How the COVID-19 Crisis Makes Online Advertising More Important Than Ever

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online advertising

Today we consider how the COVID-19 crisis and the UK population being told they need to stay at home makes online advertising more important than ever.


With the prime minister instructing everyone who can work at home to do so and many people not being able to go to work, the British public has probably never spent more time in front of their phone and computer screens. So, for businesses struggling to stay afloat during this challenging and unprecedented time, there’s never been a better time to use online advertising effectively.

Businesses with an e-commerce presence can use online advertising to reassure customers that they’re operating as usual. While, amidst growing pandemic concerns, shopfronts have closed and you can no longer enjoy a sit-down meal in a restaurant, businesses are still able to sell products online and offer delivery services. You need to use online advertising to make sure customers know what you’re offering and how they can get your products or services while being stuck at home.

The COVID-19 crisis and social media usage

The COVID-19 crisis is making us spend the majority of our time in isolation, which means using social media to stay connected with people. You only have to look at statistics regarding WhatsApp usage, and the fact that it’s seen a 40 percent increase, to get the idea.


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Influencer agency Obviously analysed 260 of its own campaigns, including more than 7.5 million Instagram posts and data from over 2,000 TikTok influencers. It found a 76 percent increase in daily accumulated likes on Instagram #ad posts in the last two weeks and a 22 percent increase in Instagram campaign impressions from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020. Let’s consider some more statistics:

  • Twitter’s daily usage has surged by 23 percent (Vox)
  • 66 percent of social media consumers expect their social media consumption to increase during self-isolation
  • 99 percent of social media users think they will purchase something online if they are confined to their home during the coronavirus outbreak

The importance of online advertising

  1. Can target people who are likely to be interested in your product/service
  2. Reach out to your target audience across the globe
  3. Cost-effective compared to other advertising methods
  4. Keep your customers engaged
  5. Use online analytic tools to work out what strategies work best for your business

"We are in uncertain times, but with the increase of remote working and a collaborative approach, companies are turning to digital channels and embracing the transformation. We have seen a real spike during the last few weeks from companies wishing to create or update websites, launch new e-commerce channels and create social media campaigns focused on home-workers and a real focus on using influencers and SEO to reach new audiences." – Scott Jones, CEO of 123 Internet Group

Tips for online advertising during the COVID-19 crisis

1. As your marketing team can no longer attend sales visits or events, there’s more time to research where you can find your customers online.

2. Build brand awareness with your online audience.

3. Focus content on the value your product or service provides and how it will benefit customers when they buy it now or in the future.

3. Find new leads and grow your email marketing list.

4. Re-engage with previous website visitors. Studies have shown that 75 percent of people will leave your site without buying anything (Barilliance). Staying at home means increased browsing, so it’s a great opportunity to re-connect with shoppers that have previously visited your website with promotional incentives like free shipping.

5. Now’s the time to revisit digital channels. This could be simply giving your website a refresh or looking at your social media strategy.

6. Consider becoming more sophisticated in your use of live social platforms. Lots of businesses hadn’t implemented Facebook and Linkedln Live in their social media strategies, but they are now seeing the value of using them to connect with their target audience.

If your small business has never had an online presence up until this point, follow these five steps.

1. Design a simple website

Your website doesn’t need to be overly complex but, as it will become the cornerstone of your business’s online presence, make sure it’s clear and easy to navigate.

2. Create a Google My Business account

This is a free, simple tool for businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. Customers are going to turn to Google to find out if businesses are still in action and how they are operating. On your My Google Account, you can display your business hours, contact details, photos, reviews and a notice informing customers how your business has adapted in this difficult time.

However, while our internet use is up nearly 50 percent since COVID-19 became a global pandemic, we are currently spending less time on Google search. One trend in online advertising is that YouTube has experienced a 21 percent increase in ad traffic, so consider upping your ad game there if you haven’t already.

3. Connect with customers on social media

While lots of customers will turn to Google or check out your website to find out how your business is operating, many will also look for your most recent social media update. If they can’t find you on social media, they might think that you’re no longer providing your product or service and look elsewhere.


4. Start selling your products online

As the retail industry will undoubtedly suffer with customers not being able to visit stores, e-commerce makes it possible for sales to keep coming in. People who are stuck in all day might be more likely to be scrolling their favourite brand’s website and ordering something to lift their spirits.
When your products are online, optimise your Google shopping feed to make sure customers can easily find your products.

5. Focus on your digital advertising

Try using Google ads, Microsoft Advertising and Facebook ads to reach customers when they search online for your keywords and are scrolling their social media. Using these three platforms should drive more traffic to your business, widen your customer base and result in more sales.

Online advertising – important now, and always

With your audience spending more time online, it’s easier to find them while they scroll their social media feeds, browse the internet or watch videos online. How businesses adapt their digital strategy will strongly influence whether they survive the tough times ahead. If you take the time to revamp your business’s approach to digital marketing, it should provide long-term value rather than simply being a quick fix in this turbulent time. And it should mean your business is more resilient and able to stay strong in any future crises like global pandemics.

To stay informed during this frightening time, you can read our other coronavirus-related content below:

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