The past month has been one of the craziest in our collective memory.
I’m banking on the inevitability that NO ONE will forget March 2020, when a global outbreak known as COVID-19 wreaked havoc on public health, economies, jobs, livelihoods, and day-to-day living.
Business is NOT as usual. Instead, many of us in marketing are facing scary unknowns.
IRL marketing events got canceled, just like everything else. Those of us who rely on trade shows, conferences, speaking gigs, and other events suddenly have to adapt.
Digital marketing – and content in particular! – just got way more important.
This is huge, but it’s also dependent on the niche you’re in.
Since COVID-19 came on the scene, internet use in Europe has been up by almost 50%. If you think about the worldwide impact, Google searches went up from 3.5 billion/day to almost 6 billion! Streaming services saw a 20% rise in usage. Netflix has had to lower streaming quality for everyone just to handle the load.
That said, for many marketers, it’s not all doom and gloom. 🌤
Search traffic is UP for many industries. Niches reporting traffic gains include:

  • Health and wellness
  • Online grocery and meal/food retailers
  • Remote work, remote teams
  • Preparedness
  • Online dating
  • Online toy and puzzle makers (fun fact: puzzles are HOT right now! 🧩)

Let’s talk about it all – the impact of the pandemic on business and marketing, which niches are winning, which ones are losing, and which are holding steady despite the doom-and-gloom. The good news is, hope is here for many content and SEO marketers. 🙏
NO ONE will forget March 2020, when COVID-19 wreaked havoc on public health, economies, jobs, livelihoods, and day-to-day living. 🌎 Business is NOT as usual. On the Write Blog, @JuliaEMcCoy talks about the ups, downs, and ways to keep… Click To Tweet

How the Pandemic Impacts Business & Marketing: 3 Ways the Pandemic Is Impacting Business Search Traffic and Content

1. Who’s Winning Search Traffic During the Pandemic?

2. The Downside: Who’s Losing Search Traffic to Their Site and Content?

3. Companies Holding Strong During the Pandemic and Giving Back

How to Survive and Thrive in Business & Marketing During a Pandemic: 5 Important Tips

1. Don’t Panic

2. Lead with Empathy

3. Communicate Well (and Often) with Staff and Customers

4. Make a Plan

5. Be a Helper

How is the Pandemic Impacting Business Search Traffic and Content?

Here’s the gist of what’s happening in the world of search traffic, and what it might mean for your marketing, business, and content.

1. Who’s Winning Search Traffic During the Pandemic?

It’s not all doom and gloom out there! 🌤
Search traffic is UP for many industries. According to a recent survey Marie Haynes conducted on Twitter, niches reporting gains in traffic include:

  • Heath/wellness
  • Online grocery/food retailers
  • Remote work and remote teams
  • Preparedness
  • Online dating services
  • Online toy and puzzle retailers (puzzles are HUGE right now 🧩)

impact of pandemic - puzzles are huge
puzzles are big during the pandemic

Source: GIPHY

Besides puzzling in their downtime, people are also furiously Googling anything to do with remote work, especially tools, methods, and ideas for collaboration.
Kevin Indig from G2 recently shared on LinkedIn how traffic to many of the site’s remote work-related categories is exploding:
impact of pandemic on G2 categories
Noticeably, the top categories include:

  • Audio conferencing
  • Telemedicine
  • Video conferencing
  • Webinar
  • Collaborative whiteboard

This holds on Google Trends, too. When you compare the search interest over time between the topics “work from home” and “coworking,” there’s a clear winner.
Work from home” interest spiked as the pandemic took hold, while interest in “coworking” flat-lined.
how the pandemic impacts Google Trends
What impact is the pandemic having on business and marketing? Search traffic is UP for many industries like health/wellness ♥, remote work/teams 💻, online dating 💑, and online puzzle retailers 🧩 (puzzles are HOT right now). Click To Tweet
Beyond industries related to remote work, who else may see gains during this time?
Mark Schaefer wrote a great post about the coronavirus’s implications for marketing. He made some predictions about which business niches have an opportunity right now:
Mark Schaefer predicts how the pandemic impacts business opportunities

  • Comfort foods like candy and baking
  • Nostalgia
  • Cozy wear like sweatpants and pajamas
  • Comedy
  • Old TV shows and movies
  • Hobbies (puzzles, knitting, sewing, crafting, reading)
  • Delivery of essentials like groceries and food
  • Small luxuries that can be home-delivered

mark schaefer how a pandemic impacts business quote02
.@markwschaefer recommends looking for marketing opportunities in baking/cooking/comfort foods 🧁, nostalgia, comedy 🎭, blankets/pj's/comfy clothes, hobbies 🧶, food/grocery delivery, and more. Click To Tweet

