In the last few months, marketers worldwide have altered their advertising and marketing plans to address the changes in mobility, shopping, and consumption brought on by COVID-19.
Nowhere were these changes more immediate than with search marketing, where companies used internal marketing, product and distribution variables to optimize campaign performance.
Some teams have pulled out their crisis management marketing plan, while others used gut, intuition, and decreasing sales or decreasing ad prices to guide their plans.
There is a better way
Every second, people are posting comments across the Internet about their experiences using your and your competitors’ products, writing what they like and dislike, and more importantly, why.
Are you listening?
Now we know that milk frother sales increased in the last few months as people who were in lockdowns at home unable to buy coffee from their usual coffee shops. Analyzing user reviews a few months ago would have shown that milk frothers were the most discussed product related to coffee, enabling marketers of milk frothers and retailers selling them to take advantage of this trend to run search campaigns in relevant geographic areas as lockdowns increased in different states and cities.
Here are a few ways marketers can use reviews to fine-tune their search marketing.
Update shopper marketing based on user reviews: With so many marketers utilizing retail distribution as one of their sales channels, user reviews are a great way to get feedback regarding the various retail channel partners.
Strong user reviews in favor of select retailers could be a catalyst for more search marketing including the selected partners -- particularly if the search ads highlight the same comments that appear in the positive reviews. For example, for a retailer that receives a lot of positive reviews for faster delivery, why not run search ads that highlight this?
Take advantage of the trends highlighted in user reviews: There were a lot of trends that rose due to COVID-19 -- such as increases in home cooking and baking -- and no one needs to read user reviews to understand these trends.
But drilling down deeper, uncovering food-related sub-trends like replacing fresh produce with spices or replacing one kind of hard-to-find spice with different spices and seasonings were trends that needed to be found. These trends become search marketing opportunities for retailers and spice marketers if they become aware of them.
Utilize review content to get creative: Staying with the food and spices category, one trend that has been gaining traction is discussions about scent for vanilla products (beans, extracts, paste) due to their aroma.
With smell a less frequently used sense in digital marketing, this is an opportunity to create marketing campaigns that take advantage of most people’s visceral associations with aromas.
Uncover new/different product use cases from reviews: Over the years, many marketers have uncovered product use cases from focus groups and other user engagements. Given the significance of the changes COVID-19 has brought on, it’s not surprising that user reviews were full of new and innovative product use cases.
Specifically, with toys, user reviews highlighted some smaller, traditional playground toys that have found new and increased uses indoors as parents seek out alternatives to playgrounds.
A second trend occurred around the Easter holiday when people wrote user reviews about purchasing egg-shaped toys to be given to their children and other young relatives in place of Easter egg hunts. In both these cases, the products highlighted in the user reviews also experienced sales increases.
There are many ways for marketers to gather real-time insights on what your customers are thinking -- from focus groups to your email inbox and posts across your social media channels -- but user reviews offer an open and less biased window into customer thinking that can uncover new and profitable search ad opportunities.