3 must-do PPC tips during COVID-19 with real-life success stories

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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every corner of the digital world, especially media budgets and how they are being spent. Recent reports show that Facebook and Google stand to lose over $44 billion in ad revenue due to the continuing global shutdown.

As expected, businesses have reacted to the pandemic in various ways. However, for many, the planned approach seems to be to adapt in order to weather the storm, cutting costs where possible, and waiting until business can get back to normal.

So, how can PPC help with this? There are three things you should do with regards to your PPC campaigns to help your business rise to the challenge:

  1. Listen to your users/clients/audience
  2. Communicate regularly with your PPC partner
  3. Adapt

In this article, we take a closer look at these three areas, as well as offering some practical PPC tips and sharing some real-life success stories.

1. Listen to your users/clients/audience

A crucial factor to making it through a crisis, often ignored by some, is to always listen to your users. Cutting spend and reducing cost is totally understandable and, most of the time, recommended. But it’s also important to look at what consumer data and trends are telling you.

Before any big decisions are made, we recommend exploring the many freely available sources of consumer data insight online and consulting your team and PPC partner before making the final call. Here are some free online resources that can help you better understand how customer behaviour is changing in the current climate.

2. Communicate regularly with your PPC partner

The big promises of paid digital marketing have always been rapid results, proactivity and transparent reporting. Now, more than ever, it is time to ensure these parameters are being met.

Do this by communicating with your partners clearly, promptly and openly. Put your cards on the table and discuss what’s working, what’s not, what is needed and what is not.

In the current climate, businesses need to know that marketing spend is driving immediate results. The challenge of marketing in a pandemic has brought this even more to the fore. We’re having to be more agile and responsive than ever.

All of a sudden, decisions that used to take days or even weeks are being made in hours. It’s important to work collaboratively with your PPC partner so that your business gets the return it needs.

3. Adapt

Very often, businesses have to adapt to thrive – a few good examples of this are Netflix, Yellow Pages and Lego (more about their big changes here). As many companies are scaling back or pausing their PPC spend, there may be ample opportunity for those that don’t to adapt and extend their market share.

Why? Well, not only will you have less competition, you won’t need to spend as much to achieve the results you’re looking for. Our advice is as follows:

If your business is currently on hold

Reduce your spend to a minimum, but don’t stop completely just because the search volume is low – people will start looking for businesses like yours once they’re back up and running.

Run a small and cost-effective brand awareness campaign that includes re-marketing. This way you keep your brand fresh in consumers’ minds.

If your business is running at reduced capacity

Regroup, revisit your strategy and analyse all the data and insights. Check your spend and budget, but first consider whether or not you could shift the focus to make your campaigns more relevant in the current climate.

If your business is running as usual

PPC should be the main focus for your businesses, but don’t ignore the trends and check your search terms. You need to be on top of things so that you can spot any important consumer behaviour changes. This way you’ll be able to adjust your strategy on the go.

If your business is in high demand

Great news, although this can be tricky to manage (costs, ROI, return on ad spend, stock… you name it).

You need to be really on top of your game to make the most of this opportunity. Check the insights you have access to against your paid ad strategy to ensure your adverts are achieving maximum reach amongst your target audiences.

Three real-life success stories

Now let’s look at some examples from our customers:

1. B2B: An eCommerce shop and set of services

Most B2B companies are having a challenging time at the moment. Whether you still have high demand or your clients are thinking twice before placing an order, the solution is to keep going.

In this case, for one of our B2B eCommerce customers, we decided to gradually reduce the media budget, after discussing data insights and the strategy for the coming months. By doing so, we focused on the best performing search terms and products; brand campaigns being one of our key focuses.


Although we had 30% less media spend in March compared to February, and 60% less media spend in April versus March, conversions kept coming – generating enquiries and profit for our customer. The drop in conversions was significantly less than the reduction in budget – 21% Feb vs March and 17% March vs April.

Graph showing fall in conversions but much bigger fall in costs

2. B2B & B2C: An eCommerce shop

For this B2B and B2C customer, we took a different approach. The main challenge was to filter the high demand, so we focused on targeting the keywords and products that were not only generating revenue, but had healthy stock levels and delivery times.

This was achieved through regular communication with the customer so that we could be agile and reactive. We provided insights into demand and trends and recommended new products to target, while our customer kept us up to speed with employee numbers, stock levels and delivery challenges.


Due to this close working relationship, we’ve managed to increase the year on year revenue by 32% while still keeping the same ROI.

Graph showing increase in revenue

3. B2C: An online learning provider

Online learning is another big opportunity, especially while people are spending more time online and maybe rethinking their careers. The peak time for our customer is usually February, as shown in the graph below.

Our approach was to ‘keep going’, based on data insights and trends. We worked with our customer to adjust their offering in response to how user behaviour was changing. Now, video call interviews and fully online courses are available, which means we have been able to continue driving their campaigns and generating as many conversions as possible.


After an initial drop (mid-March) and a strategy refresh, conversions increased week after week with the same media spend. YoY conversions increased 98% for February, 37% for March and 113% for April.

Graph showing conversions higher in 2020 than 2019
2020 conversions tracking well above 2019

PPC tips during COVID-19

When considering the general drop in PPC performance, keep in mind that much of it is concentrated in specific industries. So, before stopping your paid search, consider doing some essential adjustments, gathering data and talking to your search marketing specialists.

Here are some further tips to keep in mind:

  • Take action based on all of the available data.
  • Refine your messaging – be sensitive and empathetic where possible.
  • Cut wasted ad spend – this should be on your list anyway, but it’s now more important than ever.
  • Build relationships with your audience – share insights if possible, keep the brand campaign live.
  • Focus on ROI and ‘return on ad spend’ if your business is in high demand.

Read more digital marketing advice from our experts.

And don’t forget our 3 must-dos:

  • Listen to your users/clients/audience
  • Communicate regularly with your PPC partner
  • Adapt

“The coronavirus pandemic is teaching us about how to run campaigns that will live beyond this moment. And though it has been an extremely painful experience, perhaps it will make us all better marketers in the long term.”

Joshua Spanier, Google’s Global Marketing VP for Media

Need advice?

If you need advice during this challenging period, we are happy to help – just call us on 02392 830281 or send us your details and we’ll call you.

Mihai Serban profile picture
Mihai Serban

Mihai started the marketing journey in 2007 while studying for his Masters Degree in PR and Social Communication. He worked for three advertising agencies and two big companies in Romania as a marketeer and one digital agency in UK before joining Vertical Leap. He finds digital marketing more fun and challenging than traditional PR and marketing, and he especially loves PPC because of the ability to track and measure results in real time. He considers himself a motivated digital marketer, with experience for all levels of small to large scale marketing projects. One of his favourite industry quotes is: "If you do not understand marketing, you cannot understand business." Outside of work, Mihai's big passion is photography, so if you walk around Southsea you might see him with his camera around his neck. (www.mihai.serban.photography; www.facebook.com/mihai.serban.photo - or just search ‘mihai serban photo’ on google).

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