LOCKDOWN: IT'S TIME TO TRANSITION TO DIGITAL
2020 has brought unprecedented changes and it appears they will remain for the foreseeable future. If you were previously undertaking traditional marketing practices, it is highly unlikely that they are going to yield their expected return on investment and the temptation is there to simply put your marketing on hold completely. However, these days consumers' attention spans are growing shorter, so you can’t simply drop everything and expect your brand awareness to pick back up where it left off when lockdown is lifted. As we see it, the best way to respond to change is to adapt. That’s why we have written this short blog to help you adapt your marketing practices digitally to minimise the impact on your brand awareness and ideally get you off to a running start in the new normal.
Google ads are a great place to start your digital marketing efforts. Google search ads are the ads that appear at the top of Google search results. When you run these ads you only pay when someone clicks on it. This is known as pay per click (PPC). In 2020, if you aren’t showing up in search results when consumers Google your product or service, you are losing business to competitors. Below is a brief outline of how a growing business can run a successful PPC search campaign.
1. Know your audience
When it comes to PPC, targeting is the name of the game. This is where knowing your buyer personas really comes in handy. Most of us don’t have the budget of Procter and Gamble to just show ads to everyone and anyone. SME’s and businesses with tight budgets must be clever with targeting if they want to get the most out of PPC.
When creating PPC campaigns keep in mind your buyer personas and brand positioning to effectively target the right people with the right message. Platforms such as Facebook allow marketers to target ads to consumers based off of demographic information as well as behaviour on the site. So, if you know that your most valuable buyer persona is middle-aged men who live in Glasgow and are interested in Football, you can show ads exclusively to people who match those criteria. In PPC the more you know about your ideal customers the better.
Location targeting is a vital tool for growing businesses who are looking to operate within a certain radius. All PPC tools will allow marketers to highlight specific geographical locations that they want their ads to be shown. This prevents local plumbers from wasting money on advertising their services to consumers in foreign countries.
2. Know your platform
It's easy to get over-excited at the prospect of running search ads to bring in new customers and the temptation is there to jump right into things before having a grasp of the fundamentals. This is a surefire way to lose money for no reason. We strongly advise that you at least have a basic understanding of how to run, target, budget and pause ads before spending any money. When first using Google ads the system may appear daunting. Thankfully the basics are fairly easy to grasp and the rest of the tools can be looked at as optional optimisation that requires you to have already invested time into running ads to make proper use of.
There are many easy to understand YouTube videos that let first-time Google ads users learn all that they need to know to run a successful campaign such as this one from Surfside PPC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLH8sIM6xVE
3. Analyse and improve
If you are running a PPC campaign, Google Analytics is your go-to free analysis tool. Google Analytics provides plenty of useful statistics which you can use to measure the success of your campaigns. Stats to watch out for include click-through rate and bounce rate. Click-through rate will tell you out of every impression your campaign got what percentage of people were enticed enough to click on your advert and learn more. Bounce rate will tell you out of everyone who came to your website as a result of your campaign, how many of them were interested enough to stick around and click through other pages and how many simply left. Most campaigns will aim for a high click-through rate and low bounce rate.
Cancel the ads that are performing below average and use the money saved to invest more in the ads that are bringing in customers and converting sales.
Make sure you utilise google campaign link builder to know exactly where your clicks are coming from and to retarget them in the future.
SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTISING
The most prominent social media platforms also offer advertisers the option to display ads in various forms across their networks. This is a useful way to generate demand if you are confident that your ideal consumer is likely to be found on a particular social media site. If you were planning on doing any type of billboard or sign based advertising before the lockdown then showing the image on users' news feeds is a simple, cheap and effective substitute. However, there’s no need to stop there, the majority of social media platforms allow you to upload video advertisements at no extra cost. Video advertisements get more engagement than single images and are cheaper than running ads on TV.
Remember all of these social media sites can be used to target your audience for free, running ads on these sites will simply help increase your reach.
