4 trends in the COVID-19 epidemic and how to respond to them

The lives of people around the world are changing rapidly in an epidemic. Travel stops, schools close, and people stay home to avoid the spread of the virus. Many small businesses have responded by cutting or suspending operations and are already experiencing losses.

But the current changes don’t necessarily mean business ruin. The American agency Wordstream in its material told about four trends that have formed in the context of the epidemic, and also gave advice on how to reduce the negative impact of the current unstable situation on business. We have translated and adapted the article by foreign experts.

Trend # 1: decrease in the number of visits to stores

Since people prefer to isolate themselves and avoid moving around the city, and many businesses have already closed offline outlets, small offline stores suffer from a shortage of visitors, because there are practically no people on the streets.

Google Ads advertisers often track in-store conversions in order to understand how online promotion affects offline points. Many overseas advertisers have noticed that store visit rates have dropped as COVID-19 almost eliminates pedestrian traffic.

In the US, advertisers noticed the first small drawdowns in indicators at the end of February. By the first week of March, visits to shops decreased by 24%, in the beginning of the second – by 46%. Since March 12, the number of store visits has decreased by 80%, last week there were almost no random store visits, the figure dropped by 90% compared to data published a month earlier.

The situation is similar in Russia. So, during the All-Russian weekend in honor of February 23 and March 8, shopping centers already had almost 10% fewer visitors than last year. Then, in the week from March 30 to April 5, the work of all organizations was limited, including stores, except for food and pharmacies. Also, in Moscow and some other regions, a mandatory self-isolation regime has been declared, in which you can only move around the city to the nearest grocery store, pharmacy, work or medical facility. Accordingly, in the near future there will be no one to visit non-food stores.

Solution – move your business online

Small and medium businesses need to focus on their online presence. According to Wordstream experts, search traffic on Google has hardly decreased during the epidemic, so if you have not yet adapted your business for Internet users, it’s time to do it.

Here are five steps to help you do this.

Create a simple website

The site is the face of the company, it is it that largely determines your online presence. A small business does not need to create a complex website and invest a lot of resources in it; a simple resource can be made independently in just a day. We wrote about how you can make a website using a constructor and how to advertise a business without a website.

Work with Google My Business and Yandex.Directory

Since many businesses are now shutting down, people will most likely turn to Yandex and Google services to find out if a particular organization is working.

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By creating a profile in Google My Business or Yandex.Directory, you can specify the opening hours, address, show the route on the map and customer reviews. If you have already worked with the Directory and Google My Business before, be sure to update the data that has changed due to the outbreak (for example, if you changed the operating mode). During the entire time, promptly publish notifications of any changes in work so that potential clients are always aware of whether you are working, when and how you can get to you, etc.

Read on:

Keep active on social media

Users expect your business to change, so they will probably check their social media accounts to see what’s going on with you. Some will probably search for information through a search engine or on your website, but most will track Instagram posts and community posts. And if there is silence on social media, most likely people will decide that you are no longer working.

Therefore, create profiles on social networks, if you have not already done so, regularly post, post Stories, and also conduct live broadcasts, so that even while at home, visitors do not lose the atmosphere of their favorite institution.

Read on:

Go to marketplaces

Traditional offline trading now cannot exist in the form in which it used to be. However, e-commerce in the current environment is more relevant than ever. If you want users to continue buying your products, organize trading on online platforms – primarily in Google Shopping and on Yandex.Market.

To list on Google Shopping, create a Google Merchant Center account and upload a product feed to the system and launch a Shopping campaign to start showing your products in the Shopping block.

To work with Yandex.Market, you will also need to register a store account and upload a price list in one of the formats: file, link or Excel macro.

Do not forget to update the feed in time, indicate in it relevant information about the products, make sure that the products are correctly categorized.

Read on:

Use digital promotion tools

SEO and paid traffic tools will help users find your business on the Internet, because now you should not hope that people will accidentally look at you after seeing a sign or banner on the street. If you are already using SEO, but haven’t launched ads yet, it’s time to start: the additional traffic that will come from ads will definitely not hurt you right now. Here are the main tools to help you:

  1. Contextual advertising in Yandex.Direct and Google Ads. It will help users find your products and services in search engines, and will also show your banners in the Yandex Advertising Network and the Google Display Network. The network includes tens of thousands of thematic platforms (sites, applications), you will surely find your audience.

