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In less than a month, the Novel Coronavirus (AKA COVID-19) quickly turned into a pandemic forcing us to change our routines and behaviors for the next couple of weeks or months. We’ve seen so many businesses stop operating or limit their operation. Travel and hospitality industries were on halt, malls and schools were closed, and only a handful of retail stores can operate (like groceries, pharmacies, and a few restaurants).
Major cities were locked down and governments have declared crises. To further stop the virus from spreading, people are encouraged to stay home, curfews are implemented, and military guarding entry and exit points.
As people’s lifestyle and behavior changes, our online search activity has changed too. Since most of us are staying at home, we keep ourselves preoccupied online searching for different information whether it be virus related or not.
In online advertising, global events usually have an impact on a campaign’s performance. COVID-19 is no exception. Some industries are flexible enough to go with the flow of the shifting market. Sadly, not all. In fact, many businesses are forced to shut down.
While the pandemic seems to be far from over, business owners should never lose hope. Analytics experts are starting to see trends and data that would help marketers understand people’s search behavior throughout this crisis. There are ways small businesses can actually adjust, cut losses, and still be able to make an income.
These are the four (4) major business trends that have emerged as COVID-19 was declared a pandemic along with strategies marketers can use in these challenging times.
In-Store Foot Traffic Down by 90% One Month into COVID-19 Pandemic
Governments are passing regulations prohibiting social gatherings, encouraging social distancing, and banning flights from airports to stop the virus from spreading. As a result, physical stores are forced to stop operating or limit capacity. Local brick and mortar stores are credibly hit by this as most of their revenues come from walk-ins.
Google Ads experts make use of store visit conversion data to validate the impact of their digital marketing campaigns. According to date, the drop in store visits started around late February, which quickly escalated to 46% by the second week of March. After CDC global travel warnings, in-store foot traffic dropped again by 80%. And by the end of March, store visits hit a new low – visits dropped by 90% compared to previous month.
What to do: Focus on establishing online presence. Google Search Traffic has not declined since the outbreak, which means it’s the perfect time to reach your audience where they are spending most of their time in – online.
If you haven’t started on your digital marketing, here’s a quick checklist of what you should do:
Build your website. You can find so many tools online to create a basic website. If you have one, start updating the content and design. Make sure you have all the necessary information your customers might want to know.
Get on Google My Business. It’s a free service so just go ahead and create one! A GMB profile allows businesses to display their hours of operation, address, contact info and even photos of your products .
Engage on social media. Obviously, your business operations will change throughout the pandemic. Your customers will expectantly check your social profiles for updates. Make sure you have necessary information posted there when they are active. Don’t forget to answer questions.
Start doing ads. Ads can help you get your brand seen and stay on top of people’s heads even during times they’re just merely browsing on their phones.
March Seen a Decline in Mobile Search by 25%
Since people are mostly at home, there’s a decline in mobile use. Advertisers have seen a decline in mobile search traffic over the past month. Although Google search traffic declined across devices, it seems like mobile is the most affected.
Mobile traffic dipped to an average of 24% since the last week of March. Tablet traffic dropped by 19%. On the other hand, desktop is much steadier at an 18% decline on weekdays and 7% on weekends.
What to do: Adjust your budget and cut back on mobile advertising. Since most consumers are shifting back to desktops, raise your budget for this device instead.
COVID-19 Queries Dominates SERPs
Obviously, searches for COVID-19 and coronavirus related topics have skyrocketed over the past weeks. In fact, even topics not directly related to medical care or the virus have become increasingly popular. For Example: the movie Tangled was suddenly of interest to the public as Princess Rapunzel, who lived in the Kingdom of Corona, was locked by her over protective mother in a tower (like quarantine).
What to do: Get on board with the trends. A great tool to use to find trends. They’ve recently introduced the Coronavirus Hub, which business owners can review how people’s priorities and search interests are.
Cross-Network Opportunities Grow
Although Google Search traffic dropped, traffic in other websites do not. In fact, internet use is up by about 50% since COIV-19 was declared a pandemic, which makes finding customers off SERPs have become a lot easier.
There are many ways to reach your prospects aside from search ads. Google Display Network activity increased by 13% by March and Youtube views increased to 21%.
What to do: Cut the budget for Search Ads and allocate it on Google Display Network. Advertising across multiple networks will lessen the loss of merely relying on Google SERP. This can also help you attract new audiences who may later look for you in search engines.
Invest in display ads and YouTube as people spend most of their browsing time either reading articles or watching videos. Connect with Google Ads experts to further understand how you can use PPC trends and strategies like remarketing, or learn new bidding strategies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives over the past weeks and there’s no telling for how long. It is a strange and challenging time indeed. Invest in learning and find new ways your business can adapt to our new normal. Stay home, stay safe.