Should I Pause My Digital Marketing Campaigns During the COVID-19 Outbreak?
  • March 21st, 2020
  • Marketing
  • David Fugit

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Important. Before we start …

The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious global health emergency. As of the writing of this article, late March (2020), we’ve already experienced a tragic loss of life in multiple countries. People are suffering. The economy is suffering. Governments are scrambling to mitigate the effects.

We believe that during this time everyone’s primary focus should be on the safety of themselves, loved ones, and their community. Follow official guidance from the CDC and local and State authorities.

Swarm understands the severity of this crisis and has crafted this article with that in mind.

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COVID-19 Dominates Our Thoughts

We used Google Trends to compare search interest in the coronavirus disease with other diseases since 2009. We looked at Zika, Swine Flu, and Ebola. Interest in coronavirus is an order of magnitude higher than all of the others combined. 

Chart of outbreak search interest since 2009
Data taken from Google Trends (2009 - 2020)

A New Normal Will Return

Once the primary responsibility of safety has been satisfied, people will start to think about their businesses, jobs, competitors, and their marketing campaigns. You might find yourself wondering:

  • Should I pause my SEO campaign or double down?
  • Should I pause my PPC ads?
  • Are my competitors going to pause their campaigns?
  • Should I add ecommerce to my site?
  • Should I be finding ways to better serve my customers with the Internet? Even after this is all over?
  • Who is going to maintain my website?
  • Do I need to launch an email communication campaign, like the ones I’m getting every day for other companies?
  • Do I need to post notices or make changes to my website?
  • Should I update my business listings?

These things must be considered during this bizarre period. However; a new normal will return. 

People will develop new habits related to the Internet and interacting with businesses. These habits will likely continue in some way beyond this crisis. Some businesses and thinkers will make innovative leaps. Will that be you?

Here at Swarm, we’re still working hard every day for our clients. We’re helping our clients gain advantages in their digital marketing campaigns (SEO, PPC, etc …), we’re building websites, mobile applications, offering consultation advice, and reaching out to our community as best we can.

SEO During COVID-19

Swarm believes now is the time to keep your SEO campaigns going, and perhaps even doubling down. Some competitors will scale back their efforts. This creates an opportunity for your campaign to gain ground or extend existing advantages.

Swarm’s not alone in this opinion.

“I personally believe that companies that continue to execute on their planned digital marketing campaigns, and more specifically, on their planned content and conversion strategies around SEO as an acquisition channel, will be poised for faster (and more effective) recovery when we come out the other side.”

– Nick Eubanks, CEO of From the Future wrote on his blog

Nick Leroy, wrote for Search Engine Land:

“If you choose to reduce spend in your SEO and content marketing efforts, you significantly risk your organic rankings. Once search demand returns (and it will) you will still drive considerably less organic traffic than before the COVID-19 pandemic began”

Leroy’s blog, which can be visited here, looks at data from various industries and how they are being impacted. As to be expected, some segments are seeing growth: 

  • small ecommerce retail (+84% organic revenue)
  • online health food shops (+56.19% organic sessions)
  • Recipe websites (+20% organic sessions)

Unique Content

Look for unique content ideas related to “the new normal” that exists during the COVID-19 outbreak. Can your business help in some way? Do you have insight, a useful perspective, or experience to share? This article you’re reading now is a good example of this concept. We’re looking at a few segments of the digital marketing landscape and offering our insight.

PPC During COVID-19

This one isn’t as straightforward as SEO. A PPC campaign is much more immediate: you pay for a click and you get a human interaction right at that moment. You can turn a PPC campaign on and off easily. While we believe SEO should continue, our thoughts on PPC require more nuance.

Unfortunately there is one scenario that is straightforward: If this outbreak prevents you from fulfilling what your PPC ads are selling then you should pause your PPC campaign immediately. 

People have COVID-19 on the mind. It’s dominating all aspects of normal life. Review your ads with this in mind. This collective attention to a topic provides a universal context that relates to your tone and message. You may want to ask:

  1. Is this ad copy appropriate right now?
  2. Is this product or service appropriate right now?
  3. Can my ad be more helpful if written in a different way?
  4. Am I offering something that I can’t provide right now because of a social distancing regulation?

It’s quite possible your ads will benefit from being rewritten during this time, especially if you’re changing your operations, or offering new or different services.

In general, if your PPC campaign can still generate results during this time, then it’s advisable to keep them going, perhaps even ramp them up. Just be mindful about it, and invest the time and resources into making sure it has been optimized for this collective moment we’re all experiencing. 

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Big Projects and “the Back Burner”

Many of you have active campaigns. Some will be at the doorstep of launching big projects. For these we’re thinking projects such as:

  1. New website development
  2. Website redesign
  3. Mobile app design and development
  4. New web business or ecommerce store
  5. An ongoing search engine marketing campaign
    1. SEO, PPC, inbound content, etc … 
  6. An Email Blast

Big projects like these are usually either ongoing or require significant time to complete. Pumping the brakes on these now will only cause delay. We believe, if possible, it’s beneficial to complete them on schedule. When the new normal returns–whatever that may look like–you will be positioned with a completed project, or will have at least made progress. 

Some of you will have projects that have been put on the back burner. Maybe you turned the priority down on something. This may be an opportune time to dip into the back-burner list and start completing some of those half-done or even 80%-finished projects. Let Swarm help you get these projects over the finish line.

Swarm is Here to Help

It’s worth reiterating: your safety and the safety of your loved ones and community is paramount. Only when you have done this to the best of your ability do we recommend turning to economic and business concerns.

One of our locations is in New York City. At the time of writing this article, the Governor has issued a “shelter in place” mandate and has ordered the closing of all non-essential businesses. One of our other locations is in Florida, which looks like it will enter into a similar phase soon too. 

At Swarm Digital we operate in remote offices, perform all of our duties remotely, and offer teleconferencing for all matters to all clients. During this time we will not meet or gather (after this is under control, let’s discuss your project over coffee or a cocktail!). However, because of our unique business structure, we are still able to work, and are still working hard for you!

Ready to start that project? Fill out this form and let’s have a socially-distant teleconference!