Facebook is a great platform for display ads as they offer advertisers numerous tools and insights such as A/B testing and other variable testing tools. There are plenty of ways to display ads on Facebook such as in the news feed, as video mid-rolls or even over messenger. It is good practice to try out these various methods of displaying ads to find out what works best for your offer. Facebook's biggest advantage by far is the vast amount of user data they collect. This allows advertisers to target ads based on demographic data such as age, location and gender. However, Facebook's vast data library is put to optimal usage when advertisers target consumers based on behaviours and interests. By allowing advertisers to target users based on how they use their site and the interests they demonstrate while using it, Facebook offers an unmatched potential of ad optimisation.
Facebook plays host to a large demographic of users, however, the largest audience on the platform is middle-aged users. This is good to keep in mind if your ideal customer happens to be in this age range.
LinkedIn display ads function very similarly to Facebook ads in that they offer A/B testing for optimisation and also allow for a number of display variations such as news feed and sidebar ads. LinkedIn offers advertisers less user data for targeting such as behavioural targeting, however, still offers more than enough data - such as demographics and interests - that any business will be able to run extensively targeted ads on their platform.
LinkedIn's main benefit comes from its incredibly niche and specific user base. LinkedIn is exclusively aimed at professionals and they have successfully grown their site based on this niche audience. As professionals are one of the top demographics advertisers want to target due to their higher likelihood of having disposable income, LinkedIn ads are significantly more expensive than Facebook. From our experience, the cost per click on a LinkedIn ad can easily be 5 times as expensive as a click on a Facebook ad. However, LinkedIn claims to have the return on investment stats to justify these expensive prices and if you are looking to run an ad campaign targeted exclusively at white-collar professionals LinkedIn is definitely a candidate for the ideal platform to do so.
In the world of social media display advertising, Instagram may be the polar opposite of LinkedIn. Instagram is an informal platform with a significantly younger demographic. Instagram belongs to the Facebook advertising network meaning it shares the same expensive bank of user data advertisers can use to create extremely niche, targeted ads and is equally as cheap to do so.
Instagram is likely to be the perfect platform for your advertising campaign if your ideal customers are in their late 20s or younger, especially if they are female. However, since this demographic has been shown to be more responsive to social influence, many advertisers have chosen instead to spread their message using social media influencers on Instagram rather than display advertising.
So, if 2020 has derailed your marketing plans, there are some cheap alternatives to consider to pick up your game in 2021. Even if you decide not to run paid ads on these platforms, we urge you to take the time to employ some digital marketing efforts during lockdown. Remember, this is an incredibly difficult time for a lot of people and many people will not be in a position to buy either due to loss of income or uncertainty about the future so it may not be the best time to try and sell anything.
We would suggest that you focus on using these platforms to build your brand awareness and generate good-will by asking yourself what you have of value that you can provide people at this time, even if it's just free information like we have one with this blog. Maintaining your brand awareness is vital to ensure that you remain at the forefront of your consumers' minds when lockdown is lifted and people are ready to buy again. Right now, the best way to do this is utilising digital marketing. Whether you are interested in search ads to increase your website traffic or simply want to keep up brand awareness on social media, take things slow, be inspired and expand your skillset. It’s the perfect time for it.
About the author: Vincent Bissette is a freelance Brand Strategy and Design Consultant with over 30 years experience of branding and rebranding businesses and organisations, systematically, thoroughly and objectively. He has worked in major Design Consultancies as well as having run his own agency for 25 years, working with SMEs all over the UK to help them modernise their brand, grow their business, attract new customers, penetrate new markets and increase their sales, market share and profit. Throughout that time, there’s not much he hasn't done or many industries he hasn't worked in. He’s a creative, strategic thinker and problem solver with a wealth of experience in diagnosing trouble spots in brands and discovering their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Now based in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, he works throughout the entire UK.
Get in touch with him on Linkedin here