Navigating the road ahead: How consumers are adjusting to COVID-19

My Post (28)COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives and how we connect with the world around us. Things like social distancing, curbside pickup, and at-home workouts are now commonplace. The necessary measures taken to manage the pandemic have not only disrupted the global economy, but have also altered consumers’ interests, expectations, and purchasing behavior. These shifts are constant and they’re happening rapidly—and we want to help you navigate them. Today, we’ll share five key trends we’re seeing and provide helpful resources for adjusting your media strategy.

What’s changing with consumers?

As of this week, there are over four billion people staying home worldwide. And while we don’t know how or when this crisis will resolve, we do have new insight into how people’s needs and behaviors are changing:

People are using multiple devices to go online at unprecedented levels.

Connecting with the world online is more important than ever right now, with at-home media consumption increasing dramatically and influencing all aspects of life.

  • In the U.S., staying home has led to a 60 percent increase in the amount of content watched. Americans are watching roughly 12 hours of media content a day, according to Nielsen data.
  • Consumers across the globe are spending 20 percent more time in apps and games than they did a year ago and app usage in China grew to five hours/day on average (+30 percent year over year), according to App Annie.


People are turning to Google for important information and content to meet their essential needs.

With businesses adapting to delivery or online models, people are looking for clear, specific information about where, how, and when they can get what they need.

  • According to internal data, searches for “food delivery services” have grown globally by more than 300 percent year over year.
  • Americans are watching videos related to recipes and cooking at a rate 31 percent higher than they did the same time last year.
  • According to internal data, searches for “online pharmacy” have grown globally by more than 100 percent year over year.


People are discovering new connections and nurturing relationships (virtually).

Even as people physically distance themselves, they’re using technology in new ways to connect with each other.

  • 50 percent of U.S. consumers said they have used video to communicate with family and friends. In fact, as of April, Google Meet is hosting 3 billion minutes of video meetings and adding nearly 3 million new users everyday.
  • On YouTube, we’ve seen a rise in “with me” videos, where people film themselves going about ordinary tasks like cleaning and cooking. In the US, views of videos containing “study with me” in the title are 54 percent higher compared to the same period last year.


People are adjusting routines to be at-home-first.

As daily routines and schedules adjust to new realities, so have online and at-home habits.

  • Search interest for “telecommuting” in the U.S. reached an all-time high on Google and YouTube in mid-March, and continues to grow with no sign of slowing down.
  • Workout routines have changed. There’s growing search interest for “stationary bicycle” worldwide since the beginning of the year, especially in Spain and France, and “dumbbell set” in the UK.


People are practicing self-care more. 

People are focused on taking care of their own physical and psychological needs, in addition to those of friends and loved ones. – Read more

Googlers’ tips for staying connected from a distance

My Post (10).pngSocial distancing, by definition, makes it hard to get a healthy dose of human contact. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to keep in touch with friends and family that go beyond the standard phone call. We asked Googlers to share how they’re keeping family and friends close, while staying a safe distance apart. We hope their ideas might inspire you, too.

Give your family a surprise hello through the Google Home app

To feel closer when we’re far away, I broadcast messages through the Google Home app to my family in London (I’m in California). Usually I’ll say hi and give them a few updates on my day. I get a kick out of knowing I might give them a little surprise of suddenly hearing my voice in the hallway.

– Robin Bhaduri, Google Podcasts team

Breakfast talk on Duo

I have a Nest Hub Max in my kitchen. I use it most often while I’m cooking, but lately I’ve been using it to video chat with family over Google Duo. I can do things like have breakfast with my five year old nephew without having to hold a phone. The Nest camera adjusts to where I am in the kitchen, so I don’t have to stand in a certain spot for him to see me on video.

– Ajay Surie, Google Fit team

Cook with friends via YouTube and Google Docs

My friends send each other YouTube videos showing ways to prepare tasty dishes. We all try the same recipe, prepare it as shown in the video, and send photos to each other once the dish is completed. It’s been fun to see the similarities and differences between the same dish, prepared by different people.

– Jeff Sinckler, Tenor team

Similar to Jeff, my friends love to cook. We’ve been sharing recipes with each other using Google Docs. We reference an article or video as the main recipe link, and include notes about our experiences with that recipe. Whenever someone has a question, they can add comments to the doc and the doc just gets better. This is also useful for discovering different ways to make the recipe a success, e.g. for ingredient substitutions (very relevant right now) and doubling or halving portions.

