By now, Coronavirus needs no introduction. Its reach is starting to be felt worldwide, with millions of people in quarantine, stock markets plummeting, and businesses feeling the pinch.
Changes in consumer behavior have led to shortages of vital products in some countries, while demand for other products and services such as flights and cruises has decreased sharply, placing a great burden on marketers to help guide their companies through this tricky period.
At the time of writing, 162,386 people have been infected around the globe, resulting in over 6,000 deaths, and tens of millions of people being quarantined. As governments look to control the spread of the virus, it’s likely that many more people will be quarantined, or put into self-isolation in the coming months.
From a business perspective, in order to survive this period we must keep meeting our revenue goals but it seems like the marketing game has changed. Without conferences and meetups - many businesses put more emphasis on digital marketing nowadays.
In this article we will analyze the impact of the Coronavirus on digital marketing and how can your company come through the uncertainty, and be ready to succeed in the aftermath of this outbreak.
Effects on Businesses
All businesses will feel the effects of Coronavirus in some way or another. Whether that’s through a change in consumer habits, employees being quarantined, or problems with the supply chain, there are going to be significant challenges that need to be overcome.
- Supply chains, which often rely heavily on imported materials from China are already severely affected, with US ports expecting a 20% drop in cargo volume for the first quarter of 2020.
- Italy is on lock-down, with 60 million people quarantined at home and businesses struggling to continue.
- Business conferences such as Google CouldNext and Facebook F8 have been canceled and moved online.
- Companies such as Procter & Gamble struggle to cope with the increased demand for online shopping.
- US stock market trading was temporarily suspended as share prices dropped alarmingly.
With millions of people likely to be confined to their homes in the coming weeks and months, and Coronavirus presenting businesses with many new challenges, digital marketers are going to play a big part in the response.
There are a number of reasons why now is the time to increase your focus on SEO and digital marketing to make sure your marketing budget is achieving the best results.
1. People are Buying More Online
With the virus being spread through human interaction, a basic way of stopping the spread is by limiting those human interactions. In the 21st century, it’s possible to continue to live a fairly regular life without having to visit a bricks-and-mortar store and risk human interaction, and that’s what people are doing.
If your business has a great online presence then this isn’t bad news, but if your business relies on people coming into a physical store, and doesn’t have a strong online presence, then it will be a huge area of concern.
As more and more people get stuck at home and engage in online shopping for what could be the first time, the keywords they type into Google, and the results they see are going to be extremely important.
If those top results belong to your competitors, then that’s going to represent a real problem for your business. You’re going to have to pick up your ad spend to try and get clicks to your website, while your competitors benefit from those free organic clicks.
With uncertainty around supply chains, and new challenges to meet, business customers are going to be searching for new solutions online and they’re going to find them in the top SERP listings.
2. Trade Shows are Being Cancelled
Coronavirus isn’t just affecting the way we buy and sell products, it’s also changing the way we exchange information. Trade shows and conferences are where business leaders from around the world network and exchange information and ideas, but many of these events are being canceled.
These events are being moved online, but it still leaves a gap where people are looking for professional, trustworthy information.
Your business has the ability to fill this gap and provide people with the information they’re looking for, if your digital marketing is effective. Even though a major trade show might be canceled, those attendees are still going to be searching for industry information and connections, and guess where they’re going to look? Online.
If your business is creating great content, videos, and webinars — and marketing them effectively — then those people are going to find you and interact with your brand, giving you the opportunity to enhance your credentials as an industry leader.
3. Positioning Your Brand on Social Media
Some companies find themselves in a particularly strange position due to the Coronavirus. There’s a huge demand for their products, but due to difficulties with the supply chain, they’re struggling to fulfill orders. Marketers normally strive to bring in customers, but for some companies, spending money on bringing in customers in the short term is counterproductive.
This doesn’t mean now is the time to cut marketing budgets though, it means it’s time to reallocate money to different areas of marketing. The large-scale effects of Coronavirus will wear off at some point, and when we do come out on the other side, you want your brand to be in as strong a position as possible.
Short-term marketing spend such as PPC may not be the most effective approach during such a period of uncertainty, but investing in areas such as SEO and social media marketing, which have long-term benefits can make sure your digital marketing is in a stronger place by the time the disruption dies down than it was before the Coronavirus surfaced.
Marketing is about reaching people wherever they are, and millions of people being stuck indoors and bored is going to mean more people spending more time on social media. If these aren’t areas where you’re reaching your customers, then now is the time to make that change.
4. Sensitive Keywords are Being Restricted
If you’re in one of those industries where demand has increased because of the virus, it’s very difficult to buy your way to the top of the SERPs. Not only does the increased demand push up PPC costs, but Google is also restricting keywords sensitive to the outbreak like “disease”.
This means that if you want to reach people through Google, you have to rank organically. Google knows it has a responsibility to show trustworthy and authoritative sources when it comes to keywords related to Coronavirus, and the ones it trusts most are those organic results.
PPC might be the quickest way to the top of the SERPs, but “content is king”, and your website needs to take advantage of good SEO.
5. People are Going to Want to Feel Connected to the Outside World
If you invested in traditional advertising, like through billboards or banners in airports (like Dell, for example) you might be worried about your investment:
But there’s still plenty of potential to reach people at home through email. If you’ve got big email lists, then you can leverage them during this time. Your email marketing can be a great source of new revenue, with platforms such as PowerInbox helping you to monetize your content and engage subscribers.
Some people approach email marketing with skepticism because — let’s be honest — there’s a lot of junk email out there. However, if you’re creating quality content, and offering value to your subscribers, it can be a big positive for everyone.
Digital marketing will be affected by the Coronavirus, but it needs to be seen as an opportunity, rather than a threat. By necessity, consumer habits are going to change and shift towards more online activity. As digital marketers, this can only be seen as an opportunity to adapt and meet shifting demand.
Online marketing is more important than ever now and it’s time to focus on your SEO. Your digital store-front needs to be at the top results on Google, and KeyScouts can help you with that.
Coronavirus will present businesses with difficulties, but it also gives them an opportunity to implement positive changes. If you make the right investments, then those changes could mean you started out this epidemic with an average digital presence, and end it with a SERP topping, visitor-converting asset.