2. The Downside: Who’s Losing Search Traffic to Their Site and Content?

Despite the gains for many niches, most are seeing a decline in traffic (as reported by Wordstream and SEO Roundtable).
Here’s Marie Hayne’s Twitter survey from March 23 that shows 59.6% of sites reporting a downturn, out of 726 responses:

Some of the affected niches include:

  • Travel
  • Motorsports
  • Ecommerce – fashion
  • Personal finance
  • Child care and daycare

Additionally, Yelp’s Coronavirus Economic Impact Report shows other struggling niches include:

  • Wineries
  • Bridal stores
  • Shopping centers
  • Tax services
  • Day spas

how coronavirus is impacting business niches
The takeaway: These trends aren’t surprising to anyone. Social distancing and quarantines are forcing people to cancel their weddings and big events, avoid services they previously frequented (hair salons, spas, massage therapy), and rethink where their paychecks are going.
Unless this pandemic wipes out the relevancy of your business right now, for struggling niches, it’s time to start thinking of creative ways to stay afloat. (More on that later.) 🏊‍♀️
What business/marketing niches are losing out during the pandemic? Travel ✈, motorsports, personal finance 💲, wineries, tax services, childcare 👶, and more, now on the Write Blog ➡ Click To Tweet

3. Companies Holding Strong During the Pandemic and Giving Back

Keeping the positivity going, let’s take a look at the many companies doing well despite mass unemployment, layoffs, and the stormy economic weather right now. Some are even using their power to do good in their communities.
Internet Service Providers (like Comcast, Verizon, Charter, and Sprint)
ISPs are doing very well right now – the internet has become a lifeline to keep us sane and connected to our social groups and entertainment.
To help those who may be struggling to make ends meet, the above ISPs have pledged to keep Americans internet-connected for 60 days, even for those who can’t pay their bills.
Distilleries around the country are using their excess, highly-concentrated alcohol to make hand sanitizer for their communities, including Dread River Distillery in Alabama and Caldonia Spirits in Vermont.
Fanatics (MLB Uniform Manufacturer)
Fanatics, a company that makes MLB uniforms, had the means to turn their Pennsylvania plant into a factory just for producing hospital masks and gowns.

OneDine (Guest-Facing Restaurant Technology)
OneDine offers restaurants technology that allows guests to order and pay online. They’re offering free Tap & Pay touchless payment systems to help restaurants shift to stay in business.
OneDine offering free Order and Pay technology
Content Marketing
As I’ve mentioned, there is a HUGE opportunity for content marketing in this climate, where people are heading online in droves for much-needed entertainment, education, enrichment, and socialization.
According to eMarketer predictions, marketers will be looking to deliver even more personalized content so their audiences feel connected in the way they do at in-person events. Here’s an explanation:
how the pandemic impacts marketing
Express Writers
I’m including EW as an example of a business holding strong despite the economy. We haven’t had to do ANY layoffs, and our numbers have held pretty steady over the month.
Over just one day of the shutdown, we had the most visitors we’ve ever seen in one day to my Content Strategy & Marketing Course site (130+ people online).
how the pandemic impacts CSM course traffic
Income-wise, Express Writers did see a slight drop this month, but only by about 10-15%. Meanwhile, we’re still seeing between 2-4K visitors/day to the Write Blog and
how the pandemic impacts Express Writers traffic
SO many more positive examples exist if you just take the time to look. Here are 50 more businesses giving back during coronavirus, via Forbes.
Despite the downs, there ARE businesses continuing to survive and thrive 💪 despite #covid-19. Examples: @Fanatics, @Onedineapp, @GreenhouseCF, and even Express Writers. More on the Write Blog 👉 Click To Tweet

How to Survive and Thrive in Business & Marketing During a Pandemic: 5 Important Tips

As we’ve seen, the pandemic is impacting business and marketing in varied ways. For some of us, the outlook is good. For others, uncertainty may be clouding the future.
No matter your situation, keep these tips in mind to survive this global crisis:

1. Don’t Panic

Panicking will only lead to panic-driven decisions. Panic-driven decisions are based on fear – not logic, practicality, or insight.
Instead, think critically about your business right now. Get informed on coronavirus myths and facts. How does this situation position you to help amid the panic? How can you provide a measure of trust, security, and comfort to people right now in your unique way?
Mark Schaefer, a veteran marketer, talked about this on his blog (which I mentioned already) with great advice – here’s the link again in case you missed it: 7 Non-obvious coronavirus implications for marketing.
Think about businesses that are pivoting to include a wider reach for both their customers and their bottom line. How can you survive and add a touch of thriving by pivoting right now?

