Crunching the numbers: marketing during the Covid crisis

Crunching the numbers: marketing during the Covid crisis

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, a colossal amount of information has materialised online – within the first 16 days of the UK lockdown, more than 2 million coronavirus-related web pages were created.

Parsing all of this information to make sense of things from the marketing industry’s perspective is an extra effort you now don’t have to make. 

I’ve gathered up all the most relevant and current insights on marketing spend, marketing strategy, consumer attitudes and more to help you make better decisions about how you reach your audience.

Has marketing spend changed?

23% of CEOs don’t think marketing is delivering on sales agendas at this time, and ad spend in the UK this year is projected to drop by 16.7%. Unfortunately, 25% of businesses have also had to reduce the size of their marketing departments during the coronavirus lockdown.

There has been a 15.9% decrease in spending on events and a 6.6% reduction in Direct Marketing, and a 14.3% reduction in PR spending. Spend on sales promotions have also experienced a 7.2% decrease

Despite widespread apprehension and uncertainty, there is optimism for the future. Ad spend is expected to rise by 13.6% next year, 16.2% of marketers say they predict spending allocations to start increasing, and 8.4% of businesses expect these allocations to be revised upwards.

Whilst 46% of businesses say they currently wouldn’t have the budget to increase their media spend, 50% of marketers are not cutting their spending. Some are even increasing it. Reducing your spend now could create an opportunity for your competitors. 

57% of B2B marketers say that SEO has had the biggest impact on lead generation. This explains why 34% of brands are now investing more in this relatively low-cost approach, whilst 28% of brands are reducing their investment in higher-cost channels like paid media. 

How are brands are adapting?

More than 60% of marketers say they are adapting their overall marketing strategy, and 83% say they are developing entirely new brand messaging strategies.

Over 90% of sales have transitioned from traditional face-to-face sales to video conferencing with customers and prospects. 50% of marketers believe the remote approach has been just as effective as in-person sales, in some cases more so.

The number of businesses that have reported product and service innovations has more than doubled since the start of lockdown, rising from 22% to 47%.

There has been a 27.4% decrease in ads that depict human interaction, whilst ads that feature water-based imagery and people washing their hands or faces are appearing 6 times more frequently than before.

Marketing materials featuring devices such as smartphones and tablets have more than quadrupled since March 2020, appearing in 39% of all social media advertising.

During Q1 this year, the number of sales emails sent to businesses went up by 21% compared to the same period last year. There has, however, been a 27% drop in the email response rate across this same period.

92% of people in marketing, advertising, and PR roles say their organisations are ‘pretty well’ or ‘very well’ equipped to operate with a fully remote workforce. This is over 16% higher when compared to the IT/ Technology and financial services industries.

Has consumer behaviour changed?

86% of consumers say they have changed their purchasing behaviours as a result of the pandemic, and 60% of consumers say they expect it to be ‘some time’ before they can start attending events again.

It’s worth noting, however, that 92% of consumers want advertising to continue, saying it provides a welcome distraction from what’s in the news.

Online, website visits and conversion rates are around 20% lower since the beginning of March. 45% of ecommerce sales revenue has been generated by consumers using on-site search.

Across the board, there’s been a 52% increase in YouTube views. When we break this down by age group, views from Millenials have risen 69%, whilst Gen Z views have shot up 72%.

Unsurprisingly, use of social media has risen dramatically since the start of lockdown:

  • Whatsapp usage has risen by 51%
  • Facebook usage risen by 37%
  • Instagram instant messaging has risen by 40% 
  • Twitter daily user numbers have risen by 23%
  • LinkedIn session times have increased by 26%
  • Social media usage, overall, has risen by 61%

In terms of brand favourability, 57% of consumers say they base their decisions on how a brand has treated them when they need help. In addition, nearly 70% of consumers say they find a brand that produces educational content more trustworthy – and are 131% more likely to purchase from a brand after they have consumed this type of content.


The sand continues to shift beneath the industry’s feet, but with half of brands keeping their marketing budgets going, and a majority of consumers still wanting to see advertising, plenty of value remains in communicating with your target audiences. 

In an email sent to employees at the beginning of lockdown, CEO of Jefferies Financial Group Richard Handler wrote “You are defined by how you act in tough times, not in good times. Define yourself now.” So, how do you want to define yourself this year?

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(Header photo: Tom Barrett on Unsplash)


Crunching The Numbers


Behavioural economics Covid-19 Social media


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Sam Lewis

Strategy Executive

I'm a Junior Strategist at Earnest, besides writing benchmarks blogs, I am very good at making tea and photocopying.