2020 has been a crazy year so far. Of the many surprises and challenges that this year has thrown at businesses, the COVID-19 crisis has been the most costly. The pandemic has impacted and damaged personal lives across the board and has disrupted the global economy. We’ve watched as whole industries crumbled and masses of events and launches cancelled. 

The slogan “adapt or migrate” applies well to our situation in the current economic landscape. The good news? With all this market shifting and many of your competitors making costly mistakes, this might just be the big break you’ve been waiting for.

Let’s talk about five PPC tips that will help your company succeed during the “coronaconomy”. 

1. Don’t mistakenly run socially inappropriate ads

Be careful to not subtly or overtly encourage people to engage in unsafe behaviors regarding the pandemic. With the immense danger the coronavirus poses and all the emotion around the subject, extra precaution should be taken to prevent yourself from making an embarrassing blunder. You might want to review your PPC campaigns and scan for anything that may have been fine and normal before but is now socially inappropriate in our current condition. 

When the virus started to break out, Geico was running a video ad called “The Perfect High Five”. In it, a woman describes the feeling of switching to Geico as the feeling of giving a perfect high five to a coworker. The high five is so perfect, apparently, that the whole office breaks into a cheer and the boss comes into the room and gives her a promotion. While the ad is quite funny and would normally be yet another great Geico commercial, the timing was horrible. This was right when social distancing was beginning. Loud voices on Twitter began criticising Geico for their counterproductive efforts in the pandemic, and undoubtedly some ill-will was generated before the ad was finally taken down. Not a great look. 

Other embarrassing examples of this mistake came from KFC, who premiered a new “Finger-lickin’ good” commercial that showed restaurant patrons energetically licking their hands, and Lysol, who continued to show how great and wonderful their sanitising products were long after Lysol was all sold out in stores. In the best scenario, these kinds of ads make a company seem oblivious, and in the worst scenario, they make a company look cold and uncaring. 

Hopefully if you review your PPC you won’t find anything quite that behind the times, but chances are that there will be something worth changing. Consider making some updates.

2. Don’t run ads that will likely be disapproved

The google trends of how many people are searching for coronavirus related terms online are insane. Many advertisers and PPC specialists are attempting to use these terms in order to inflate their impressions. 

That said, platforms are on the lookout for misleading campaigns that are trying to exploit the hype, and if you include any keywords too closely related to “coronavirus”, “covid” or “pandemic”, your ads will likely be disapproved. 

As almost all of us in the PPC world agree, having your ad campaigns disapproved can be extremely frustrating. Check out this guide to why your ads may not be running to learn more.

3. Pivot your brand to make it more relevant to society’s new needs

With the way the world is shaken up, many consumers have unmet needs that advertisers can address. Don’t miss out on a chance to help make your brand look good, help people cope with quarantine, and spread goodwill and support for those affected by the virus. It may be that one of the products or services you offer can be reframed to address your audience’s new needs. 

Take a look at this clever telephone ad from the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic.

“People who are in quarantine are not isolated if they have a Bell Telephone.” This messaging has been perfectly tailored to reframe the product benefits in context of the quarantine. 

I was recently running the PPC for a company that sells clips to help soap dispensers give out a less exorbitant amount of product and thereby help homeowners save money by not wasting soap and shampoo. When the pandemic hit, we pivoted this marketing message to instead cater to helping people in general – and especially the parents of pump-happy kids – dispense product more responsibly and not fall victim to shortages. We thought the reframing of the product benefits would catch people’s interest and the results agreed. This more relevant messaging more than tripled previous PPC revenue. 

4. Recognise that many of your previous campaigns are no longer going to work well

Although your PPC campaigns might be approved and they might be pandemic-culture friendly, it is likely that some of them will no longer function. Recent market shifts have changed industries a lot, and your PPC probably shows it. Now is a good time to make some optimisations and adjustments. 

Consider starting with your ad schedule. Because of radical changes in people’s schedules, it is more than likely that your dayparting strategy needs an update. You might find some lucrative times of day to get conversions that you haven’t seen before. 

Naturally, checking your keywords and your ad copy will also be an important step. If there are still a good amount of people clicking your ads and coming to your keywords, their motivations for doing so may have changed, and your keywords and copy need to reflect that. 

A similar audit on your bid strategies, as well as your devices and placements, will also be helpful for cutting costs and identifying any new low hanging fruit that may have appeared. 

5. Don’t let fear make any decisions when it comes to running your PPC

When it comes to any decision, giving priority to emotional responses (especially fear) over a data-driven approach is almost always a bad idea. Recognize that many times your “gut feelings” are deeply seated biases that will lead you astray if you let them. If such “gut feelings” do happen to be trustworthy, prove them right with good data. 

Analytics appraised, it might be the case that certain aspects of your PPC campaign need to be temporarily shut down. This can be a good way to cut costs and focus on campaigns that have more potential. For example, I used to run a successful Google Ads campaign that targeted people searching on Google for things to do. Now, with so many things closed and so many safeguards in place, the way people search for things to do and what they’re looking for when they make such queries has radically changed to the point that my campaign has become ineffective. This particular campaign needed to downsize. 

Even though some segments of the marketing world have taken serious damage, there are also other segments that have arisen and are ripe for the harvest. Not only that, but with the vast amount of new free time that many people now enjoy and how many people are stuck inside and looking at their devices, users are spending much more time on platforms than before. Even better, concerned marketers dropping out of the keyword bids have reduced the typical CPC rates to a refreshing discount. 

For these reasons and more, deciding where to take your CPC strategy right now should be a careful, calculated decision, and not something that turns on or off based on the sporadic ups and downs of the pandemic. 

Adaptation is good marketing

The climate of the business world is always changing. Good marketers know that successful marketing is simply the ability to change quickly accordingly. As you adjust and optimise during this new time of PPC strategy, hopefully, you can learn from others’ misfortune so that you don’t have to learn from your own.