According to Wordstream.com, the changing market conditions and uncertainty created by COVID-19 have resulted in reduced competition for digital ad space and lower ad placement costs. For many businesses, this represents a significant opportunity to drive more business and increase lead generation through a strategic approach to digital advertising.
But how do you know if there’s increased demand for the goods and services your business offers? Market research!
There are a variety of free tools you can use to understand demand and to help create a strategic digital advertising plan to tap into it.
Start with Google Trends
One very helpful and easy-to-use tool for market research is Google Trends. Google Trends shows search volume over a period of time for a particular search term. For example, when typing in the term “carry out,” it’s clear that the search volume has skyrocketed since stay at home orders have been put in place. This means that there is more search volume to bid on and there could be potential advertising opportunity for your business.
The chart below shows that carry out restaurants have experienced an increase in demand resulting from the coronavirus.
Another way to use Google Trends is to compare keywords with each other to understand which keywords are driving the greatest search volume.
The graph above shows that the search term “Mexican food” is not necessarily driving more traffic due to lifestyle changes during COVID-19. The term “Mexican to go” does not have much search volume at all, either. However, the search term “Chipotle” has the most searches and has increased in search volume recently. Below is a screen shot of Chipotle’s organic listing on the Google results page (Notice the emphasis on free delivery).
From a simple keyword comparison search in Google Trends it’s easy to see that the increase in Google searches are likely people who are interested in free delivery. So if you work for a Mexican restaurant that offers free delivery, this tells us that the search term “Chipotle” would be worth focusing in on in Google ads or in organic search.
Drill Down Further with Google Ads Keyword Planner
Once you know the general trends for a search term category, it’s helpful to drill down a little further. A more specific tool that will help uncover opportunities for your business during the COVID-19 outbreak is the Google’s Keyword Planner, available in Google Ads.
To access the keyword planner, first you need to sign up for a free Google Ads account. Once you’re signed up and logged in, you can access the keyword planner by clicking “Tools and Settings” and then “Keyword Planner.”
In the keyword planner you can discover keywords, monthly search volume, and potential costs to bid on each keyword. You can also set a specific location if you don’t plan on targeting the entire United States. So in the case of a local Mexican restaurant, they would want to narrow the location down to their specific service area. For this example, we will research search trends in Milwaukee.
Below is an example of the kind of information returned when you click “Discover Keywords” in the keyword planner using the same keywords used in our Google Trends example above. The keyword planner will also suggest similar keywords to those used in Google Trends. It’s important to click and test a variety of related keywords to see exactly where there is search volume demand.
These keyword results in the chart above shows that there is substantial search volume with low competition for “Chipotle,” “carry out,” and “Mexican food.” Based on this data, a Mexican restaurant in Milwaukee has a significant opportunity to target those keywords using Google Ads.
We’re also seeing that companies are competing to get in front of users who are searching for food delivery. Since we learned that the search term “Chipotle” is recently related to food delivery services, and that “food delivery service” and “order food online” have higher competition and lower volume, the cheaper and less obvious option is to bid on the search term “Chipotle.”
Test & Iterate for Best Results
Keep in mind that results may vary depending on your messaging, location, audience, and other factors. Even after all of this market research, testing and iterating are crucial steps in discovering profitable search terms online.
Your business or industry does not need to go through all of the previously mentioned steps for there to be a good opportunity to run ads online. Each tool should be used as a guide to whether there is an increased opportunity for your business. The final and most important test is to actually run ads and see how people respond.
Don’t Forget About Lead Generation
If search volume seems low and competition high, there’s still opportunity to expand your business online during this outbreak: Lead generation! Lead generation may make a lot of sense for certain businesses.
For example, businesses that are closed but will reopen shortly can work on their lead generation. One example of a business like this may be a fitness center or a gym. Using tools like Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner, local gyms can target cheap yet relevant fitness related search volume online. Gyms can then try to acquire emails or phone numbers in exchange for future discounts or at-home fitness tips.
When customers go back to their regular spending habits after COVID-19, these proactive companies will be ahead of their competition as they have new leads and acquired them for a cheaper cost than they would have normally.
It’s important to keep in mind that not all industries have reduced ad spend. As some service-based companies shift their businesses online, competition may actually increase. The key will come down to using the tools mentioned earlier to decipher what search terms might be low-hanging fruit and which ones are overly saturated and don’t offer opportunity. No matter your business or industry, market research and a little creativity can go a long way during COVID-19.
If you’re stretched thin or have limited staff to focus on market research, digital ad planning and execution, we’re here and happy to help! Good luck and stay healthy and safe.