All across the nation, anxious Americans are making massive lifestyle changes in order to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of COVID-19. The novel coronavirus has forced us to face tough realities about our healthcare system, about our state and federal governments, about our grocery shopping habits, and about our humanity in general. It’s also made us question whether our economy will survive this big a blow.

Whether you’re a parent who’s trying to adjust to working from home while homeschooling your kids or you’re facing an uncertain employment situation and are concerned about convincing older loved ones to #stayhome, this pandemic has touched just about every one of us in some way. And one thing we can all relate to worrying about what the future will bring.

While we can’t know for certain, we do feel confident in a couple of things. One is that taking action now will minimize damage later on. Another is that while things are bad, they aren’t going to last forever.

But that logic can be tough to keep in mind when you’re running a small business. We understand the stress that comes along with so much uncertainty. Although there’s a lot of information we don’t yet have, we wanted to take this opportunity to connect with our current SEO resellers to share insights, make recommendations, and provide support during this critical time.

We believe that growing together creates the freedom for us to be more, do more, and have more. We may not be able to grasp the full impact the coronavirus will have on the digital marketing industry or on our business quite yet. But we can discuss what the experts are saying, what we’ve found through our own research and experience, and how our partners are approaching these challenges head-on. This, we feel, will allow both us and our resellers to plan ahead, make informed marketing decisions, and weather the storm.

We recently held what we’re calling a “reseller roundtable” with eight of our current agency partners. This virtual meeting gave our team members a chance to learn how our resellers are being affected by the global pandemic, to strengthen our relationships with these agency owners, and to exchange valuable information about what we can do to move forward together.

If you’ve read a previous SEO case study from us, you might already know how we typically foster digital marketing campaign success. While you won’t be seeing any data charts in today’s SEO case study, you’ll find out what we discussed with our partners and what our expertise tells us about the next steps to take.

Highlights From Our COVID-19 Reseller Roundtable

Last week, we decided to put out a call to our current agency partners to gauge their interest in partaking in a roundtable discussion -- conducted via video conference, of course. While we understand that not every reseller wants to virtually meet with others in the same field, we’ve conducted similar workshops in the past with the intent to share knowledge and provide a means of support from both our team and from others in our industry.

In the end, eight of our resellers decided to attend. Some took a more active role in the discussion, while others felt more comfortable to quietly observe. We put together an informative deck to outline the material we’d be discussing. As always, we started with our Why. Our central belief and purpose really informed our choice to hold this roundtable discussion in the first place. We’re all about growing together -- and while that goal might seem unattainable right now, we believe that our commitment to our purpose is exactly what will see us and our resellers through.

We then reviewed the situation we’re facing. Namely, we covered what’s currently being done -- everything from mandated social distancing and panic-buying to increased COVID testing and implementation of stimulus packages. We also candidly spoke about how this pandemic is unlike anything the country (and the world at-large) has experienced in most of our lifetimes. While the 2008 financial crisis has often been cited for comparison, the current pandemic caused a record 3.3 million Americans to file for unemployment in just one week. Moreover, the 2008 financial crisis stimulus package came out to be only $800 million compared to the $2 trillion coronavirus aid package (known as the CARES Act) that passed just days ago.

unemployment claims by week

Those numbers are understandably enough to make anyone uneasy. It’s encouraging that our government is trying to mitigate the impact for both individuals and small businesses. But we still aren’t sure what the future holds.

Already, one of our resellers told us, the impact on business has been huge. This reseller, who is based on Long Island, told us that he’s already lost 90% of his SEO business and that many of his clients are even turning off their web hosting services. Since all of his clients are local to his area, it’s no surprise that businesses within the localities adjacent to New York City would be taking a brutal hit. In addition, most of this reseller’s clients are in the legal sector. One of his clients already had to lay off half their staff. Although lawyers are considered essential workers in some states, staff reductions still have to be made to comply with both regulations and financial needs.

Of course, this news would be devastating to any reseller. It’s difficult to feel positive when your own business hangs in the balance and there’s no guarantee of when the economy will be back up and running again.

However, there is some reason for hope. Even though the stock market experienced catastrophic losses in response to the growing pandemic, last week culminated in the largest one-day gain in history. Another one of our resellers shared a positive spin, telling us, “Out of crisis comes opportunity.” It’s essential to seize that opportunity and to be proactive. It may be a while before things get back to normal again, but there’s likely a lot of growth to be had if you’re proactive.

