What does the coronavirus mean for marketers?

May 15, 2020 by
What does the coronavirus mean for marketers?

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t just having an impact on our physical and mental health, but the health of our economy. With a potentially deadly virus spreading like wildfire and the world essentially on lockdown, our priorities shift – this includes how we spend our money.

This has had a major impact on almost every sector, not least of which the world of digital marketing. Because the last thing people are thinking about now is selling their brand – they’re more concerned with basic survival.

To give online marketers some idea of just how profound an impact the pandemic could be having on the industry and their jobs, we’ve collected some of the most relevant stats and figures as a means of helping you to manage your expectations and plan ahead accordingly. Because we will emerge on the other side of this eventually.

Advertising budgets dropping

According to Marketing Week, advertising budgets in the UK have fallen at their fastest rate since the last recession, with 21% of businesses reducing their marketing budgets in Q1 2020.

There is, however, some slight optimism to be found, with 16.2% of those surveyed stating that they expect spending to increase in 12 months once the pandemic has (hopefully) ended.

Demand plummets

Around 69% of businesses have experienced a drop in demand for their products and services in recent months and even those that have not been as badly affected have experienced major supply chain issues – particularly larger companies.

Remarkably, even with everyone at home, even commerce growth was down 5.1% year-on-year last month, with the fashion sector hit particularly hard.

The only businesses that have enjoyed any kind of major tangible growth in the UK are the supermarkets (for obvious reasons), which saw a 20.6% rise in sales throughout the month of March. So, there’s certainly work to be found in the grocery sector for hungry marketers.

Marketing campaign disruption

A survey on the impact of COVID-19 on the industry conducted by Econsultancy and Marketing Week found that 86% of marketers are delaying their campaigns, meaning that only around 1 in 10 campaigns are going ahead as originally planned. This is a major blow for the industry and underlines the effect of the virus and the uncertainty surrounding it.

Right now, with no end in sight, it would appear that marketers will continue to adapt on the fly and accept that disruption is the new normal, at least for the time being.

Remote working becomes the new normal

Marketing is an industry with one ace up its sleeve and it’s a card shared by quite a few other sectors – it’s a business that can largely be conducted remotely with minimal disruption. Notably, there has been a 72% rise in marketers working from home since March.

However, there have also been claims that this has had a significant impact on productivity, as many organisations simply didn’t have the infrastructure in place to facilitate such a move.

There are those who predict this pandemic could lead to a major surge in remote working, so it might mean marketers need to start learning to adapt to this new normal.

Email interactions are up

Ending on a positive note – in April, email open rates have shot up by 40% according to BounceX, which is a pretty remarkable surge and should prove encouraging for email marketers. That being said, click through and conversion rates remain pretty steady, so it would appear people are opening their emails, they’re just not acting on them.

So, what does the coronavirus mean for digital marketers? It means they are going to have to seriously reevaluate their plans and expectations for 2020. But that much is true for all of us. This pandemic caught us all off-guard and that’s the one encouraging thing about it; this is something we’re all living through and we’re all going to have to survive together. And when this is all over, maybe we might have learned to appreciate each other just that little bit more. Here’s hoping, anyway.