SEO – COVID-19 Affecting Lead Gen and Ecommerce

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COVID-19 and Traffic & Conversion Trends

Here’s How COVID-19 is Affecting the Online World

Hello friends,

Feel free to navigate this post using the floating table of contents ? up there, or ? over there (depending on what device you’re currently using.)

There’s no doubt that there is a lot going on in the world right now, an impressive number of data to interpret to say the least.

It’s important to proactively plan actions and pivot towards higher-than-average ideas.

In addition to moving up our 80/20 ideas in the que, we should also look at COVID-19 and how this will likely play out from country to country & how this will impact our industry.

Let’s start with the when and what of China.  BTW, thank you RH Digital for the blog post.

China

China first reported the case of COVID-19 around the first of the year.

Early quarantines within January and February caused supply chain issues worldwide. We found this to be true in many of our large-scale eCommerce clients.  Fulfillment centers and distribution centers were impacted heavily.  Out of stock items, delayed shipping times, and others are all secondary effects of this quarantine.

As other countries continue to see the spread of reported COVID-19 cases, the market will likely continue to react adversely.

Last week was the first time China had reported transmitted COVID-19 cases which is about 75 days after initial outbreak.

The stricter quarantine rules in China are starting to loosen up.

The strangle on manufacturing is starting to improve. Source – https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-manufacturer-business-china-b67b91e4-8a18-497f-9536-4ae5945498f1.html

Last week, Chinese stocks are at a 2-year high. Source – https://www.marketwatch.com/story/coronavirus-outbreak-aside-china-stocks-just-hit-two-year-highs-2020-03-05

Currently, China is looking towards their new normal but there’s this report that showed consumer spending would likely not increase and that this virus has probably pushed consumers more into a caution-purchasing mindset. Source – https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3052891/coronavirus-chinas-consumers-will-not-rescue-economy-when

We’ll be on the lookout for more surveys which might indicate some direction or data which may help us predict user behavior and messaging direction after COVID-19.

China Summary

It’s taken over 2 months for China to get to this point.  This is the first time they’ve experienced a point of infection slow down.

Most countries will likely follow a similar pattern.

Looking at Consumer Behavior

Stage 1: The Beginning

Governments may not fully disclose and cannot report on accurate numbers of active COVID-19 cases.

Users start bulk-purchases and hoarding of materials and goods.

Users starting to visit outside sources less.

Small social distancing put in place, nothing dramatic.

Online shopping behavior for longevity / survival becomes popular.

Businesses start to theorize and strategize new angles of driving revenue.

Improving Niches:

Health (immune supplements)

Food delivery (meal prep, meal delivery, at-home meal delivery)

Family care, self-care

Stage 2: Social Distancing

Serious social distancing starts.

Businesses start to implement work from home policies.

Government releases notice to avoid crowded areas, large events are canceled or postponed, bars/restaurants are beginning to be avoided.

Wages affected very adversely in the (travel, hospitality, entertainment, shows, in-person contractors, restaurants, etc.)

Luxurious spending starting to decline in fashion, jewelry, gifts, travel.

Medical and treatment system starts to experience initial straining of resources.

Social media and search engine usage starts to dramatically increase.

Businesses start to pull back paid spend and cut initial unnecessary assets.

It’s no wonder everyone is in a state of panic.

From the collapse of revenue and traffic to non-essential businesses to the restrictions and warnings placed out from governments, it’s easy to see how these uncharted territories cause worry among the public.

There’s an incredible amount of directions and places where we may invest our time and resources into spotting trends, identifying correlations, and creating loose predictive models.  Today, we’re focusing on COVID-19 and it’s affect across our personal clients, neighboring agencies, and friends alike.

Summary

Stage 3, and stage 4 are coming.  We’re paying close attention, monitoring traffic trends, ranking fluctuations, even measuring vanity metrics more closely to stay ahead of the curve.

Our mission is to be the most valuable asset and resource to our private clients during this time.

How do we do that?

Easy.

Step 1: Observe all the data.

Step 2: Interpret the data.

Step 3: Provide recommendations and aggressively test pivot strategies.

Lastly, has the principle of equivalent exchange ever been more prevalent?

The amount of opportunity on the horizon is insane.

I can’t even sleep thinking about it.

/rantover.  Check out the below numbers from WITHIN, an agency based out of New York reporting on their client results since COVID-19 has spread.

Omnichannel Numbers

Omnichannel is down 60% in revenue.

Down 17% in conversion rate.

Omnichannel Summary

Cross-channel content strategy overall is down.

eCommerce Numbers

Pure ecommerce is down 30% in revenue.

