There has been much talk about how COVID19 is impacting paid marketing campaigns. Many experts have suggested pausing campaigns for now, while others have suggested reducing spends and operating on smaller budgets.
At Carney, using years of experience in PPC marketing, we decided to continue with the campaigns of our clients as well as our own but with a cautious approach.
We are glad to point out that the results have been more than satisfactory.
Operating in diverse sectors such automobile accessories to pet care products to medical equipment to online education, our client’s PPC campaigns have actually performed better when we look at the key metrics, in the months immediately following the COVID19 outbreak.
Let us look at a few examples below:
Case Study 1: Medical Equipment Sector
The above is a snapshot of campaign performance for one of our clients in the medical sector. They provide refurbished medical equipment. From March 1 till date (May 24), the key metrics have been presented. And what follows is the snapshot of performance in the preceding months before the impact of COViD19 really set in.
As can be seen:
- Increased spending by $1K
- More Phone calls
- 6% increase in number of conversions
- 79% decrease in the cost per conversion
Even the avg. CTR saw a marginal increase from 3.47% to 3.56%, showing that if campaigns are set up and optimized the right way, it is not impossible to get positive results.
What we did was restructure the campaign from scratch, by introducing more granularity to the campaigns, paying close attention to all keywords and ad groups’ performances in terms of their conversion rates and costs incurred. The objective was simple: to weed out anything that was grossly underperforming and to boost keywords and ad groups that were performing optimally or even crossed expectations. However, remarketing played a crucial role as we figured that buyers may have second thoughts now before making the move, so they might need a second push before becoming convinced.
Apart from remarketing, detailed research was carried out on each of the product categories and competitor analysis was done to see what possibilities existed for more targeted campaigns on each of the products. Experimentation paved the way for more data, which in turn help set up new experiments and so on. Ultimately, a data-driven approach helped take the right decisions at the right time.
Case Study 2: Online Education
Since the virus broke out, as many as 129 conversions were recorded. Cost per conversion was about $3.65 during this period. This was a new campaign that started right in the midst of the COVID19 outbreak, so there is no data to compare with. But what is evident is that online education will continue to perform well, since people have more time at their disposal to learn new skills and advance their career. More and more e-learning courses are now proliferating and they would need skilled PPC experts to optimize their paid ads to help reach the target audience at optimal costs.
What worked in this campaign was the creation of a landing page in accordance with PPC best practices. A strategically placed lead generation form along with well distributed call to action (CTA) buttons meant that the users were enticed to provide information. The ad copies were tweaked in order to reflect the key USPs of the online training program – like showcasing industry stats on how a 50% increase in employability and 100% increase in salary can be expected on joining the program. Finally, the keywords were selected keeping in mind the balance that had to be struck between monthly volumes and max CPC bids in the industry.
Case Study 3: Automobile Accessories
Between March 1 and 24th May, we managed to rake up 169 conversions and 44 phone calls (the latter is almost equivalent to lead generation in this case, since final purchases are made only after nurturing the hot leads generated from the website). Now, we are talking about a sector here that is thousands of miles away from being considered an essential service – and yet we can see the performance in comparison to the preceding period.
In almost every metric, an improvement was recorded.
- 11% increase in number of conversions
- 37% decrease in cost/conversion
- Increase in phone calls by 4
The main lesson here was to focus on optimizing the campaigns closely. This account is a multi-campaign one, with campaigns targeting different demographics and locations simultaneously. The key here was to shift focus on those locations that were less affected by the COVID19 outbreak. But we did not go by the logic that those locations that have been less impacted by COVID19 would necessarily perform better. We relied on data and took decisions based on that, applying bid adjustments accordingly. What we found was that conversion rates were actually higher in some locations that have been deemed as the epicenter of COVID outbreak in the USA. Shocking as that may sound, the reality is that the people who need a commodity won’t probably stop making the purchase, no matter how bad the situation is. Finally, we also restructured the campaigns with a greater focus on domestic sales and with a conscious thrust towards remarketing.
Case Study 4: Pet Care
From March 1 to 24th May, 187 conversions were recorded, along with 569 phone calls, enquiring about the businesses’ offerings.
Here’s the data from the preceding period:
The following are the improvements in the metrics:
- 8% increase in number of conversions
- 85% reduction in cost per conversion
- 16% reduction in overall cost
Since the sector is pet care, we realized that the messaging needs to be more personalized. Even though pet care services have been declared as essential by the US govt, there were significant lows at one point in the campaign, as number of searches were drastically going down. We resorted to making amends by tweaking ad copies by focusing on a more humanized and personal touch, that gave the reassuring touch to the customers that the pet care products were being sent over with a zero contact policy. Furthermore, we also highlighted the importance of looking after pets during this time, since their time spent outside may be severely curtailed due to the lockdown, hence possibly affecting their mental state. So an emotional connect helped the campaigns perform better. However, we also used data to move away from automated to manual bidding in order to gain more control over the campaigns.
Key Takeaways for Businesses
Businesses need to remember that the lockdown may be making it harder for people to manage their finances and make purchases because of concerns over contracting the virus. But this doesn’t mean that their interests have changed drastically. They will still require the amenities and products they have always wanted. At most, they will defer the purchases, but they will make the move sooner or later, once the pandemic is over. So if you stop marketing your brand now, chances are that your business will leave behind a void that will be filled up by a competitor. And that will be a recipe for disaster as bouncing back then will become difficult. So here’s some good advice: let your paid advertising be taken care of by experts, who can optimize and look for avenues for reducing costs. But don’t stop them, or else you may suffer the consequences later.