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What The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Means For Digital Marketers

By now you have heard about the Coronavirus. The sad reality is that it is spreading quickly and will continue to spread for a while. Did you know that we are getting roughly 13,000 new cases a day and it’s growing fast?

No one really knows how many people will be infected (or will pass away sadly), but it has caused the global stock markets to crash, which means as a business (or even a marketer), you will be affected.

And because my ad agency works with hundreds of companies in all the major sectors and we have 7 offices around the world, we are already starting to see how it is impacting marketing (I’ll share the data below).

So what does this mean for you? Well, before I go into that, let me be clear on what marketers should NOT do. Don’t exploit the situation. The first thing we are seeing is people trying to exploit fear. What I mean by this is supplies are running low around the world.

From masks and toilet paper to hand sanitizer and other basic necessities… I am seeing marketers buying them and then reselling them on eBay or running ads and selling them for 10-50x the price.

This isn’t entrepreneurship and this isn’t marketing. I highly recommend that you avoid exploiting the Coronavirus situation to make a quick buck. Not only is it wrong but it is also very short-sighted. Sure you may be able to make a quick buck, but it won’t last… you are better off spending your time on anything that is long term.

So now that we got that out of the way, what does the Coronavirus mean for marketers? Businesses are going to struggle for a while.

Even if the virus slows down fast as the numbers have dropped in China, businesses are going to struggle for well over a year because they will have to make up for their losses.

For example, in China the virus caused retail sales to drop by 20.5% and the unemployment rate jumped to 6.2 in February. When companies like Apple shut down their stores to help reduce the spread, it means less income and less profit. Sure they are able to pay their employees during their temporary shutdown, but not all companies have their bank balance and most won’t be able to do the same.

Just look at the travel industry. The virus is expected to lose them 820 billion dollars. Virgin Atlantic just asked their staff to take an 8-week unpaid leave.

The ports are also empty and the first rounds of layoffs have already started. It’s estimated that in total COVID-19 will cost the global economy $2.7 trillion. And not only are people losing money but they are losing traffic and conversions.

As I mentioned above, we work with hundreds of clients in different industries through my agency. On top of that, we also have tons of data because of Ubersuggest. Before I dive into the data, note that we didn’t focus on any one single country, we decide to look at the traffic stats from a global perspective. We also didn’t include data from sites with less than 5000 visitors a month as they tend to have drastic swings from a percentage perspective even when there are no global issues or algorithm updates.

We also don’t have data on every single industry, for example, we don’t really work with many restaurants nor do we purchase data for that category as local restaurants usually don’t have the biggest marketing budgets. We have data on most of the major ones, but again not all.

Now, from an SEO standpoint, last week we saw huge drops in organic traffic for most industries we are tracking.

If you are in the news industry or financial space, your traffic skyrocketed.

And if you are in the travel industry, you saw massive drops in traffic.

e-commerce was a mixed bag, depending on what sites sold, traffic was either up or down.

For example, if you were selling baby products like diapers or wipes then you saw a nice bump in traffic. But if you were selling luxury goods like big-screen televisions you saw a drop in traffic.

Conversions were also down for most industries.

from a conversion rate standpoint, we saw drops in most industries as well. Even the financial sector, which had big traffic booms in traffic, dropped in conversions.

Just look at the chart below (comparing last week to the previous week):

As for news (media) sites, they had a big conversion lift as many of them charge for people to read their updated information. For example, you can only read a certain amount of content from the Washington Post for free until you see a message that looks like this: People didn’t want to miss out on Coronavirus, political and financial information with the turmoil, hence news sites saw a nice lift.

And with some sectors like travel, they are currently offering massive discounts, which is helping counteract some of their traffic declines. Overall, they are still seeing a massive revenue hit.

Source: What The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Means For Marketers

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