Article | December 10, 2020
Where’s the nearest click and collect? What time does our local store close in light of the latest COVID-19 restrictions? Where can I order that toy car he/she wanted for Christmas?
Our bet is Google is your first port of call for an answer to any of these questions.
If it is, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s estimated that Google processes 5.8 billion user searches per day. And, even though there are other search engines out there, like Bing and Yahoo, it is by far the most popular.
So, with so many potential customers – because let’s face it, of those 5.8 billion there are bound to be a few thousand searching for your specific products or services - businesses simply cannot overlook advertising on Google. And even more so now thanks to restrictions on physical stores across the world being put back in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Nate Burke, CEO and founder of Diginius, an ecommerce solutions provider that specialises in digital marketing PPC management, explains how you can get the most out of your Google advertising activities.
The first round of lockdowns during the spring and early summer saw many businesses with physical outlets grind to almost a complete halt. Going digital was the only option for many in order to have some chance of survival.
This saw restaurants offering online order services, more retailers moving into ecommerce and professional services conducting remote meetings via video calls.
Despite some easing of restrictions, many have kept digital their focus. For example, video meetings such as Microsoft Teams, which grew by 894% between February to June in 2020, are now prevalent as the office’s new best friend. And restaurants for instance, have advanced their minimal contact table service, allowing customers to order and pay for food on their phones by scanning a QR code or downloading an app.
But now, with lockdown restrictions being re-enforced in Britain and many other parts of the world, businesses looking to maximise their sales and earnings ahead of the Christmas period, and before the New Year begins, can’t ignore the advertising opportunities available on Google.
PPC advertising is perhaps the most obvious opportunity. It’s the best way to guarantee that your brand is put in front of an audience and can help generate a spike in traffic and leads.
Paid Search identifies “buyers” immediately. People who have typed in and are clicking a specific keyword tends to already be in buying mode, even if only at the research stage of the journey, which is so powerful compared to the rest of the marketing mix
This is because searchers seek convenience. We have come to expect the first listing on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) to provide an answer to our query. If it doesn’t, we are more likely to change our search than scroll through pages and pages of results.
Therefore, getting your brand on that all-important first page is crucial for success on Google, which is exactly why paid advertising is beneficial. Not only can it promise a guaranteed spot here, if, the price is right for you, but it could also, potentially, provide you with the number one position.
As well as SERPs, ads can be created for the display network, utilising visual aids in the form of graphics and videos to attract leads on the Google Shopping network, which is particularly beneficial for ecommerce businesses looking to increase sales.
However, to ensure your ads are shown to people who will add value to your business, PPC activity must be strategically mapped out and effectively managed. Account set-up, keywords and bidding strategies must be considered, monitored and then adjusted to ensure your activity is effective and a return on your investment is achieved.
This requires dedicated personnel, time and budget – for both ad spend and management practices for either training, wages or outsourcing the task to an agency.
But, despite the capital required to get started, there are a number of ways to ensure you yield results that make it worthwhile. For example, remarketing can help minimise lost leads and maximise budget by targeting potential customers who have already shown an interest in your product or service.
Automation strategies are another. Bidding and ad copy can be altered automatically, depending on factors including the time of day, location and the user’s specific query wording, for instance. This lessens the chance of clicks from users with little intention of purchasing or submitting an enquiry, and, consequently, reduces wasted budget. Another common way to get more out of search advertising is to replicate campaigns across Microsoft Ads, where there is typically less competition, cheaper clicks, and a better return on investment, albeit lower search volumes.
One of the greatest benefits of the internet is its ability to connect businesses and customers no matter the physical distance between them. And, with lockdown enforcements, an online offering presents an opportunity to reach an even wider customer base than a shop or physical facility that is restricted by location.
However, the internet is a big, old place. It houses greater competition than what many businesses are used to in the physical realm and, as result, it’s easy to become lost, especially if you are in the early stages of establishing an online presence.
So, no matter whether you’re a retailer offering click and collect or running business as usual albeit remotely, keeping things local is your best bet for online success.
