eCommerce

How To Maximize Your PPC Performance During The Coronavirus

October 6, 2020
 by 
Richard Emanuel
 • 
5
 min to read

Believe it or not, for some brands, there’s never been a better time to spend money on paid traffic. Costs are down, ROAS is up, and ad platforms are offering unprecedented incentives to get small businesses to run campaigns. Here, we’ll reveal which verticals can see massive ROI by increasing their PPC budgets. We’ll also share how to get the most out of every dollar you’re spending on ads during the coronavirus.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Incentives from Facebook and Google

Two of the most interesting opportunities for eCommerce merchants right now are the offers on the table from ad giants Facebook and Google. They’re making lucrative offers to help small businesses advertise and stay afloat during these challenging times.

Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 small businesses. To qualify, you must be located in an eligible area, have between two and 50 employees, and have been in business for at least a year. See the full criteria and submit an application here.

Google is offering $340 million in ad credits to small- and medium-sized businesses around the world. The funds can be used toward future ad spend before the end of 2020 across Google’s ad platforms. To qualify, you must have spent money with a Google Ads account in ten out of the 12 months of 2019 and in January and/or February of 2020. Learn more about Google’s ad credit program here.

Which Industries Are at an Advantage?

It’s all going to come down to the industry you’re in. Just like any other time, there are high-demand and low-demand verticals, but they’re a bit different than what you’d expect to see under normal circumstances.

Right now, the hot commodities are goods and services that keep people safe from contagion and comfortable in their homes. Things like disposable gloves, bread machines, and cough and cold products are popular among shoppers, while products like luggage, briefcases, and cameras are in low demand and are seeing a decline in sales.

Vertical Sales Trends Covid-19


Image Source: Why Amazon’s Challenges and a Human Need for Connection Are Driving Shoppers to DTC Brands | Coronavirus Series

Also worth noting is the impact major brands are having on the cost of PPC

advertising. The Expedia Group, for example, which includes brands like Expedia, Hotels.com and Trivago, says it will likely cut ad spending by at least 80% this year. According to a March survey of media buyers by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, 74% of respondents said they believed the coronavirus would have a bigger impact on ad spending than the 2008 financial crisis.

For small- to medium-sized businesses, this pullback on spending from the major players (who typically drive ad costs up) represents an opportunity to reach buyers at a fraction off the typical cost per click.

Tips for High Demand Verticals

Now that we’ve talked a bit about the current landscape, let’s cover what you need to know based on what kind of industry you’re in. We’ll begin with high-demand verticals.

A good example of a high demand vertical at this time is the home and garden niche. Campaigns in this vertical have seen an increase of searches and sales spikes in their ads platforms. Some companies are even experiencing holiday-like sales.

Example PPC Stats During CoronaVirus

Cost Per Click VS Cost Per Acquisition

If you’re in one of these verticals, you’re probably seeing your average cost per conversion rise, but the average return on ad spend (ROAS) is up, too, offsetting the cost. The best way to approach your PPC marketing right now is to:

  1. Increase your budget to match your holiday budget (for more on this, check out Parkfield’s Holiday Guide).
  2. Review negative keywords to avoid new, broad, unrelated search terms. You may pay for unnecessary, unrelated traffic if you bid on terms that are a near match, but don’t exactly match (i.e. the term ‘glasses’ could indicate a search for drinking glasses, eyeglasses, or sunglasses, but only one of them is relevant to what you sell).
  3. Review your search terms daily, as the number of search inquiries increases quickly to outnumber these terms.

Tips for Low Demand Verticals

Verticals in the lifestyle sector, like travel and recreation, are seeing low demand in the current situation. If you’re one of these businesses, you’re likely seeing a decrease in search volume and a decline in sales.

To mitigate these trends, we recommend:

  1. Focusing campaigns on branding rather than conversions. This should include a pivot to timely topics and new approaches to gain new eyes on your campaigns. Though most people are hesitant to purchase new items now, they will likely stay around to learn more. Win them over and they’ll be on your future marketing list.
Google Communication Quote Coivd-19
  1. Adjusting your audience targeting for conversion campaigns. Your standard core audience may be unable to make their usual purchases. Take a close look at the users who have purchased — drill into their demographics and interests — and focus your efforts on reaching more people like these as your new target audience.

Mixed Performance Is Common

Another scenario you may be seeing is a mix of both high and low demand verticals within a single PPC account. For example, one of our clients is in the chemical business. Their campaigns for “mold killer” dropped off, but their campaigns for “disinfectant” have seen a spike.

If you’re seeing mixed performance, here’s what we recommend:

  1. The most important thing to do is to stay up to date on local conditions. These are going to have the biggest impact on your business. The situation is changing by the day (and in some cases, by the hour), and there’s no telling what tomorrow will bring. Be prepared to pivot your marketing efforts to different channels as needs or desires shift. That may mean shifting spend from Google to Facebook, or vise versa.
  2. In the same vein, keep a close eye on your allowable spend. Raise or lower it on a per-campaign or even a per-ad-group basis. This way your money will be utilized in the most viable ways possible.
  3. Consider offering a promotion of some kind. This could be a percentage off, additional points, a free item with purchase, etc. If you can afford to, consider a donation campaign to benefit an organization on the front lines or one that will help your community.

A lot to take in? Let’s chat.

My colleague, Parkfield co-founder Thor Berntsson, has set aside a couple of hours each weekday for digital strategy calls. He can help optimize your account and give you the advice on how to move forward with a solution that’s tailored to your unique situation. Click here to schedule a call.

Richard Emanuel
Rich, the CEO of Parkfield, is a direct marketing pro with a decade of experience helping companies build, grow, and re-imagine their businesses. Rich focuses on using data and technology to create marketing solutions that capitalize on business opportunities and drive growth.
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