18/05/20 // Written by DanSaunders

Search Marketing and eCommerce: Top Tips for COVID-19

With the temporary closure of brick-and-mortar stores, digital marketing and eCommerce have been presented with new challenges but also new opportunities. It’s a tough sector to excel in even in normal circumstances, but with the added complication of COVID-19, it’s become even harder.

To succeed, businesses need an understanding of their customer profiles, an analytical mind, patience and a talent for selling. Not to mention the skills to cover the countless digital marketing tactics and channels including SEO, PPC, email, analytics, Amazon and social media. All at a time where your resources are stripped to a bare minimum.

To help navigate the challenge, I’ve highlighted some key points that, if done right, will help to maintain your online sales through these tough times with the potential to come out stronger on the other side.

Acknowledge the elephant in the room

The world is being impacted by COVID-19 and consumers expect businesses to acknowledge the impact it’s having on operations. Be honest about this. Delays, store closures, fulfilment times, product availability and extended returns policies are just a few areas you can address in your communications. I’ve seen many businesses set up FAQ pages and others use banners or pop ups. There is no guidebook on how to best handle it, you need to make a call on what approach is most appropriate for you and your audience.

Get your keywords right and optimise

Getting your keywords right is half the battle. But where’s the best place to find your keywords and how do you know if they are the right ones? There are many tools including SEMrush, search metrics, Ahrefs and Sistrix to help you do this. Even Google AdWords, Google Analytics, Google Search Console and, if you have it, your site search function will all help if you don’t have access to these tools.

Weigh up terms you want to rank for against the search volumes and conversion rates. Once you have decided on your target keywords, refine them, find out how competitive they are and then prioritise them.

When creating content for your eCommerce site, make sure you write for people AND search engines. You need Google to rank your website, but you want people to buy from you. Striking this balance can be a challenge. If you don’t get your technical SEO right, your hard work won’t be indexed. But, if you don’t resonate with your audience, it’s likely that audience will begin to diminish.

It’s important to ensure that URLs, titles, headers, sub-headers and meta tags are fully optimised too. Google’s algorithm rewards sites that create great content and penalises sites that keyword stuff or use other manipulative tactics. For Amazon, ensure your titles, bullet points, descriptions and backend search terms are fully optimised with these keywords.

Now is not the time to give up on PPC

PPC is a heavyweight in the eCommerce market, yet many companies are either reducing their PPC budgets or stopping their paid activities all together. But this could be a mistake. As Henry Ford once said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time”.

Before making a decision on your PPC, consider whether your competitors are still marketing. If the answer is yes, can you really afford to take time out? If the answer is no, consider taking the chance to get ahead. Use this as an opportunity to test new landing pages and messaging while the cost per click is lower. When implementing PPC, be sure to:

  • Test ads to see which generate the best results
  • Use Smart Bidding and move away from last-click attribution
  • Purchase intent keywords
  • Increase bids for mobile devices
  • Update your audience on key information. For example, if you’re open, mention this in your ad copy, if you’re only taking online orders or are offering click and collect, let people know

More people than ever are online, still spending and still converting – don’t miss the opportunity to sell your brand where possible.

Use email and social to connect with your audience

Consumers are hungry for both answers and distraction. While the email marketing and social campaigns you originally planned may have lost their relevance, you can review and adapt based on the current landscape. For example, if your original campaign focussed on ‘The Best Going-out Looks’, change the angle to ‘Your Working from Home Wardrobe’.

Use this as an opportunity to connect with your online community through your different social channels and email. Once this is over, consumers will remember the brands that were there, not the ones who were silent. Empathise with them and let them know you care. In doing so, you can build meaningful relationships that will last. If you’re unsure what to say to your audience, take a read of this useful blog from our connected agency, Wired Plus, which outlines their top tips for email marketing during a crisis

Don’t forget about Amazon

Amazon is arguably the most dominant eCommerce platform and it’s thriving during COVID-19. For many sellers, success on Amazon can make or break their business. But the rules change all the time. The tactics that worked yesterday to propel your products to the top of the Amazon charts may cease working today. Below is an overview of how to get your products ranking on Amazon:

Feature one from The Marketing on Amazon 2020 https://www.innovell.com/

It’s worth noting, however, that Google recently announced it would stop charging merchants to place products on Google Shopping. This could have been done in a bid to win eCommerce advertising business from Amazon and other online retailers.

Amazon also have Prime, one of the most successful loyalty programmes, driving consumer spending and purchase frequency. With subscribers paying a premium for exclusive benefits such as free and faster delivery, coupled with Amazon’s reputation for excellent customer service, Google will be hard-pressed to compete.

Carefully consider your content

Duplicate content is the enemy of any eCommerce brand. Many eCommerce stores have a large amount of duplicate content as a result of product descriptions and lists, which can be penalised. Especially if you place those same products on your Amazon store. Very few sites can compete with Amazon on a domain authority level, so more often than not, Google will punish you for your own content. Assess your site and look for ways to reduce the amount of redundant and duplicate content. Careful usage of the canonical tag on your main site can also help to avoid these problems.

As we all try to navigate these unpredictable times, it’s important to make the most of your website and online presence to maintain a connection with your audience. Hopefully, these tips will support you in maintaining your online sales and put you in a position to continue when circumstances see more normality. For further guidance, request a free consultation with one of our experts.