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Why Small Businesses & Advertisers are Affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

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The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. With lots of unknowns, it’s an unpredictable time, and although we don’t have all the answers, we want to share what we know and provide some advice for our clients and other small companies who might be experiencing changes in their business. Here’s why small businesses & advertisers are affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This pandemic affects the public’s health, and the economy. According to Google, coronavirus search interest has increased by +260 percent globally since the first week of February. “While increases in search patterns are normal during events of this magnitude, traffic for related items and topics has also increased as a direct response to the pandemic.”

Why are small businesses & advertisers affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?

The leadership of Village Workspaces closely monitored the news, and we reacted by taking steps to make remote work the norm for all non-essential Village Workspaces employees. Nevertheless, we have taken every measure to ensure minimum disruption to our activities and our customers. We looked at our in-house agency experts to include more information on what steps you should take in your online advertisement accounts now, while leaving the medical advice to medical and public health experts, and would advise you to do the same. 

How Will Google and Facebook Respond to Small Businesses & Advertisers Affected by the Coronavirus? 

Google bans any material on YouTube that attempts to neglect coronavirus instead of seeking medical attention, and also blocks all advertising that capitalize on coronavirus, in addition to making it easier for people to learn more about symptoms, vaccination statistics, and travel advisories. Similarly, to manipulate the situation, Facebook is banning those running ads.

Will you be affected by this? As long as you do not include messages in your ad copy that make any promises to cure, prevent, or handle COVID-19, this move will have limited impact on your paying accounts. The short answer is no. 

While your account will not likely be impacted by these platform policies, the pandemic and the subsequent market shifts will. To plan and change your accounts accordingly, here are a few recommended strategies. 

Review Your Accounts 

It’s important to stay on top of how changing markets and patterns, from changing click and impression volumes to changing prices, could impact your paid search and paid social accounts. Check Google Analytics and Google Advertising for declines in traffic, clicks and impressions. Usually, this will signal something is going on and will manifest in a decrease in conversions. 

In terms of tracking comments, you might also need to step up your vigilance. It is extremely important to monitor comments within your posts for Facebook and Instagram. There is a lot of misinformation being disseminated and such fear-based statements can hurt potential customers. 

Communicate Progress

The secret to maintaining your customer relationships is to connect efficiently and effectively. In all situations, marketers can, through constructive contact via email and/or information directly on their websites, aim to establish trust with current and potential customers. Companies should consider their long-term relationship with consumers in situations where activities or store locations need to delay operations, and realize that a refund or reschedule may be a relief point for anyone who experiences stress or difficulty during these periods.

These changes should be shared as easily as possible online. Google recommends updating your business hours and explanation in your Google My Business profile if your business is affected. You may also update your summary to include more detail about any extra measures you take or whether there are changes in services, apart from letting people know when they can stop by your business. In Google Search and Maps, these updates will update your business information.

In addition to updating your profile, it is recommended that your copy of the ad and extensions be modified to reflect any changes. If you have any callout extensions that state your business hours, this is extremely relevant. 

Adapt the Approach of Small Businesses & Advertisers Affected by the Coronavirus 

As a direct or indirect product of COVID-19, there has been a lot that has happened. There has been a shortage of hand sanitizer, bleach and cleaning wipes, and other similar products, as people are encouraged to wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs. When corporations continue to deploy mandatory work from home policies, a lot of work culture will be temporarily changed, and travel and tourism will be disrupted as our government temporarily forbids travel to some countries where cases of the virus are high.

A lot of these changes can be overwhelming, but by getting straightforward, succinct, and reliable messaging, the best thing we can do as marketers is to look forward to and relax consumers’ nerves as best we can. 

It is important to keep your advertising up to date with your stock. If any of the ‘hot ticket’ items that have been flying off the shelf are sold out, make sure that you are not still selling those products that might be out of stock. You should temporarily remove these items from your shopping promotions in order to avoid this, so that you are not at risk of displaying an ad for a product that you no longer have.

Adjusting the approach of small businesses & advertisers affected by the coronavirus could mean small budgets for brick-and-mortar companies or pausing such campaigns. Some consumers are concerned about the decrease in leads or foot traffic they witness. At this point, businesses should either minimize budgets or even delay non-essential promotions for some industries at the moment, and then concentrate ad spending on advertised terms because of the higher quality traffic they naturally get. For those SMBs with tight annual budgets, it may be necessary to reallocate ad spending into more productive marketing periods for their performance.