We’re living through unprecedented times. There’s no rule book or business manual for businesses to use to navigate this unchartered territory. Will COVID-19 be the incentive businesses need to change their business models and accelerate digital transformation, as this article from FeedStock suggests? Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen the impact of Coronavirus on B2B marketing activities.

A marketer’s key skill is to be able to manage in a fast-moving environment, be proactive and embrace pace and change. The unfortunate spread of Coronavirus is no exception as marketers adjust their strategies, tactics and budgets to adapt and overcome challenges, whilst continuing to deliver value for their businesses.

Over half of marketers are delaying campaigns

As the economic conditions change and customer behaviour shifts, marketing leaders must focus on optimizing budgets. Over half of marketers are delaying their campaigns or have put them under review (55%), according to a resent survey by Marketing Week.  And 60% are delaying or reviewing budget commitments and a further 55% have paused product or service launches.

The business impact of the coronavirus crisis on marketers. Source Marketing Week

Exercising marketing leadership by reviewing marketing activities, marketing spend and ROI is an essential part of the role. As this public health crisis moves rapidly into an economic crisis which will directly impact business performance and revenue its vital to be proactive and nimble.

Cancellation of in-person activities

One significant impact on marketing activities is the forced cancellation or postponement of events. Many tradeshows, conferences, festivals, sponsored events have all been cancelled completely. Others are looking to reschedule or think out of the box and move to a digital alternative.

With the total disappearance of all live in-person events this closes off a significant marketing channel for businesses. Often a series of annual activities designed to reach and engage with prospects and target audiences. For B2B businesses there is an opportunity to show resilience and ingenuity by creating relevant and engaging online virtual events.

Impact to website traffic

As you’d expect the profile of organic and website traffic has dramatically changed. According to data taken from Neil Patel across all industries and countries there are dramatic swings. The data is a little light for retail and hospitality, but gives a clear indication across some primary sectors. The Media and finance sectors show significant growth.

Neil Patel

Consumer behaviour has changed dramatically as a result of the national lockdown. Figures released by the BBC show that clothes sales have dropped by 34%, but showed an unsurprising increase in online shopping.

The outcome of this is that searching behaviour has drastically changed and that’s likely to continue over the coming weeks and months.

As people are forced to stay at home, and wherever possible work from home, you need to make a shift in your SEO and content strategy that embraces new audience location, and behaviour. Stay relevant, in today’s environment.

Optimizing marketing budgets

Marketing leaders are routinely faced with budgetary challenges, even when times are good. The ‘ask’ from the business is for greater efficiencies and optimization. While budget reductions are likely in the current climate, as businesses look at their overall cost base and their ability to weather a turbulent environment.

Some marketing leaders benefit from budgets that are commensurate with strategic ambitions. Others have to squeeze value from significantly lower budget allocations. According to research from Gartner, average marketing budgets stand at over 11% of company revenue, 5% of CMOs surveyed for the 2018-2019 CMO Spend Survey reported marketing budgets below 5%.

As a result, those who continue to invest in marketing during an economic downturn will have less competition. Less competition means it’s easier and faster to reap the rewards.

Think human to human

The shift in trending google searches gives a clear indication of what people are looking for, with more entertainment related searches sitting top of the pile. People are craving enjoyment and connection in lockdown. Create content that can make a real difference to your target audience right now. Trying to understand what’s needed now, what problems and challenges they are trying to overcome, as it relates to the current environment is really important.

A digital future

In a recent article from Mckinsey it’s clear that a digital future lies ahead. Businesses have been forced to adopt new ways of working utilising many of the digital tools already available. Digital Transformation is not easy, but as McKinsey’s interviews with CEO’s shows “By acting early and being bold and decisive, CEOs can accelerate their digital transformation and reach the next normal sooner”. The same is true of marketing activities.

Digital is the norm for marketers, but with the shift to working from home, change in shopping and buying behaviours, digital is more important than ever. Make sure you revisit all elements of your digital marketing strategies. With more and more people searching, engaging with social media content and maximising tools like LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, now is not the time to pull back.

Make sure you revisit all elements of your digital marketing strategies and make sure you have a strong digital presence. You might be able to take advantage of ad credits being offered by Google.

Take aways

There’s a significant impact of coronavirus on B2B marketing, but now is not the time to contract. Stay relevant and strengthen your digital presence if you can. With constant change, its important to that your marketing is nimble, quick to adapt.

See this as an opportunity to reallocate and optimize marketing budget. Get ahead of your competitors and adopt more digital tactics.