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Grow your audience during supply chain shortages

November 11, 2021

With supply chain shortages affecting multiple industries, many advertisers are reevaluating their ad campaigns, shifting budgets, or cutting ad spending altogether. But low-funnel advertising is just one part of the marketing lifecycle. Planning and maintaining awareness will help ensure you’re still able to reach – and grow – your audience.

Supply chain issues

Pandemic-related supply chain shortages and increased shipping costs have impeded companies’ ability to get products to consumers. The challenges started with factory closures, then were compounded by delays in delivery when shipping ports closed. Store closures at the beginning of the pandemic exacerbated the problem. Now demand continues to surge, but the backlog in production, staffing, and shipping is causing a lack of product availability.

The advertiser response

Because the supply chain remains in flux, companies without a sound marketing strategy may panic and stop advertising. Those with long-term growth goals are forging ahead by taking advantage of lower advertising costs and an increase in ad inventory.

What you can do during a supply chain shortage

Continue branded search and native campaigns

While we don’t know when the supply chain issues will be over, it is crucial to maintain your branded campaigns. Now’s the time to highlight your brand value and focus on what sets you apart from the competition. Use search and native messaging to focus on brand values and stability so you don’t lose share of mind or customers. Keeping your brand front and center while others pull back works to your advantage in gaining a share of voice and wallet in the future.

Build on brand loyalty

Consumers are aware of supply chain issues and are looking for stability and options. Just because you’re out of stock on a few items doesn’t mean you’re out of stock on everything. Use Shopping Campaigns as an opportunity to promote and cross-sell other available products.

McKinsey Global Institute research shows the top three reasons shoppers look for a new brand are value, availability, and convenience. By making it convenient for your customers to find an alternative product, they’ll appreciate the recommendation, and continue to explore your offerings.

Grow by increasing share of voice

According to Marketing Week, 61% of consumers switched brands at least once in the last year because their first choice was out of stock and another brand attracted them. Use display ads to help customers browsing for replacement products and services and take the opportunity to build your audience with Microsoft Audience Network.

Use Ad Extensions to grab attention pre-click

Quickly position your messaging in a way that customers won’t miss while searching. In addition to highlighting comparable products, Ad Extensions can help promote services, gift cards, offers, and special callouts.

  • Action Extensions: Encourage potential customers to take the next step with options that let them download, apply, reserve, subscribe, watch, and more.
  • Callout Extensions: Add a line in your ad, such as “Top Rated,” which could increase your click-through rate (CTR).
  • Promotion Extensions: Highlight deals and options for popular products and searches that offer alternatives.
  • Structured Snippet Extensions: Lead prospective customers to your company more easily with brand messaging.

Combine search and native ads

First-party data shows that reaching people across the Microsoft Search Network and Microsoft Audience Network leads to a 2.5x incremental lift in site visitation and a 3.5x conversion rate. Microsoft Audience Network native ads run on trusted properties with a massive reach on premium sites where customers spend time. They use first-party data from our cross-channel ecosystem to reach your target audience at scale.

Use Dynamic Search Ads

When you have products out of stock, Dynamic Search Ads can help you uncover new searchers by matching your ads to user queries that aren’t part of your keywords. This means headlines and landing pages are automatically created from content on your website to better match the keywords a searcher uses. The result makes ads more relevant, increases CTRs, and saves time.

Tips for optimizing your ad budget

  • Instead of spreading your budgets too thin, tighten geo-targeting and bid strategies, or spend more in locations that may be less impacted by supply shortages.
  • Optimize conversion tracking. For example, when a customer selects “Alert me when this item is back in stock,” make sure to track that information.
  • Try the new Microsoft Clarity pilot for insights that can help you optimize your campaigns or pages in real time.

Continuing to connect with your audience during times of flux is an important way to earn loyalty and enhance your base for the future. Remember, in the marketing world, if you’re not growing, you’re shrinking. A focus on maintaining awareness will keep your brand or business top of mind and your customers within your reach into the future.


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