Don’t Let Lockdown Loosen Your Ad Spend

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly influenced the global ad spend trends. 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.

In this article, I explain 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 e-commerce 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 maximize 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

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 tend 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, utilizing visual aids in the form of graphics and videos to attract leads on the Google Shopping network, which is particularly beneficial for e-commerce 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 minimize lost leads and maximize 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.

Local Strategy

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 maximize 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 instill trust and confidence in them by presenting a business that appears to be well established and organized. 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 the opportunity.

By utilizing 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.

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