27th March 2020
How has Covid-19 impacted online performance across industries?
The recent outbreak of Covid-19 has created a lot of uncertainty for businesses and communities around the world. Changes to our working environments, businesses being forced to close and others having to adapt to meet changing consumer needs are challenges we are all facing.
We have begun analysing data across several industries to understand how Covid-19 has been impacting website performance. Data presented in this report is taken from Sunday, March 15th to Saturday, March 21st and compared with the previous week.
With a huge portion of the population practicing social distancing, kids not attending school and employees working from home, some online retailers are filling the gap left behind by brick-and-mortar stores.
Brands who sell items for use at home which can help parents and kids fill the boredom gap are likely seeing an unexpected spike in traffic and revenue in the last few weeks. Some of the data we have analysed shows that trend:
For other retailers who sell non-essential items, performance varies across channels. In many cases, traffic and revenue drops across organic and paid have been balanced with improved performance in other channels.
This is a great example that demonstrates the benefit of a diverse digital strategy – being able to scale up other channels, such as social and email, when some channels are impacted helps reduce the overall blow.
Most B2B markets are likely to suffer throughout this period as industries, such as manufacturing, slows or stops completely for non-essential equipment and products.
With customers also likely to begin protecting budgets in these uncertain times these markets will, unfortunately, see a downturn in traffic.
It’s no great surprise to see sites in the travel space impacted by the current global crisis.
With consumer's holiday plans being cancelled and a lot of uncertainty around future travel arrangements, it could be some time before traffic and conversion data returns to normal for the travel industry.
Our data shows a mixed trend regarding performance across the finance industry.
A range of different product offerings is the main contributor to this – for example, mortgage applications are likely to take a downturn in the ongoing crisis, whereas more customers may be more likely to investigate credit options and insurance products.
What can marketers do to help customers and business performance?
Here are our top 5 recommendations for marketers during the ongoing crisis:
1. Don’t run coronavirus campaigns
It’s a difficult time for everyone with uncertainty around health, jobs, and life in general for the coming months. The last thing your customers need is to see their inboxes or social media feeds flooded with coronavirus special offers.
Be considerate and do your best to help your customers – you’ll be remembered for how you helped out in tough times long after the current crisis has passed.
Setting the right tone in times of crisis - Sainsbury's and Bob & Bert's
2. Internal site search optimisation
Reviewing data from your internal site search is an activity that we recommend should always be high on your to-do list anyway. With changing shopping habits and customer needs that task has become more important than ever.
Our data shows that some sites are seeing revenue from visits using site search increase by over 100% in the last few weeks, with some search queries increasing by over 1,000%.
Reacting quickly to these changes is key. Ensuring relevant products and content is being surfaced for high volume and new search terms will help your customers find what they need quicker.
3. Create landing pages with essential products and bundles
If you sell products that are essential during the ongoing crisis, make it easy for your customers to find and buy multiples (while avoiding inciting panic buying mode).
Argos have created dedicated landing pages for crisis essentials
Sites like Argos have moved quickly to create new landing pages around the limited activities their customers can currently do:
- Parents stuck with kids at home
- Majority of the workforce working from home
- People having to cook lots more
- Great time for some home improvements
- Pamper yourself or your other half
- Stay fit and active while on lockdown
It’s also a time when customers are likely to be less price-conscious – they need supplies delivered to their homes as soon as possible.
That’s not to say throwing in some discounts or free delivery won’t help your cause – be seen to be helping your customers, rather than trying to boost sales.
4. Conversion rate optimisation is crucial
We’re seeing the conversion rate of some eCommerce retailers increase significantly within the past few weeks – not quite hitting peak performance usually associated with Christmas shopping, but increases of 30-50%.
Now would be a good time to amplify your CRO program – if you have UX & Design changes in your backlog that are aimed at improving conversions, try to prioritise those and move them up in the queue.
The flip side of this is the fact that you may not have a lot of data to base some decisions on as browsing and purchasing habits have changed quite a bit in the last few weeks. Being fastest to react is often better than aiming for perfection in scenarios like these.
5. Work on your long-term strategy ideas
While some brands will see an upturn in performance during these times, others will, unfortunately, see the opposite.
This is a time for marketers to step up and be creative in their campaign planning and working on a long-term strategy. How can you help to navigate the turbulent times ahead, as well as be ready to capitalise when the crisis passes, and recovery starts?
- Can you bring your Christmas campaign planning forward a few months?
- Is your content calendar prepared for the rest of the year? If not, now is a great time to start researching and putting those plans in place.
- Has your content fallen a bit flat in recent months – who can you start connecting with and building outreach lists for your next digital PR campaign?
Some great companies are also stepping up in the current crisis by offering their training courses for free:
- Moz Academy
- Ahrefs Blogging for Business
- Siege Media - free to anyone out of work or who had their career impacted by Covid-19
It’s a challenging time for everyone in the digital industry – we hope some of the ideas we’ve shared help you in the weeks and months ahead.