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Managing B2B PPC in the emerging Coronavirus situation

By Jennifer Esty  |  March 16, 2020

The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is a fast-changing situation at the time of writing (16th March 2020). While it will take some time for the full impact to become clear, it is obvious that it will have both immediate and longer-term impacts on businesses of all sorts.

We manage PPC activity, especially paid search (e.g. Google Ads) and paid social (e.g. LinkedIn Advertising), for many B2B clients. So we need to consider the impact of COVID-19 on B2B PPC across a range of businesses.

Based on our experience to date here are some tips on how B2B PPC managers should be responding to the COVID-19 situation.

Be proactive

One advantage of PPC is its controllability – changes in campaign setup have an immediate impact. So PPC managers are well placed to react to the emerging COVID-19 situation.

Don’t assume that a campaign setup that has performed well in business-as-usual will be adequate for the days ahead. Set aside some time to actively review your PPC activity and to make adjustments where needed. And be ready to repeat this review frequently as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

Consider adjusting budgets and activity levels – but don’t panic

Most businesses will experience negative impacts from COVID-19. So it is tempting to reduce PPC activity levels in order to save money. But that might be the wrong response.

If your business is DIRECTLY impacted by COVID-19 – for instance if you operate in the hospitality sector – you know that your clients and prospects will be reducing their spend or stopping doing business with you. It is likely that bottom-of-the-funnel lead gen campaigns, at least, will have dramatically worse performance. So absolutely you should consider reducing or pausing these sorts of campaign. Either conserve the budget to save costs, or switch emphasis to invest more in activities like brand reinforcement with existing customers.

But if your business is not directly impacted, the position is less clear. Your clients and prospects will be continuing to trade and continuing to look for suppliers. Decision makers may be working from home and will have more “laptop time”, which can provide a good opportunity for research. So lead generation campaigns may even work BETTER for these types of businesses. Monitor your campaigns closely but don’t rush to reduce spend. You may even consider spending more, if you see evidence of better engagement.

Look for new negative keywords in paid search

The pandemic is driving huge spikes of activity in search behaviour. Look at this example from Google Trends for the search “face masks”:

Chart illustrating increase in the search term 'face masks'
[source: Google Trends]

If your product or service accidentally overlaps in some way with these new high-volume searches, you may suddenly find you are wasting your budget on bad searches. So proactively check your search term reports for COVID-19-related queries and add negative keywords where needed.

Adjust messaging in ads and landing pages

Your clients and prospects are likely to have concerns about your business and its approach to the situation. Don’t jump on the bandwagon. But if you have something substantial and important to say about how your business is responding to COVID-19, even if it is just to reassure, use your PPC media to communicate it. Some good channels:

  • Add a sitelink to paid search ads with details of your COVID-19 response
  • Show a remarketing display ad
  • Add a splash message to PPC landing pages
Speak to an expert

If you are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on your B2B PPC, or any other aspect of your B2B digital marketing, speak to an expert at Sharp Ahead today. We offer a free 30-minute remote consultation.

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