  2. Advertising on Facebook Ads. You will be able to serve ads on Facebook and other projects owned by the company: Instagram and Messenger. Also in the advertising account of the system, the placement of the Audience Network is available – a network of partner sites and applications.

  3. Advertising in myTarget. Allows you to display ads on the Mail.ru Group resources: Odnoklassniki, VKontakte, Mail.ru mail, etc.

  4. Direct advertising on VKontakte and Odnoklassniki. These social networks have their own accounts through which you can set up ads.

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Trend # 2: queries related to COVID-19 lead the search

As the virus spreads, the number of inquiries related to this disease increases. People want to know the latest news and information about the epidemic. Accordingly, over the past week, users are entering more and more queries with the words “coronavirus” and “COVID-19”. These words are often added to everyday phrases such as “booking a trip,” “preparing tax returns,” etc.

In Russia, inquiries with the word “coronavirus” have begun to grow since the WHO declared a pandemic on March 11. And now the interest of users in this topic is still increasing.

An increase in the number of requests for coronavirus

In addition, there is a growing number of requests that in normal situations people would not introduce, for example, “fines for violating quarantine”, “self-isolation index”.

Popular queries

Due to the fact that search behavior of users becomes unpredictable and different from usual, many see an influx of traffic where there was none before.

The solution – optimize your campaigns for new popular search queries

Track your search terms report regularly

This task should be a priority in the current unstable situation. Nobody knows what request will be trending tomorrow and how users will behave. Regularly look at what requests users come to you for, whether there is any benefit from these visits and add negative keywords in time to cut off irrelevant traffic.

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Look for new negative keywords in advance

In today’s reality, many keywords run the risk of attracting irrelevant traffic and spending budget. Analyze your keyword data using Wordstat or Keyword Planner and minus queries that can increase irrelevant traffic.

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Use Google Trends

This tool will help you understand how users are currently behaving online and what they are looking for. In response to the surge in search queries related to the coronavirus, Google Trends has released a new service – Google Trend Coronavirus Hub (there is no Russian version yet), dedicated to specific search trends during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Trend # 3: decrease in mobile traffic

Since many people now have to stay at home, they have become much more likely to use a desktop than a mobile phone. For example, in St. Petersburg they noticed that the use of mobile Internet fell by 15%, while people began to use home wired Internet more often.

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If earlier we were guided by the mobile first principle, now desktop computers come out on top. Desktop traffic is usually more expensive than mobile traffic, and this should be taken into account in your advertising strategies.

Solution – adapt campaigns to reduce mobile traffic

Review your rates

You may have previously set your mobile bid adjustments based on data that was current at the time. Most likely, you will need to revise the adjustments according to the current situation. It is recommended to focus on desktops.

Test automated strategies

If you don’t have enough time and find it difficult to constantly monitor the situation, try connecting smart bid management strategies. The strategies independently adjust the rates in accordance with the situation. When choosing a strategy, be sure to consider your goals and budget.

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Trend # 4: cross-channel communications

Despite the fact that people have started to visit less stores and search traffic on Google has decreased slightly, Internet usage rates have increased significantly. You can still interact with users through other channels.

For example, in the US, there are traffic drawdowns in Google search and Google Shopping. But traffic on the sites included in the CCM, as well as on YouTube, has grown rapidly. Use this situation to keep in touch with users.

Russia has seen a significant increase in TV content viewing. In the second decade of March, compared to the previous period, TV viewing time increased by 20%. The number of viewers in online cinemas is also rapidly increasing.

Solution – use different channels to communicate with users

Advertise on networks

As search traffic drops, networks are more relevant than ever. Advertising on Display Network and YAN will allow you not only to compensate for the loss of traffic from search, but also to expand your reach and get more new potential customers.

Read on:

Show ads on Google search partner sites

Google’s search partners are small search engines that are used much less frequently than Google. They can make up for the lack of search traffic. Test this option. To do this, when setting up a search campaign, check the box next to “Google Search Partners”.

Search partners

Use display ads

Your task is to reach as many people as possible in different channels to compensate for the decrease in search traffic and the lack of visitors in offline locations. Now people are browsing more sites, actively watching videos on the Internet and on TV devices. Set up display campaigns, test video ads, or target TV devices. It’s also worth using retargeting to bring back those already familiar with your brand.

Obviously, the coronavirus epidemic will change our daily life, at least for the next few months. Do not despair, find ways to adapt to the current realities and use the current situation as tactfully as possible.

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