Charlie Byrne, PPC Executive at Impression, discusses how paid advertisers can analyze user behavior, adjust ad copy and creative, and gather data for audiences to make their advertising campaigns stronger than ever after the pandemic.
The consumer market has changed rapidly in the context of the current climate. This has impacted not only the types of products consumers are buying, but where they are buying them and how often. While industries such as luxury fashion, travel, and leisure have suffered, others, such as nutrition and health, consumer electronics, and household cleaning are booming. With most physical stores closed, but screen time soaring, many brands are using this time to ramp up their digital marketing efforts.
So as digital marketers, and more specifically as paid media account managers, how should we be adapting our strategies in response to the demands of the current climate? Below, I’ll explain how paid advertisers can analyze user behavior, adjust ad copy and creative, and gather data for audiences so that they can come out of this period stronger than ever.
1. Optimize Towards New User Behavior
As we’ve stated above, user behavior has changed dramatically in recent weeks. To respond to this effectively, consider reviewing your account targeting settings, such as location, device, ad schedule, audience, and demographic bid adjustments. See some examples of key ways in which targeting may need to be adjusted below:
- Location: radius bid adjustments around say, physical store locations will now be redundant if stores are closed
- Device: desktop/tablet usage may increase, as fewer users are on the move with only their mobile devices to hand
- Ad schedule: positive bid adjustments around peak conversion times (e.g. commuter hours for a reusable coffee cup brand) may need to be reviewed
- Audience/Demographic: new in-market/affinity/interest audiences and different demographics may now be interested in your product/service where they were not previously, e.g users who usually commute to work via public transport may now be in the market for a bicycle
As many paid marketers will know, where smart bidding is applied to campaigns, machine learning will optimize for conversions or conversion value using â€˜auction-time bidding’, meaning that bid adjustments across the above targeting criteria are already dynamically optimized during each auction.
But, while smart bidding should be able to adjust bids appropriately to account for new trends, we’re probably wise to monitor their performance more closely than ever, as any algorithmic learnings that the bidding strategies have picked up during the pre-lockdown period may no longer be appropriate.
In some cases, it may be advisable to adjust the targets of Target ROAS and Target CPA bidding strategies. In response to reduced demand, consider relaxing targets (reducing Target ROAS or increasing Target CPA), but if you’re managing high levels of demand, consider making the targets more difficult to achieve (increasing Target ROAS or reducing Target CPA). In addition to this, consider trialing portfolio bidding strategies to increase data density and promote cross-campaign understanding of new user behaviors.
2. Review Ad Copy and Creative
In the current climate, a full review of your ad copy and creative across all channels is essential. At a time when consumers are looking to brands who are acting empathetically, while also providing useful information, it’s crucial to avoid, even if inadvertently, misleading or misinforming your customers.
Here’s a little checklist to help ensure you’re in the clear:
- Pause any messaging or imagery that goes against social distancing guidelines.
- Update ads to accurately reflect current shipping times and stock levels.
- As appropriate, make delivery/returns/refunds FAQ content more visible within your ads.
- Remove call extensions (to empty offices!), where your client/business does not have call redirection in place.
Actioning the above points will ensure you maintain customer trust in your brand, and should, therefore, help to increase customer loyalty in the long run.
3. Grow your Audience Through New Channels
Businesses are facing a multitude of challenges at the moment, be that travel and leisure businesses that are unable to operate entirely, or indoor fitness equipment and home decor suppliers that are unable to keep up with demand. If, for one reason or another, you’re unable to market your product or service via your usual paid media channels, diversify your strategy to incorporate new channels.
If you usually rely on search and shopping channels to drive sales, consider shifting your focus towards more top-of-funnel channels such as Youtube, the Display Network, and paid social channels. Screen time has been spiking while everyone has been #stayinghome, so capitalize on this by creating engaging assets and promoting relevant content, then target relevant websites, Youtube channels, topics, keywords, and audiences.
There’s been plenty of examples of businesses promoting content in the absence of the ability to sell, from fitness brands giving away free workout plans and running live exercise classes, to travel companies offering virtual experiences of exotic destinations. Any website traffic received now can be retargeted later, and this may open up your product/service to a whole new market of prospective customers. Where there may have been barriers to certain users purchasing your product or service previously (e.g. price point, lack of time), users who have enjoyed your content during this period may be more inclined to return and convert in the future, now that they have a degree of affinity with your brand.
And of course, don’t forget about the customers who were already loyal to your brand. Creating custom audiences based on website behavior or customer list data will allow you to re-engage users who canceled an order, or received a refund, during this period. Further down the line, you can retarget these groups of users with an offer, direct them to re-book the same or a similar event/trip or up-sell and cross-sell relevant products and services.
To summarise, the key takeaways of this article:
- Review targeting settings and automated bidding strategies to protect account performance
- Ensure all ads are appropriate and useful to foster customer trust
- If you are no longer able to sell, shift your focus towards top-of-funnel channels and collect audience data
Carrying out the above actions will help to ensure that your ad accounts are in a strong position to weather the next few weeks, months, and beyond.