Don’t Pull the Plug on Your Digital Ads. Here’s Why.

Don’t Pull the Plug on Your Digital Ads. Here’s Why.

It’s a stressful time to be a marketer. Unless you’ve been selling toilet paper or hand sanitizer, you have some work to do.

Those of us who rely on digital ads to generate business need to stay the course.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, people have been shopping online. It’s more important than ever to be digitally active. Here’s why.

1. Digital Activity Is Spiking

Facebook usage has been 37% higher during COVID-19 restrictions. Google searches have surged, too — especially at night.

This heightened digital activity creates ample opportunity for your ads to reach more people in less time.

If your business can afford to keep your campaigns running right now, you will have a more favorable market for attention.

Our clients are already seeing this effect.

Said Jason Chavez of Coachella Buick GMC in California, a state that has been hit exceptionally hard with COVID-19:

“When I emailed [9 Clouds] to stop all the ads, our traffic immediately took a dip. When we turned [our digital ads] back on, we had five straight days of the most Internet traffic we’ve ever had.”

Although we’ve seen the cost per click (CPC) remain stable on Facebook and Google during COVID-19, the cost per thousand reached (CPM) has decreased significantly in the first few weeks of the pandemic. Marketers for all industries have a great opportunity to capitalize on the increased reach and impressions.

2. Your Brand Can Serve Needs Now and Win Hearts Later

In the automotive industry (one of our main areas of expertise at 9 Clouds), the average consumer takes a few months to research and make a decision on which car to buy. That means dealers have to take a long, continuous road to nurture a lead through all stages of the buying cycle.

Thanks to COVID-19 restrictions in several states, that cycle (and the cycle for nearly every other retail or service industry) happens to be almost entirely digital.

That’s why it’s important to tailor your ads to the changing landscape rather than simply continuing last month’s message.

As Nathan Mendenhall notes in Social Media Today:

Changing your approach just a little in the short term can help you win the trust and admiration of consumers in the longer view. You can do this by offering discounts, freebies in the future, or even complimentary access to premium services.

We shouldn’t kid ourselves into thinking that advertising isn’t about making money, however we should definitely be sensitive about how we do it. Offering helpful, thoughtful service, and/or increased value and utility in a time of need won’t be forgotten when the crisis passes.

For any business that regularly runs digital ads, pulling the plug will halt this online nurturing process. It essentially resets the process for leads who would have otherwise converted during or after the outbreak of COVID-19.

Instead, tailor your ads to the needs of your audience during this outbreak. Flex that empathy muscle, and adapt your message.

Advertising on social media and Google will keep your business in front of your target audience. When they are ready to purchase, they’ll be more likely to purchase from you instead of your competitors.

3. Return on Investment Is Still Easy to Measure

Speaking of competition, your marketing channels are likely fighting for budget during COVID-19 restrictions. Digital advertising provides real-time results, making it easy to evaluate when it comes time to adjust your budget.

Evaluation is easy. Your business can and should still use third-party attribution software to accurately measure your return on ad spend (ROAS). If you’re running Facebook Ads, Offline Events are more important than ever.

Measure results before you make decisions that could hurt your business post-lockdown.

SteelHouse advises paying very close attention to marketing ROI during the COVID-19 crisis. This analysis rings true for businesses like yours (and ours) that are striving to remain active during these uncertain times:

Branding budgets, regardless of ad channel, can be expected to drop. And while it may result in lower budgets for paid digital media, we do not anticipate the impact there to be as severe due to its direct-response nature. Advertisers will want assurances that their ad spend will result in a measurable return.

Luckily for your business, that return has never been easier to measure.

Use Data to Weather the Storm

One underlying trend in this COVID-19 mess has been the reliance on data. As bar charts and outbreak numbers continue to flood your news feed, it’s important to keep an eye on what actually affects your brand online.

There might be a time in the next few months when you’re pressed to trim your marketing budget. Cut with objective data.

Facebook, Google, and email marketing platforms will always package their reports in a way that makes them look good. However, there are many third-party reporting tools that will help you get a clear picture and compare these channels side by side.

At 9 Clouds, we use a multi-touch attribution tool to help us craft strategies for our clients in a reliably objective way. This software integrates with virtually all marketing channels — even radio and TV ads — so you can see their impact on your bottom line.

Stay Tuned to the Situation

Bob Dylan said it best. The times are, in fact, still a-changin’.

As you analyze the trends in your marketing efforts, it’s also important to stay tuned to the world around you. Every state and local government in the U.S. is currently engaged with the COVID-19 situation. As public regulations change, your message will also need to adapt.

In Dylan’s hometown of Duluth, MN, we’ve helped an RV dealer set record sales numbers. As it turns out, camping is a great way to socially distance, but that’s not the only thing a-changin’ during the pandemic.

More than half of millennials are changing their online buying habits due to the coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean they’re not shopping. They’re just being more careful.

You should be careful, too. Part of that care involves holding your team or your agency accountable for the performance of your Google Ads as well as your Facebook ads.

Sooner or later, this pandemic will pass. When that time comes, do you want to be starting from scratch online, or do you want to come out of this ahead of the competition?

We’re Here to Help — Always.

Our crew at 9 Clouds is fortunate to be able to work from home during this time. We’re still cranking out ads, emails, posts, and more for our clients. Pandemic or not, we’re still available to help your business thrive in its own way.

Now is the time to prepare for when we get back to a “new normal.” In our recent webinar, we discussed how to adjust your digital advertising budgets as we turn another corner in 2020. Watch the recording here.

9 Clouds also made a COVID-19 sales guide just for dealerships. This is a fantastic new resource for your sales management and sales staff to continue thriving in 2020.

Not only do we have the answers to your digital marketing questions, we also have the questions to ask your digital marketing team.

This eBook, along with the rest of our library, will help you gain a valuable understanding of the digital marketing world — even when it’s changing.

Stay safe out there, but stay online.

Download the Questions to Ask Your Agency eBook