Let’s face it, COVID-19 has changed a lot of things in the past months. We’ve seen cities close down and whole industries dissipate. We recently saw the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression. It’s a scary time for a lot of businesses, and with new virus risks arising and old threats still at large, it’s unlikely that the “coronaconomy” is going away any time soon.
Society’s new cultural norms have shifted what kinds of PPC work and what kinds don’t. Some companies have pivoted and are figuring out how to succeed, some are still losing money and making embarrassing mistakes. What’s the difference? Adaptation. Let’s talk about 5 big PPC mistakes you can avoid during COVID-19.
1. Don’t get your ads disapproved
Be careful as you create your ads and your ad copy. Platforms are on the lookout for advertisers trying to get cheap impressions by using keywords like “coronavirus” to get more hype, and if you’re flagged for exploiting ill-fitting keywords your campaign will likely be disapproved. Avoid basic keywords such as “corona” and “covid” so your ads run. Facebook categorizes these ads as “Controversial Content” and will not show them unless you request a manual review in which you’re approved.
As almost everyone in the PPC world can attest, having your ads disapproved can be one of the most frustrating things. So instead of directly referring to pandemic, the virus, or other closely related issues, find other facets of the matter to reference. For example, here, Fit Boxx doesn’t say “Working out at home because of quarantine?”, they just say “Working out at home?” and it effectively gets the same point across.
2. Don’t let fear and uncertainty convince you to turn it all off
In response to any crisis, giving in to panic or fear is almost always the worst approach. An emotionally-charged counter gives priority to our flawed perceptions and our biases rather than to good reason. Why not let the data decide? If your PPC is not going well, most likely there will be a campaign or two that need to be paused, and that’s ok. For now focus only on the channels that are still succeeding.
While certain aspects of the marketing world have taken serious hits from the pandemic and the resulting economic situations, some experts might argue that things aren’t all that bad in the PPC world. With all the new free time people have, the work from home jobs, and so many people stuck inside, users are spending a lot more time scrolling on the internet. Not only that, but with so many freaked-out advertisers dropping out of the PPC bids, CPC prices are at an amazing discount.
In fact, whole industries are spurting to life and thriving during the coronavirus. The distributed cloud storage industry, for example, has been doing just fine.
For these reasons, if you make a fear-based decision about shutting down your PPC, you're likely to miss out on some big opportunities.
3. Don’t miss the chance to pivot your brand and make it more socially relevant
Do any of your products or services help people cope with quarantine or encourage them to be safe and healthy during the pandemic? Don’t miss out on the opportunity to show potential customers how you can address their unmet needs. I recently read a blog post with excellent marketing copy where a company talked about their daycare software, but this time specifically detailing the benefits it can deliver in handling the pandemic. This is a good example of how managing the coronavirus is something we all think about, and so it can serve as a catalyst for creating a connection and establishing relevance with your target audience.
Looking at the 2020-reminiscent advertisements from the 1918 Spanish Flu ads can be an interesting Google search. Check out how this bicycle ad reframes the benefits of a bicycle in context of helping with social distancing:
“As a precaution against the influenza, keep out of the crowds; ride a bicycle to and from your work.” This advertisement is more than 100 years old, and still an amazing case study on how to make impactful marketing copy.
4. Don’t assume that successful pre-pandemic campaigns will still be successful
Even if your PPC campaigns aren’t committing social sin, it may be that during the coronavirus they no longer function like they used to. After all, a lot of market shifts have occurred in these last months. Now is a good time to do an audit on your PPC and make some changes.
Much to your dismay, it may be that in the new economy your cash cow campaign is no longer bringing you conversions. Maybe some optimization or editing is in order, or it might also be that now is just not a good time to be selling that product or service. In this case, consider promoting awareness instead of conversions – these campaigns are extremely cheap right now with Facebook’s reduced advertisers and lower cost per click. Plant seeds now and when the world goes back to normal you might be happy you did.
A good look at your ad schedule might also be helpful. Because of the previously mentioned changes in people’s scheduling, new times to show ads and get returns for the cheapest price may have arisen. Check the analytics to see if a dayparting strategy might help you grab some newly-appeared low hanging fruit.
A similar audit on your keywords, placements and devices might prove equally helpful to discover potential changes to your campaigns that will tip the profitability scale in your favor.
5. Don’t accidentally run ads that are now socially inappropriate
With the danger the virus imposes, giving even subtle or implied encouragement for people to engage in non-social-distancing activities can be a dangerous game to play.
In early March as the virus began breaking out, KFC rolled out their classic “finger lickin’ good” campaign on their ads in the UK. The problem? During a highly contagious viral pandemic, there is no fried chicken so good that it’s worth literally licking your hands over. (At least no chicken we’ve discovered.) Predictably, KFC experienced massive blowback for their poorly timed ad, which features vignettes of people in busy restaurants enthusiastically licking their fingers to the sound of nocturnes playing in the background.
Less spectacular but equally embarrassing examples of this mistake can also be found from Hershey’s chocolate, who ran ads that showed people giving hugs, and Lysol, advertising their sanitizing products which were already sold out everywhere, and seemed to taunt viewers by reminding them of the shortages. At best, running these kinds of insensitive ads make a company seem ignorant, and at worst they make it appear heartless or uncaring.
So, revisit your PPC campaigns and look for out-of-style messages that are still displaying. Chances are you’ll be glad you did.
Go with the flow
The tectonic plates of markets and industries are always shifting. Marketers know that the only way to survive is to move with them, learning from others’ successes and failures. As you navigate the new reality of your PPC strategy, hopefully these tips will help you learn from others’ mistakes so that you don’t have to learn from your own.
Guest post courtesy of Molly Edwards