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What marketers should know about Coronavirus

what marketers should know about coronavirus

Coronavirus is a pandemic declared by the World Health Organistion, and is threatening millions of lives worldwide. 

About 13,000 new cases are reported every day and the number is growing fast..We can’t predict when the virus will be upended, nor how many people will be infected or will pass away, but this virus has caused the global stock market to crash, which means that all businesses, and marketers too, will be affected. But how? 

Businesses are going to have a hard time

Even if the coronavirus has not yet hit most of the African continent hard, and neither has social distancing occurred, Some warn that if and when the virus gets into crowded cities like Kinshasa, Lagos and Addis Ababa, the results will be disastrous. 

And now with the numbers of coronavirus cases rising quickly, businesses in Africa and all over the world are going to struggle for well over a year because they will have to make up for their losses. 

So far, international companies have had to contend with shuttering stores in affected areas, accommodating sick and worried employees, and dealing with supply chain disruptions. This means more expenditures and more losses. In China for example, the virus caused retail sales to drop by 20.5% and the unemployment rate jumped to 6.2 in February

When companies like Apple shut down their stores to minimise the spread, it means less income and less profit. Sure they are able to pay their employees during their temporary shutdown, but not all companies have sufficient balance in their bank accounts to do the same. Virgin Atlantic,  a British airline company, just asked their staff to take an 8-week unpaid leave. 


And talking about the travel industry, it is one that is especially hard hit right now. The virus is expected to lose them 820 billion dollars

Several other companies especially in Europe, U.S.A and China are also laying off employees as they deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. At the Port of Los Angeles, the busiest shipping port in the U.S, 145 drivers were laid off and other employees were sent home with no pay, according to a report by The Washington Post

It’s estimated that in total COVID-19 will cost the global economy $2.7 trillion.  And not only are people losing money but they are losing traffic and conversions.

Organic traffic is down in most industries

From an SEO standpoint, Neil Patel, a renowned digital marketer, reports in this neat chart huge drops in organic traffic for most industries they are tracking. Just look at the chart below (compares last week to the previous week).

traffic growth or decline due to coronavirus

If you are in the news industry or financial space, your traffic skyrocketed. 

And if you are in the travel industry, you saw massive drops in traffic.

You can’t tell by the chart, but e-commerce was a mixed bag, depending on what sites sold, traffic was either up or down. For example, if you were selling baby products like diapers or wipes then you saw a nice bump in traffic.

But if you were selling luxury goods like big-screen televisions you saw a drop in traffic. 

Conversions were also down for most industries

Neil Patel continues their analysis to a conversion rate standpoint, where they saw drops in most industries as well. Even the financial sector, which had big traffic booms in traffic, dropped in conversions.

Just look at the chart below (comparing last week to the previous week):

conversion growth or decline due to covid-19

As for news (media) sites, they had a big conversion lift as many of them charge for people to read their updated information.

For example, you can only read a certain amount of content from the Washington Post for free until you see a message that looks like this:

news media charging for people to read their updated information.

People didn’t want to miss out on Coronavirus, political and financial information with the turmoil, hence news sites saw a nice lift.

And with some sectors like travel, they are currently offering massive discounts, which is helping counteract some of their traffic declines. Overall, they are still seeing a massive revenue hit.

Pay-per-click data

As for pay -per click data, Neil affirms that costs haven’t come down much.

For example, even though they saw big dips in the number of people searching for things like flights or hotels during their data analysis, they didn’t see a drastic drop in CPC but did see a big increase in cost per acquisition.

In other words, you can still roughly pay the same amount per click, but the cost per conversion has been going up for most industries… unless you are selling necessities like toilet paper.

So what does this mean for marketers? 

As with all situations doing a recession, companies will either go bankrupt, get bought out, or get bailed out by the government. Some may be able to cut costs enough to pay their bills, but for most, it will be too late.

Again, this just means less competition for you. which means it is easier and faster to get results, and in some cases, you’ll be able to get deals, such as a potential reduction in pay-per-click advertising.

And, If you are lucky enough to be sitting on some cash during the recession this is the best time to buy out other companies. The more eyeballs you control, the more power you will hold in the future. Plus, by controlling eyeballs, it gives you the ability to sell anything you want in the future.

How true is this assertion? 

Take this example from Neil Patel. A couple of years ago, as he writes in this article, he bought the KISSmetrics website for $500,000. During their peak, they had 1,260,681 million unique visitors a month.


The moment I merged it into the NeilPatel.com site, I increased my lead count by 19% and recuperated my investment in less than a year.’ he explains. 

In other words, this is your opportunity to strike and gain market share.

‘So when you see your competitors closing down or slowing down on their marketing, the goal is to double down. You may not see the biggest return right away, but in the long term, you will.’ – Neil Patel. 


Coronavirus has claimed several lives already, but we will overcome this crisis. How we behave now and the choices we make can have an impact on how long the crisis lasts and how many people are affected. Respecting proper hygiene and government measures will help reduce the spread of the virus until a vaccine is issued. 

As for marketers, reflect on this saying from Warren buffet ‘Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. In other words, be greedy when others are fearful and double down. 

Digital Gong is a digital marketing agency.

At Digital Gong, we offer complete digital marketing solutions tailored to your needs and your budget. Our services include: Digital Strategy Consulting, Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, PPC Marketing and Search Engines, Web Analytics, Email Marketing, Digital Content Creation, Digital Marketing creation and branding strategy.

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Tadbet Averra

Tadbet Averra  is the Public Relations Officer and Content Manager at digital Gong Technologies, a branding, strategic and creative digital marketing agency in Douala, Cameroon. She’s provided content marketing  and strategy advice  for the agency and its clients. She also holds a Bsc degree in Journalism and Mass communication. 

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