The past few months have been rough as the infectious COVID-19 continues to plague the world. Countries affected are implementing lockdowns to prevent further spread of the virus and the economical effects are massive. Businesses are in crisis mode; some are able to continue to operate but with limitations while some have to completely halt operations.
A few weeks ago, I published an article on How the Coronavirus is affecting search and the negative effects of COVID-19 are evident for some industries. Due to companies losing profits, the service industry is massively affected and digital marketing companies are no exception
Fortunately, our team here at SEO Hacker was able to adjust accordingly to this crisis but I was curious to know how my fellow digital marketers are doing during these times so I asked them a few questions to further know how digital marketing companies are doing.
One of the advantages of working in the digital industry is that most of the resources that you need to operate are accessible through the internet. That is why most companies, as well as our team, have transitioned to working remotely.
David Langton’s team at Langton Creative Group Ltd makes use of various tools to make it easier for their team.
“We are set-up remotely with access to our server and catalog of past and present work. So much is available via cloud-services that working remotely is not as challenging as it once was. We meet weekly via Zoom to touch base and coordinate work schedules.”
Additionally, they also use some of the free time they get from working remotely to produce more materials. Langton said, “Currently, we are using this time to create new case studies, update our website and address some long-term marketing goals.”
But working remotely is a huge adjustment for some companies that are used to having their team together in one office. Taylor Cimara, Principal and Strategic Director of Digital Third Coast said that communication takes the most adjustment needed.
“Our entire team is working remotely and has been since March 13th. While we let employees have flexibility in working from home, we’ve never had to have the entire team work remotely for an extended period of time. Communication is the biggest change – many more intentional touchpoints with the team, and more mindfulness with management and what everyone is going through individually at home.”
However, for some companies, working from home isn’t really new. Some digital marketing companies run their operations remotely even before the quarantine. For Juan Pablo Diaz, Founder of Krows Digital, business is just as usual.
“The quarantine didn’t have much impact on our day-to-day work as we have been working remotely since the early days of the company. We usually meet once or twice a week in a shared open space in Tokyo but now we prefer to do our meetings through Discord.”
Juan also sees something positive in the situation. Having their meetings online actually makes their meetings more productive. Juan said “In a way, it is actually a good thing for us as we tend to always talk about many things that are not relevant. Doing online meetings forces us to get straight to the point and to prepare our report presentations”.
Speaking of positivity, Graeme Barlow’s team over at Iversoft found a way to keep things fun and transition their office culture to their now fully remote workforce.
“We are fortunate to have a pretty fun culture in our office and it’s been absolutely amazing to see what people have done to bring that virtual. From pet photos to gaming hangouts to hosting video social hours, it’s been fantastic to see how we’ve translated the atmosphere from an open office to a remote equivalent.”
How Their Clients are Affected
The impact of the COVID-19 varies from one industry to another. Some may experience gains, but most industries are expected to suffer from the crisis.
According to Nate Nead, CEO of SEO.co, their clients that are in the retail industry were hit the most. Nate said,“Client budgets have definitely shrunk quickly, regardless of size. Clients hit the hardest have been local clients in retail, while larger, national clients have been more engaged, but are proceeding cautiously.”
The tourism industry is one of the most affected as well with people being forced to stay at home. Amy Draheim of ABD Creative LLC discussed that their clients are suffering from the crisis.
“Our hotel clients are experiencing extremely low occupancy. They’ve redeployed their housekeeping staff to high touch areas, and focus on deep cleaning instead of daily tidying for travelers who are still traveling (few and far between). Our restaurants are only offering delivery/take out services, and have laid off most of their employees as a result. Business is slow across the board.”
Similar for Brogan Renshaw of Firewire Digital, clients are being affected across the board but their team was quick to react and give solutions to their clients.
“Approximately 30% of our clients’ businesses have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. A further 20% have been partially impacted by a drop in revenue.
As the crisis was in its early stages we were proactive and offered all our clients the opportunities to pause and reduce contracts for a period of time. We wanted to be on the front foot and reduce any stress or anxiety for our clients. I would rather see clients come out the other side of all this and still be operating and for them to know we helped them get through it.”