Down 30% in conversion rate.

eCommerce Summary

Users are generally spending less and converting less online. I think during this quarantine and pandemic, items that are perceived as entertainment will convert less and drive less revenue.  We’ll need to position everything as if it’s an absolutely necessity that your audience needs to be doing XYZ during this time.

That way, we’ll be world news + topic relevant. Better odds for conversions.

Fashion Numbers

Fashion is down 33% in conversion rate.

Down 62% in revenue.

Fashion Summary

People are generally spending less on materialistic items, less shopping for clothes, footwear, etc.

Avoid topics around these areas in ads or organic.

Subscription Numbers

Subscription revenue is up over 200%.

Conversion rate is up over 160%.

Subscription Summary

More people at home = more time to fill with convenience.

Subscriptions, memberships, Facebook lives, webinars, digital events, all a good idea.

Luxury Numbers

Luxury revenue is up 25%.

Luxury conversion rate is down 30%.

Luxury Summary

Users are spending more revenue but converting less. I suspect, the larger revenue purchases are coming from those unafraid to frivolously spend and stock up on supplies during this time.

Conversion rate dropped likely due to less people finding what they need in stock.  This was somewhat surprising to me, I’d figure that users would be in less of a scarcity mindset during these times and more worried about actually having the item they need.

Overall Summary

Wish we had some numbers to report on email marketing but we don’t as of yet.

As we observe our own private clients below, you’ll find it interesting how niche + niche starts to cause some large variables in this situation.

For example:

Clothing (as fashion) versus Outdoor Clothing (as a necessity) become very different when observing traffic trends & shouldn’t be bucketed together.

If you did, you’re going to have one very upset data scientist. ?

What We’re Seeing in Media Buying – Service Based Businesses

Below represents from a 30,000 ft. overview of what we’re seeing in the auction in Facebook and Instagram media buy.  We’ve also included some interpretation and next steps of what we’re testing to improve circumstances.

Summary of Consulting Appointment Trends

Spend – we’re spending 36% less daily on average.

Conversions – we’re averaging 50% less daily conversions on average.

Cost/Conversion – our cost per lead or CPL has gone up 28.01%

Clicks – we’re seeing 27% less clicks per day.

CPC – our CPC has dropped 24.29%.

CTR – our CTR has dropped 8.75%.

CPM – our CPM has dropped 29.18%.

Explanation of Consulting Appointment Trends

Spend – we’ve been optimizing these campaigns and in conjunction with the ad auction, have been spending less average daily for CTA’s.

Conversions – mostly due to the reduction in spend, we’re seeing 50% less daily conversions. This is mostly a change in landing page conversion rate.  More on this below.

Cost/Conversion – reduction in conversion rate to our landing page is likely the culprit, will confirm below in GA.

Clicks – we’re spending less, not concerned with this.

CPC – our CPC has improved. Likely due to optimizations and other competitive businesses dropping out of the auction and pulling back spend from COVID-19.

CTR – our CTR has dropped 8.75%, not a significant amount.

CPM – Our CPM has dropped 29.18%, we made some modifications to whom and what audiences we’re targeting. (competitors and AUS)

Google Analytics Summary

This follows our hypothesis up above; users are converting less once they hit the landing page by almost 30%. 30% less conversions don’t cover the entire gap but let us check the next landing page below.

After researching more into this, we only have a drop of 9.32% conversion rate here.

The “simple” solution would be to shift more budget toward the ads driving towards our original consulting lead gen page, we’ll test this.

We made modifications to target more competitors and less users within the “interest” market. A lot has changed with our re-targeting campaigns as well, we’re pushing more spend into all visitors to convert them into consulting appointments and spending less in our top users spending 25% or more time on the site.

Downloadable Offers

Explanation of Downloadable Offer Trends

Spend – we’re spending 11.61% more per day.

Conversions – we’re averaging 1.39% less conversions per day.

Cost/Conversion – our average cost per conversion has gone up 13.17%

Clicks – our average daily clicks have dropped 1%.

CPC – our CPC has gone up 12.71%

CTR – our CTR has reduced by 36.44%.

CPM – our CPM has dropped by 26.45%.

Explanation of Downloadable Offer Trends

Spend – we’re starting to launch new offers and spend will fluctuate 5% – 10% as we move budget around.

Conversions – conversion volume of 1.39% difference doesn’t concern us, we could flip this number into the positive with 1 good day.

Cost/Conversion – cost per conversion has gone up a bit, will confirm if this is a reduction in conversion rate on landing pages below.

Clicks – 1% drop isn’t concerning.

