What the COVID-19 Pandemic Means for Online Businesses (And Tips to Adapt)
There is no shortage on fear, panic and anxiety surrounding COVID-19 and the halting affects this pandemic has had on our everyday communities. As the world dwindles down to ordered self isolation and essential services only, many business owners are left wondering how they can start planning ahead to survive post COVID-19.
The virus has either slowed or shut down almost every industry out there, leaving local businesses unsure of how to proceed in these times of major uncertainty. For many, the online space can provide relief by providing a platform in which they can continue operations.
See how this webmaster built a platform that allowed food truck owners to keep making money during COVID-19.
Many businesses are turning to the net- scrambling up advertising campaigns, websites, online stores etc.- to help continue driving sales within communities that are practically in hiding. With critical emphasis on no human contact, the online space has become the only way to safely shop, communicate and keep up to date with the world.
And while we live in times where the Internet seems to rule the world, it isn’t until it’s our only option that things begin to change. In the case of COVID019, the Internet is certainly not immune- and the digital space has shifted massively in the last few weeks.
The team here at RAD shares the five biggest impacts that COVID-19 has had on the online space, and some suggestions on how to cope.
How COVID-19 Has Shifted the Digital Marketing Space
COVID-19 Has Dominated Google Search
Not surprisingly, the virus is a leading search term on Google. In fact, Google is calling it the biggest search term trend in searching history- and that’s a pretty big title to have.
Direct searches about the virus have increased an average of 4000% each day, but the influx of searches related to the virus has presented our team with a different set of data than we’re used to seeing.
Our PPC Queen, Alex, has seen a massive increase in searches not common to our everyday lives. The term “national emergency” has spiked 1950% in less than six hours, while there have been similar increases in terms like:
“what fast food restaurants are open ?”
“will grocery stores be open tomorrow?”
“is the housing market going to crash?”
“when are taxes due Canada 2020?”
What does this mean for businesses?
It means that people’s focus really isn’t on much else right now.
Rightfully so, the panic has shifted a huge chunk of daily searches to the virus and everything surrounding it- and the noise of the virus is drowning out a lot of businesses looking to thrive online.
Alex shares that there isn’t really a whole lot you can do in terms of redirecting focus. Rather, you should look at how you can direct your business into the line of focus. Monitor search term reports, actively add to your negative keyword list & adopt those long-tailed keywords in your campaigns!
Mobile Search Traffic Has Dropped 25% (h3)
It’s been a while since desktop searches have grown, but with everyone stuck at home, it seems the mobile phones have been put down.
For us, it means two things. Alex mentioned that the costs of PPC advertising may rise, as mobile traffic is generally cheaper than desktop.
However, the biggest concern lies in website optimization- and how a shift of what the user sees- will affect conversions during this time.
Because mobile has led the majority of web traffic for the past few years, mobile optimization has been a hot, hot topic. But websites have almost been over-optimized for mobile, leaving the desktop experience falling short in comparison.
AJ, our SEO & Web Development Boss, shares that a websites design and content should be reviewed and modified to ensure a positive desktop experience for the user.
Example? The CTA rich pop ups you banned from your site to improve mobile experience? Those could make a comeback as you revert back to different conversion paths.
What You’re Reading Everyday Has Changed
Centre content around leading search terms.
Sounds like the classic principle behind online content creation, right?
It is- but when the entire Internet has shifted their focus to something a little out of the ordinary, it can be difficult to align content with what’s popular at this moment.
But if you can, you should. Just as with more routine content marketing, don’t create completely irrelevant content in the hopes of joining the masses of similar content.
Our content expert, Joel, suggests incorporating the COVID-19 virus and it’s effects into your content if you can naturally do so, and keeping the following in mind:
Use your content to keep people informed. The community expects a response from your business, during these times. They are seeking security and comfort, and that includes being kept in the loop by familiar faces- and brands. Use this time to try and instill well being into your customers, fostering and nurturing relationships with them as you remind them that you are beside them in these times as well. Provide relevant policy updates, proactive measures you’ve taken or hours of operation etc.
Don’t add to the panic! Be a credible, reliable and neutral source- even as a company. Avoid spreading anything but pure facts, and watch your language; it can be easy to talk in an alarmed or dramatic tone.
Convey empathy, compassion & humility. People will remember who and what helped them during these times- be a positive voice amongst the negativity when creating content at this time.
There is no level of tact that’s acceptable- at this time, anyway. “HOT COVID-19 Sales!” -Don’t do that.
Social Media Usage is Through the Roof
Scrolling the ‘gram really does help pass the time of quarantine boredom, but communities are also turning to social media for help, answers and- shopping?
Yep, that’s right- online shopping and particularly on social media, is up by 35%.
Call it impulse buying, boredom shopping or catching up on purchases they haven’t had time to make in store. Whatever it is, businesses are finding some relief in the increase in online shoppers.
With social media usage being sky high, it also gives you a great opportunity to keep your brand and business relevant. Use this platform to introduce reformed content (see Joel’s suggestions above) but to also stimulate conversions using organic or paid initiatives.
Remember though, content for social media differs. Having a sound social media strategy and lots of visuals will help drive engagement with an audience that’s listening more than ever.
Organic Web Traffic Has Decreased In Almost Every Industry (h3)
We’re talking like a decrease of 25% on average, over all industries- with only four seeing increases (healthcare, finance, food & media.)
The biggest? With a near 50% drop in organic traffic, the travel industry is suffering during this.
And let’s be real here- we can’t really counteract this. There’s going to be a drop in traffic, sales and business. These are scary times, and people rightfully are focusing on other certain things.
This won’t change for a while, but you can look at ways to drive as much traffic as you can during this time. Here’s what has worked for our clients lately:
Content. Content. Content!
Create content that supports people at this time. Create content that gently reminds users of your brand and your mission. Use this time to separate yourselves from the vultures of the net, those that exploit and capitalize on the fear and panic of COVID-19.
Promotions and offers.
People are still shopping, just in a different format. To help drive conversions, consider promotions and offers to add that further incentive shoppers may need- and to help generate a buzz.
Join in conversation.
Offer support, offer sympathies, share valid information and helpful content. Immerse yourself in current conversation, instead of trying to create a new one.