How Should Coronavirus Affect My Digital Marketing Spend?

  • So apparently there’s a virus going around or something?


    The Coronavirus outbreak, now a global pandemic, is affecting everyone in one form or another. Obviously there are bigger questions than “how should Coronavirus affect my Digital Marketing spend?”, but the impact that this unique event is having on businesses across literally every industry is far from an afterthought for the people in charge of finances.


    We’ve recently had conversations with a few clients regarding how Coronavirus should affect their spend on SEO. The answer is obviously very nuanced and dependent on your individual circumstances. However, we’ve tried to offer some helpful tips and advice to help business owners make a more informed decision as to what change, if any, they should make to their Digital Marketing spend.


    People Will Be Spending More Time Online


    In the event that people are spending more time at home, one thing is certain – we’ll all be spending more time online.


    While depending on the industry, the majority of these searches may not have as strong of a purchasing intent as they would normally do, brand awareness during this volatile period is still extremely important and will likely transition to sales further down the line if they don’t straight away.


    People aren’t going to simply stop searching for terms like “summer holidays in spain” as an example just because they can’t go on holiday to Spain in the immediate future. They’ll still search out of inspiration or planning for the future, meaning that maintaining or even acquiring visibility for key search terms is still incredibly important.


    The next few months may consist of a lot more website traffic consisting of users researching more so than buying. That will however start to balance out on the other side of this pandemic, and when it does, the sites that will benefit the most from an increase in purchasing intent are the ones that had visibility when users were in the discovery phase of their journey and keep it for when users are searching again with buying intent.


    Useful Tip: Regularly working from home? Update your iP filters in Analytics!


    How Should Coronavirus Affect My SEO Budget?


    First things first; if you’re struggling to pay the bills – reduce or even cut your SEO budget. Being able to pay your staff is the most important thing.


    For the companies lucky enough to be able to make their way through this unprecedented period with a Marketing budget intact – as callous as it may sound, this can be a time of great opportunity.


    Many websites will be reducing their SEO budget. An unfortunate inevitability of this is that their SEO performance is likely to slip. If your website has the luxury of maintaining its SEO spend, this investment now could very well produce a period of accelerated growth and improved performance later in the year. In the short-term through awareness, and in the longer-term through conversions.


    To use the earlier example of “summer holidays in spain”. People won’t be booking holidays right now, but much of the demand will still be there later in the year. It’s essentially just being squashed together ready to erupt on the other side of the pandemic. And when that time where everyone is allowed to fly again and is searching Google to book holidays, you’re going to want your website to have the visibility needed to cash in on that rush.


    The great thing about SEO is that it is always working towards the future. Buyer demand tailed off for the short term? Utilise the budget in other areas such as conducting a thorough tech audit or producing some evergreen content. Activities such as these will allow your more campaign led work to achieve greater results down the line. 


    Useful Tip: Sites may see a large swing in their eCommerce rate, for better or worse. Treat this period as somewhat of an anomaly if trendlines alter.


    Think Of The Bigger Picture


    So that’s SEO covered – but how should the Coronavirus affect the rest of your Digital Marketing spend? It’s important that we think about the bigger picture and do what we can to try and understand the impact on the specific industry at hand. 


    In many cases, buyer intent will decrease in the short-term future. As a result, the focus of your Digital Marketing strategy should shift less towards expensive short-term gains, and more towards strategies that lay the groundwork for future success.


    For example, short-term strategies such as PPC and Paid Social should be the first area to be reduced if buyer intent in your industry is declining. Strategies like these will yield much lower returns during this current period and can be picked back up very easily once buyer intent increases. Strategies such as SEO and brand building however will help to lay the foundations of success for when your audience are ready to spend again. 


    Useful Tip: Some eCommerce sites may experience an uptick in new users. Good UX and reassuring trust signals from your site now take on greater importance.


    People Will Be Spending More Time Watching TV


    With the growing numbers of the population in self-isolation or working from home as a precautionary measure, TV viewership is very likely to be on the rise.


    If your company has a TV advertising spend then now is the time to stick with it if possible. Advertising during daytime TV for instance is about to get a whole lot more valuable with spikes in viewership anticipated. Likewise for campaigns that are targeted at viewers during news broadcasts, or in general during the later hours of the day as the majority of the population move away from going out and spend more of their nights in front of the TV.


    Useful Tip: Reevaluate Digital PR strategies depending on the impact Coronavirus news is having on your industry. For example, now may not be the time to send your new holiday index to writers, but it may be a good time to release your sports related campaign.


    Better Times Are Coming


    This current global state of uncertainty isn’t going to last forever. At least, we hope that it won’t! Better times are coming and the companies fortunate enough to be able to ride this out are the ones that will benefit from what it is to come on the other side. 


    This current crisis will impact companies in so many ways. Some will face horrible struggles, and some will be presented with unique opportunities. Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, chances are that everyone will need to reevaluate their Digital Marketing spend in some manner.


    If cuts are needed – focus them on the channels that only provide short term gains. The activities that should be protected wherever possible are the ones that lay the foundation for future success. Gaining search visibility now and building extra equity in your brand will pay off for years to come.

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Matt Seabridge

With a Masters degree in Marketing, Matt uses his specialist knowledge and experience of SEO to create compelling content that earns links and drives traffic to the websites of our clients.

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