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How agencies help clients stay top of mind with search

As companies have had to cut expenses in response to the COVID-19 crisis, small and large agencies alike have endured cuts of varying sizes since the crisis began, and others have either laid off or furloughed employees, Forbes reports. During this challenging time however, many agencies still have an urgent task at hand: to provide clients with insights into a constantly changing business and economic environment while navigating dramatic shifts in consumer behaviors. At Microsoft, we’re working to do our part by ensuring we provide technology, tips and resources to our customers to help you do your best work for your own business and for your clients.

Insights for agencies to help brands stay top of mind while audiences move online

With more people working, shopping and learning from home, we’ve seen an 18% growth in searches on tablets, while desktop searches are up 8% when compared with pre-COVID-19 levels. More people are also using search on the weekend, leading to a 12% increase in volume. That’s two times the rate of the weekday search volume growth. Consumers are also searching during non-business hours, specifically between 5 PM and 5 AM, at a rate twice that of regular business hours.

It doesn’t matter which vertical we consider and dig deep into; the global COVID-19 crisis has and continues to impact consumer behavior in a multitude of ways. As markets have adapted, borders have closed and lockdowns have taken place, we’ve seen a shift in the way people search for the right information and the right product at the right time. Regardless of the business size, product or service, consumers have continued to turn to search to find, purchase and engage with brands online.

According to a recent survey, over 40% of digital grocery shoppers during the pandemic never used online grocery shopping prior to the lockdown. Additional surveys conducted by separate research firms found that 68% of new grocery eCommerce shoppers would continue to shop online in the future. Food & Groceries is not the only category seeing major shifts.

As noted in our Digital advertiser’s guide to COVID-19, there are other shifts in consumer purchasing behavior. Our internal research revealed an increase in buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) interest. In the United States, weekend search volume has risen by 12% post-lockdown, two times the growth we’ve seen on weekdays. Categories with the strongest growth are Home & Garden, Food & Groceries and Pet Supplies.

The Microsoft Search Network delivers value

During recessions or other times of difficulty, when a lot of firms cut back on advertising, a company’s share of voice will increase if it can maintain or increase its advertising budget. It’s an opportunity for your clients to build loyalty with their existing customers, and to obtain and keep new customers. Search advertising offers a cost-effective and targeted way for your clients to reach new audiences, retain customers, and grow your business. The Microsoft Search Network can help as it reaches a diverse, high-value audience of searchers, with 588 million unique PC users worldwide and 12.2 billion monthly PC searches globally.

Resources for the road to recovery and beyond

We’re committed to supporting you and your customers with insights to help you on the road to recovery. One key resource is our Digital advertiser’s guide to COVID-19. From audience strategy and competitive insights to account health checks, this guide is packed full of in-depth advice and data for your clients to help them back on the road to recovery.

We also recently launched a new Retail Hub to provide industry research, consumer-behavior insights and Microsoft Advertising product information to help you plan and execute successful holiday campaigns. Reach out to your account team if you have any questions. If you're not already a Microsoft Advertising client, contact our search specialist team for help getting started.