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How marketing strategies are changing due to the current pandemic

The Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Traditional Marketing

Though marketing strategies have become increasingly digitally orientated, many businesses still invest significant time and resources in traditional marketing, including television and radio commercials, mailers, flyers, trade shows, and other mediums. Now that people need to stay at home, traditional forms of marketing have taken a substantial hit. Even television advertisements are having less of an impact, as sporting events which are a major source of revenue for television advertisements, have been cancelled or postponed. The cancellation of trade shows is also having a major impact on businesses, as these businesses have invested thousands of dollars, sometimes more, in preparation for trade shows that have been cancelled. This not only costs businesses the money that they had invested in the show, but also the opportunity to network and the potential revenue available from networking at the trade show.

Many marketing and advertising departments will need to be up to the challenge of thinking about creative and innovative marketing strategies and practices, which will help navigate their businesses through this “new normal”. For brands, this means dealing with market alteration due to the economic impact on all industry sectors, such as facing increased competition given consumers "new normal". This will require addressing sustainability, evaluating operational options and challenges, analysing brand reputation issues, identifying potential new products and services needed to meet consumers’ needs and expectations, focusing on creative and strategic marketing campaigns and using social media effectively.

These aspects are made all the more important due to COVID-19, which will negatively impact spending on advertising in 2020 as stores close and revenue decreases. Other businesses have had to refocus their spending to purpose-driven marketing, mission-based marketing and cause-related marketing to better satisfy consumers' increased media consumption while working from home. For example, 45% of global consumers are devoting more time to social media, online video streaming has increased by 26%, online gaming traffic has increased exponentially, and the number of consumers using online food delivery and essential goods delivery has risen dramatically. As a result, many brands may look to optimise their marketing practices to better reflect the increase in online transactions and communication with consumers.

Not a Typical Recession

The current economic situation may elicit people’s memories of the 2008 recession, but this is a different situation. The recession in 2008 was due to market factors that crashed the economy while the current economic issues were caused by the spread of a disease that impacted what was a relatively healthy economy. During the 2008 recession, many businesses were reducing their marketing budgets to cut costs, in order to survive. In the current pandemic, more businesses are instead allocating finances to their marketing efforts and resources, in order to utilise digital marketing mediums. The technology to reach a customer base digitally via videos, online advertisements, and face-to-face online meetings has improved significantly since 2008. Many experts are predicting this trend to increase and there is a chance this heavy shift into digital marketing may last beyond the pandemic.

Spending Increase on Digital Marketing and Social Media Advertisements

People are spending more time at home and less time travelling, causing many businesses to allocate more of their resources to online marketing. More people across every generation are checking social media often as they stay at home, and checking various news outlets to stay up to date on the COVID-19 situation. The amount of engagement on social media including shares and likes has increased significantly since the start of the stay at home orders. Due to this, businesses have been spending more on social media advertising, and this spending is expected to increase over the next couple of months. The audience is already on social media, businesses need to put forth the effort to engage with them.

Rethinking the Digital Community

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rethinking and reshaping of the digital community as people are spending more time online. Industries and institutions that have long resisted a shift to digital means, such as medical professionals and schools, are now embracing the shift. More classes are going online and doctors are meeting with their patients face-to-face over Skype, Facetime and similar apps. Several businesses are also allowing their employees to work from home, while staying connected through these apps. Artistic communities are doing more to reach people online during the pandemic. Musicians at every level are playing free, live concerts on Facebook and Instagram to fans. People with skills of various types are also doing live instructional videos to teach people a craft, recipe, or exercise. What businesses, institutions, and artists are essentially thinking is, “What can I offer right now that will benefit people?”, and this is the approach businesses should take as they go full force into digital marketing during this pandemic.

Digital Marketing Strategy during the COVID-19 Pandemic

In current times, people are anxious and uncertain of what to expect as they continue to quarantine at home. They are looking for support anywhere they can get it, including from their favourite brands. This is where businesses need to get creative to translate their message for the current crisis into a way that reaches and helps their audience. People are concerned about their health, both mental and physical, and they are looking for optimism and something to keep them busy. These are the things that need to be considered when thinking about how your products or services can help ease one of these aspects. You can also get creative with offers or promotions that can help people through these uncertain times.

Crafting your Message

If you are unsure how to go about best crafting your message during the COVID-19 crisis, you can work with a digital marketing agency to help. These are professionals that can help revise and improve the following to convey your message and boost your online presence:

· Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): Improving the optimisation of your website will help it perform better in the search rankings which will attract more relevant organic traffic.

· Website content: Your current website content should be reviewed and updated with your new message. You should also ensure that the call to action is clear on every page.

· Content marketing: Now is the time to be creating new content for your target audience, as they are spending more time online. This includes blogs, newsletters, press releases, infographics, and other types of useful content.

· Social media engagement: As discussed above, engaging your audience on social media is very important during this crisis. You can create engaging posts that involve pictures and videos, interesting articles, special offers and more to keep your audience engaged.

