How to Optimize Your Advertising Campaigns During COVID-19

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  • 4/28/2020

    The impact of COVID-19 has led to strange times for marketers. We’re seeing new paradigm shifts every day, and at thunder::tech, we are working hard to help you navigate its impact on your business. This content is one of many resources we are creating for marketing and management in the midst of the coronavirus.
    As things continue to change, we’re here to provide marketing advice, fresh perspectives and strategic planning for companies during and after the pandemic. For a full list of our COVID-19 resources, click here.
    After over a month of quarantine, hours spent working from home and more boxed mac and cheese than you thought it was possible to consume, we know one thing for sure. And it’s that during the coronavirus pandemic, nothing is for sure.
    We’ve seen this reflected in many areas of our work, some expected and some new. One marketing campaign element that seems to be facing the most uncertainty is paid advertising. Many clients have expressed concern about how to adjust their ads to accommodate and acknowledge the crisis. After all, if you’re investing money, you want to be sure you’ll see results. 
    The good news is that it’s not necessary to pause your ads immediately and stop paid efforts altogether. There are several steps you can take to optimize your advertising campaigns during COVID-19.

    1. Focus on what works

    A pandemic and an economic crash are most definitely not the time to experiment. One of the smartest things you can do when making adjustments to your ads is focusing on what works. If you have seen success with certain ad elements or targeting options, use those as your go to. 
    When budgets are tight, avoid launching A/B tests or new campaign structures. If you are already running an A/B test, consider ending it early or putting it on pause for a future date. Additionally, delay implementing large strategy shifts like moving into a new market or reaching a new audience. In uncertain times, you want to keep your ad budget working in your favor.

    2. Target locations that provide best ROI 

    This is especially important if your ad budget is facing cuts. When a budget is reduced, the first thing to do is consolidate where your ads are being shown. Refrain from experimenting with new location targeting and instead target the areas your customers are most likely to be found.
    If you’ve never tried it before, now is a great time to day-part your ads to account for peak engagement times. Day-parting lets you control the time of day your ads are shown. You can make this adjustment using KPIs and turn ads on only when KPIs are highest. 

    adjusting ads during the coronavirus

    3. Adjust ad scheduling 

    If you don’t have great data or measured KPIs, you can also use your knowledge of your target audience to determine when to turn ads on. If you only sell to customers in one location, you can stop your ads from appearing in the middle of the night. If you sell coffee, you can stop your ads from appearing in the evenings. You can also exclude certain days your ads are seen. For example, if you sell office supplies, you can pause your ads on the weekend when people are out of the office and aren’t thinking about stocking up. 
    Specifying when you want your ads on and off allows for better budget utilization. When your ads are being shown at peak engagement you aren’t putting any money to waste.

    4. Target device types that perform best

    Similar to point #1, adjust your ad targeting to only reach device types that show results. If conversions are low on desktop, focus on mobile devices. You can also opt to bid down on lower performing device types to make your bid strategies more efficient.

    5. Optimize your bid strategies to focus on maximum value

    If you’re running manual CPC bids, consider implementing a smart bid strategy where the platform does most of the heavy lifting for you based on your campaign goals. Utilize Facebook’s CBO and Google’s Smart Bid, both of which automatically control your budget. 
    This autopilot is based on your campaign’s goals. For example, if you want to maximize clicks, the platform can adjust your bid strategy for higher click rates. It’s a good time to keep your campaign goals simple and let the robot brains do the work. 
    adjusting ads during the coronavirus

    6. Revisit your messaging

    Make sure your messaging across all campaigns shows a tone and voice that properly reflect your brand’s response to the crisis. Use empathy marketing tactics as not to appear tone deaf or crass. Above all, ask yourself if your product is one that should even be marketed at all during a crisis. If the answer is no, back down. The last thing you want is to ruin your brand’s reputation with customers.
    With some adjustments, it’s 100% possible to continue your paid advertising strategy during the coronavirus crisis! In essence, the goals of your paid campaign should not change. You still want to communicate with your audience while maximizing your budget. With some thought and a few important tweaks, you can see success while keeping your budget intact.
    When COVID-19 begins to slow, you can go back in and experiment with your budget, targeting and messaging once again. But remember, now is the time to play it safe. 
    About the author::Dan Lyons is a Digital Marketing Team Lead at thunder::tech. He develops and implements well-rounded digital campaigns that help clients achieve their business goals. He's best described as a positive, hard-working person who enjoys working out and a good laugh.
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