2. Lead with Empathy

Every single person you know is facing a different reality right now than the one they knew a month ago. We’re all worried and stressed to some degree.
Leading with empathy is a way to not only show people you care, but to mitigate that stress and worry.
Lots of people who previously went to an office every day are now working from home, many with small children to look after and help with schoolwork. Thanks to their living situation, some people may be isolated from all their friends and family and struggling. Others might face worries about a loved one who works in an essential industry and is exposed to the virus daily.
Be as understanding and accommodating as you can. Lead by example. Though some of us won’t get sick, none of us are immune to the effects of COVID-19.
A great example is Target’s empathetic response to the situation:
Target's empathetic response to the pandemic

3. Communicate Well (and Often) with Staff and Customers

Communication is key for getting through this worldwide upheaval we’re confronting. Your employees, customers, peers, and coworkers are hungry for information right now. They probably have hundreds of questions running through their minds:

  • What’s going on?
  • Are you still open?
  • How are we approaching this situation?
  • What is expected of employees?
  • What are you doing to keep things running?
  • Will I be out of a job?
  • Now what?

As soon as uncertainty hits, it’s time to start being open and honest with your people. Send email updates about the state of your business. Reassure employees if you’re able, or, prepare them for the worst if necessary.
Send customers updates, too – even if it’s just to announce that you’re able to continue as normal, or to remind them you’re still open. Here’s an email Geico recently sent their customers letting them know how the company is responding to the pandemic:
Geico email update about the pandemic
Be sure to check out Really Good Emails for a trove of examples from businesses getting this crucial communication right.
On the other hand, you might be continually shifting your hours of operation, changing your policies, or transitioning into a new normal. Use social media and email to announce everything that affects customers as it happens. Post notices on your blog and website, too.
At times like these, it’s really important to remain transparent and open to retain that trust you’ve built.

4. Make a Plan

Lots of us have more time on our hands than ever. Now is a good time to revisit your disaster preparedness plan for your business (or your savings plan if you’re a marketer or freelancer).
Don’t have one? It’s okay – you’re not alone. Lots of people don’t realize they need to plan for stuff like this until it happens.
As long as you’re financially capable to weather the pandemic, think ahead to the future. Can you start putting small amounts of money away regularly to pad your emergency fund?
What else can you do right now to make you feel more secure in case the pandemic drags on? Make a list of small tasks you can complete in a day, tasks that will lead to a bigger goal.
This Pandemic Preparedness article from Harvard Business Review was published in 2006 amid concerns about avian flu, but it is totally relevant today. Definitely read the advice about being a leader during times of crisis, preparing your business for a pandemic, and how to communicate effectively.
how businesses impacted by the pandemic can prepare
We talked earlier about pivoting to include more services. Here’s a great example of that, from my hometown.
Greenhouse Craft Foods 
One of my favorite farm-to-table restaurants right here in Round Rock, Texas, quickly pivoted their mostly (and always awesome) dine-in experience to the following: essentially a little grocery store with essentials taking over their front counter, punnily titled “Farmer’s Market” — a takeout service offering easy-to-enjoy family meal packs, and more. This was a great way to use their restaurant space for good and pivot without breaking themselves. They used Facebook to share this with their devoted fans.

Note: Don’t break it to make it. Don’t crush core services just for a short-term pivot. However, smart pivots like the one Greenhouse Kraft Foods did, to include much-needed services right now to the public, are worth considering.

@JuliaEMcCoy says: Don't break it to make it. Don't crush core services just for a short-term pivot. #COVID19pandemic However, smart pivots (example: @GreenhouseCF in-store farmer's market for takeout 👏🏻) are worth considering. Click To Tweet

5. Be a Helper

A well-known Mr. Rogers quote has been circulating recently in the news and on social media:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

during the pandemic, look for the helpers

Source: USA Today

Since this advice was intended for kids, let’s take it one step further: BE a helper.
Be the person providing comfort and stability during trying times. Be the person others look to for guidance, reassurance, and support. Be the one offering help in any way you can. Some ideas:

  • Be kind to grocery store clerks, healthcare workers, and others on the front lines.
  • Buy online gift cards to your favorite local businesses to use later. Help them stay running through the pandemic!
  • Tip your delivery person extra (the one bringing you groceries, dinner, packages from Amazon, etc.).
  • Donate money to charities that help needy families.
  • Donate extra supplies to food shelters and hospitals. Check out this Medical Supplies Index compiled by a RN, which lists options for where and how to donate.
  • If you have the skill, consider making face masks for hospitals with shortages.

What else can we do to be helpers? Leave your ideas in the comments. 🙂
In these trying times, don't just look for the helpers. BE a helper. ♥ #COVID19pandemic Click To Tweet

How Will the Pandemic Impact Your Business? It Depends.

Notice I didn’t ask will the pandemic impact your business – I asked how.
Even if your numbers are holding steady, the lives of your employees and customers are NOT the same.
It’s important right now to consider others, be empathetic, stay calm, make plans, and communicate well.
The response you have now will determine whether your business and marketing survive – and even thrive – in the future. So, let’s respond with kindness. Let’s be at our best when the world is at its worst. We’re all in this together. 🌎♥

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