Digital Marketing Trends a Month into COVID-19

by Jackson Phipps

The first few weeks of March will be remembered as a time when businesses entered strategic overdrive in response to widespread shutdowns and closures. Assessing the impact the pandemic would have was an inexact science…at best.

Now that the initial rush has passed and the “new normal” (although if we’re being honest, none of this will ever really feel normal) has set in, we have more reliable data to utilize when making decisions. With careful planning, it’s possible to make sense of this science-fiction movie that has become reality.

During Quarantine, Video Stands Out

In a world full of unknowns, there is one thing we can trust – video consumption is, and will continue to, skyrocket as people look for indoor entertainment.

Advertisers can target video mediums in a way that maximizes budget efficiency and delivers messaging to the correct audience with great accuracy. Not to mention, the overall user base for all streaming services, but especially YouTube, is growing.

The reason why YouTube is so effective? It is free! Job uncertainty and unemployment will likely lead to a decreased number of subscriptions to costly services, especially cable. By utilizing YouTube and OTT placements, you’ll be able to find the people where they’re watching.

Sending a Message

One area of online behavior that has seen a significant increase in usage is messaging. Facebook has reported a more-than 50% increase in messages sent across their various platforms, with the majority of the increase in Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. People are generally unable to communicate in person or in public places, so digital correspondence has become the next best thing. Now the real question: what does that mean for your business?

Facebook “Messenger Ads” allows a CTA (call-to-action) button that prompts users to send a message directly to your business. This can be hugely beneficial in fostering a two-way street of communication between your company and your audience.

Get Social

Unsurprisingly, social media has received a significant boost in terms of user volume as people looked to connect with friends and family, get news updates, and be entertained. Advertisers are seeing more engagement as well, with marketing news company The Drum conducting a survey that showed a 76% increase in daily likes on Instagram posts from all brands with #ad attached to the copy.

If that’s not enough, check out the increase in traffic and engagement on LinkedIn. Even Facebook, which has a consistent user-base throughout the year, has seen a jump. For specific figures that can help shape future strategy, read more about the impact.

Additionally, social media channels have become the place where audiences of all ages go to get updates on businesses. Combine that with the news and entertainment aspect of social media and you have a one-stop-shop for everything you need in a time when you can rarely leave the house.

If your business has never taken its social media presence seriously or has kept it on the back burner, it’s time to ramp things up quickly. How businesses present themselves now will resonate with customers in the future.


Many businesses may be seeing a loss of revenue during this time or may have been forced to lay off or furlough employees. While it is never good to see businesses struggling, the lack of competition can mean much cheaper CPMs on Google’s and Facebook’s ad networks. For companies that are still able to function in this current climate, customer acquisition is cheaper than it was previously.

People are even becoming more likely to interact with your business’s ads, likely due to the fact that more of their lives are taking place online. Location data tech company Blis reported that click-through rates almost doubled in the US towards the end of March (3/13 to 3/23).

Remember, right now is the time to be more concerned with market-share than profits. This concept isn’t just speculation without precedent – food giant Kellogg has firsthand experience.

Creativity is at a Premium

If you’re like most, as the pandemic gained momentum in the U.S., you received an email from every business who had you on file. Chances are the subject line was something like “How We’re Looking Out for You During COVID-19.” Did any of these emails make you more likely to utilize their products or services? Probably not. Creativity has never been more important, and sometimes taking risks is the best way to set yourself apart.

Everyone is in the same boat when it comes to the uncertainty of how to proceed in maintaining market share and revenue. If there was ever a time to roll the dice on a new web show, podcast, vlog, or Q&A session, now is that time.

Nobody knows what the game plan should be while we wait for things to return to the way they were before. However, sitting around idly is only putting you further behind. Try getting your team together and throwing something at the wall…you never know what might stick!

The Bottom Line

Nobody knows when all of this will be over, but the day will eventually come. Until it does, there’s really only one piece of advice that applies to every business, regardless of how they’ve been impacted by COVID-19: keep your name in front of people.

Companies that put in the extra time, tolerate extra risk, and focus on true creativity can look forward to coming out the other side stronger than ever.