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New report: smaller marketing budgets and increased SEO focus during COVID-19

New report: smaller marketing budgets and increased SEO focus during COVID-19 Blog Feature

Katie Pritchard

VP of Services, 8+ Years of Client-Facing Project Management & Digital Marketing Expertise

April 13th, 2020 min read

Businesses all over the world have been turned upside down during the past month. Marketers are feeling the pressure to make tough calls and smart decisions, because one wrong move could cost them dearly. 

In this unprecedented time, marketers are having to pivot their tactics to react the way the markets and their customers are reacting. But how can they reshape an entire strategy when outlooks and forecasts change daily?

Data collected by Conductor shows us that, while many marketers are in fact reducing their budget, they are investing more heavily in their SEO at the same time. 

Analyzing the data

When asked about how their marketing budgets would be affected by the developing situation of COVID-19, 45% of respondents said they would reduce their budgets slightly, 27% expected to stay the same, 20% expected to decrease greatly and around 9% expected to increase. 

Comparatively, 34% said they would invest in lower-cost channels like SEO when asked “How would a global recession impact your marketing strategy?”


Source: The Impact of COVID-19 on Marketing (2020)

An increased focus on SEO lines up with other numbers. According to data from from HubSpot’s, website traffic has increased with more people stuck at home. 

Screen Shot 2020-04-09 at 12.44.37 PM

Source: HubSpot

We do know that people’s schedules have been turned upside down, and people have more time on their hands to research and find educational content.

For marketers with diminished budgets, SEO makes sense. After all, it’s ‘free’ and only takes time and skill to see return from it. 

So, what does this increased focus on organic mean for the marketplace? An increase in competition.

If you have an organic strategy but haven’t looked at during the pandemic, it’s vitally important that you do so now. 

If others are focusing on organic, that means you need to focus on it too or else risk dropping in rankings.

The truth about organic search

Yes, SEO can be considered lower-cost, but its price should not be interpreted as ineffectiveness. SEO should not be seen as a low-cost effort that usually isn't worth marketers’ time.

Organic can be your main driver if you have the right methodology, like They Ask, You Answer, which required companies to obsess over the questions they get asked in the sales process — and then openly answer those questions on their website. 

With companies flocking to focus on ‘lower-cost’ drivers, it’s essential to remember that you need a solid strategy behind content creation in order to win with SEO. 

What you need in order to do SEO properly

We know that some marketers are shifting focus to organic, and that your customers may be spending more time researching, so here’s what we recommend as your next steps:

  1. Reanalyze your organic strategy 
    • SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. There can be technical elements, but at its heart is this: search engines rewards those who answer the search/question best. That’s why a methodology like They Ask, You Answer works so well. 
  2. Make an action plan and identify who owns each task
    • This is just as important as the strategy itself. Being able to hold yourself or others accountable is how things get done. 
  3. Get content out there!
    • Publish and update what you can, and don’t be hindered by an obsession with perfectionism. Perfection can stall any great piece of content, and a piece of content is useless to your customers and prospects if it stays in draft form forever. 
  4. Test
    • Monitor your organic traffic and have your sales team share articles directly with potential customers. What feedback are you getting? How can you make your content better?
  5. Iterate
    • Modify published content or pivot your content focus to what seems to be resonating the most. Continued learning is how you’ll improve week over week.

Organic is and has always been a long-term strategy play, but it can also produce short term wins. That is why organic is a core focus for so many organizations that are successful with digital

During times like these, it is more important than ever to spend your time writing content that provides helpful information for now and the future.

It’s how you can come out of uncertain economic times stronger than those who only focused on short term wins and tactics.

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