What to Do Now: PPC & Crisis Management

A few months ago, I attended The Social Shake-Up and listened to industry experts, Dan Kneeshaw from Walmart and Jennifer Watson from The Weather Channel emphasize that all businesses will experience some degree of a crisis. Whether it’s a single incident or a series of events that threaten a brand’s existence, having a strategy is crucial. Simply put, the crisis might be unexpected but the response should not.

Smart companies will have coordinated efforts with their public relations department, legal, leadership teams, and such, but where does PPC factor into the equation when it’s your client and not only is their reputation at stake, but so is their ad budget.

Assess and Identify

While your client is issuing statements, monitoring social mentions and implementing different online reputation tactics, there are things you can do, as their PPC agency, to assist in this effort.

Consider Going Dark

It isn’t something any digital marketing expert wants to do, but sometimes it’s necessary.

Say your client is a SaaS company whose product goes offline for a few hours. Customers are going to be searching and during that time, you’re likely going to see a large increase in traffic. Do you want to keep paying for potential clicks and ads that are unrelated to what customers are searching for?

Consider pausing the campaigns until the problem is under control.

Depending on the situation, you may need to consider having a carefully mapped plan to reintroduce ads and utilize remarketing along the way.

Overall, don’t be afraid to hit the pause button and save your budget.

Negative Keywords

Keeping a close eye on branded terms and the queries related to your branded terms is important. This allows you to control messaging as competitors may seize the opportunity to poach. This also counteracts the SERP of news stories, etc. that pertain to the problem. While the digital landscape makes it difficult to contain a crisis, if your client’s customer base is contained in a specific region, adjusting budgets and campaigns strategies in that area can be beneficial.

It may be useful to add terms like “scandal”, “settlement” and employee names as negative keywords to the campaigns so that these queries are not eating away at your budget.

Depending on the situation, the audience may be trying to learn more about the facts that surround the crisis. Take advantage of this opportunity to infuse positive messaging in your ads.

Keeping a close eye on traffic and budgets will prove worthwhile.

Adapt and Control

Understand that communication from your client may be increased following the incident and be ready to provide custom reporting.

Display Ads for Retargeting

Don’t overlook the power of retargeting during this sensitive time.

You can anticipate increased site traffic from an audience looking to follow the saga and from established customers. Powerful display ads that showcase your client’s culture can reinforce their brand promises and regain customer loyalty.

Another powerful tool is video thanks to the ability to tell a story and connect with your audience. Appropriate display ads that include pre-, mid-, and post-roll video ads can be effective in emphasizing your client’s positive impact on the community along with brand promises.

Other Messaging: Sitelinks

Use sitelink extensions to your benefit.

Phrases like “The President’s Message”, “Need More Information?”, and “Meet the New Leadership Team” are examples. While they require little maintenance, don’t forget about these – schedule end dates. Depending on the situation, these messages are meant to be temporary as the organization transitions.

Analyze and Grow

Rebuilding credibility will be a focus along with a possible apology tour. Its possible your client lost customers as turbulent times can cause customers to look at alternatives and competitors. This is also a way to show new and future customers that you’re serious about your commitment to communication and apologizing when needed.

Keep a close eye on communication as you adjust the strategy. You are an asset and a trusted, valued member of your client’s inner circle. Your perspective is valued – be honest and move the company forward.

Have you weathered a storm and implemented PPC tactics while your client faced a PR crisis or other crisis? If so, let us know in the comments below what tips you would share!