To say that the impact of COVID Report on business is similar in scale to that of The Great Depression or even the most recent economic recession of 2008 is not an understatement.
The pandemic has brought a worldwide loss of life without a single outwardly violent act. It has locked up most of the world indoors, caused enormous economic turmoil, loss of livelihoods, and has catalyzed a sudden transformation into a more remote human society.
In this worrying context, we asked ourselves the question: How should businesses react in such a situation? How should they plan their marketing? What are the insights that can guide a marketer to deploy the right strategies and maximize ROI?
Because business must go on as usual and there is no business without marketing.
On a mission to provide insights to marketers using AI, we dug into the data — from Google Analytics — we had on hand on our platform and conducted a study of website performance across a cross-section of industries. The study focused on deriving insights based on the metrics of traffic, engagement, bounce rate, etc., and pointing out any outlier behavior. The goal is to provide ideas that would help marketers make strategic decisions.
A preliminary analysis of the traffic data shows an increase in traffic to hobby-based sectors like Home & Garden. Limited trips to the grocer means that customers are looking to cultivate their own garden and this theme is supported throughout our research.
Our data also shows that there is a renewed interest in Online Communities. Presumably, these are centered around hobby activities and the spike is expected.
However, what belies logic is the 49% dip in the News segment. Every ounce of reasoning dictates that this number should not be negative, much less -49%! Are people saturated with the news? Has over-sensationalism finally caught up with news websites?
We’ll let you be the judge of that.
The Jobs & Education sector has also seen a significant dip of 36%, while the dip in employment is expected, we’re not so sure about the education sector.
A high Bounce Rate to the tune of 90% was observed for new users across sectors. But when combined with the outliers, websites that actually saw a decrease in their bounce rate, this metric paints a picture of lockdown priorities.
For example, websites in the Finance & Online Communities saw a decrease in their bounce rate, implying that people are taking the time to explore and research for the sake of their financial health.
Considered by many to be the holy grail of marketing metrics, the engagement rate has increased across the board, sometimes even contradictory to the traffic data.
Average session duration, which is highly correlated with engagement rate has also gone up along with the site activity as measured by event data.
While the engagement rate for the Finance sector has increased by 34.4%, for Online Communities, there appears to be a contradiction. Despite a decrease in the bounce rate, engagement has actually gone down by 26.8%.
Why do you think this has happened?
The Travel Industry has been severely affected by the shutdown of travel and this is reflected in the engagement rates on their website.
The overall decrease notwithstanding, the increase in engagement by returning users points to a trend of aspirational planning. It looks like seasoned travelers and regular users of these travel sites are taking this opportunity to plan out their next vacation/travel.
These trends can be reasoned out as a result of the ongoing lockdown. Arts & Entertainment, Online Communities, and Home & Garden are experiencing a rise in direct traffic.
The increase in the Home & Garden sector is also supported by the numbers for Organic Search.
Note the 127% spike in Beauty & Fitness for organic search. This spike is no doubt led by users looking for new avenues to keep fit.
Marketing seems to be the first victim of tightening purse strings across industries.
Display advertising has seen an overall downtick of 27%. This is significant considering how important display advertising is as a marketing tool.
But, it looks like stakeholders in the Entertainment and Gardening sectors have recognized the opportunity in front of them. They have increased advertising significantly as reflected in the below numbers.
People are spending a lot of time on social media — more so than usual — and this is reflected in the 27% rise in social media traffic.
Email seems to be the biggest winner of all showing an increase to the tune of 200% or more for some of our customers. Companies should use this opportunity to analyze their engagement rates to craft better copies and zero-in on what works and what doesn’t.
Even for the travel sector, Email marketing has seen a markedly positive response. Marketers would do well to best use this insight to tweak their campaigns.
Now to answer the question, How do we use this data and extract meaningful insights out of them?
The above-presented data is but a tiny, albeit an interesting fraction of the actual data that we analyzed. By using Google Analytics for an equal time period spanning pre-COVID and post-COVID and by measuring several GA metrics, we have uncovered a few fascinating insights for marketers.
Here’s what we gleaned from all this data.
We hope these insights help provide you some notes on deploying your marketing resources more effectively. Please comment to share your marketing viewpoints.