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

By now you have heard about the Coronavirus.
The sad reality is that it’s spreading quickly and can still spread for a short while.

Did you recognize that we are getting roughly 13,000 new cases every day and it’s growing fast?

No one really knows what percentage people are going to be infected (or will pass on sadly), but it has caused the worldwide stock markets to crash, which means as a business (or even a marketer), you’ll be affected.

And because my advertising agency works with many companies in all the most important sectors and that we have 7 offices round the world, we are already beginning to see how it’s impacting marketing (I’ll share the info below).
So what does this mean for you?

Well, before i’m going into that, let me be clear on what marketers shouldn’t do.

Don’t exploit the situation

The first thing we are seeing is people trying to take advantage of fear.

What I mean by this is often supplies are running low round the world. From masks and toilet paper to hand sanitizer and other basic necessities… i’m seeing marketers buying them and so reselling them on eBay or running ads and selling them for 10-50x the worth .

This isn’t entrepreneurship and this isn’t marketing. I highly recommend that you simply avoid exploiting the Coronavirus situation to form a fast buck.

Not only is it wrong but it’s also very short-sighted. Sure you’ll be able to make a quick buck, but it won’t last… you’re more happy spending some time on anything that’s future .

So now that we got that out of the way, what does the Coronavirus mean for marketers?

Businesses are about to struggle for a short while

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

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

Just look at the travel industry. The virus is anticipated to lose them 820 billion dollars. Virgin Atlantic just asked their staff to require an 8-week unpaid leave.
The ports are also empty and therefore the first rounds of layoffs have already started.
It’s estimated that in total COVID-19 will cost the worldwide economy $2.7 trillion.
And not only are people losing money but they’re losing traffic and conversions.

Organic traffic is down in most industries

Before I dive into the info , note that we didn’t focus on any one single country, we decide to check out the traffic stats from a worldwide perspective. We also didn’t include data from sites with but 5000 visitors a month as they have a tendency to possess drastic swings from a percentage perspective even when there are not any global issues or algorithm updates.

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

Now, from an SEO standpoint, last few week we saw huge drops in organic traffic for most industries we are tracking. Just look at the chart below (compares last week to the previous week).

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

And if you’re in the travel industry, you saw massive drops in traffic.
You can’t tell by the chart, but e-commerce was a assortment , depending on what sites sold, traffic was either up or down. for instance , if you were selling baby products like diapers or wipes then you saw a pleasant bump in traffic.

But if you were selling luxury goods like big-screen televisions you saw a drop by traffic.

Conversions were also down for many industries
From a conversion rate standpoint, we saw drops in most industries also . Even the financial sector, which had big traffic booms in traffic, dropped in conversions.
Just check out the chart below (comparing last week to the previous week):

Pay-per-click data

We don’t have the maximum amount pay-per-click data as we do for SEO as Ubersuggest is especially used for SEO purposes, but we haven’t seen big shifts in cost per click… even for things just like the travel industry.

We don’t have a big sufficient sample size, but as i stated, costs haven’t come down much.

For example, even though we saw big dips within the number of individuals searching for things like flights or hotels, we didn’t see a drastic drop by CPC but we did see a big increase in cost per acquisition.

In other words, you’ll still roughly pay an equivalent amount per click, but the value per conversion has been going up for many industries… unless you’re selling necessities like toilet tissue .

So what does this mean for marketers?

Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful

I didn’t come up with that saying, it’s actually a line from Warren Buffett.
You will see people cutting back because the economy is predicted to get hit by 2.7 trillion dollars and experts are saying that we are going to enter a recession.
You even have billionaire investors like Carl Ichan saying that the market has more room to travel down and that we should expect the sell-off has longer to travel .
But what I’ve learned from browsing two crashes (the dotcom crash in 2000 and therefore the real estate crash in 2008) is that the best time to double down is when others aren’t.

During an economic downturn, you’ll find that you simply will have less competition, which suggests it’s easier and faster to urge results, and in some cases, you’ll be ready to get deals, like a potential reduction in pay-per-click advertising.

Just consider it this way: out of all the publicly traded companies within the us , if the market keeps taking place , many of them will struggle to pay off their debt, which has exploded to $75 trillion.

This means some companies will either go bankrupt, get bought out, or get bailed out by the govt . Some could also be ready to cut costs enough to pay their bills, except for most, it’ll be too late.

Again, this just means less competition for you.
If you’re lucky enough to be sitting on some cash during the recession this is often the simplest time to shop for out other companies. the perfect ones to shop for are media companies.

The more eyeballs you control, the more power you’ll hold within the future. Plus, by controlling eyeballs, it gives you the power to sell anything you would like within the future.

It’s the rationale I bought the KISSmetrics website for $500,000 a few years ago. During their peak, that they had 1,260,681 million unique visitors a month


Hopefully, the Coronavirus passes soon and it has minimal impact on lives. For the time being, try not to socialize with others too much or go into crowded places.

And as for your marketing, this is the time for you to double down. Don’t be fearful when others are also afraid. Do what Warren Buffett does… be greedy when other people are fearful.

In other words, double down. 

How have you seen the Coronavirus affect your traffic?

PS: Please be safe and, if possible, stay indoors.

Leave a Reply