= Just a little reminder before beginning: Health always comes first, so please stay indoors if possible and protect yourself. =

Many people would not anticipate these unprecedented events, but they are here, affecting the system globally.

As the author of Digital Marketing Strategies (2020) book, I want to focus on the effects on digital marketing, SEO, digital ads, social media and ecommerce.

What is the impact of coronavirus on retail categories & products?

Statista reported the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on consumer spending in the United States as of March 2020, by retail category.
Survey time period: March 16 to 17, 2020
1,042 respondents

Regarding expected changes to consumer spending due to the coronavirus, consumers intended to increase their spending on groceries and non-food products for children. Respondents stated that they expected to decrease their spending for almost every other product category. Spending on out of home entertainment and fashion products was expected to be reduced the most in that period.

impact of coronavirus on retail

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1105623/coronavirus-expected-changes-to-consumer-spending-by-product-category-us/

Stackline reviewed e-commerce sales across the U.S. and compiled a list of the Top 100 Gaining and Top 100 Declining categories in March.

During this uncertain time, consumer shopping behavior has shifted to meet the needs of more time spent at home for the whole family. 

You may click on the image below to see it bigger.

Source: https://www.stackline.com/news/top-100-gaining-top-100-declining-e-commerce-categories-march-2020

What is the effect of coronavirus on website traffic?

Neil Patel reported huge drops in organic traffic for most industries they are tracking. 

Based on their data, clear winners are media, finance, food and healthcare websites. Travel websites seem to be seriously affected.

Source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/coronavirus/

Similarweb is a good source of tracking website traffic but as of now they are still reporting February as the latest data.

You may check the March figures later on https://www.similarweb.com/

Alexa is also a good source to track the effect of Coronavirus on website traffic.

The below chart represents the Alexa Rank (traffic) of freshdirect.com . It is clear that they have gained significant additional traffic in this period.
(Source: https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/freshdirect.com#section_traffic )
Similar websites such as shoprite.com have similar charts.

On the other hand, websites like asos.com lose Alexa Rank (traffic).
(Source: https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/asos.com#section_traffic )
These results are consistent with the findings on other researches I mentioned above.

What is the effect of coronavirus on sales and conversion?

Neil Patel states that there is an increase in website conversion only for food, healthcare, pharma and media sectors. Websites in other sectors see a decline in website conversion.

Source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/coronavirus/

Statista surveyed the impact of coronavirus on e-commerce business in March 2020. According to the survey of 304 U.S. retailers, only eight percent of respondents believed that e-commerce sales would increase significantly due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

It is obvious that these figures will vary according to businesses in different retail categories.

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104197/us-coronavirus-e-retail-impact-estimate/

Digital marketing in coronavirus era

Even before coronavirus news, people were seeing hundreds of messages on an average day and were recalling almost none of them. They were distracted. Young people were checking their mobile phone an average of 86 times a day. In these micro moments, they were usually glancing over content. 

Therefore, in my Digital Marketing Strategies book, I emphasize the importance of dividing your target segment and providing tailored messages to each segment.

You may read more about Divide & Conquer Mentality by clicking this link.

Coronavirus news make people even more distracted. People pay less attention to marketing messages. During this period adapting Divide & Conquer mentality becomes inevitable. If you provide general messages to wide audiences, your marketing message will probably be ignored. You may also receive negative feedback.

You should pay attention to the tone of your message as the people are more sensitive in this period.

Promotion and discount strategy usually does not produce the conversion it used to, but you may use it to reach out to your target audience. You may focus on social responsibility angle, if possible.

Let’s look at digital marketing topics more closely:

Should you still work on SEO during coronavirus period?

As the SEO projects usually produce results in 3 to 12 months, there is no reason to stop SEO work during Coronavirus period. On the contrary, this may help to boost your performance after Coronavirus period.

You may work on the following 5 stages of SEO.

1. Research, Strategy & Keyword Selection
2. On-Site SEO (30 – 40 points out of 100)
3. Technical SEO (20 – 30 points out of 100)
4. Link Building (40 points out of 100)
5. Performance on Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

You may read more about 2020 SEO Strategies here: http://korayodabasi.com/seo-strategies/

Should you stop or increase digital ads during coronavirus period?

This decision depends on your sector and your products.

Food, grocery, cleaning products, masks, disinfectants, healtcare products, supplements, vitamins, baby products, products to use at home (cooking, fitness, sports, entertaintment, books, games, hobby, etc.)

It is a good idea to increase digital ads budget. In addition to focusing on your fans and people coming to your website (remarketing), you should also reach out to new audiences in order to benefit from increased demand. Monitor your conversion and if you really benefit from this demand, you may increase your budget even more.

Ecommerce (fashion, furniture, outdoor products, automotive products, consumer electronics, etc.)

As consumers stay at home, this positively effects the macro ecommerce sales volume, but this is not reflected in every sector. Products such as these often see a balanced demand. The conversion is usually lower than pre-coronavirus period. Consumers shift their budget to the products in the first category above, diminishing the demand for these products. What you can do is, you may focus first on your existing customers and the people who have visited your website. These audiences usually generate the best conversion. If you are not satisfied with the result, check out these Quick Fix Strategies for Google Ads and Facebook Ads.

Cafe & restaurants, travel, hotels, out of home entertaintment, conventions, local shops, retail (without ecommerce)

Your business may be closed or you may be seeing extremely low demand. In this case, you may focus only on branded ads campaigns in order to communicate with the people searching your brand. Depending on the nature of your business, you may also communicate with your fans and people visiting your website (remarketing). You may try to keep the audience alive for post-coronavirus period. You may focus on “pay now, benefit later” type of campaigns to generate some cash flow, but as people are distracted, the benefit may be limited.

Should you post on social media during coronavirus period?

You may post on social media during coronavirus period, but the tone of your content will be very important. It is not a good idea to act like there is nothing happening in the world and post like you were always posting before. Instead of this, depending on your sector and product, you may focus on the perspective of your audience and you may adjust your content accordingly.

To sum it up,

These unprecedented events affect many businesses globally. Some retail categories & products are affected positively whereas many businesses see a decrease in demand.

Coronavirus news make people even more distracted. People pay less attention to marketing messages. During this period adapting Divide & Conquer mentality becomes inevitable. If you provide general messages to wide audiences, your marketing message will probably be ignored.

As the SEO projects usually produce results in 3 to 12 months, there is no reason to stop SEO work during Coronavirus period.

The decision regarding digital ads depends on your sector and your products.

You may post on social media during coronavirus period, but the tone of your content will be very important.

Feel free to share your comments.

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Koray Odabasi is the author of Digital Marketing Strategies Book.

Selected as one of the “Best Digital Marketing & SEO Books of All Time” by Book Authority, you may read the first chapter here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1793365865

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