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Four reasons search advertising can help your business beat COVID-19

COVID-19 has upended our lives and created difficult challenges for many small and midsized businesses (SMBs). Like most, you’re probably searching for ways to not only survive this crisis, but also find a way to thrive. If you’re looking for digital marketing strategies to help pivot your business and reach new customers, we hope to make it less daunting by providing these positive insights and resources during this unprecedented time.

1. Less competition means search advertising costs are much lower

Many companies, especially big chains, have been hit hard by COVID-19-related supply chain and customs challenges., To cope, they’ve either stopped their digital ad campaigns or reduced their search advertising bids. As a result, cost per acquisition (CPA) is much lower than it was prior to the crisis. Not only is there less competition, cost per click (CPC) is also down across verticals and markets. This has helped level the playing field, giving you the chance to explore new marketing strategies to maximise your marketing budget and target customers you may not normally have reached. Now is a great time to ramp up or add search advertising to your marketing mix and think about where you want your ads to show. With 37% of the U.S. PC search market share and 47 million searchers not reached on Google, the Microsoft Search Network offers you a valuable opportunity to reach new audiences.

2. More people are searching online than before

Millions of people working and sheltering at home have caused a significant spike in online searches as they search for the products and services they need. Microsoft Advertising shines in this area, powering more than one in three PC searches. 
 
The dramatic shift toward digital consumption has led to some significant search growth across verticals. Searches for health and fitness, entertainment, science, news, and business have increased, while queries for information on family and parents rose 167%. With everyone focused on the news, native and display advertising are great ways to build more direct connections with customers by reaching them in a targeted, efficient and relevant context. Native advertising on the Microsoft Audience Network shows your ads on news sites like MSN, Reuters and Fox Business. Display advertising can get your ads seen by audiences across Microsoft consumer properties, including Xbox, MSN, Windows OS, Microsoft Edge and Outlook.com.

3. Purchase demand is growing online across key verticals

Searches for small appliances and food have increased dramatically since the start of the crisis when compared with last year. Takeout and food delivery services are also in high demand in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Home and garden searches and clicks have gained significant momentum when compared with the start of this year in Australia.
 
In the U.S., automotive keywords with incentives (also known as deals) have surged, seeing CPC cost efficiencies of more than 10%. You may want to set up a landing page with video capabilities and interactive formats to help complete transactions.
 
The finance sector is seeing an increased demand for digital services, making it a great time to promote your banking or finance app. Millennials are searching for brokerages, and refinance searches are also up due to low interest rates. Now is the time to be proactive: Only 35% of searchers have had their bank, lender or auto loan provider reach out with offers to ease payments temporarily.

Capitalise on these trends with competitive bids as auction dynamics have shifted in many categories. To drive growth post-COVID-19, add the top terms relevant for your vertical. And don’t forget testing! Now is the perfect time to test and experiment with different elements of your campaign to achieve the biggest impact. Be sure to take advantage of the experiment feature that allows you to test and compare in a controlled environment.
 
For the latest actionable tips, search trends and consumer behaviour changes for these and other verticals in your market, visit the Microsoft Advertising COVID-19 hub. It’s updated weekly, so bookmark the hub to stay up to date.

4. Claim your coupon and get free campaign help

Remember, we’re here to help set you up for success during this challenging time. If you’re a new advertiser, create a new account or contact our specialists to get hands-on help setting up and optimising your new account and campaign. They’ll also show you how to easily import your Google Ads campaigns into Microsoft Advertising and run the same ads on the Microsoft Search Network. If you’re a new Bing Places for Business or Bing Webmaster Tools user, they’ll also get you started with a Microsoft Advertising coupon.
 
If you’re an existing advertiser, schedule a free search consultation to get help staying visible to customers, updating your business hours, and aligning ad copy and images to be empathic to current events. Contact us whenever it’s convenient for you. We’re available 24/7 via chat, phone or Twitter. You can also check our resources at help.ads.microsoft.com.
 
No matter what size business you have, we're here to support you and your team every step of the way. Reach out to us on LinkedIn or Twitter with your questions. We want to hear how you’re adapting your strategies to today’s new reality and how we can better help you.