Sailing through Uncertainty: Q+A with Online Marketing Guru Angus Ewart

As the world navigates COVID-19, Marwick Marketing's resident digital marketing expert shares stories of success from businesses who've stayed the course during the economic turbulence it has caused.

Photo of Angus Ewart, SEO/PPC Specialist, Marwick Marketing
Angus Ewart, SEO/PPC Specialist, Marwick Marketing

When a crisis hits (like the COVID-19 pandemic), marketing budgets are usually the first to be cut. Does that really make sense if you want your business to not only survive the crisis, but rebound after?

“Not so,” says Angus Ewart, an SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay-per-click) guru at Marwick Marketing, one of the leading marketing agencies on the West Coast. “Most especially in today’s unprecedented economic turbulence, it’s all about adjusting your advertising sails to meet the current trends and weather the storm. That’s precisely why businesses looking to claw their way back and turn a profit are embracing a blend of proven marketing strategies to mirror their customers’ needs.”

During his time working at Marwick Marketing, Angus notes that it didn’t take long for him to realize how PPC and SEO work hand in hand. “These vastly different methods of advertising have such an immediate effect on each other,” he explains. “Before I knew it, I was working on both SEO and PPC for our clients.”

“At Marwick, we are always working on the next big thing in the digital marketing space, and with that I have been lucky enough to be part of a team that brought Marwick to the top 20 fastest growing companies in BC last year.”

Angus tells Douglas how the SEO landscape is changing through COVID-19, and how he’s helping businesses stay the course and grow their revenue.

What have you seen in the SEO world since COVID-19 began?

“Right from the start, I saw many businesses close shop, waiting in hopes of riding out the COVID-19 storm. I also saw many businesses that have been working on their SEO and PPC campaigns for years prosper and find more business during this COVID-19 time. This world-changing event shrunk the number of advertisers, while at the same time increased the amount of online advertising space. Businesses that kept their budget or increased it at the start of everything found that their ROI numbers increased.

Free Ride, a BC local board shop, held an “isolation liquidation” sale and sold more skateboard gear in one month than they had ever before. Knowing that more people would be looking for a new hobby to ride things out, their PPC and SEO strategy quickly adapted, bringing them success.

The search engine ranking landscape drastically changed during these times as well.Google put a hold on all new Google Business listing reviews, and many people were unsure about which businesses were open. With less people spending money and time working on their sites’ SEO, it made it easier for others to shoot to the top.

With competition down and demand up, BD Diesel, a diesel performance part company, continued to work on their SEO and were able to gain first page rankings in over ten of their biggest selling keywords in just two months. That SEO, paired alongside a strong PPC strategy, was able to produce a 164% increase in their sales for the month of April.”

What was the biggest challenge faced by your clients?

“The largest challenge most people faced was having to pivot their business. Whether that be changing product/services sold or going from a predominantly offline setting to an online one. Making the switch during a time like this is extremely difficult, especially when coupled with the time involved in setting up a business online and gaining the rankings and presence in the search engine world.

Having your business set up and ready to be online allows you to pivot at a moment’s notice while being able to work on acquiring new leads and sales. You will never know the true number of missed opportunities until you work on your search engine presence.”

What were the biggest opportunities you saw?

“The biggest opportunities were found in the huge influx of people looking to purchase items online. Customers that were normally coming through brick and mortar stores were suddenly going online to shop.

Active Baby, a lifestyle baby store, has three brick and mortar stores across the Lower Mainland. While working hard to build sales in their stores before the coronavirus outbreak, they had also been working at developing their PPC and SEO strategies, so they were primed to welcome their thousands of potential new online customers. With solid search engine rankings and paid ads, they were able to gain an 82% increase in new users over the same time period year over year compared to 2019. Increasing their online user base, they saw a 515% revenue increase from the previous year.

Keeping an online presence and continually working on rankings will have you and your company ready for whatever changes lie ahead.”

Do you have any advice for companies moving forward amidst an uncertain future?

“It has been said time and time again, don’t stop spending on marketing! If you are strapped for cash or are having trouble selling your products or services, dropping your marketing budget will only have a negative impact on your profits. When times are tough you need to pivot your business to success!”

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