Recommended Adjustments to Digital Marketing due to COVID-19

The online advertising industry has seen a good couple of years with a booming economy and businesses making money and spending more on advertisements.  When we are served up the Coronavirus, coupled with its quarantines all across the US, small businesses are seeing a major crunch.

Because small and medium-sized business owners are being forced to make tough financial decisions due to to the Coronavirus, we will cover the following options for adjusting your online marketing spend:

  • Cost Cutting Online Marketing Options
  • Reviewing Your Online Strategy
  • What is the best mode of digital marketing during a recession?
  • Facebook Ads are “ON SALE”
  • How Should You Adjust Your Digital Marketing Spend?

Coronavirus and the Economy

The Coronavirus has already hit the economy with a solid right hook. Almost every business across the country (with some exceptions) has seen major disruption.  When a small or medium-sized business is hit with a cash crunch, many business owners are forced to make some tough decisions.  There is little doubt that some aspects of the marketing budget should be on the chopping block.  The key is being strategic about what digital marketing services to cut back on.  Some digital marketing services are designed to be nimble and adjust their spend quickly, while some online marketing options require a consistent, steady hand.

The Difference in SEO and Google Ads

There are some significant differences between search engine optimization and Google Ads.  There are many differences between SEO and PPC, but one of Google Ads’ greatest assets is its ability to be nimble with the ad spend.  You can easily adjust how much money is being spent on Google Ads.  This is very beneficial for seasonal type businesses and when you need to ramp up advertising in a hurry.  Search Engine Optimization, on the other hand, is a much longer game.  SEO takes months (and even years) to start seeing an ROI.

Cost Cutting Advertising Options

When a business owner is faced with some tough decisions to keep their business viable.  Google Ads and PPC, in most digital marketing campaigns, are designed for direct lead generation.  Because it is easy to see the direct correlation between leads and ads spend (conversions within the Google Ads platform), many business owners think that should be the last thing cut.  The truth is, part of the beauty of Google Ads is the ability to be nimble and reduce ad spend on a whim.  Your Google Ads and other Pay Per Click campaigns should be reviewed ASAP.  In some instances, you may want to consider turning them off all-together.  If you are paying an SEO Agency to manage your Google Ads, shutting down the ad spend with Google may also cut your costs with the Google Ads Management fee for additional savings.

What is Crawling?

Understanding the difference between Crawling and Indexing.  And why does it matter?

Every Google Ad campaign is different, but because of the uniqueness of the coronavirus epidemic, people’s search habits have dramatically changed.  Algorithm-based systems, such as Google Ads, need time to adjust to the new intent of the users and could suffer from being less useful.  We strongly recommend reviewing all of your Google Ads and other Pay Per Click options.  If you have set up your campaigns using exact match phrases, you would generally see less of a discrepancy as opposed to letting Google choose your keywords for you (broad match).

Leveraging SEO During a Recession

Sure we are a little early to call the coronavirus epidemic a recession by definition.  In a time of crisis, people look to strong brands for guidance and security.  Any strategic SEO strategy incorporates a level of brand recognition.  Understanding that many people may not be converting to “leads” because of the COVID-19 crisis, throwing more money at lead generation can be foolish.  Expanding your brand’s position in the marketplace is seen as a forward-looking strategy that will pay off over time.

Reviewing Your Online Strategy

Everyone should have a unique digital marketing strategy.  For many, a holistic approach is a combination of organic SEO, social media, and Google Ads.  At this time, with online user behavior changing at such a rapid pace, all aspects of your digital marketing should be reviewed and reconsidered.  You should try keep the most high-producing/low-cost advertising channels such as REmarketing as well as the long term arms such as organic SEO.  As a general rule, you may want to reduce or eliminate Google Ads that focus strictly on lead generation as they are chasing a conversion that may not be happening at this time.  This is not the case in every industry but a general statement.

The strength of SEO during coronavirus

With the Coronavirus outbreak, we are seeing massive changes in how people use the internet.  Long term Search Engine Optimization still shows a lot of strength during these times with Google Ads taking a hit.  

Unique Time in Online Marketing

This is a unique set of circumstances taking place right now.  People that have never read the news are currently reading the news for hours on end.  People that may have spent the majority of their time on the web using a mobile phone may be sitting in front of a larger screen.  Individuals that may not have read blogs in the past now have time to look at them.  For many Americans, they are not buying things that they don’t absolutely need (look at the toilet paper shortage) so you may have to simply accept that you might not get conversions at the same clip.

Marty Marion with Master Positioning made the below recommendation for business owners thinking about decreasing their SEO spend:

1. This situation is not going to last forever, and you’re not closing your business.

2. As your competitors may be pulling back on marketing spend and SEO, this is an opportunity to boost your SEO visibility and gain competitive advantage during the time your competitors are pulling back.

3. Instead of pulling back, let’s stay the course, and go extra hard on boosting signals to Google now for gaining competitive advantage over your competitors, so when this turns around, you’ll be in a stronger position than ever before in terms of gaining on those competitors who are vying for the same customers you are…

Strong SEO will outlast this pandemic panic, so now is the time to go hard, not softer, and get a sustainable edge when the competition might be less formidable. What you can gain now in SEO in a less competitive environment will last and when this is over you’ll be ahead of the game. If you pull back now, it will be harder to re-gain rank later as everyone rushes back on board with their marketing.

We tend to agree.

We are also seeing some specific types of business models take off because of the coronavirus epidemic.  Local delivery businesses, medical supply, local drug stores, medical staffing, urgent care facilities, video conferencing software and healthcare digital marketing, just to name a few.

Facebook Ads are On Sale

One last thing that we can report is that with people pulling their advertising dollars, we are seeing a dramatic decrease in the CPMs (cost per 1,000 impressions).  This means that you can build a brand building campaign, or leverage REmarketing, substantially cheaper than you could a month ago.  You may even run a look-a-like audience on your current web traffic. The same dollar spent goes further and gets in front of more people.  Once again, depending on the industry, you may not see direct lead generation or direct sales, but a perfect time to build your brand.

What Should You Do?

Focus on keeping your brand top of mind.  Provide some new, quality content for your customers to read.  Look at reducing your Google Ads spend as well as your Google Ads management fee but try not to disrupt the long term organic goals.  This will not last forever.  Bring the Google Ads back with a vengeance when the time’s right.  With many small businesses reducing their spend on organic traffic, the companies that continue pressing forward with their organic presence and press on the gas for SEO will be the leaders when all of this is over.

We look at the current coronavirus situation as a time when brands can be made.  People are looking for brand strength, compassion, and leadership.