– Tahai Michelle Baik, Search team

Tell each other what you’re up to on Calendar

Even though our days are less structured than they used to be, my immediate family still puts what we’re up to on a family Google Calendar. My mom will check in after she sees I’ve taken a dance class online, I’ll ask how it went cooking a particular recipe for dinner, and we’ll reach out to my brother to ask how his online coding training went. It helps us stay close even though we’re scattered all over the world. And Calendar also reminds us to step outside to cheer every day at 7 p.m. for all the workers that are keeping things going during these difficult times.  – Read more

Coronavirus: Survival Guide for Businesses

My Post (8).pngThe coronavirus pandemic has shaken businesses to the core within an alarmingly short space of time. This temporary, newfound reality means that almost one-third of the world’s population is currently in lockdown, dramatically altering people’s daily routines, behavior patterns, and ultimately their consumer needs.

For many small and medium businesses to have the best possible chance of surviving and even thriving under these testing conditions, this requires change and adaptation.

COVID-19 has changed everything. And, let’s be real for a moment… we are ALL still figuring this out — we are in untested waters, and things are somewhat uncertain.
It won’t be easy, but it is critical we try to consider the big picture. In particular, think about how your business can help people through this crisis. As a result, you will help your business get through this crisis.

— Adam Connell

We understand just how overwhelming this could be right now. To guide you through this difficult time, we have put together a survival guide that covers not only marketing advice, but also support regarding financing options, as well as managing team and commercial operations.

We have included great tips given during last week’s #SEMrushchat on this topic by our community. We also reached out to several leading marketing influencers for insights, Kevin IndigAmy Bishop, and Adam Connell.

How to Pivot Your Marketing Strategy During Coronavirus

EMPATHY IS IMPORTANT

Empathy is key during this difficult time, and this should be reflected in the content you create, meaning you should avoid the hard-sale of your services at all costs.

Recognize that nearly everyone’s day-to-day has shifted in a major way. People are trying to acclimate to a new normal, all while feeling anxious about the pandemic, their work, the wellbeing of their friends and family – and potentially their job security and their income.
Consumers and businesses are vulnerable, so it is important that advertisers take that into account in messaging.

— Amy Bishop, owner and digital marketing consultant at Cultivative, LLC.

To ensure your content is appropriate during the crisis, we recommend that you:

  • Prioritize highlighting the things that will matter most to your customers, such as contactless delivery and safety precautions being taken at your business.
  • Make sure that scheduled editorial or social media content is not insensitive. For example, a promotional piece that says ‘dresses to die for’ in the title is inappropriate.
  • Check that scheduled launches are still relevant, given the pandemic.
  • Remove impertinent call-to-actions. For example, this could be a CTA that encourages customers to ‘visit today’ when your store is now online only. Provide replacements, if possible.

SEO STRATEGIES

Continuing to invest time in SEO during this crisis is worth it, as it can help you identify new ways that your brand can add value and fulfill consumer needs. Here are some tips from our three experts:

Kevin Indig

  • Perform keyword research for concerns customers have in your industry or around your product and create content around it.
  • Closely monitor what keywords or categories on your site increase in impressions/search volume and double down on them.

Amy Bishop

“Look at keywords and queries containing ‘near me’ that perform really well. Determine if there is a way that you can still fulfill that need, online or via pickup/shipping/dropoff. Determine if there are new needs that have arisen that your company can fulfill. Then adjust your keyword strategy to capture that search volume.”

Adam Connell

“Develop your online presence – More people are spending time online than ever before, but many brands are pulling back on advertising due to the uncertainty COVID-19 presents. Use this time to create helpful content and build an audience you can market to when the time is right.” – Read more

Ecommerce & Consumer Trends During Coronavirus

My Post (7).pngWhat Businesses Should do to Survive the COVID-19

With everyone’s eyes fixed are focused on CDC data, the general public anticipates drastic shifts to the way they used to live and consume items they want and need.

In turn, businesses understand that these changes are about to affect their entire business management systems — from supply chain to ecommerce adoption or expansion. And to stay ahead of the game and make informed decisions, there is data they need to look at.