CPC – CPC has gone up which is a little surprising, I would think this number should go down alongside CPMs.

CTR – CTR has dropped 36.44% this is the biggest tale for us. We’ll need to launch more creative.  CTR is still dropping as the month of March goes on.  More ideas on this below.

CPM – CPM has dropped dramatically, almost 27%. This is likely due to users dropping out of auction and pulling back spend.

Lead Gen Strategies to Improve Conversion Rate During Pandemic

Landing Page Optimizations

Tailor copy on landing pages to reflect some mention of COVID-19.

“Utilize these tools during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Ad Copy and Creative

Utilize COVID and the “feelings” of what’s going about during this pandemic.

Some things to note, uncertainty and fear will be common, but we cannot reach or speak to those that “may” have the virus. Language becomes important here.

Utilize strategies that users may utilize during this quarantine / change.

Bucket the best lead magnets that users might need and will be able to use more easily during the quarantine / pressure of social isolation.

Create an “action-guide” for users to stay relevant and continue business as usual during this quarantine. Push what the longevity play is, let’s solve their concerns.

Buzz words to use in copy/headlines/body:

“Curb side”

“Delivery”

“Convenience”

“Social Distancing”

“At home”

“Remote”

“COVID-19”

“Action”

“Certainty”

“Longevity”

More to come…

MISC Strategies

Below are some miscellaneous strategies that I’m going to add to as we go on throughout this pandemic.  Hopefully you’ll find something below that is valuable to your business/team right now.

Facebook Live

Create a daily Facebook live at 4:00 p.m. bringing the community together, answering questions, addressing concerns, “be there” for your audience.

Utilize this time to build a loyal following, have them share, etc.

Check out this Planet fitness sample:

https://www.facebook.com/planetfitness/videos/1058274961238168/

Video

Create a video of “what [your audience] need to be doing during COVID-19” etc. that we can push to an email list or landing page. This email list will be drip fed, COVID-19 info and mix with how this is impacting their daily lives.

Challenges

Let’s create a challenge strategy or idea for your users to be proactive within their communities.

Have ideas of your own?  Let me know in the comments below and I’ll include you in a quote on this post. ?

eCommerce SEO Traffic Trends During COVID-19

Important to note, the numbers reported on below are from March 1st through the 16th of 2020 YoY and yes, we were up in rankings before COVID-19 hit.

Let’s take a look at how March 2020 has progressed within our portfolio.  For obvious reasons, we can’t share the exact details but this information below will give you enough of an idea as to what’s going on and how we’re thriving side-by-side with our clientele.

Weapons and Ammunition Numbers

Traffic down ~6%.

Impression share up 22.7%.

CTR down 24.7%.

Average Ranking Position up 80%. ?

Weapons and Ammunition Summary

Still seeing a slight drop in guns and ammunition BUT we highly anticipate this number growing very strongly over the next few weeks.

Average ranking position still continually climbs very strongly and we’re passing competition each day that passes.

As shown below in our other observed categories, we don’t anticipate losing rankings.  While our clients competitors pull back spend, we’re capitalizing on new link building opportunities and securing authority.

Traffic secured. – Elon Musk.  (JK, he didn’t really say this.) ?

Fishing Numbers

Clicks down ~6%.

Impressions yo 147.90%.

CTR down 78.7%.

Average Ranking Position up 45.40%. ?

Fishing Summary

Fishing just barely didn’t make the cut of a growth-induced niche within the coronavirus pandemic going on.

I thought for sure fishing would make the cut, maybe we’ll see an increase in numbers here as time goes on.

Ranking positions continue to climb from SEO efforts.

Clothing Numbers

Clicks up ~15%.

Impressions up 182.8%.

CTR down 56.5%.

Average Ranking Position up 49.2%. ?

Clothing Summary

Very interesting counter to what we’ve been seeing in most other areas of fashion / non-essential items.

Important to note, we are specifically in the outdoor clothing niche, so this includes camping clothing, fishing clothing, hunting, etc.

Our survivalists must be stocking up.

Ranking positions continually climb and our clients will come out stronger than ever once consumer behavior returns to normal.

Camping Numbers

Clicks are down 46%.

Impressions are up 34.5%.

CTR down 68.8%.

Average Ranking Position up 44.8%. ?

Camping Summary

As with most of our categories and niche(s) we’re in.  We’re seeing an overall drop in clicks and CTR.

Our average ranking position is usually growing as we’re performing SEO for these clients.

Nice to see we’re holding strong through this crisis.

eCommerce SEO Strategies to Capitalize on During COVID-19

Coming soon. ?