What channels are marketers investing in most during COVID-19?

More than half of marketers (63%) believe that SEO is important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 63%, 34% said its importance will increase slightly while 29% said it will increase steeply. Conversely, 5% of marketers said SEO will decrease in importance, according to a study by marketing services company named Conductor which works with brands including Citi, SAP, HP, Siemens and WeWork.

The case for the importance of SEO is also solidified by the fact that the marketers surveyed cited it as a top performing channel (66%) for them in 2019. This was followed by a tie in paid search (50%) and email marketing (50%), content marketing (26%) and digital advertising (26%).

On the other hand, SMS text (3%), push notifications (2%) and in-app messaging (1%) were ranked at the bottom of the charts.

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Separately, when asked how a global recession would impact their marketing strategy, marketers said they will specifically invest in more lower cost channels such as SEO (34%). The top choice, unsurprisingly, was that marketers would lower their budget (58%). The third most popular option was raising the bar for marketing ROI (29%), followed by investing less in high cost channels such as paid media (28%).

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Marketing goals harder to achieve

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all industries globally, with some industries such as travel and hospitality hit harder. Nonetheless, the marketing industry has also experienced constraints and 47% of marketers predict it will be much more difficult to achieve their goals, while 39% say it will be slightly more difficult.

The study also indicated a predicted dip in marketing budgets, with 45% saying it will decrease slightly while 20% saying it will decrease greatly. Meanwhile, only 27% of marketers surveyed said it will stay the same. Despite lowered budgets, 40% said their marketing goals will increase and 32% expect their marketing goals to remain the same.

Conductor surveyed 317 respondents from B2B, retail, healthcare, and the media industries. The remaining 43% were distributed across travel and hospitality, consumer technology, financial services, insurance, automotive, ecommerce-only, manufacturing and other industries. The respondents were from North America, Europe and other parts of the globe.

Separately, a recent WFA study also showed that marketers worldwide are evolving their strategies to suit this period. Four out of five (81%) marketers from major multinationals are deferring planned campaigns as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. A third (34%) have initiated short one- to two-month delays, while 28% are holding off for a full quarter and 13% will wait for six months before bringing campaigns back to market.

While marketers are reluctant to run planned campaigns, about 79% are creating new messages that respond directly to the huge impact of the crisis on the people who use their products and services. About 50% of these new messages have already started running or are about to go live and a further 29% plan to start creating new messages soon, WFA said.

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