We reviewed 42 Google Ads accounts, here are the trends caused by COVID-19
Let’s just say it, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the world lately. Between the health and economic issues, businesses of all sizes have been impacted in a number of ways. Unless you are lucky enough to be Charmin or Zoom, it’s likely that your business has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
If you’ve been reading any other marketing articles lately, you’ll see that projections for global digital advertising spend are down by at least 3% so far. While many sources think that advertising spend will increase again by the end of the year, nothing is a guarantee. Advertisers like Google and Facebook rely heavily on SMB’s advertising regularly, but many businesses have chosen to reduce or cut digital advertising entirely. This has caused these companies to offer their own version of an economic stimulus, like Google’s ad credit program.
JEMSU’s clients are primarily small and medium sized businesses, so needless to say, we expected many of our clients to be negatively impacted by the economic downturn due to COVID-19. However, that wasn’t always the case. We reviewed 42 active Google Ads accounts managed by JEMSU to see who is doing well during COVID-19, who is suffering, and whose accounts have barely been impacted.
I’d like to give a special shout out to my two interns, Angelica and Sepehr, who spent hours pulling this data together so I could write a blog post about it. They reviewed all client data for March compared with the data from February, paying special attention to conversions and cost per conversion. I had a simple question that I wanted answered. Did our accounts do worse, better, or stay the same?
Here are the general numbers.
Total Clients Reviewed: 42
Clients whose conversions increased in March 2020: 16
Clients whose conversions decreased in March 2020: 22
Clients whose conversions did not change: 4
Clients whose cost per conversion increased in March 2020: 18
Clients whose cost per conversion decreased in March 2020: 21
Clients whose cost per conversion did not change: 3
Average cost per conversion increased by $40.39
As we predicted, the majority of our clients saw a drop in conversions in March. However, 38% of our clients actually saw an increase in conversions for the month. Even better, 50% of our clients saw a drop in cost per conversion. This means that even though they may have dropped in total conversions, they were still able to lower their cost per conversion. There are a lot of reasons this could have happened (which we’ll go into later), but this is a pretty good takeaway.
It would be foolish to ignore the fact that certain industries are prone to be affected worse by the current marketing climate. Brick and mortar businesses are very likely to drop in sales because of lack of foot traffic. Cleaning products are likely to have gotten a boost because of the demand increase.
I took a look into the clients that saw both the greatest growth and the biggest losses to see if there were any common industries being affected. Here is a breakdown of industries seeing a positive impact, and industries seeing a negative impact.
B2B Business Services
B2B businesses were able to make the most of their ad spend, seeing the largest overall increase in conversion volume in March. We made a special point to use ad copy that speaks to the current working environment, especially working from home.
Law offices were able to see a sizable increase in conversions and a considerable drop in cost per conversion.
Home services like electricians and plumbers are seeing an increase in conversions. We believe this is due to more people working from home, and encountering the extra problems that come with that.
There was another industry that saw an increase in conversions, but unfortunately has been hard hit by the stay at home recommendations. Our dental clients have seen increases in phone calls and form submissions in March. However, many of our clients have not been deemed “essential businesses”, and have not been able to service the demand.
Staffing agencies saw drops in new business leads in March 202. Since many businesses have put a freeze on hiring, the demand for recruitment services has gone down as well.
Home Improvement Services
Companies like roofers, sewer replacement, and siding installers have seen a decrease in their normal lead volume. With an increase in layoffs and furloughs, consumers seem to be resisting the urge to jump into any big home renovation projects.
Retailers and retail supply companies have seen a predictable drop in revenue from advertising. With people staying at home, these sales have slowed down dramatically.
Non-profit organizations have seen a drop in donations and volunteer signups. With budgets being closely watched, people are less likely to give a charitable donation unless it directly contributes to COVID-19 relief.
What are the biggest factors in these changes?
If I knew the actual answer to that, I would be floating in international waters on my private yacht. However, since I have not mastered my power as the oracle just yet, we will have to settle for some educated guesses.
The customer journey has changed.
Marketers have been saying that for years, and they aren’t exactly wrong. However, with most of the US under stay at home orders and many people facing unemployment, the journey has officially changed. Impulse buys are now carefully researched and sometimes not completed at all. Potential customers are taking longer to think about the product or service before committing, and sales cycles are lengthening in response.
The Google Ads auction is less crowded.
Many companies have made cuts to their budgets to stay afloat. Marketing, and advertising in particular, is often the easiest to cut and the first to go when companies need to save money. With this decrease in overall spending, JEMSU clients started to perform better in the ad auction. With less advertisers in the mix, we were able to increase search impression share and lower CPC’s in many accounts.
Desktop is back?
Yeah, we’re pretty surprised too. In spite of the current expansion of mobile traffic, Google search ad mobile traffic saw a drop of 24%. Desktop traffic is seeing significantly smaller drops, leading many PPC experts to believe that desktop is making a comeback. This is very different from Google’s own push for mobile-friendly traffic. Mobile traffic is not dead, but adjusting campaigns to be desktop friendly will likely pay off during this time.
My Google Ads campaign isn’t doing so great, what should I do with that money instead?
If you happen to be in the pool of clients seeing a drop in Google Ads performance, you may be wondering if your money is better spent on another platform. There’s no correct answer to that question, but we have seen some promising opportunities on other platforms that are worth considering.
While most commonly associated with the image ads found on blogs and mobile apps, programmatic advertising actually ecompasses a wide variety of media in an endless selection of placements. These campaigns are particularly good for brand awareness. If you have videos to leverage, we highly recommend adding CTV, or connected tv, to your plan! Many platforms allow you to show ads on streaming platforms like Hulu, and also have detailed targeting so you can hit the right people with the right message.
Social Media Advertising
Search ads have the distinct advantage of showing up to users when they are looking for your product or service. When they stop working for you, what else can you do? Social media ads could be a great option to try. You will need to know the profile of your target audience, and you might have to get a bit more creative with the ads, but ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn could end up being very effective for your sales pipeline.
Website & SEO
You know those old images you’ve been meaning to swap out? Or maybe your website could use a few new pages? If you are seeing a drop in traffic and sales, take that time to work on your own website. There is always new content that can be written, like a blog post or a service page. Similarly, your SEO efforts should not be ignored during this time. Make sure your website is fully up to snuff, and keep SEO investments going. Good SEO is the key to your marketing in the long term, especially when you might not be advertising.
If you’re sitting on a list of emails, now is the time to use them! Email is often the most inexpensive channel in your arsenal, and tends to make a big impact! This list is full of customers who know who you are, so why not try reaching out to them? You’ll want to make your email unique and compelling, as many people’s inboxes are flooded daily with offers. However, reaching out to previous customers and leads is an easy way to increase traffic and sales.
These numbers are based on our experience with our own clients, but many other marketers have released their own data about Google Ads in the time of COVID-19. We do not claim these trends to be the standard for all PPC campaigns, and encourage you to do your own research within your industry. Wordstream has a particularly detailed blog post if you want to dig deeper into the topic.
In our expert opinion, we believe that Google Ads is still a viable source of marketing in the time of COVID-19. This all depends on your industry and approach, but there is no immediate need to divest yourself from Google Ads. We plan to keep watching these trends as time passes, and we believe we’ll see even bigger changes in months to come. Part of JEMSU’s expertise lies in our constant thirst for knowledge, and we continue to improve our processes as this situation unfolds.
Do you want JEMSU’s help with your company’s advertising? We’re offering a free proposal for your business from JEMSU’s team of Analysts.