Insights into how Coronavirus is impacting digital marketing, and a look into how brands are using digital to help those in need during this time of crisis.
Emma Lowry Digital Marketing Specialist
Mar 25, 2020
The Coronavirus has been declared as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. Many businesses across the world are facing uncertainty so we thought we’d share some trends we’ve seen in the digital world over the last few weeks along with some tips to help businesses that may be experiencing shifts with the pandemic.
Educating using digital
Coronavirus information and advice has been changing rapidly and organisations have been using digital channels to get information to people fast. The NHS has launched a public information campaign that includes TV adverts to provide advice on COVID-19. The NHS has been leveraging all digital channels to reiterate their message of seeking help online by visiting their website rather than visiting your GP.
Facebook has provided free advertising to the WHO. Mark Zuckerberg announced that he would be providing WHO with ‘as many free ads as they need’. They have also banned ads for any items such as face masks that exploit coronavirus fears.
Impact on Digital Marketing
With the uncertainty, businesses are likely to be reducing their ad spend. Analysts have found slower spending in travel, retail, consumer packaged goods and entertainment which represent 30-45% of Facebook’s total revenue.
Trends show that B2B businesses are switching to digital marketing. Concerns about Coronavirus have led to a 500% increase in cancellations of events such as trade shows. A large chunk of B2B companies' budgets go to trade shows, so with this budget being freed up, marketers can utilise this on digital channels.
Although Ad Spend will be decreased for many companies, more businesses will start to utilise digital channels to reach and communicate with their target audiences. In times of a downturn, digital marketing can be critical to stimulate or maintain demand.
As more people have to self-isolate and social distancing being advised, they will be turning to online shopping to get their essentials. In China, JD.com saw an increase in sales of household staples with sales quadrupling compared to the same time frame in 2019.
However, there is a lot of confusion and a mixed outlook among retailers. Digital Commerce 360 found that 30% of retailers expect ecommerce sales to go up somewhat whilst 32% think they will be down somewhat.
In the short term, essential items such as paper, face masks, flu-related items, cleaning products and household essentials will see a peak in sales. Bloomrech found masks sales increased 590% from the week prior and hand sanitizer sales increased 420%.
Online food shopping has seen a surge as people seek to stock up on food items and limit the number of people they come in contact with.
So, what can you do?
Be flexible with your marketing strategy. Over the next few weeks, people will be spending more time on the internet and social media but not buying as much with the uncertainty of their income.
Take the time to review all of your accounts, it’s important to keep on top of how the situation is affecting your paid ads. If needed you can pull back on spending on ads that are focused on driving conversions or sales. Consider putting resources into ads that focus on your brand - this keeps your brands name in the minds of consumers over the next few months. With some extra time being freed up it’s the perfect time to complete those tasks that have been put on the back burner.
Content strategy - With more people spending time at home, content is the perfect way for you to remain in touch with your customers during this pandemic. Start off with a mini audit of your current content, there could be opportunities to update and optimise. If you recently had an event that was cancelled, explore the opportunities of hosting it online. You could have the potential to reach more people.
Get more social - Now is the time to engage in conversations on social media with your customers. Can any of your content be repurposed for other channels? If you are B2B you could start by writing new case studies, white papers and hold webinars. Rewrite old blog posts - spend time updating any blog posts that historically performed well. Updating statistics with recent ones, checking and adding new links and revisiting your keyword targeting is a good place to start.
Examples of how companies are giving back
Healthcare workers around the world are under extreme pressure with many experiencing stress, anxiety and burnout. The company Headspace has announced that it will be providing free subscriptions to US healthcare providers working in a public health setting.
They have also made a free section on their app called ‘weathering the storm’ available to everyone that includes meditation, sleep and movement exercises. Google has pulled together resources to help small businesses manage through uncertainty. They include resources on communication with your customers and how to modify your advertising, you can check out all of the resources here.
No gym? No problem! Gyms across the world are closing but that doesn’t give you an excuse not to work out. Planet Fitness is offering free at-home workouts via live stream open to anyone, including non-members. Sign me up!
Founder & CEO of Basecamp Jason Fried is giving free accounts for first responders, public health officials & groups along the PPE supply chain for first responders that are using Basecamp to organise direct COVID-19 response.
The Government has suggested employees should work from home if they can for the next few months. For some businesses, this may be a huge change to their daily routine. Basecamp employees have been working remotely for over 20 years & Jason even wrote a book on it. You can read more about his book REMOTE here & get some useful tips on how you can work remotely.
Content management system Craft CMS is providing free licences to those that are building online resources for helping people related to COVID-19.
Mark Cuban announced on Twitter that any of his employees who buy from local independent shops will get reimbursed for their lunch and hot drinks. A great way to support smaller businesses in their time of need. #supportlocal
Many schools have been shut across the world with classrooms now becoming virtual. To help facilitate students learning, Adobe is giving higher education and K12 institutional customers their Creative Cloud apps the ability to request temporary ‘at-home’ access for no additional cost.
There have been a few brands who haven’t got the timing of their ads and campaigns quite right.
Asos first launched its chainmail masks in August 2019. The ad was taken down once Facebook banned ads for face masks.
KFC have also paused their campaign that advertises ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’ with slow-motion close-ups of people licking their fingers in public.
It’s clear that no one knows what the next few months will bring for businesses. By keeping on top of the trends your business is showing over these next few months and adjusting accordingly can help you lessen the impact. Stay positive!
We understand that these are difficult and unprecedented times for businesses. Please contact us if we can help answer your questions, provide advice or assist in any way we can with your digital projects.