It’s rare for a brand’s business model and marketing to make it out of COVID-19 unscathed. As the world changes and evolves through the pandemic, the advertising industry is seeing major shifts in how people interact with brands. New digital and contact-free consumer behaviors are taking hold, resulting in brands having to pivot their advertising direction.
Although many brands implemented short-term marketing changes at the beginning of COVID, more made changes later as a result of permanent consumer behavior shifts. This move from survival mode to long-term change shows it takes more than just a good ad to be successful in a changing environment. Rather, companies need their marketing to be dynamic and flexible. And for companies working with agencies, this goes double.
During the pandemic, we worked with one of our long-standing health care clients — we’ll call them HCC — to pivot their campaign in these changing times. While we have worked with HCC since 2018, the ads that had been running when the pandemic hit had lost their efficacy. They were too services-focused (surgery, checkups, etc) and involved a complicated ad funnel that took the user from the service ad to a landing page contact form. While leads were acquired during the ad runtime from May to June, the cost per lead was really high, which meant that the funnel and ads weren’t as effective anymore.
These lackluster results were due to a rapidly changing COVID-19 environment. Challenges had grown around developing consistent lead volume for HCC, and in-person patient worries were causing multiple ad starts and stops. It was clear that HCC consumers no longer wanted to complete a form to get care. They wanted answers more quickly than that. In addition, there were more and more competitors advertising in the same service areas, increasing competition for HCC. With cost per lead not going down and leads not increasing, a change in marketing was needed.
Advertising clients spend their money in a dynamic environment, so their relationship with their agency should be dynamic. Once we saw that the circumstances and situational variables for HCC ads changed, we knew we had to change direction too. To better help HCC fit consumer needs, we worked closely with them to develop and test a new hypothesis, this time specific to one particular service. We chose to focus these ads on finding a doctor for a singular need, not just a service itself (e.g., checkup or surgery). With this, we created a new ad group focused on finding a doctor for consumers’ needs. The premise of this new position was to leverage HCC’s brand strengths to communicate service differentiation while factoring in new consumer behavior.
With this change, it meant that not only would the creative in HCC ads change but the funnel would as well. The new funnel would now go from the ad to a doctor directory, giving the consumer the ability to immediately call one of the many high-quality doctors available, all from the comfort of their digital device. Throughout July and August, the new ads for HCC ran. Not only did we create completely new ads, but also a new landing page experience with a “Call Now” option. We had seen with our other clients that call had been surpassing other contact options. Adding a call option to the funnel meant that consumers could be captured faster while resolving their personal situations more quickly.
In an ever-changing landscape like the one we find ourselves currently in, agencies must be a dynamic force for their clients, shifting and creating innovative responses to meet objectives. We stayed dynamic for HCC, which resulted in our accommodations and edits transforming their outcome. HCC’s new ads ran successfully, getting the cost per lead down 60%, while leads grew 200%. The conversion rate (CR) increased 97%. All it took was a pivot to better meet changing consumer needs.
While our work with HCC is certainly not a standalone in the COVID-19 advertising world, there are a few takeaways from this particular example that should be considered:
Testing may not be anyone’s favorite thing, but it is so worth it. Regularly testing your advertising gives you valuable insight into your creative and funnels. New concepts can be tested or compared against existing ones, as well as competitors’, in an effort to ensure that any new campaign will outperform those already in place.
The new COVID-19 consumer behaviors were driving a lot of the challenges with this client’s advertising. Adapting to those changed needs helped us to give their marketing the extra push it needed. This means talking with your client and working with them to make sure you’re meeting their objective.
And the big one…
This should go without saying. Insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting different results. You should always be studying data and looking at trends, pivoting as needed to meet client needs. Particularly in something like, say, a worldwide pandemic, this flexibility comes into play more than it would at a normal time. Stay limber, my friends.
As COVID-19 continues (with no end in sight), so will changing consumer behaviors and brands. Whether you’re looking to capture more leads or try new marketing, we’re here to help you meet those changing needs. Echo-Factory is a full-service Los Angeles advertising agency that partners with brands to increase brand awareness as well as specific corporate objectives and key results. Contact us today.