Leading Strategies to Help People Market their Brands

· Firstly, it is important to establish who your target audience is, and the best means to grab their attention. One of the quickest and most effective ways to gain more visibility is through social media. Regardless of where you are in the world social media is easily accessible. In times when people have to stay at home, its popularity has greatly increased. Marketing your brands on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and other social media’s, is really beneficial at this point and is cost-effective. A survey conducted in India measured the increase in social media usage since the lockdown. It showed there was an 87% increase as compared to the week before lockdown.

· Secondly, it is vital that you do not lose the attention of your existing customers. This can be ensured through various different techniques. One aspect is through marketing automation. The use of personalised emails or text messages helps generate six times more revenue. A few examples of marketing automation are personalised product recommendations, reminders via email and gift cards.

· Thirdly, easy and hassle-free accessibility draws in customers faster. This can be done through the right digital marketing tools. One of the most effective ways to offer quicker and uncomplicated access is through a mobile app. A large portion of the public owns a smartphone, and this ensures that businesses can directly communicate with their customers. It guarantees that you provide access 24/7 on a device that is constantly in their possession.

· Lastly, the success of every business depends invariably on consumer satisfaction. When the consumers are pleased by the service provided, they will convey a positive image to those around them. Positive word-of-mouth plays an important role in marketing your goods and services. This is especially applicable, in times when people are staying connected via social networking.

Five Digital Marketing Strategy Changes to Implement during the COVID-19 Pandemic

1. Redefine your business goals.

The disrupted marketing landscape requires a thorough reassessment in terms of marketing strategy and overall business goals. Marketers can use the time working from home to reflect on the purpose of their brand – particularly in the context of the COVID-19 lockdown – and define a new set of messages.

2. Save outbound messages for critical communications.

Before you send a COVID-19 related email to your entire mailing list, remember that you are communicating in a highly over-messaged environment right now, with game-changing news popping up in ones emails, and text messages at a time. Consumers are overloaded with messages from their employers, doctors, mayors, governors, and children’s schools. They have to install new apps allowing them to work and study at home, so ensure your message counts and use segmentation to your advantage during this time.

3. Use Omni Channel to your Advantage.

Redefining your business goals will also help identify the strong points in your brand’s omni channel offering. All brands with stationary retail storefronts are seeing their hands forced by the current state of government-mandated lock-downs to direct visitor traffic to e-commerce storefronts. Even before these closings, foot traffic in United States of America malls were suffering, as 40% of consumers avoided shopping centres, so marketers had some time to respond.

4. Test-drive your inbound marketing for COVID-19.

Keeping the expected surge in online traffic in mind, are you prepared for more consumers proactively researching your business directly? Or indirectly arriving at one of your properties through the magic of SEO and paid search? Take out the guesswork by test-driving your entire inbound marketing including websites, chat bots, resources, videos, instructional content, brochures, etc. for a wide range of search journeys.

5. Analyse and measure everything.

In this reality disrupted by COVID-19, new search patterns and trends will emerge almost daily. That is why data analysis and reporting are more crucial than ever. Learning what pages your consumers are visiting and what kind of searches they are performing will help to fine-tune your marketing message on the go and deliver relevant content that resonates.

The Shifts in Media since the COVID-19 Outbreak

COVID-19 is impacting consumer mobility, shifts in media consumption habits, supply chains which have caused shortages of and concerns over goods manufactured in China, and economic volatility. With this dynamic situation, companies need to plan their next marketing moves wisely to either mitigate the downside risk or capture all the upside that is possible. Some advertisers should hold dry powder while others should double-down on marketing investments to seize opportunities. It is crucial for organisations to pay attention to how this situation is altering the landscape and plan accordingly, rather than wait and hope that no changes are necessary.

Here are some examples of the types of shifts we are seeing and expect to see in marketing approaches and investments:

  • Directing investments toward marketing tactics that drive online sales.

  • Reducing marketing investments on campaigns to drive short-term sales or business outcomes, while keeping brand-building campaigns live – essentially saving dry powder.

  • Shifting budgets to promoting at-home and delivery-based options (at-home fitness solutions/equipment/apps, grocery delivery, restaurant delivery, etc.)

  • Shifting focus from promoting premium products to entry-point or everyday items.

  • With sporting events being cancelled or played without fans, many advertisers are formulating new plans for those budgets – often holding the investments for later use – or scenario planning for how to redeploy their dollars if a large advertising event such as the Olympics is cancelled or postponed.

  • Fine-tuning media allocations by tactic as we experience demand-driven price fluctuations in various media channels. Changes in media supply and demand will impact costs, so we anticipate marketers will need to closely manage certain spending areas, such as digital, with refreshed return on investments on new cost levels.

  • Tracking data in local geographies that experienced varying levels of impacts.

  • Using trends social sentiment and google query volume on relevant key words as indicators to inform marketing actions.

  • Building in quick response learning to optimise marketing budgets and transfer learning across markets.

  • Measurement of custom creative addressing the viruses.

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly caused a shift in marketing as more businesses and institutions are turning to online and digital means to reach their target audience. Marketing experts predict that these trends will continue through the COVID-19 crisis as more people are spending time online, and there is a good chance these trends will last after the crisis is over. Right now, it is impossible to tell how long this crisis will last, but you can put your business in a good position by improving your online presence and engagement.


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