Consumer habits have changed, and whether these changes are here to stay has yet to be seen. With consumers’ lives upended by COVID-19, many advertisers are looking to capitalize on the here-and-now as search demand shifts across various consumer categories. Although many may focus on a client’s given target, when executed correctly, including search demand in your optimization strategy can result in incremental revenue, all while achieving given targets. For PPC marketers looking to capitalize upon search demand, this means incorporating these 7 tips in your optimization strategy.
Understand your baseline
Including search demand in your optimization strategy requires creating a baseline across various search categories. Baselines will allow you to understand what portions of your PPC program are seeing upticks in demand. Additionally, you will realize when search demand exceeds expected behavior and is significant enough to capitalize upon.
Understanding your baseline can allow you to be less reactive to shifts in search demand, instead homing in on the strategic changes needed to align with a shift in consumer behavior. For example, rather than devesting in PPC altogether at the start of COVID-19, creating category baselines may have revealed a shift towards in-store pickup for brick-and-mortar retailers or same-day delivery options for online retailers. By understanding these nuances, you can shift messaging early, capturing search demand well ahead of competitors.
Plan for seasonal behavior
It is essential to incorporate search trends regularly as you plan for category investments. Understanding expected seasonal behavior could ensure you capture anticipated demand while investing in specific tactics well ahead of search terms driving significant volume within existing campaigns.
For example, rather than simply heavying up keyword bids on Mother’s Day terms a week ahead of the holiday, you may determine additional campaign activations across engagement-focused ad types that can help capture early interest at low costs. Remarketing to those users with tailored messaging can allow you to later re-engage with those same users closer to the moment of conversion.
Remain adaptable in your targets
Challenge yourself to see beyond daily targets. Although daily goals may be salient, it is equally important to caveat the change in search demand and its overall performance impact. If spending to plan results in less revenue than target due to lower-than-expected search demand, it may be time to shift budget toward a day when you expect higher search demand.
Create quarterly, monthly, and daily plans that allow you to be adaptable. Ensure you’re prioritizing focus and attention on longer-term goals. Single-day performance is not how you’ll ultimately measure the success of specific tactics.
Diversify your investment
Create multiple ad types or LOB segments from which you can shift your budget. This will better allow you to adapt as plans change. Rather than creating separate budgets for new initiatives, try including new ad types in your always-on search plans whenever expected performance aligns with current initiatives. This will provide greater flexibility in shifting funds between tactics if demand over or underperforms and will better ensure you achieve your goals.
Similarly, when leveraging automation, try utilizing portfolio-level rather than campaign-level strategies when campaigns measure against the same goal. Portfolio bid strategies will allow algorithms to discover incremental revenue opportunities between various campaigns and ad types. This will enable you to hit both spend and revenue targets, as the algorithm considers changing demand between campaigns rather than holding each campaign to a specific target.
Always be testing
As search-demand fluctuates, it is essential to ensure you are constantly testing. Testing will allow you to diversify your investment, tapping into new strategies and ad types to achieve your goals. If budgets are limited and bandwidth tight, keep tests simple. Tests can range from testing the effectiveness of new creative messaging, implementing a new campaign type, or even re-evaluating your measurement infrastructure. Regardless of the type of test, learnings can be instrumental in adapting to both
Search-demand changes alongside the way users engage with your ads.
Determine when it is the right time to lean in
Ensure you know what moments the right moments are to lean in. A rise in search demand may not indicate a trend or audience you would like to associate with. Ahead of scaling support, ensure you have messaging that will align closely with the search demand.
Equally important in determining when it’s the right time to lean in is understanding if the uptick in demand will help you accomplish your goals. If, for example, upfront costs are high due to heavy competition, it may inhibit your team’s ability to hit a particular ROAS goal. Similarly, your specific industry will have varying considerations you will need to factor for, such as the types of products sold, inventory levels, and budget.
Never miss an opportunity to pivot
Work to maintain enough flexibility to pivot as market conditions change. Although you should use search demand as a signal, it cannot be the sole factor in determining how to take action. Having a flexible approach will allow you to capitalize on real-time changes.
For example, in April, Walgreens announced they kicked off their “This Is Our Shot” cross-channel campaign, encouraging individuals to receive their COVID-19 vaccine at Walgreens locations as vaccine supply began to outpace demand.
Although Google Trends indicated a sharp rise in search demand for vaccines since the start of 2021, Walgreens had to decide when the right moment was to launch their campaign. The key to this was ensuring Walgreen’s Vaccine Equity Initiative was at the forefront of their campaign messaging. Solidified collaborations with Uber and Chicago’s Urban League alongside community influencers such as campaign spokesperson John Legend allowed this initiative to contain essential elements needed for community buy-in across the determined target audience of over 100 underserved communities. These partnerships and the pace of vaccine demand were crucial elements to consider ahead of pivoting to support a rise in search demand for vaccines.
The bottom line
Plans are great to help guide you towards your goal; however, incremental success against your goal requires changing with users and remaining adaptable. Pivoting strategies are not new for PPC advertisers. Leveraging these 7 tips can allow you to incorporate search demand in your optimization strategy while achieving your goals. More than ever, it is critical to plan for a range of possibilities while you remain adaptable enough to account for shifts in search demand.
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