However, for Erika Thomas’ clients at Coveted Portfolio, there are clients that are looking to take advantage of the situation and are shifting their focus on transitioning to e-commerce.
“Some are experiencing a delay in launching their brands and physical locations in this current market, some are still “guns blazing” to take advantage of this very unique time for e-commerce. It really depends on who they are and what they can offer at this moment”.
Did They Lose Clients?
During these times, some companies are forced to cut their marketing budgets to allot the money for payroll and other operational expenses. This means digital marketing companies are in danger of losing contracts.
Aliza Sherman, CEO of Ellementa and Spark the Creative, has lost clients but made quick adjustments with their pricing to retain some clients.
“We’ve lost most of our clients. To maintain the ones we still have, we’ve reduced our fees drastically, looking at the long term relationship. We’d rather make sure we all stay in business than trying to gouge clients in the short term. If we can all support one another and weather this crisis, we’ll be stronger and thrive in the long run.”
I could say this is a good strategy because some companies are still looking to continue their digital efforts amidst the crisis. Those who can’t afford the same budget they had before may look for alternatives. Bernie Clark of Majux Marketing has the same thing in mind.
“We have had a few clients who have been forced to put projects or initiatives on a temporary hold. We are lucky enough to have not lost any accounts so far, but we have been getting calls from businesses who had to leave their previous agency because of an over-reliance or singular offering of paid media. Nobody wants to dump tens of thousands of dollars into Google Ads or TV right now, so if that was your agency’s sole offering or the large piece of your previous agency’s strategy, you’re going to be looking for a new agency that focuses on a more balanced strategy.”
Some companies have handled the situation well. They didn’t lose any clients but contracts are put on hold. This gives them faster recovery once the COVID-19 crisis is over. Monica Smith, CEO of Marketsmith, believes that this is a time to have empathy for their clients and be good partners.
“We have not lost any clients at this time. We are working with our clients to be the best partner we can be. If that means extending their terms or allowing campaign shifts and pauses we are committed to that. We specialize in bringing companies up during challenging times – we are working on strategic plans and initiatives for each client to make that possible”.
What is Their Plan Moving Forward?
We don’t know for sure yet when this pandemic will be over but it is important to be positive and make plans moving forward. We’re also not sure yet how the world will look after COVID-19 but I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be business as usual.
Erico Franco, Senior Manager at Agencia de Marketing Digital, managed to negotiate with their current clients but they are still looking for prospects to keep their business going.
“We are cutting costs and negotiating with our already customer to see what we can do to help them and so not losing the account. We keep trying to prospect new customers even a lot of them don’t want to talk now. We don’t know how long this crisis will take but we are trying to prepare to the worst and keeping moving forward and in a positive way.”
Olga Gonzales, CEO of Pietra Communications, believes this is a good time to expand their agency’s capabilities.
“Our agency is known for our print and digital placements, but the virus really has taught us that digital is the basket to put more eggs in. Therefore, we will be looking into more ways to expand our capabilities, and continue to focus on growing editorial relationships here in “think outside the box” ways. “
On the other hand, Khaeleelah Jones, founder and CEO of Careful Feet Digital Agency is innovating that would allow them to tap more companies.
“We are in the process of creating a tool that automates many of our services, so we can offer our services at a lower price point, for companies of all sizes and budgets. It allows us to scale and democratize access while continuing to offering higher-cost boutique services for those companies that should need it.”
Because of the COVID-19 crisis, Clement Conor, COO of Smartboost, believes that companies will realize more the importance of having an online presence once the crisis is over.
“We would like to educate the market that a digital presence is now an essential aspect of the business. Transitioning your business to a digital platform now can be useful and will likely make your operations more cost-efficient. A lot of our clients will realize first hand that their ROI online is a lot better than you see with traditional marketing.”
COVID-19 has caught the world off-guard and I’m really glad to see other digital marketing companies are able to go through this crisis. It’s amazing to see that digital marketing companies are doing what they can to help their clients and I pray that we can all recover from this crisis. It is really important that we all stay positive during these tough times.
If you own or work in a digital marketing company, let me know how you’re doing in the comments and I would love to talk about it.