Adapting and responding quickly to the present climate is a never-ending task. The digital shift from in-store to online is ever-changing particularly even more so with the current volatile market conditions; consumer behaviour has shifted towards online shopping with some clients seeing better weeks & months than Black Friday.

The upcoming recession is going to prove to be a tricky time for all businesses but while a recession does present widespread challenges, it also offers a chance to spot business opportunities for those that know where to look.

Business strategies during a recession

It’s a natural instinct for business owners and marketing managers to want to recession-proof their businesses as much as possible, but that’s easier said than done. There is no silver bullet to keeping your business afloat during times of economic instability, but making sure your processes are adaptable and flexible, meaning you are able to change and pivot as required, will certainly give you the best fighting change. Here are some of the ways we foresee businesses needing to adjust during the recession period.

Adjust your PPC campaigns

As the market is volatile, changes to your PPC campaigns are required frequently and therefore efficiencies are required. Using automated strategies in the short term to ensure that your campaigns are updated using real-time data to perform. A combination of data-driven automation and intelligent manual tweaks is required for truly agile and proactive campaign management. Although automation is key to helping achieve fast adjustments, the changes the AI is making could be based on previous behaviour so manual optimisations are still just as important to ensure no anomalies in performance are missing.

Increase your discoverability and adapt to the market instantly by trying out new paid keywords that come through in search queries or recommendations. It is a good time to opt-in for Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) as these also bring in unique customer queries. With the ads being relevant to the customer search, these can increase the CTR and CVR.

Customer journeys & remarketing

Customer journeys are changing and the duration of these journeys are generally increasing as people have more time to browse & are now looking for the best deals as competition across the market increases & as stores remain shut. Be open to change or have flexibility in your ROAS & CPA targets; expect a lower return whilst people have more time to shop around and take note of your best performing conversion paths.

As businesses are now gaining a wider audience it is an appropriate time to use remarketing display advertising across all platforms. There has been an increase in users’ using ‘news platforms’, so this is a good time to opt-in for the search & display networks and remarket to users there.

Your budget may be limited during these times because of the increase in consumer needs but aim to not pause these campaigns, instead focus on where you could lower your CPCs/budgets and keep activity live or steer towards a shared budget. We also recommend improving the content of your ads and landing pages to improve your quality score, thereby increasing visibility without increasing costs.

Stay aware of changes to product sales

Due to the current situation, some retailers & brands are seeing a shift in product sales. Adapt the products you are promoting to your customers by aligning campaigns with consumer needs & trends. An example of this is an increase in demand for GreatBeanBags ‘deck chair bean bags’ due to customers spending more time in their garden.

In other sectors, like travel, adaptations to strategies are required. Impression has made it clear to customers in various accounts that cancellations are available and that they can rebook for next year. By adapting and updating the customer you are retaining their custom and adding some positivity to customers for next year. In the travel industry, it is still difficult to adapt when there has been a 73% decrease in searches. (source, SaleCycle).

Update Google My Business

As we are all now having to only travel for essentials, updating your Google My Business page will keep customers informed on business information i.e opening times & deliveries. This can also lead to a positive increase in online sales. See the below images from Google that are prompting businesses to update their information.

Impression has also taken a proactive approach in PPC by updating ad copy highlighting the new opening times, contact support times etc so that consumers knew at all stages of their journey as shown in the below examples. 

Keep an eye on Trends

It was certain that entering the quarantine period there would be fluctuations in the performance of certain sectors, including large losses for some businesses. As we are now a few months into the ‘new normal’, it is easier and more evident to see which businesses have had to adapt.

Trending products that are prospering have included: software, laptops, vacuums, freezers (as a result of bulk buying/panic buying), webcam (as a result of family chats, working from home), home decor, craft, DIY (home & garden). Consumers are adapting quickly to new ways of life and workers in the digital marketing industry need to look at real-time insights and trends to focus on the demands of consumers.

Vax, one of Impression’s clients had a surge in quieter household appliance range & air purifiers. Overall improvements in both month-on-month sales and year-on-year sales in comparison to their other household ranges.

Palm Spas saw triple-digit growth across most metrics (visits & leads) this past month due to customers making the most of the good weather & spending time in their gardens. This proved to be their best month as a business.

This appears to be the trend across certain sectors; a study conducted by SaleCycle and saw that across some sectors like automotive, office supplies, sport, books all had an increase in year on year sales.

Google Trends corroborates the study undertaken by SaleCycle. There has been a large increase in bike-related queries due to people wanting to exercise more or find alternative ways to ‘wear the kids out’. Searches such as Bicycle child seats, bicycles, bicycles gloves, bicycle trailers all up 90% YoY (source, Google Trends).

Another anomaly this year has been Fashion. This would normally see a spike in January due to Sales and then a bit of a lul but there have been increases in March/April due to more online ordering. 

The browsing habits have varied with not only the time but purchasing decisions too, for example, rather than buying high-end trainers, people are wanting running trainers. There have never been so many runners!

Make use of pragmatic & creative solutions

By using creative solutions that reflect current trends, particularly media trends, you can promote products in a way that make a customer feel that the business is on-trend and has a certain sense of relevance to the customer. Everyone’s heard of Joe Exotic by now. Right? Impression’s PR team did a brilliant job with Great Bean Bags and set up a campaign to target users’ fascination with the Tiger King by using their ‘tiger’ patterned bean in a campaign. Why not have a bit of fun in these times!

Across different paid media channels Impression has been using current and topical trends that have been rising. A client of ours, Magnet Expert, has seen an increase in their craft & DIY ranges. Impression increased the presence of these through Ad extensions, showcase ads and display, whilst trialing even more inspirational imagery & wording than before, to connect and inspire users at all touchpoints of their journey. Below is an example of some of the magnet ads.

Summary

With a recession on the horizon, now more than ever is the time to revisit your business strategies, tightening up in any areas which aren’t driving performance and exploiting any business opportunities generated by the recession itself. Making use of automation in your campaigns can help you keep up with the rollercoaster pace of the recession trends, however, make sure to be proactive with your manual changes, roll your sleeves up and get on-trend and stay flexible. It is also important to keep your business up to date and retain your customers, giving them the trust and confidence that you are as up to date as the competition.

Claire Henley

PPC Executive

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