Our advice to ecommerce advertisers in turbulent times

Luke Jonas Nest Performance

Written by Luke Jonas

17th March, 2020

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When we went back to work this week, we knew we would need to make some big changes to the way we run our clients’ campaigns. 

Our clients’ customers are – quite rightfully – staying at home and tightening their belts, and they’re likely to do so for the next two months. But as customers’ intent to buy dwindles performance marketing starts to struggle.

However, we recognise that customers’ online and offline behaviours are quickly changing, which presents an opportunity to meet their new behaviours. 

So we put our heads together and came up with a few strategies. As other campaigns wind down, the strategies you launch now will help you weather the storm.


1. Rethink your approach to targeting countries

Countries like South Korea are already seeing reduced infection rates, so people in these markets will have different buying habits to people in places like the UK, where people are steeling themselves to the worst effects of the pandemic.

If you distribute globally, we would recommend running worldwide campaigns with a blacklist of any markets you don’t want to advertise in. This will help your ad platforms’ algorithms find the highest converting traffic from a wider reach, and help you weather a downturn in performance on a region-by-region basis.


2. Use custom labels in your product catalogues

If you’re selling items that are affected by the coronavirus, use tags to let your customer know more about the product. Buying behaviours have changed overnight, and details that your customers wouldn’t bat an eyelid at a month ago are now their top priority. 

Your customers will want to know:

  • Where the product is made
  • Where the product is delivered from
  • How many items are in stock
  • How long it will take to arrived
3. Rethink your delivery procedures and options

For coronavirus patients and those that the virus poses a more severe health risk, face-to-face contact with strangers is not an option. Online delivery provides a helpful alternative, but this comes with its own hazards. 

  • How these customers accept parcels from the courier? 
  • How do they know the standards of hygiene couriers maintain when handling their items? 
  • How are they supposed to communicate these requirements to their courier?

Companies can give their customers peace of mind by clearly explaining the health precautions their drivers take while they’re on delivery, and by giving customers an easy way to communicate exactly how they’d like to receive their delivery, e.g. on the porch.


4. Celebrate seasonal events

As gifting via online delivery becomes more important for seasonal events like Mother’s Day, your ads need to reflect that change. 

How can your messaging reflect emotional closeness rather than physical proximity? How do you highlight delivery options? Which of your product lines are likely to work best as delivered gifts.


5. Take a multi-channel view

Think beyond your existing paid acquisition channels, and focus on channels that are most likely to have experienced an exodus of advertisers.

Look to Snapchat in particular. As its usual crop of fashion and lifestyle advertisers reduce spend on the platform in response to lower demand, there’s more opportunity to win customers at a lower cost per acquisition.

Facebook and Instagram are also likely to have more traffic as people work from home. Within the context of advertisers pulling spend, you could find an opportunity here.


6. Explore native advertising

There are suddenly much more people viewing bulletin and health advisory sites. More traffic to these sites means increased views to native advertising via display ad platforms like Outbrain and Taboola.

However, this come with a caveat. Your ads should be helpful, non-intrusive, and consider the viewpoints of those browsing the internet for information about this life-threatening disease. If your ads cannot meet these guidelines, we wouldn’t recommend you take this approach.

We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen with coronavirus, and we don’t know anyone that does. However, we do know how to create effective ad strategies that adapt to changing circumstances. We hope these help your business in this difficult time. 

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