So, we have compiled the latest SEMrush data on ecommerce trends, consumer behavior, and demand to help businesses navigate through what might be the most challenging time to run a business — the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus Impact on User Behavior

Since 52% of consumers are trying to implement social distancing, more people are now shopping online for a growing number of new product categories. So, it is not just about a rapid rise in online purchases, but about the nature of that demand.

Some of the biggest retail chains have already been announcing that they are expanding their ecommerce sales. But COVID-19 has expedited this process. And although these businesses may seem to be better equipped to serve the novel customer needs, due to the pandemic, this shift is spanning out of control. Consumers start purchasing in categories that weren’t forecasted to see such a rapid rise in online shopping.

So, with the long-awaited yet accelerated shift towards online shopping, consumer behavior at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic is mostly about user behavior.

Thus, with insights from SEMrush data, we will reveal:

  • How the consumer demand has been changing within the past few weeks,
  • Which industries have seen the biggest spike in traffic,
  • Which products top the list of most searched online.

COVID-19 Top Impact by Industries

You would assume that the Health category would see the highest spike in search traffic. A. J. Ghergich has shared some interesting insights on health-related search trends during the coronavirus outbreak.

However, we have already been within this crisis for a while, and health is not the only matter preoccupying everyone’s minds now. It is all about getting through the quarantine and shelter in place orders. So, people start adapting to this “new normal,” and leisure/hobby categories are seeing the highest volatility at the moment. – Read more

Pausing Your PPC Campaigns Due to Coronavirus? Read this first…

My-Post-8 copy.pngThe Coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on businesses around the world, and whenever there is economic uncertainty, one of the first things to get axed is marketing budgets and campaigns.

While that would make sense at first glance, what this has meant is that average Cost Per Clicks has dropped by over 50% across the board, which means that for those advertisers who do continue with their campaigns, they get to enjoy leads at significantly lower costs than before.

So, rather than pausing your campaigns altogether, a better strategy might be to try and leverage the market opportunities by reducing your spend and getting more bang for your buck.

Here are some really simple changes you can make to your PPC campaign, which, combined with the lower CPCs more advertisers are seeing currently, will help reduce your Cost Per Lead by as much as 150%!

#1: Adjust Your Ad Schedule To Show Up During The Best Performing Times

If you head over to the Overview section of your Google Ads dashboard, towards the end, you are going to see a Day & Hour chart, which you can adjust to see what day and hour of the week you tend to get the most conversions.

Make a note of the top 2-3 days you tend to get most of your conversions, and you can decide to either exclude other days from your campaigns for the time being or reduce the bids on those days so you still show up, but your spend will be much less on those days.

Depending on your type of business, another relevant metric might be to look at the Cost Per Conversion or Conversion rate and depending on your campaign’s objective. If other non-conversion related metrics such as clicks, impressions, etc. are more suitable, you can make a selection from all the options available by clicking on the drop-down on the top left.

#2: Look At The Device-Level Performance Data To Cut Out Waste

On the Overview tab, you will also find a chart showing your campaign’s performance on a device level, and as with day and time data, you can use this info to reduce your Cost Per Lead by adjusting your bids for the devices that are performing the best for you.

The first thing to look at is the Cost Per Conversion, and as you will see from this example, computers have resulted in the lowest cost leads while tablets have been the most expensive, so the obvious thing to do here is to either reduce how much you want to bid for tablets or exclude them altogether. – Read more

It’s now free to sell on Google

My Post (12).pngThe retail sector has faced many threats over the years, which have only intensified during the coronavirus pandemic. With physical stores shuttered, digital commerce has become a lifeline for retailers. And as consumers increasingly shop online, they’re searching not just for essentials but also things like toys, apparel, and home goods. While this presents an opportunity for struggling businesses to reconnect with consumers, many cannot afford to do so at scale.

In light of these challenges, we’re advancing our plans to make it free for merchants to sell on Google. Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google. With hundreds of millions of shopping searches on Google each day, we know that many retailers have the items people need in stock and ready to ship, but are less discoverable online.

For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs. For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab. For advertisers, this means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings. If you’re an existing user of Merchant Center and Shopping ads, you don’t have to do anything to take advantage of the free listings, and for new users of Merchant Center, we’ll continue working to streamline the onboarding process over the coming weeks and months.

These changes will take effect in the U.S. before the end of April, and we aim to expand this globally before the end of the year. Our help center has more details on how to participate in free product listings and Shopping ads. – Read more