In fact, Google uses a Relevance, Distance and Prominence model to determine search results. Those most relevant, the closest in distance to the searcher and most prominent or popular are more likely to be ranked higher on results pages.
In order to maximise your chances of ranking highly for those searching for your products and services in your local area, you should make the most of tools, such as Google My Business and reviews.
As well as providing potential customers with vital business information, such as your address, contact details and COVID-adjusted opening hours, you can also instil trust and confidence in them by presenting a business that appears to be well established and organised. This is particularly important as those consumer sentiments have declined due to the pandemic.
So far, businesses have done well in adapting their processes to changing customer needs in such a short amount of time and under incredibly difficult circumstances at that.
With the coronavirus crisis far from over and many facing an online future, the only thing we can be certain of at this point is that businesses and retailers must act now to grasp opportunity. By utilising platforms such as Google and Microsoft, business owners are not simply making the best of a bad situation but are more so positioning their brand at the forefront of their chosen industry, gifting a significant advantage when markets reopen in their newly digital-focused form.
Article | February 12, 2020
Microsoft Advertising announced global support for IF functions. You can use these IF functions to customize your ad text and ads for searchers based on their device or a specific audience segment. "Conditional messaging allows advertisers to simplify their campaign management and reduce effort on bulky operations eliminating the need to set up multiple campaigns and ads," Microsoft explained. When the ad is served, if the searchers device or audience referenced in the IF function meets the condition, then the parameter is replaced with the text that's indicated. Otherwise, the entire parameter is replaced with the default value that's provided.
Article | February 12, 2020
Proving that its privacy mission isn’t just talk, Google has taken its first major step towards blocking third-party cookies. In its latest policy update, Chrome 80 will stop supporting cross-site sharing, unless cookies are flagged in line with the SameSite internet standard. On the surface, this move is about online security and clarity. As long as technology vendors and publishers label cookies accurately, tracking and targeted ads can keep running. But with semi-restricted cookie sharing now the default for those who fail to flag, it seems like this will be a sizeable nail in the cookie coffin.
Article | April 2, 2020
The COVID-19 outbreak continues to impact the world like never before. Businesses have been hit hard, institutions have been shut down, and people are being made to stay indoors in an effort to slow down the spread of novel Coronavirus.
Nearly all businesses have been dealing with a lot of difficulties right now and the world of PPC advertising is no exception. As the world grapples with the pandemic unfolding in real-time, they turn to online searches and news to find answers to their questions.
This extreme change in people’s behavior has also impacted the change in their online search behavior. While some industries were well prepared for this shift, many are not.
Table of Contents
Has Covid-19 affected your PPC accounts?
Impact of COVID-19 on PPC advertising
- Industries with increased performance
- Industries with mixed performance
- Industries hit the hardest
Ways to adjust your PPC according to the new search volumes
Has COVID-19 affected your PPC accounts?
As of today, the COVID-19 related searches are ranking the most on Google, beating other searches related to news, weather, politics, Google, Facebook, and Amazon.
To help track these emerging searches along with other breakout searches that users are looking at, Google has released the Google Trends Coronavirus Hub to offer more insights.
For some advertisers, these new searches have drawn more visitors to their sites, bringing in new customers. For others, however, the results have not been so great.
Wordstream notes that Google search ad impressions have declined by 7% over the last week, which is not uncommon during the holidays. But advertisers certainly weren’t expecting it to happen all so suddenly.
Conversion rates have dropped by an average of 21% since the COVID-19 became an epidemic. Advertisers who acknowledge these changes need to be able to adjust their PPC strategies to keep their businesses agile during these uncertain times.
Learn more: Teesside web advertising firm makes journey into glasgow
Impact of COVID-19 on PPC advertising
Google trends shows that the COVID-19 is on top of mind for most people, especially in the early morning and late at night. Many of us who aren’t fighting the pandemic head-on, often look to some other distractions online or try to carry on with our days as usual. Advertisers can review these searches and prepare to adjust their campaigns to avoid wasting their spend online.
Industries with increased performance
Healthcare and medical
Ever since the outbreak, most of us have turned to search to protect ourselves and the community. In the wake of social distancing and a worldwide lockdown, we’re relying on Google SERP to purchase over-the-counter as well as vital medications. As a result, medical advertisers are seeing a strong spike in their sale of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies with increased ad clicks and higher conversion rates than usual.
