This is not normal. This is not even the new normal, that hasn’t kicked in yet. For these first three weeks of social distancing and isolation, we don’t know exactly how online users are going to react because we don’t know what will change during this time – the new normal will come after that, and we can only start to plan for that when we get there.

During this time, it’s important for marketers to stay flexible and adapt to what is happening on a day-by-day basis. Not just in the technical aspects of paid media like bidding and audience targeting, but in our messaging and in many cases even our business offering and product positioning.

We’ve put together some advice on how to manage paid media campaigns – but like everything, these will no doubt change soon. Remember to check back for updates!

Make your website helpful and consider your tone of voice

Is delivery slower than usual? Have supply-chains been impacted? Are some products unavailable? Be upfront about this and consider homepage banners or messaging. Being upfront with customers and managing their expectations will lead to better user journeys and conversion rates as well as creating better ongoing relationships.


In this messaging, and any other outreach messaging across all channels, consider your tone of voice. Now is not the time for hard-sell messaging; instead, consider how more personal approaches can really resonate. Speak to audiences in a way that's granular, personal, yet unobtrusive if possible.

Make your messaging relevant

  • Are you selling toys and entertainment? No, you’re selling “ways to keep the kids entertained at home”.
  • Are you selling online learning? No, you’re selling “learn a new skill in your downtime”.

Updating your messaging like this is effective, and at Ayima it has led to increases in ROAS at a time when profitability is more important than ever.

Ask your audience

Consider poll and survey ad formats in channels such as Facebook and Twitter to directly engage with your audience, or potential audience. Ask them what they want, what would make things easier, and pivot towards their responses. This could inform your media strategies instantly in ways that data from even just a week ago could never have predicted. Be prepared to pivot.

Maintain your brand presence

For many ecommerce businesses, conversion rates are currently low as customers “wait and see”. Therefore direct response campaigns on any channel are likely to be generating lower than average returns and search volumes are trending down.

During this time, focus on your brand campaigns. Make sure that people are aware of what you offer and how it’s relevant to them right now, without chasing the sale.

This is a great time to open up the top of the sales funnel and begin to build deeper pre-purchase advocacy through timely and welcome messaging, ready for when customers come out of hibernation.

As many businesses currently withdraw from online this also means greater reach for less competitive CPCs and CPMs for a lot of verticals.

Consider lead-gen

Do you have products out of stock? Is delivery currently not available? Customers will still want or need those products eventually.

Lead-gen ad formats across search and social platforms (and don’t forget LinkedIn in this!) can be really useful in growing your database and giving you a rich source of conversion-ready users when you’re ready for them. Incentivising users with small discounts or voucher codes increases the likelihood of them registering their details.

Offers can be very effective and welcome right now

People need a treat right now but aren’t looking to splurge. Highlighting savings, offers and deals will help drive conversions. Can you tolerate a lower ROAS currently while safeguarding profitable sales at a better volume than non-discount, higher ROAS products?

If it won’t harm your brand to offer deals, and you can fulfil orders, now is the time to do it.

Do good

Brands seen to be doing charitable deeds or supporting key workers will reap the benefits in the coming months.

Can you donate supplies to community organisations? Can you offer discounts to key workers or NHS staff? Are you helping in your local community? Doing these things and putting a small amount of effort into showing your audiences what you’re doing, and even involving them in furthering donations etc, will build useful brand equity.

Your corporate social responsibility and its relevance and visibility are now more important than ever. Be the Pret A Manger offering nurses free coffee rather than the Virgin Atlantic not paying their staff.

Remember businesses are made of people too

Staying live, flexible and meaningful is just as important for B2B as it is for B2C. Reach out to your clients, and potential clients, who are still working or working from home and remember everything we’ve said about relevant messaging. Be helpful, focus on top-of-funnel and lead-gen and you could find yourself in a healthy position post-COVID.

Watch your competition

What your competitors aren’t doing is as important as what they are doing. Are they leaving any vulnerable gaps you could fill? Is their withdrawal a chance for you to gain a share of voice.

Scrutinise automated optimisations

Your week-on-week or even day-on-day performance is likely experiencing some turbulence. This can lead to automated bidding or targeting strategies making poor decisions. Make sure that you are excluding dates to manage seasonality and make sure that you have trusted analysts curating the optimisations that are being made.

If need be, pull back from automated strategies and leverage the expertise of your team to optimise based on their understanding of your business and the current climate. A good paid media team is now more important than ever.

What can I take away from this?

Ultimately all this advice falls into two main areas:

  • Be flexible
  • Be helpful

And if you need any help being helpful or flexible, let us know.

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