As Coronavirus Spreads, Digital Marketing Becomes More Important Than Ever

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As the coronavirus rapidly makes its way across the globe, the whole world is on high alert, scrambling to deal with the pandemic.

Human lives and public safety, of course, are the top concern when it comes to the coronavirus, and businesses and government agencies have responded by encouraging people to avoid crowds–which, by the way, are everywhere.

A recent article in the New York Times stated that a key concern is; as the virus continues to spread throughout Europe and the US, consumers will stay home.

We already see a behavioral shift, with people avoiding not only work, but restaurants, stores, and other public places where they might spend money. With customers staying indoors–and presumably online–digital marketing may well be a brand’s best defense against coronavirus.

Read on, and I’ll explain.

In-Person Events

As you may have heard, South by Southwest was canceled, prompting a chain of cancellations from sporting events to concerts, community gatherings, and big B2B cons. As a result, event marketing has taken a massive downturn–with public health officials urging people to stay home.

Other notable cancellations include Facebook’s F8 Conference and Rakuten Advertising’s DealMaker London. Google pulled the plug on April’s CloudNext conference in San Francisco, as well as a smaller Vegas event scheduled later this month.

Here, Search Engine Journal offers a list of search marketing-specific event cancelations thus far–and let’s just say, very few are opting to move forward with their plans.

Even major cultural events like Coachella and the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympics are called off.

How Should Marketers Respond?

While cancellations at this scale mean companies are eating massive costs, there may be a way to pivot to digital marketing.

With fewer people traveling, billboards and other types of off-screen advertising will be less visible. In response, brands should consider reducing any upcoming pop-ups, events, or off-line ads.

Because more people will be inside and on their phones and computers than ever–with less travel and fewer in-person meetings, brands should reinvest “in-person” marketing dollars into digital strategies and online ads. And think long and hard about digital transformation.