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Marketing During the Pandemic: 20 Stats You Should Know

Marketing during a pandemic was probably not on the agendas of many marketing professionals in 2019, yet it’s 2020 and here we are.

As businesses across the country continue to cope with the crisis, they’re asking themselves how marketing is being affected, and what they should do.

We’ve rounded up the most significant statistics on marketing during the pandemic to give you an insight into where we headed, what other businesses are doing, and—most importantly—what your customers want.

Read ahead and discover 10 stats you must know as you assess your marketing plans for the rest of 2020 and beyond.

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1. Although three-quarters (73%) of advertisers have held back campaign launches, most (52%) are expected to resume or ramp up their advertising spending this summer

Marketers are just as in the dark about the effects of the lockdown restrictions on business as anyone else.

It’s perfectly rational to hold back on campaigns and reassess when they want to have their launches.

What’s notable is that more than half hope to resume their spending at the same level or increase it, even in the midst of the current economic downturn.

In periods of uncertainty, organizations will look to cut, meaning there’s a whole lot less marketing noise from your competitors.

During the Great Recession, brands who continued to invest in their marketing invariably came out the other side better off than their peers who held back.

graph of worldwide advertising spending

2. 39% of social media users polled said they were spending more time on social media

People are remote working and living under restrictions. This has naturally led to a large increase in social media use among consumers.

Businesses should look to their online social media channels in order to take advantage of this surge in users.

This doesn’t have to be just lead generation either, but customer service, too—whether it’s answering questions from clients or content creation to reassure them of new standards or procedures during the pandemic. 

3. Marketers expect a 66% increase in social media content creation during the pandemic, followed by blog content at 57% and video production at 50%

As traditional marketing and advertising spend decreases, the inverse is true of digital marketing during the pandemic.

While a third of marketers will be reducing or keeping their content creation at the same level, two-thirds are increasing their output.

This is for two principle reasons: the first is the continued rise of content marketing as a top priority for businesses for bringing in leads; and the second is a reaction to the pandemic, with some marketers making the decision to double down on their content to improve their engagement online.

Related Post: Marketing in a Recession: Continuing to Invest in Your Brand

4. Of the 79% who have a content marketing strategy, 70% made major or moderate adjustments to their strategy because of the pandemic

While there has been a large increase in content creation among content marketers, there has also been a recognition among them that the usual pre-pandemic strategies have needed adjustments.

This means acknowledging the changing needs of consumers and adopting a content strategy that reflects that, whether it’s reassuring them about the continued delivery of your service, informing them of new developments within your business, or simply educating them about something new that could help.

Take as an example Experian’s CreditChat series. It started back in 2012 as a weekly series about all thing financial, then pivoted after the pandemic took ahold to provide consumers valuable personal finance tips and help, building trust as a source of useful information.

5. 87% of consumers appreciate brands that go out of their way to deliver timely and relevant information during the coronavirus pandemic

Yes, it’s still important to push your outreach goals with regards to the content you promote, but don’t forget the big picture.

People find themselves having to adapt to the new normal; they’re concerned about their financial and emotional wellbeing.

This is the opportunity for SMBs to step up and be a resource to them. They might not understand how your business has been affected; they might want to know how your service is going to change during the pandemic.

Use the tools you have at your disposal to keep them updated and at ease with your situation. Letting them know you’re a tweet away, emailing them informational advice on how to take care of themselves, or measures you’re introducing to protect their safety—these are small but significant gestures that consumers will appreciate.

6. 89% of Gen Z and Millennials expect brands to take action to help with COVID-19

On that note, younger generations don’t just appreciate it when brands provide them information; they actively expect them to help with the pandemic.

With these generations making up the majority of the workforce, it’s imperative that businesses acknowledge and pay attention to their desires.

Of course, this is also dependent on your target demographic, and businesses that cater exclusively to Millennials or Gen Zers should be particularly alive to this.

How is your marketing playing a role in this? Are you effectively letting your audience know what you’re doing to help? Two-thirds of Gen Z consumers want brands to allow working from home to help fight the spread. Maybe you’ve already done this but haven’t thought to share it online.

Tell your customers what you’re doing to help, they will think positively about your business for taking action and keeping them informed of the steps you’ve taken during the crisis.

7. A plurality of consumers (37%) say they want advertising to make them feel safe and give them a sense of normality, while others (31%) want ads to make them feel positive.

It would be simple for businesses to see the increase in online activity during this time and seek to market to audiences as much as possible.

This is a mistake.

In difficult times, consumers don’t want brands to keep advertising to them, they want someone to give them support and guidance.

Yes, businesses should be looking to explore avenues to maintain revenue, but consumers should be treated with a light touch and as much compassion as possible.

Building your credibility as a compassionate and understanding business during times of crisis will be remembered by customers.

8. 40% of consumers say humorous communication is the wrong approach from brands

While consumers want to feel reassured and positive during the crisis, they don’t want brands cracking wise.

We could all use a laugh in hard times, but brands that adopt a humorous angle in their messaging run the danger of coming off as facetious to their customers.

It’s true that campaign messages vary wildly from one organization to another, but nonetheless companies should be very cautious in how their output will be perceived.

9. 42% of marketers mentioned that their marketing teams lacked the bandwidth to quickly adapt to shifting priorities and creating new content.

While we’re seeing businesses both cutting and investing, what they have in common is that demands for content creation have gone up.

Many marketers are struggling to meet new demands, whether it’s creating new kinds of content or just increasing output.

