What business owners & marketers need to know about COVID-19 and the impact on sales

Wherever you are in the world right now you will be fully aware of the Coronavirus. The reality is that the virus is spreading quickly and will be with us for some time to go yet. The reality of business is there for all to see, stock markets are crashing, and all businesses will be affected, that’s guaranteed.

As a digital consultant and the director of a digital agency I am seeing the impact already through the data tracking, I have access to. I work with a diverse client base from travel to drain cleaning, and all are seeing an effect of the virus already. Exploitation is not a marketing strategy.

Firstly, the sad part of this is the businesses that exploit the situation, marketing using fear and have no other aim, other than to profit from the current situation. We are seeing stocks run low of toilet paper, masks, and hand sanitiser. I have seen marketers buying up stock and selling such products online for highly inflated prices.

This isn’t good marketing or business practices; its complete exploitation and these individuals should be ashamed of themselves as should those individuals that panic buys without any regard for others such as the elderly or disadvantaged.

Marketing to gain from such a situation as the Coronavirus is not a long-term strategy and highlights for me a real lack of true marketing thought, planning and strategy. Short term gains are soon consumed, and the real market value will come back and these marketers will be lost again in the real competitive market based on quality, service, reputation, and ultimately price.

Businesses are going to struggle

At this point, we are in the thick of the growth of the virus and the impact this is having across the UK. We are seeing individuals working from home, this has already impacted on one of my clients within the cleaning industry. No one in the office, no point for a daily cleaning service!

Companies like Apple are shutting stores to assist with reducing the spread of the coronavirus but that means less income and less profit. Not all companies have the bank balance of Apple and will not be able to sustain closures for long periods of time.

Virgin Atlantic have asked their staff to take 8 weeks unpaid holiday, the travel industry is seeing huge losses and the airlines are seeing a challenge never planned for. The knock-on effect is huge for all businesses as we see the link in the chain of supply become affected. You will be surprised at the number of small businesses that play a huge part in the supply chain to keep the economy going.

The prediction at this point is that COVID-19 will cost the global economy $2.7 trillion, that is a serious number and will create shock waves that will mean the loss of jobs, contracts, and businesses.

Website traffic has been hit, check if you are in the declining sectors? 

Before I explain more, I have to say that I am still shocked, in fact, horrified at the number of business owners I meet that have no idea about their website traffic or look at their Google Analytics on a regular basis. Google provides you with some amazing tools and data to monitor so make sure you use Google to grow your business.

So back to website traffic, well, of course, you can imagine where the big dips are! Here’s what I’m seeing; Property, retail, software, technology, telecoms, transportation, travel, manufacturing, insurance, construction, and advertising all done by at the top end of 50% in travel.

And the winners are; those in the Financial and news markets, traffic is bigger than ever and if you are in this sector you need to ensure you are being found. Travel is the big loser, a massive 50% down in search. Well, who is going to book a flight or holiday right now?

I have a client in the luxury travel market and my strategy with this client was turning the business around up to three weeks ago. Our Google AdWords campaign is super strong but now the traffic is dropping off every day.

Not only is online traffic down but conversions are too

 Even the industries that are winning right now are seeing conversion issues. What’s a conversion you may ask? Well in my world it’s when someone fills in a form on a website, a real enquiry that lands in your inbox and that is an opportunity created from the digital strategy and implementation of key actions.

The conversion winners are those that understand how to structure CTA’s (calls to action) and leverage strategies such as pop up boxes and sticky bars plus a pinch of re-marketing. They are businesses that are creating better conversions. Those that don’t use these strategies saw lower conversion rates and ultimately lost business.

Google AdWords Costs

 At this point, and looking at the data I have, I’m not seeing a bidding war within Google AdWords but who’s to say this won’t happen? If you already have a well optimised Google AdWords campaign, then you will fair the storm. Although CPC (cost per click) remains stable we are seeing an increase of CPA (cost per acquisition) in the last seven days.

If you are just jumping in to counter your lack of sales, then beware. I see way too many business owners load a credit card with Google clicks and gain no enquiries. You need to know what you’re doing here, and either spend the six months learning, testing and measuring or go to someone like myself who knows how to create AdWords campaigns.

Google AdWords and Facebook advertising are still great opportunity makers. Don’t ignore them but understand where they sit in your digital marketing plan, why you are doing them, what your end goal is and what your target CPA (cost per acquisition) is? Ensure you understand the variants of search, display, re-targeting and dynamic adverts to achieve your goals. Leverage again the great tools of Google and Facebook for tracking and data analysis.

So, what’s the business prediction at this point?

With a predicted $2.7 trillion hit it can only be a case of recession say the experts. You are seeing it already and it will continue, people are cutting back. As a business owner, I have already made key decisions to ensure tighter management of costs and how we work. My business is structured with a low cost of sale already. I utilise cloud-based systems for our workflow, team and client collaboration.

This reduces time in email and essay writing. Before the Coronavirus, I was a big fan of home working, ZOOM Meetings online and using cloud software such as LOOM to deliver information that would usually need a meeting or creating time-consuming documents. The time savings are huge here so explore it now.

This current situation will have many individuals thinking about home working as part of their working life and employment contracts. Everyone is a winner in my mind and the monetary positives are far-reaching when home working becomes a consideration. Perhaps the myth of those that work from home don’t do much will be banished from business conversations. The focus should always be results and not where you achieve them from!

Look at the positives right now

You need to look at the opportunities right now even in these early days. Economic downturns mean less competition, which gives you the opportunity to get faster results and gain market position. If the market continues to go down, businesses will go bankrupt, get bought out (at low rates), same may get bailed out but for most, it will be too late.

If you’re lucky to have some cash to sit this out, then you will be in a great position to leverage the opportunities that will surface from the Coronavirus crisis and any impending recession. Think about your online strategy, more than ever people through isolation and what I believe will be an uptake in-home working following this situation will need the internet, information, services, and products to be available and easy to find online. Can you deliver that right now?

Use this period of uncertainty, isolation, home working and thinking time to understand your plan for the future, your strategy to make it happen, and you will implement what needs doing to get you to where you want to be.

Talk to me I’m available to help on a consultancy basis for FREE

Yes, in this time of all needing support and help I’m available for free to help any business owner who has read this, and wants to ask a question or seek more help. Obviously this will not be sustainable long term, and time will be limited plus there is no implementation on offer but what I know, and have experience in, which is sales and digital marketing will be of high value to most business owners.

If you have read this and want to talk further just comment below or email me on terry@salesremedy.co.uk

Remain safe, think of others, give us much as you can to help those that need it and together we can make it through just like we have many times before.

Wishing you the best for now.