Natural disasters claim lives & lay waste to property every year. Second to these severe realities is the dire if not irreversible impact on small Social Stores . Potential clients in affected areas are concerned with survival, not making an acquisition. Brick & mortar locations are destroyed. Advertising efforts fall by the wayside.
No matter how well a small company is doing before a disaster, putting the kibosh on PPC & paid social until conditions develop can have a profound effect on company once the dust settles. AdWords and & are finicky; like a street-parked car after a harsh cold weekend, they can take forever to warm up after lying dormant for a few days.
Here at WordStream, we have got a handful of customers in the travel industry whose safety & bottom line were impacted by Hurricane Matthew. While PPC descends lower on the hierarchy of needs than preserving existence & securing shelter, it was surely on their mind: the account manager was instructed to pause the AdWords plans since there would not be anyone in the (evacuated) office to take calls. Another customer, one that focuses on bringing tourists to the storm-ravaged area but is not located there, took a similar method. Both accounts have since been restored, but the number of leads missed while the accounts were paused might be felt well into the holiday.
On a more personal stage, I work remotely from South Carolina. My journey back home from Boston was delayed by Matthew & I still do not have power. While injury in Columbia (where I live) was mostly limited to downed trees & a rescheduled football game, the state’s gorgeous coastal towns were destroyed.
Hurricane Matthew’s estimated economic impact will be somewhere in the vicinity of $7 billion. That figure, while amazing, barely scratches the surface: it just includes damage to insured property. In reality, the flooding, tempest, and resulting power outages shuttered companies for the better part of a week, leading to absolute losses like the ones faced by our aforementioned customers.
Truth be told, nobody think about value propositions & bid adjustments when there is real shit to worry about. But shutting an account down & forgetting about it until the skies clear is not your only option. With that in mind, here are three things you can do to keep your PPC & paid social accounts running the next Mother Nature kicks you in the teeth.
1. Concentrate Top of Funnel & Branding, Not Conversions
If your company relies on phone calls and you know you are going to be evacuated, your first advertising-related instinct is to break off your active plans. After all, if there is nobody in the office to man the phones, what is the use in driving calls through paid advertisements?
While bottom of the funnel (these which indicate a prospect is in “buy now” mode) might not demonstrate particularly valuable at a time when you are not going to be able to interact with your views, top of funnel keywords represent an opportunity to grow your list of views.
If for tertiary, research-based keywords, you are driving prospects to a landing page with a gated proposal (meaning that in order to view your offer the visitor must say, share, an email address), like an informational whitepaper instead of attempting to get them to schedule service or on a call for a demo, you do not need to be physically present.
This is even more useful when you pair your PPC plan with a drip funnel. Let marketing automation work for you while you are under duress and return to a slew of nurtured leads instead of having to begin from scratch.
The same plan can be used for Branded terms, provided they are not exclusively a bottom of funnel avenue for your company. Keep a set of advertisements that you can rotate in when direct leads begin scarce that will drive branded traffic to a contribution rather than a phone call. Better yet, keep a set of branded advertisements paused in your account that do not include a call to action at all. This will help you to occupy space at the top of the SERP without essentially incurring any clicks. While this will not result in leads, it’ll keep your brand at the forefront of the searcher’s mind (for free!).
If you tend to wholly drive bottom of funnel traffic through branded time, (which might be likely if you are in a small niche or you are a relative newcomer) pause your branded search campaigns & focus branded efforts on Display…
2. Build Up Brand Recognition With Display
The Display Network is not known for driving direct change (though in some industries it does). It’s, above all else, a brand-building channel: a structure of digital billboards you can target towards your wanted coterie. Many of the users who see your advertisements won’t click them and that is totally okay: as I mentioned above when talking CTA-less branded search advertisements, the object is to create & spread brand awareness.
That being said, sometimes users will click on your Display advertisements. When this happens, be certain traffic is being sent to a page with a top of funnel offer so you do not run the risk of inciting phone calls or consultations that can’t be fulfilled.
The Display Network allows advertisers a variety of means by which to bolster brand recognition & bring new prospects into the fold. These include:
- Keyword Targeting – recognizing websites for ad placement based on a set of selected keywords that relate to your business and/or the related attracts of your desired demographic.
- Managed Placements – Specific websites frequented by your prospects that allow the placement of Display advertisements.
- Interests/Topics/Affinity – Clients based on interests as indicated in Ad Preferences & browsing history.
- GSP Ads – Advertisements sent to Gmail inboxes based on either a) an existing email list or b) keywords present.
3. Make New Remarketing Audiences
Oftentimes you would use remarketing to bring a user back to your website to make sure a conversion. Cookied site users are shown an enticing Advertisement based on the pages they visited and actions they took and they plummet down the funnel accordingly.
Why are we focusing on remarketing at a time when your company may well be shuttered for days? Remarketing lists should have at least 100 active users within the last 29 days to be used on the Display Network & a minimum of 2,000 to be used for RLSA. The more exact the parameters of a list are, the longer this method can take. By building out remarketing lists before closing up shop or leave, you let them time to grow.
If you aren’t already using remarketing…
Skip the headache of learning how to build out granular audiences for now and simply import the Core Remarketing Lists Engagement Pack in Google Analytics. This will give you everything you need to get started.
If you are a remarketing veteran…
You can start to further segment audiences & create new, hyper-specific remarketing lists.
For these highly-qualified, granular teams, it can take weeks to build a customer large enough to use. That being said, when combine with appropriate ad imaginative, the lists you make now will likely convert at a much lower CPA than your “site visitors.”
Carrying this same logic onto FB, these small, highly qualified remarketing customers make for exceptional Lookalike customers.
Obviously nobody could hole up at their desk with a natural tragedy approaching so that they can make bid adjustments & rotate in fresh ad copy. But arranging your PPC account to weather the storm by pivoting your SEM budget away from lead acquisition & towards top of funnel terms & branding means can keep away shutting down your marketing efforts entirely.