highlights the additional value you are willing to offer to help them through this troubled time. 

Communication is Key

Communicating effectively and efficiently will undoubtedly be vital to maintaining your customer relationships. Advertisers should look to build trust with current and potential customers through proactive communication.

In cases where events, locations, or operating hours need to change, businesses should consider their long-term relationship with customers and understand that a refund or reschedule could provide the necessary relief to those who may experience stress or hardship during these times.

Now is the time to maintain or strategically increase your spending on risk-averse tools, like PPC advertising. Rethink your message then craft your message to address your customer’s fears and concerns. Provide them with a valuable solution to enhance their new living circumstances. In the end, when all things return to normal, you will be in a stronger position. Your customers will appreciate that you stayed with them through a tough time.

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