Moreover, that reseller from Texas told us, this is a chance to do something that matters for our clients. “Years from now, people will remember the coronavirus,” he explained. “And if you do something meaningful for your clients during this time, they’ll remember you.”

We agreed, as you can see from this slide in our roundtable deck. We believe it’s essential to make and strengthen connections with clients during times of crisis. We looked to The Power of Moments for guidance here, which really seemed to resonate with our resellers. These connections, combined with thought-out strategies, can make all the difference when nothing seems to be certain.

Our Recommendations For Digital Marketing During the Coronavirus Pandemic

It’s not easy to plan ahead when we have no idea what’s coming. It’s understandable that you or your customers may be tempted to give into panic. But listening to that scared voice in our heads -- the one that tells us we should stop everything to protect what we have -- may actually not be in our best interests.

Naturally, many companies are responding to the pandemic by ceasing their ad spend. It’s an event we’ve seen before. Following the 2008 financial crisis, U.S. ad spending dropped by 13%. At that time, of course, the bulk of the spending decreases was in traditional forms of advertising. But while these decisions made sense when acting out of fear, there’s evidence to suggest that there can actually be huge benefits that come along with maintaining or increasing ad spend when the economy is weaker.

It may sound completely counterintuitive, but there are a few reasons for this. For one thing, your competitors are probably stopping their ad spend, too. This provides your business with an opportunity to stand out. Moreover, advertising becomes more of a buyer’s market due to price drops. It can also provide your business with a means to show leadership and stability during periods of uncertainty. Whether for your own business or your clients, this can be extremely valuable advice.

That’s especially true when you’re talking about digital marketing in lieu of traditional advertising. Digital marketing, and SEO in particular, already offers cost-effective promotional options. As shown below, the cost-per-lead of SEO is the lowest of all primary lead channels. You can easily pause a pay-per-click campaign and stop your ads from appearing (though we wouldn’t necessarily recommend that!), but there’s no real way to “pause” SEO. Since it’s a long-term strategy that’s known for being affordable, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to put a stop to it. Consistency is key for SEO, which means continuing to invest in it now will pay off later.

average cost per lead survey

Image source: Survey Anyplace

That doesn’t mean that every client will want or be able to continue with the same level of optimization as before. Business owners might need to scale back a bit or it might be advisable to shift the strategy for a little while.

If, for example, a client’s business is closed indefinitely due to coronavirus and can’t conduct business online, it might not make sense to run certain campaigns for PPC ads. However, it would make sense to review website content and make adjustments for optimization so that their rankings can continue to improve during this period. In other words, you can build equity for a return to normalcy. It might even be beneficial to redistribute PPC ad spend to SEO in the interest of improving a client’s site for better rankings and more traffic in the interim.

That said, we know as well as anyone that a digital marketing strategy isn’t one-size-fits-all. Every client will have different needs and concerns -- now more so than ever. If you have a client who runs a restaurant, for instance, it might make sense to think about running PPC ads or even optimize their website with content relating to food delivery. While the SEO aspect may not take effect in the here and now, it can allow you to effectively “future-proof” your business or your client’s business for the next crisis.

For others, like our reseller whose clients are virtually all law firms, it’s a good time to be proactive about diversifying. You might not convince a lot of businesses that marketing is how they should spend their money right now -- though, as our reseller from Texas pointed out, SEO should be considered part of every company’s operating budget. However, working on your own strategy can help you stay motivated and be one step ahead of your competition as we flatten the curve.

Keep in mind that you aren’t alone in this. Not only are we facing many of the same challenges as you are, but we’re here to provide you with as much support as possible.

We make it a point to emphasize the “request client help” buttons that are available in our dashboard, which we like to refer to as our campaign-saving mechanism. By requesting help with a campaign, our resellers can receive personalized assistance during times like these. Our sales team also offers special custom packages that can help to ensure that a client doesn’t have to completely stop their digital marketing during a crisis; instead, we can offer options that will address important needs without an undue financial burden. And, of course, we’re here to provide you with the information and recommendations you need for your clients and for your own business.

We learned some incredible things from our coronavirus reseller roundtable -- and we hope our partners did, too. While there’s no doubt that the uncertainty and fears will likely remain for some time, this won’t always be the case. By promoting open communication, listening to the experts, and being proactive rather than reactive, we can feel assured we’ll come out the other side in a better place.

Want to talk to our team about your SEO campaigns during COVID-19? We’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more and get the support you need.