COVID-19 and your marketing: what now and where next?

Our SEO, PPC, and Content experts put marketing under the microscope during these uncertain times.

PPC during a pandemic

Each business is unique and has its own nuances that impact cash flow and profitability. If your business is shut or your supply lines have been severely impacted by the pandemic, then you don’t need us to tell you to stop pouring money into a (likely leaky) marketing funnel.

On the flipside, if you sell hand sanitizer or items that can add value to customers’ increased time at home, then now is a great time to increase your digital visibility.

On a broader scale, we look at the current landscape of PPC – and what we could expect to see in the future:

What does the PPC landscape look like?

Now is an extremely unique time to advertise on digital platforms. Some industries have seen average CPCs drop by as much at 75%* as advertisers reduce spend and turn off campaigns.

There has been a significant impact on social media platforms, too. CPMs are down across the board as a result of advertisers reducing activity and the available inventory skyrocketing as the nation sits on their sofa and scrolls through the content soup that is the latest Coronavirus updates, 5G mast conspiracy theories and pictures of people’s work from home setups.

This does present an opportunity for some brands. Even if you’re seeing conversion rates fall, these drops are likely to be offset by the drop in advertising costs.

*CandidSky data

So, what next for PPC?

Ad platforms have seen massive drops in revenue on the back of the Coronavirus outbreak. As a result, they’ll be looking to stimulate that growth again in the coming months.

How are they tackling this? Google announced a program that will see advertisers who meet their criteria receive advertising credits to get their accounts back up and running. We’ll keep you updated with this over the coming months.

Once businesses start to fire up their digital activity again, it’s inevitable that we’ll see CPCs and CPMs rise again – though only time will tell whether they’ll immediately bounce back to pre-covid levels.

In the medium term, we could see CPCs and CPMs eventually surpass previous levels as advertisers make up for lost time. We could also see increased investment causing the digital advertising space to become crowded, as brands battle for the increased demand.

And in the long term?

The longer term is a little more complicated. As the broader economic impact of the pandemic becomes clearer, and with a likely global economic recession looming, it’s tough to quantify the knock-on impact it will have on the digital advertising space.

If we cast our minds back to the 2008 global financial crisis, the advertising industry certainly took a hit – but it did recover over time.

Overall, the economy is likely to get a huge shot in the arm when things start to return to “the new normal”. You need to take steps today that will primarily enable you to survive, improve your position, and allow you to drive growth in the future.

SEO under the spotlight

Industries across the globe are either facing skyrocketing or dwindling demand.

For example, fashion retailers will see a reduction in demand as consumers lounge in pyjamas – but could also expect a boom once lockdown is over. Conversely, Will and Probate solicitors may be experiencing a sudden uplift in demand.

Whatever your current demand looks, you should plan your SEO strategy around this.

How can I strengthen my SEO strategy during COVID-19?

In short: anticipate any future changes to your demand and plan ahead accordingly.

The lack of consistency across sectors and services means there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, the majority of businesses could benefit from investing time in their SEO strategy spend during this time – should cash flow allow.

Let’s take a look at how your industry’s demand could affect your strategy:

Back to our previous example of increased demand for legal services. SEO is most effective over the mid to long term, meaning optimisation for Will and Probate services right now is a little too late. In this instance, PPC would be the better channel – as Ads can be switched off and on immediately.

Instead, it’s better to predict any changes down the line and optimise your strategy around these. If you’re in the law industry, it has been suggested that there could be a steep rise in demand for family and property law once lockdown is over.

With this in mind, now is the perfect time to lay the groundwork for that future demand. By focusing on improving visibility for these services, you could expect a short-term reduction in ROI – but a compounded ROI in the second half of 2020.

With results typically taking around 6 months to achieve, SEO has always been an investment. With many companies tightening their marketing purse strings, now is the ideal time to invest heavily into SEO and gain market share in the mid to long term ready for when markets have returned. Businesses should expect a lower ROI in the short term, but a compounded ROI later in 2020.

Content marketing during a crisis

Is it worthwhile?

Unlike SEO, content marketing has an immediate impact. And during a time when your customers are undoubtedly experiencing boredom and uncertainty, you could argue that content marketing has never been so valuable.

Here’s why:

It can be low-budget

Many companies are tightening the purse strings right now. Luckily, many methods of content marketing – like social media or email marketing – are extremely cost-effective.

It can bring people together

Something as simple as a hashtag can unite people – whilst keeping your brand on the map. And at a time like this, user-generated content is king. From inviting your audience to share pictures on Facebook to puns on Twitter, you can create a much-needed sense of unity online.

How can I use content marketing effectively during COVID-19?

It’s important to let your customer’s needs lead your content marketing – not your product. That means adapting your services around the current climate, as difficult as that might seem.

An example might be a restaurant. While it’s impossible to create content that leads to direct bookings, you could share your popular recipes on social media. This gives your customers the chance to get creative at home, whilst showcasing your brand in the process.

It’s also possible to focus your marketing on future sales. You could generate immediate cash flow in the form of vouchers or gift cards – for happier times ahead.

To conclude...

Right now, it’s impossible to predict what the digital landscape will look like in the future. But – if resources allow – now is not the time to turn your back on marketing. Your customers will return at some point and, in the meantime, it’s important to maintain a strong presence and stay connected.

Whatever happens over the next couple of years, agencies like ourselves will be here, trying our level best to support you and make the most out of your digital advertising budgets – whatever they may be.