As the news cycle continues to be dominated by COVID-19 and its impact on everything from schools to sporting events, the disruption caused by the illness as well as the social panic can be seen across industries.
And while for many brands a big concern is how to respond to COVID-19 (or whether to respond at all!), it’s more important than ever to use metrics and analytics to track - and even forecast - the impact on your website data.
Benchmark based on location
The global spread and distribution of COVID-19 changes rapidly, and as countries adapt to the virus this will continue to change in unpredictable ways. For this reason, it’s important to benchmark your KPIs based on geographical location - this allows you to identify changes in your data that may or may not be directly related to COVID-19.
For example, if you’re a business that sells concert tickets, you may see a sudden drop in website traffic from Italy, where event venues have been closed due to the quarantine - with regional benchmarking, you’ll know for sure that the drop in traffic is due to the virus, and not that there is something wrong with your site!
Google Data Studio is a great tool for this type of reporting using their geo map chart, which displays your metrics based on location in an easy-to-digest visual. Comparing this chart with a live map of COVID-19’s spread will help you quickly understand whether your site has been impacted, and how severely.
Review frequently and consistently
Because no one can accurately predict how COVID-19 is going to impact our lives and businesses, it will be difficult to determine trends and make long-term assumptions - as such, metrics should be reviewed frequently and consistently so you’re not blindsided by any sudden changes. The Chinese companies who have so far had the most success in recovering in the aftermath of the initial crisis, such as food and beverage producer Master Kong, have achieved this by keeping a constant eye on developments and responding to them as quickly as possible. In the same vein, Hema, a Chinese delivery-based supermarket chain, took advantage of the rise in demand for online delivery to ‘borrow’ staff from restaurants and hotels, thus meeting their customers’ delivery needs while offering some financial stability to employees in vulnerable industries. Meanwhile, in North America, Starbucks is making all its orders to-go only in preparation for its customers’ social distancing. Using data to measure your audience’s response to COVID-19 will help you know what steps to take to respond accordingly both for your business, and your customers.
Analytics tools like Google Analytics are indispensable during this time, in that having access to live data can help you react to change swiftly, and mitigate the negative impact.
Marketing requires flexibility in principle, but this skill is even more important in the current climate. While planning events months in advance and creating a content calendar for the rest of the year may save you a lot of time and hassle under normal circumstances, you should be prepared for some significant changes in the near future.
Stay agile and don’t get too bogged down in your set plans - even this year’s Tokyo Olympics has been postponed! Instead, think creatively about how you can achieve your same goals in different ways! Whether this is rescheduling for a later date, or moving to a digital platform, there are many workarounds depending on your needs. We will all have to adapt.
Most importantly, it’s easy to get discouraged by media reports and general doom and gloom, but focussing on your goals and keeping track of your performance using benchmarking and data reporting will help you keep a clear head and take the right steps.