Obviously, your website is safe from infection by COVID-19. Computer viruses are completely different from human viruses. But how will the coronavirus pandemic affect your traffic or the behavior of your customers?
We looked at overall traffic at 45 different websites with different industries and business models. We chose traffic as the metric because it is a practical metric for any website. That is, we can’t compare the e-commerce sales at one site with the number of comments at another, so we chose the one metric that’s worth measuring for everyone.
We looked at the time from March 11, the day the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, till the end of day yesterday. Once again, there are individual variations. Some people were already on lockdown by then and others had not yet seen a case in their county. The announcement of the pandemic was a change for everyone, so that’s the day we chose. We compared the period March 11 – March 26 with the previous period.
- 35 websites showed a drop in traffic
- 10 websites showed an increase
Which websites saw increases? Tax attorneys, CBD sellers, and healthcare facilities were among the winners. But the winners were so clearly in the minority that your website is very likely to be seeing less traffic.
More people are online, but they are gravitating to social media, news sites, and entertainment. Netflix is seeing lots of visitors, but your small business or local service probably is not.
We’re sharing more data from our lab site, a teacher resource site. This shows traffic from January 1 to today. Though times when schools were closed (including early January and weekends) show lower traffic, we will not be able to look back at this next year and see the pandemic.
Your first action step should be not worrying. Most of the websites we checked had a drop in traffic, but those drops were often in the 2% range. B2B websites are naturally going to see a drop in traffic when many businesses are closed. Any dip in traffic right now is very likely to be the result of real world events — namely, the way the pandemic is affecting businesses and consumers — rather than a problem with your website.
The next step depends on your industry and your plans, but it might include innovation. Can you offer a service virtually? Can you deliver your goods? Is this the time you ramp your marketing duo you’ll hit the ground running when things get back to normal… and your competitors don’t?
Let your choices for your online presence be directed by data and your overall business goals, not by an emotional reaction.
Speaking of emotional reactions, we hope you are all staying safe and cheerful out there. Use social media to keep in touch with friends and family, not to obsess over the bad news. If you have more free time, use it to try out new things. Get outside safely and try some online dance or yoga classes to keep moving inside.
If you decide to use this time to make a new plan for your online marketing, we’d love to help. Contact us.