How the Coronavirus Pandemic Has Impacted Services and Digital Marketing Globally

The grip of the coronavirus outbreak has circulated the world, affecting not only the fragile healthcare systems but also each and every sector under the sun. In such an uncertain time, a lot of people are wondering which path to take to make both ends meet.

A number of industries have been severely impacted by the ongoing crisis, especially entertainment, travel, and culture. However, others have felt the effects of the lockdown too, from restaurants to masseurs and hairdressers, to marketers and athletes. 

We are all exposed to the same disaster but we are hit to a different extent. Same storm, different boats. This saying has become extremely popular for the past weeks. And we are about to see who will stay afloat and who will fail.

Services Industry

Perhaps the area that suffered the heaviest blow was the services industry. With lockdown measures being enforced across the globe, restaurants, tourism, real estate, and travel sectors saw a staggering plunge in activity.

The two largest economies in the world, those of China and the US, shut down in an attempt to put health at the top and prevent a healthcare disaster.

Despite an evident increase in online sales, dealing and trading outside the pharmaceutical and food sectors have taken a nosedive. As customers were urged to stay home, earning less than before or losing their jobs amid a pandemic, the economy dwindled.

The problem is that once the measures are lifted, sales are not expected to skyrocket. A clear example of this is the current situation in China. When stores were finally reopened, consumers did not exactly rush back to them, wallets in hand and ready to splurge. So far improvement has been slow, which goes to show that the damage has been done. The overall fall cannot be halted and we are yet to witness the consequences of that in the months to come.


A couple of months into this pandemic, the unemployment numbers in some countries are already up by a notch. Since January, unemployment rates have jumped from 3.5% to 4.4% in the United States, scoring the country’s highest since 2017. According to the Bureau of Labor, over 26 million people have been laid off for a period of five weeks, with more jobless claims yet to come. 

As of April 2020, a total of 14.7% of jobs were lost based on official data. However, the actual figures might as well be surpassing 20% and nearing the levels during the Great Depression. 

In Italy, the number of unemployed has increased too and is believed to reach 11.2% from 9.9% in 2019. Understandably, the hotel and catering sectors have been affected the most (with a drop of 37%), followed by culture and entertainment (with a drop of 16.9%). Not by surprise, the food and beverage sector has flourished.

The job situation across the Asia Pacific is not promising either. Experts predict a rise in unemployment of 3% or higher. South Korea which has done a good job on containing the coronavirus outbreak is seeing a small increase in jobless case filings.

As for China, the rate of unemployed hit 6.2% in February and retail sales recorded a decrease of 20.5%. 

Experts are worried that if demand doesn’t resume soon after the lockdown is over, few people will be back on the payrolls as companies will find it hard to hire back personnel. 

Even though some countries imposed lighter restrictions, they were still affected by the pandemic. For instance, Germany put around 10 million workers on reduced hours and those claiming unemployment benefits today outnumber the ones who did so in April 2019 by 415,000. For the past 2019, the unemployment rate in the Western European country has been a steady 5.1% but in April 2020, it quickly rose by 0.7%.

Digital Marketing

The digital marketing sector has also felt the effects of the lockdown. According to an SEO web design agency, brands that had already been online before the pandemic, noticed an influx in sales when they repositioned their message to target the ‘sofa-surfers’. 

And those whose services are typically offline had to adapt quickly to the changing environment by innovating their products to be available for the web audience. Some did well, others not so much.

Without a doubt, the brands with a proactive approach that showcased how they are taking care of their customers’ safety, and their employees’ wellbeing for that matter, experienced an uplift in sales. 

A lot of industries are experiencing drops in organic traffic during the outbreak. Take for instance real estate, travel (about 50% less traffic than before the pandemic), insurance, construction, and advertising. At the same time, other industries are getting more traffic than ever. This includes media (around 35% more views), finance, healthcare, and pharma.

It goes to show that people who are in e-commerce and digital marketing have reported mixed results depending on whether the businesses they work with received dips or spikes in traffic.

For example, those selling luxury goods have been at a disadvantage compared to those dealing with toilet paper and baby diapers.

When it comes to pay-per-click data, no significant changes have been observed lately. Next, come conversions. It’s fair to say that conversion rates have gone down since the start of the pandemic and yet, there seem to be industries that were on the winning side. Again, news media sites are thriving. Some of them enable users to read-only a certain amount of content before they get charged.

On the other hand, digital marketers are faced with cuts in budgets, so they have to be smart about the way they deal out the money. Once again a well-planned search engine optimization was proved was one of the best “weapons” when it comes to digital marketing. Some of them have focused on online video and social media channels where user presence is greater. It seems that being flexible is what wins.

That being said, there is a concern that spend is plummeting in many industries which will further affect digital marketing. No one knows when this outbreak will be over and lives will be back to normal. Yet, the advertising costs on some online services are expected to surge, as brands attempt to take a bigger market share to fill in the missing gaps.

To give you an idea, online streaming services and food delivery are currently on the rise and they could take advantage of the situation by upping their advertising game.


The future is uncertain. There have been efforts to prevent the pandemic from dragging everybody down but it’s too soon to tell who has it worse or better. As economic activity is expected to remain low, recovery will take a long time.

All industries ought to think about embracing more digital solutions so they can be competitive in times of restricted physical contact. And marketers and brands should do their best to readjust their approaches to the new customer.

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  1. It's very dangerous virus. I think all sector are impact from this pandemic.