The holiday shopping season is typically a boon for online retailers, but this year, supply chain issues coupled with heightened consumer demand have put merchants, and the PPC professionals that work with them, in a difficult position. After all, if there's no inventory to sell, advertising those products will only lead to wasted budget and disappointed customers.
While demand is likely to level off as we move past the holidays, supply chain issues may linger. For example, furniture retailer IKEA said it expects supply chain-related shortages to last until mid-2022. Without a clear end in sight, retailers may consider halting their paid campaigns or even suspending their partnerships with PPC agencies, which may also have experienced similar client churn at the outset of the pandemic as well.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to going dark with your paid campaigns that can not only help you weather the storm but also put your brand ahead of competitors that do pull the plug on their ads, but remember:
- Shutting down campaigns may cost more than it saves: Halting your campaigns altogether might result in loss of market share or brand awareness. "This might be an excellent time to reallocate some spending toward more upper-funnel projects and away from performance-based programs that are more susceptible to present issues," Christena Garduno, CEO at Media Culture told Search Engine Land.
- Avoiding the pause: There are a number of alternatives to pausing ad campaigns that can set you up to rebound faster when supply chains stabilize. For one, focus on the upper funnel. Keeping your brand front and center while others pull back works to your advantage in gaining a share of voice and wallet in the future. You can also shift media to promote "tier 2" products that you may have in higher supply. You can also promote digital goods, like gift cards, or other virtual products. Another option is to simply tweak your campaigns. You can also schedule your ads to achieve greater efficiency. Lastly, adjust your messaging. Expectations can make or break the customer experience, and framing the right expectations for your audience can help you increase their customer lifetime value.
- Finally, if you must cut back, comparing sales performance by channel may reveal products that are doing well enough organically that you can shift budget to in-stock items that need more exposure to compete against other retailers.