In content marketing, quality trumps quantity, so be careful not to fall into the trap of expecting more from less and ending up with lower-quality output.


10. Only 22% of marketing professionals noted the ability to effectively collaborate in real-time as a notable challenge.

One of the major consequences of the pandemic has of course been the widescale implementation of remote work across the country.

Overnight, employees had to transition to a completely different work environment, and businesses had to adopt communication tools to help facilitate this—Zoom was the biggest beneficiary of this change.

Marketers appear to have responded well to this change, with a large majority of them reporting success in their collaboration efforts with team members as a result of communication software.

Decision makers should understand whether the software they currently have in place is good enough for their workers to carry out their jobs effectively, and whether they should look into purchasing a UCaaS solution to help their collaboration if they don’t have one already.

Related Post: What Is Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)?

11. 70% of marketers have moved their face-to-face interactions partially or fully to a virtual platform, and many don’t see that as a short-term fix

UCaaS platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have given marketers the ability to take different approaches to meetings.

From one-to-one calls to large-scale conferences, these platforms have done a lot to demonstrate their worth to small and midsize businesses during the pandemic.

While collaboration tools and platforms were already seeing a big rise before the crisis, users are now seeing how they can provide the kind of flexibility they need during uncertain times in the future.

When all is said and done and normality resumes, communication platforms will continue to be used by marketers, in addition to face-to-face events.

12. Total media ad spending worldwide will decline by 4.5% this year

Unsurprisingly, marketers have reduced their ad spending significantly this year, with forecasters predicting a decline to 4.5% from pre-pandemic estimates of 7%.

Marketers are instead focusing their energy on organic social media campaigns with existing audiences, hence the drastic increase in content creation like blogs and videos.

Initial suggestions after the onset of the pandemic indicated a decline of 4.9%, suggesting businesses reacted better than expected to the economic effects of the pandemic.

13. Search engine ads forecast to grow 5.9% this year

While total media ad spending is on the decline, search ads are on the up—one area of marketing that has seen increased spending this year.

With consumers spending more time on the internet, it makes perfect sense for businesses to invest more heavily driving traffic from search engines to their websites.

Initial forecasts anticipated a much larger growth 14.4%, but it’s a mark of the strength of online marketing through digital channels that paid search ads have weathered the pandemic storm to the extent they have.

14. 76% of SMBs say they have upskilled in areas such as SEO, social media, and data analytics

As businesses look to digital channels in order to make up other areas of marketing, they have put a large emphasis on improving their capabilities with regards to organic search, social media content, and utilizing data analytics.

These are common and important aspects of any modern marketing team, and the huge majority of SMBs saying they have upskilled in these areas suggests the pandemic has sped up efforts to improve competencies in digital marketing.

15. 79% of CMOs continue to pursue relatively conservative growth strategies, primarily relying on existing markets to fuel growth

Marketers have been focusing their efforts on existing markets for growth—unsurprisingly the majority of them have shown a reluctance to venture outside what they know best, investing more heavily into products, customers, and markets they are most familiar with.

Customer retention has been a key element of the pandemic, with marketers recognizing the importance of deriving revenue from existing customer bases while the effects of the pandemic lessen the odds of expansion into other markets at this time for many.

16. 23% of consumers planning to continue watching more livestreaming videos post-outbreak

One of the more unassuming winners of the pandemic from a marketing point of view has been livestreaming, with a quarter of consumers saying they plan to continue watching more livestreaming events after the pandemic is over.

With in-person gathering being significantly reduced, many businesses have instead taken the opportunity to livestream events, conventions, product launches, conferences, talks, and everything in between online.

17. Consumers feel businesses are still behind when it comes to mobile digital communication

Though marketers have been concentrating their efforts on digital channels, there are still a number of areas where consumers feel they could be doing better.

For example, 75% of consumers would appreciate getting reminders by text about items left in an online shopping cart, whereas just 39% currently do.

Simple strategies like utilizing all digital channels beyond social media can help improve customer satisfaction and of course help them down the sales funnel more effectively.

18. Email marketing (66%), websites (63%), and social media marketing (52%) top the list of tactics that brands handled internally this year

Financial difficulties have naturally placed a significant burden on marketing budgets throughout the course of 2020. This has led to less reliance on external marketing agencies by businesses, instead using internal resources to carry out marketing goals.

The three principal goals have unsurprisingly been the core digital channels, email, website, and social media.

The fact that two-thirds of SMBs say email and website are top priorities but only half of them say the same for social media suggests there’s still some way to go in terms of the SMBs utilizing social media platforms to their fullest extent.

19. 67% of businesses have undertaken or already implemented marketing transformation strategies as a result of the crisis

Two-thirds of SMBs have made plans to digitally transform their marketing efforts—whether its through tech solutions to better aggregate and analyze customer data for better decision making or a more robust social media strategy, businesses are making real headway in getting their digital marketing up to date.

This is an area in which we would expect to see progress in any case, but the events of 2020 have hastened and brought forward many plans for transformation.

20. 65% of senior marketers plan to revamp their offices after COVID

When asked whether they plan to change their office plans after the pandemic, two-thirds of senior marketers indicated they would.

As many businesses signal their intention to fully adopt remote work, others are looking instead to create more collaborative workspaces for their marketing teams to respond in kind.

For more information about marketing during the pandemic, and what to look for as we reach the other side of it, register to watch our on-demand webinar Year in Review/Year to Come: 2022 Digital Marketing Predictions today.