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Coronavirus Changes Digital Marketing: What Can We Expect Now?

While many brick-and-mortar businesses will encounter setbacks due to social distancing, is the same true in the world of digital marketing? There have been many predictions and speculations regarding how marketing will be impacted by COVID-19, here’s what we can expect according to industry leaders.

Which industries will be most affected?

While every business will have to adapt to the coming economic shifts, some will be hit especially hard if they involve travel and hospitality. Outside of the travel industry, many conferences and in-person events have been canceled or delayed indefinitely. Tom O’ Regan of Madison Logic says conferences are one of the leading marketing expenses for enterprise companies, as they tend to draw new partnerships and help generate new accounts. Events like Adobe Summit and Google Cloud Next are now taking place virtually, which is sure to affect how these companies interact with their customers.

Now that people are less inclined to go out to visit stores, e-commerce businesses will likely see an increase in customers, particularly for household products, food, and other goods that will be needed in the short-term. Frederick Vallaeys of Optmyzr says digital marketers will be more competitive to reach customers who are not used to buying online.

Once online orders do start to pick up, however, Tony Verre from The Integer Group predicts they might cause unprecedented strain on logistics systems and supply chains, potentially delaying deliveries.

How will the outbreak affect digital marketing?

While some companies might decide to decrease their spending on marketing until things cool down, others see this as a time to be more aggressive with their digital marketing efforts.

With the cancellation of major conferences around the world, sales and marketing teams are now shifting their focus to promote their events that are taking place virtually. Amy Barone of Splash says that virtual events (which don’t require travel) will become more popular in the upcoming months.

Samantha Barnes from bounteous expects that companies will be reaching out to their audiences more frequently during the coronavirus outbreak. With more people deciding to stay at home, many companies might increase their spending on Email Marketing to maintain connections with their customers.

On the other hand, many business leaders are also expecting to see a decrease in ad revenue during the outbreak, especially travel. Tom Shurville of Distinctly, a UK-based digital agency, reports that two of their clients with businesses in travel and events have cut their advertising spend entirely.

Analyst Rob Sanderson from Loop Capital Markets predicts that Google’s travel ad revenue will drop 15% in the 1st quarter, and 20% in the 2nd quarter this year. Since travel, retail, consumer packaged goods and entertainment make up 30-45% of Facebook’s total revenue, that platform is likely to see a 15% drop in ad revenue as well.

How can you plan for what’s ahead?

Right now it’s crucial to have remote work policies in your business. While some marketers might decide to be more aggressive during upcoming months, Natalie Barreda of T-Mobile predicts that many others will dial back and dedicate time to contingency planning.

During any pandemic, it’s expected that some customers will be more panicked and stressed out than usual. For that reason, now’s a good time to focus on delivering great customer service and building relationships with your audience.

If your business does not rely on face-to-face meetings, use this time to leverage digital channels to connect with customers and reach your goals for this quarter. While there is still a lot of unpredictability, it’s best to remain calm and focus on the marketing strategies that work best for your business.

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