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3 Paid Marketing Strategies for Retailers Navigating COVID-19

Marketers and business owners are facing difficult challenges since lockdowns around the world started to take place last month due to coronavirus. 

Non-essential brick-and-mortar retailers have been hugely impacted by the pandemic, however retail giants like Amazon, Target and Walmart that have built a good online presence over the years and have streamlined their supply-chain are seeing growth in their traffic.


Changes in consumer behaviour and tight cash-flows are affecting marketing budgets. 

While some advertisers are axing ad campaigns others are upping spending and diversifying their paid marketing mix. A new survey from Advertiser Perceptions shows that one-third of advertisers have cancelled at least one campaign before it started in response to the pandemic. However, 48% are upping spending with Facebook.


The decrease in online advertising spend has caused a drop in cost-per-impression. Facebook’s traffic has surged as impressions have gotten cheaper due to the lack of competition. This means companies still spending on digital ads can get a big payoff right now.


3 paid advertising strategies for retailers navigating the pandemic

In this blog post, we’ll review three paid advertising strategies for retailers navigating the pandemic and how to track performance so you can quickly adapt and optimize campaigns during this time. 


#1- Expand your audience with Facebook Ads


Data from a Namogoo study shows that total site visits to fashion retailer sites are down 18% and sales are down 57% from February 23 to March 31 compared with 30 days earlier, and conversion rates have increased by 21%. “This data shows that consumers who are visiting sites are shopping with a purpose and are completing purchases.” Namogoo says. 


Expanding your reach might be a good top-of-the-funnel strategy to capture qualified leads and increase conversions, and a great paid advertising channel to achieve that is Facebook Lead Ads.


Facebook Lead Ads are basically promoted forms that allow marketers to connect with potential customers while, ideally, providing something in return. 


They present some good advantages, including integrations with your CRM and marketing automation software


As an example, a great use case of Facebook Lead Ads for retailers navigating covid-19 would be a newsletter sign-up lead form, offering a 10% discount on the next order.


Lead gen forms are a great top-of-the-funnel initiative; however, they are also quite efficient to drive conversions in the short-term, for instance, like the example mentioned above, by offering a discount code in the next order. 










Key KPIs to monitor 


Number of leads (#)

Track the number of leads generated by your Facebook Lead Ad campaign.


Cost per result ($)

Monitor the cost per result on each ad set to understand which one is performing better from a cost-efficiency point of view. The cost per result is the amount of money that it cost to generate that lead, on average, by ad set. Your industry will have a big effect on cost per lead. 


Click-through rate (CTR)

A metric that measures the number of clicks advertisers receive on their ads per number of impressions. The selected call to action button will have a significant impact on your CTR. For example, a soft CTA like “Learn more” could get a higher click-through rate compared to a hard CTA like “Register now”.

#2- Maximize your visibility with Google Shopping Ads


If you haven’t explored Google Shopping Ads, now it might be a good time to try them out. 


These ads offer a number of opportunities to brick-and-mortar retailers to boost sales outside their physical store. They showcase a high-quality image on the product listing, as well as the price of the product.


The ads are shown to people that are actively looking for a product and they will be seen by buyers that have a high level of “intent”.


And last but not least, they offer great visibility compared to paid search text ads.



Google Shopping Ads offer a great value at a low cost per click (CPC), compared to typical text ads that can cost around five times more for a top rank position. This is one of their main benefits, allowing advertisers to drive qualified leads to their product pages efficiently. 


If you are new to Google Shopping, check this Google guide to get started with Shopping Ads. 


Once you get your Shopping campaign running, you'll need to check how it's performing to make sure you get the results you want. You can monitor the performance of your campaign in a few key places in Google Ads.

Key KPIs to monitor


Average position 

These stats show how your ad ranks compared to other ads. The higher the ad rank, the higher chances of your ad being converted. The better quality your ads have, the better they will rank. 


Quality score

Quality Score is an estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages. Higher quality ads can lead to lower prices and better ad positions (Google definition). The more relevant your ads and landing pages are to the user, the more likely it is that you'll see higher Quality Scores.


Cost per Acquisition (CPA)

Tracking your cost per acquisition will help you understand how much you need to spend to get a new customer. 


#3- Upsell or win back your “almost customers” by doing remarketing


If you are urged to increase conversions and need a cash boost, then consider focusing on middle-to-bottom of the funnel strategies. 


Retailers can see this time as a “holiday” period, adapting their pricing strategy, offering free shipping and discounts. In fact, most fashion retailers are dangling deals online as ecommerce promotional activity continues to grow while their brick-and-mortar stores remain closed.


Remarketing campaigns are budget-friendly and are very effective to drive conversion-rate increase. Visitors who see remarketing ads are 70% more likely to convert on a website compared to those who don’t, according to Software Advice.


You can start by retargeting your customers and non-customers that added an item to their cart. You can do this by tracking an “add to cart” event on your site using standard Facebook events.




This way you can reduce cart abandonment and also, increase your upsell opportunities. 


Key KPIs to monitor

Click-Through Conversion Rate (CTC%)

The percentage of users who see your ad, click, and convert.


Conversion Rate (CR)

The rate at which buyers or leads convert to the next stage, whether through a purchase or a subscription.


Cost per Acquisition (CPA)

Tracking your cost per acquisition will help you understand how much you need to spend to get a new customer. 


Evaluating performance 


Consolidate your marketing insights to understand your marketing mix. During covid-19, every cent spent is expected to contribute to revenue. Having a good marketing analytics tracking system in place will help you understand performance, optimize on the go and justify marketing investment to key stakeholders.


For campaign performance, we recommend looking at your campaign reports on, at least, a weekly basis. 


A weekly paid marketing mix report should include all of your campaign data, or at least the key performance indicators that you need to monitor in order to understand performance. For some campaigns, you might want to see changes and review trends on a daily basis. This is also a great way to manage and control your marketing budget spend, and to make sure you’re on track for your monthly goals. Start by updating this data manually, and later on, you can move to an automated system, like Improvado


To summarize, reporting frequency will depend on your campaign goals. For the strategies mentioned above, we recommend a weekly check-in, and ideally, having a marketing dashboard available where you can have a quick overview of where spend is going and how conversions are progressing week-by-week.


Improvado put together a free list of templates from Tableau that you can download and customize. The template below is perfect for a weekly marketing-mix performance report and it includes the main metrics you should monitor. 

Already a Tableau user? Use Improvado's APIs to instantly send data to Tableau from Facebook, Google ads, Linkedin, Bing and 180+ other marketing platforms. 





If you are still doing reports manually, you should check this guide where you can find templates for your marketing reports or explore Improvado’s automated reporting software for eCommerce here.

Our recommendation:

Check out The Best Facebook Ads Report Templates to Try in 2021 [Updated]

Global Digital Advertising Spend by Industry in 2021

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