Non-profit and charity
The non-profit organization is another sector that’s having a dramatically increased impact due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Charities, non-profits, and social enterprises are working the hardest to help communities fight the COVID-19 crisis. Since the epidemic, this sector has seen
• A 10% surge in search ad impressions
• A 23% surge in search ad conversions
• A 20% surge in search ad conversion rates
Luckily, Google’s ad grants program is working with more than 35,000 organizations to help non-profit use AdWords.
Live-streaming and on-demand media
The phrase, “Netflix and chill”, “Quarantine and chill”, couldn’t be more true and relatable right now. With people practicing social distancing at their homes, we’re consuming more entertainment than ever.
This has led to a spike in the entertainment advertisers’ conversion rates, bringing in more viewers. Safe to say it’s not a bad time for the entertainment industry, as the demand for live-streaming media has skyrocketed and seen a dramatic hike in its conversion since the last few weeks.
Learn more: How COVID-19 Has Impacted Google Ads Results for 21 Industries
Industries with mixed performance
According to Wordstream, there’s no significant change in the search volumes or conversion rates in the industry yet. But there could be some shifts down the road.
Consumers are more hesitant in attending open houses and more reliant on professional agents to schedule an appointment instead. Despite the +15% CPC increase in real estate listings and real estate agent searches in the last month, there has been a -25% decline in the conversion rates. Agents and brokers, however, have seen a 30% increase.
Moving and relocation services have seen an 11% increase in search volume, maintaining a stable CTR, CPR, and CPR.
Both property development and construction industries are seeing a decline in their conversion rates by -53% and -7%, as well as lower search volumes. This could lead up to a decline in real estate supply in the future.
The automotive industry appears to have taken a hit. It has shown a noticeable decline of 30% in the industry with average conversion rates over the past few weeks. Although this can’t all be due to the pandemic, advertisers are seeing a lot of shifts in searchers’ preferences in the automotive market.
Job and education
There has been an increased demand in e-learning and training due to schools and colleges being shut down for at least a couple of weeks.
Given the college application rush over and the upcoming SAT in June (yet to be canceled), prospective students’ behavior on the SERP remain the same.
There’s also an increase in paid search traffic for new career opportunities and vocational training since the last couple of weeks.
Industries that have been hit the hardest
Travel and tourism
It’s not at all surprising to see that fewer people are booking for travel these days. With business, consumers, and government avoiding unnecessary travels, advertisers are finding it hard to convert new searches on their sites.
Searches for flight cancellations, delays and restrictions are also at an all-time high, leaving ads more exposed to curious searchers.
To address this problem, advertisers should:
• Add new negatives keywords for COVID-19, advisory, and cancellation related searches.
• Promote cheaper fares and easy cancellations and adjustments for future travel.
• Suggest travel insurance to your customers to ease concerns while increasing your average sale price.
Search volumes for live entertainment have also reduced by 24%, with a dip in conversion rates by 30%. The need for public safety and social distancing has caused consumers as well as performers to cancel their live shows all across the globe.
Ways to adjust your PPC strategy according to the new search volumes
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented solutions. Here are some of the ways that you can adjust your PPC strategies according to the rising challenges:
It’s important to understand what traffic your ads are getting and add new negative keywords add new negative keywords quickly to prevent your campaigns from reaching irrelevant panicked searchers.
• Closely follow COVID-19 related searches to understand how people are searching online. Leverage Google Trends to see what’s trending the most. The Google Trend Coronavirus Hub is a great place for advertisers to find out users’ priorities and search interests in response to the changing news.
• The flipside to users spending more time online is that you can easily find them while they’re browsing the web. Consider remarketing to your previous customers and website visitors, bring them back to your site and keep your brand in their minds. This way they will be more likely to convert.
While times are uncertain at the moment, it is important to keep a positive mindset and be safe. Make sure to stay in the lookout for any new disruptions caused by the COVID-19 and keep adjusting your PPC campaigns consistently.