The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has significantly impacted our lives – changing the way we live, work and behave as consumers. For many businesses lockdown measures resulted in immediate changes including store closures, moving to online sales only, remote working and furloughing employees.
Although lockdown measures are easing, digital strategy has never been more important. Search demand initially declined for the majority of sectors, but some experienced an uplift during lockdown as consumers looked for digital ways to access products and services.
Gardening and home improvement
Lockdown measures introduced in March required all but key workers to remain at home, only leaving for essentials and 1 hour of exercise per day. This, combined with many being furloughed and unusually sunny weather led to many spending more time on home improvements and gardening.
The above Google Trends chart shows that search interest significantly increased after lockdown measures were introduced. The chart shows search interest started to decline once lockdown measures eased – likely a result of garden centres reopening to the public and the UK weather taking a turn for the worst. An example of innovation whilst stricter measures were in place is Lockdown Gardener, a business that was started after reports of 1000’s of plants going to waste when stricter lockdown measures were in place. The founders of the business worked quickly, and within 7 days launched a website that allowed those in London and Sussex to order plants from local growers and garden centres.
The above Google Trends chart shows how search interest for the term ‘DIY’ significantly increased when lockdown measures were introduced and is far higher than it was at the same time last year. Research by comparethemarket.com found that nearly 74% of UK households were planning to take on DIY tasks in the run-up to the lockdown May Bank Holiday.
DIY retailers Screwfix and B&Q closed all stores when the UK lockdown was first introduced, but both were quick to introduce online alternatives. Contactless click and collect services and home delivery allowed both brands to continue to trade throughout stricter lockdown measures. B&Q released statements on their social media platforms updating followers on new measures – including making DIY.com (B&Q’s website) their primary store.
It’s not a surprise that search demand for holidays declined significantly as a result of coronavirus and lockdown measures. Although the UK government is still advising that British nationals only travel if essential, Google Trends shows that search interest in slowly improving.
The above Google Trend chart shows the decline in search interest for the term beach holiday when reports of coronavirus increased and lockdown measures were introduced. The chart shows that as lockdown measures start to ease, search interest in increasing.
Facing many challenges, including refunding customers, holiday companies are using social media and website content to keep customers and those interested in booking holidays updated. This includes writing content that answers consumer questions and sharing links to government advice and guidelines.
Online training has seen an increase in search interest as a result of lockdown measures and more people working from home. The Google Trends chart above shows how search interest increased even before lockdown measures were introduced, a likely result of organisations and businesses preparing for social distancing and migrating workforces to home working.
Lockdown and social distancing mean more of us have had to look for alternative ways to work and socialise. In April, it was reported that the video service Zoom saw its number of daily users increase to more than 200 million in March, a huge increase to the before lockdown top figure of 10 million daily users.
Online training is likely to continue to see an increase in search demand, even as workforces return to offices and workspaces, social distancing is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
How does search demand affect my digital strategy?
In times of crisis, it can feel difficult to plan for the future. Although many are pausing marketing activity – others have continued, overcoming the challenges of coronavirus by fast-tracking digital marketing plans.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has devastated many sectors, but there are still opportunities to review and consider.
Search demand can be an indicator of consumer demand. Keep an eye on the keywords you target, and the keywords consumers may use when researching how to solve issues your products or services may fix.
This will not only inform when to start, restart or pause digital marketing activity but is also important to developing new ways of reaching audiences using content marketing or PPC.
If your competitors have paused marketing activity – it could present an opportunity to become more visible to target audiences, for a lower cost. Review PPC channels to see if a loss of competitors bidding for similar terms or audiences has reduced the cost of impressions and clicks.
In addition to this, review social media channels and output. If competitors have stopped posting, this presents an opportunity for your brand to become the ‘expert voice’ in your marketplace – and the brand providing solutions and answers.
Change in customer needs
Many businesses have found that their customer needs have changed as a result of coronavirus and lockdown measures. If you use personas to inform your digital marketing strategy – think about how each persona may have been affected by coronavirus and consider updating them to take the current circumstances into account.
For example, if previously a customer persona indicated that an audience type would likely to visit a website on a desktop, consider whether this is still the case. Have they moved to laptops or smaller devices – and if so, how does this affect their customer journey?
Reviewing personas can identify new opportunities and refocus a digital marketing strategy, making it more efficient.
Test, Learn and Improve
There’s no secret to digital marketing. Creating campaigns that deliver results involves testing, learning and continually optimising. If you’re looking to increase your visibility online or find new ways of capturing crucial leads – contact us.