What Does the Pandemic Mean for Marketers?
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading around the world quickly and is affecting much more than just our health. Human lives are, of course, of paramount importance right now. But the unfortunate reality about this situation is that not only are people dying and becoming incredibly ill, but the global market is crashing and nearly every industry is feeling the effects of a worldwide pandemic.
Events globally are on hold or canceled, and with the news changing daily, it’s hard to know what to do and what not to do in times like this other than stay at home and follow the guideline of the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and the WHO (World Health Organization).
But as marketers, what are we supposed to do as we watch the global market decline and panic start to rise?
With consumers staying inside en masse, brick and mortar locations will surely suffer, but that also opens a door for business to be taken 100% online.
What the Coronavirus Means for Marketers
It’s too early to determine what’s going to happen in the long run with the coronavirus spreading as quickly as it is, but there are some things we know for sure. With the global markets crashing, restaurants and bars closed, major events canceled, flights canceled, and unpaid leave the norm for many, we are at the cusp of a full-blown economic crisis.
As marketers, this means a decline in just about everything. Ad spend, traffic, ROI, conversions, etc. For every business hurt by COVID-19, the opportunity for a new business is being created. But how is coronavirus impacting search marketing?
The Business Struggle is Real
What began in China is now global as we see storefronts close, industries halt, and online traffic drop. With many people laid off or on unpaid leave, there isn’t the same amount of funds to go around.
According to the Harvard Business Review:
“We predict that the peak of the impact of COVID-19 on global supply chains will occur in mid-March, forcing thousands of companies to throttle down or temporarily shut assembly and manufacturing plants in the U.S. and Europe.
The most vulnerable companies are those which rely heavily or solely on factories in China for parts and materials. The activity of Chinese manufacturing plants has fallen in the past month and is expected to remain depressed for months.”
Businesses have been forced to shut down worldwide, and this is going to take time to recover from.
Businesses aren’t only losing money, but they are losing traffic and conversions as well. As of right now, it is estimated that COVID-19 will cost the economy $2.7 trillion. That’s a big hole to come out of, no matter what industry you’re in.
Organic Traffic Loss
For industries like travel, organic traffic plummeted whereas finances and news/media skyrocketed. When there is a global impact like with COVID-19, the standard traffic predictions and expectations are compromised.
Less traffic naturally leads to fewer conversions. People have been more interested in seeking information and consuming what they find than actually taking action on any site. Search marketing is only successful with conversions. SEO ranking is dependent upon action, and it is still unclear what this means exactly for search marketing as a whole.
If you’ve got ads running and you’re worried about the impact on them, there hasn’t been enough of a change to write home about as of now.
Cost per acquisition, however, has gone up quite a bit as conversions and traffic are down. It’s taking more to convert a user because they are likely in panic mode looking for necessities, not luxuries right now. Unless you’re selling coveted and sold-out resources like toilet paper and hand sanitizer, then you’re likely not seeing much happen in terms of conversions from your paid ads.
What does this mean for marketers?
People are in a holding pattern right now. They aren’t spending money, many are out of work and don’t have money to spend, or they are sitting on the money they do have. Non-essential items are low on the totem pole and people are focused on resources that will help get them through quarantine.
And with the economy expected to experience a $2.7 trillion loss, the fear is very real in the hearts and minds of the consumer.
This is, however, the perfect time to take advantage of low prices across the board and double down on your SEO and PPC efforts if you are able. There is less competition in an economic downturn and greater opportunity for deals and to save while prices are down.
Double down on SEO first while volatility decreases and then PPC immediately following initial organic gains.
Here’s what 13 digital marketing veterans have to say on the potential impact of the virus.
Here’s how to manage your time and money during this time as a marketer
- Search for your top keywords and monitor them for any price decreases
- Ramp up your social media by delivering support and free value to your followers
- Pause any ads that aren’t performing well and wait it out
- Reach out to your email subscribers and open the door for communication
- Take the rest of March off from running any promotions or starting anything new
This will pass, but we are absolutely going to experience the hit.
If anything, we are proven time and time again that marketers are creative powerhouses that work well under pressure. With so many people stuck at home with only the internet and social media to connect with loved ones and to keep updated on rapidly evolving news stories about the outbreak, marketers are met with a double-edged sword.
The way this pandemic is handled will surely have an impact long into the future. When something is this serious and it affects the entire world then change is made.