Surveys are an imperfect research tool. However, it’s the best tool we have at the moment. This is because there are few alternative sources of data about the effects of the pandemic on marketing.

To that end, here is a long list of surveys, presented in chronological order, that show the topsy-turvy ride the Coronavirus has had on marketing.

Any survey or report that did not include the date it was published, disclose the number of respondents, or that put the results behind a registration gate with a mere tease were excluded.

1. March 16, 2020: Will remote work – work?

Back in the early days of the pandemic, marketers at larger companies weren’t too sure if remote work concept would actually work. That’s according to a survey by MarketingWeek and Econsultancy:

“71% of UK marketers and 67% of their North American peers say that creative collaboration suffers when workers don’t share a space.”

This survey polled 2,200 marketers in the U.S. and the UK with at least £50 million in revenue – that’s about $60 million USD at today’s conversion rates.

Source: WFH: Marketers believe collaboration will suffer most in a distributed work environment

2. March 17, 2020: Marketing starts delaying campaigns

A survey of 887 UK brand marketers by MarketingWeek and Econsultancy found “More than half of marketers (55%) are delaying campaigns or have put them under review as fears escalate over the global coronavirus outbreak.”

“More than a third of marketers (39%) say their company has already experienced lowered demand for its services,” according to the survey, “while more than half (61%) expect to see this lowering of demand continue over the next two quarters.”

For reference, this appears to be the same survey as listed above, albeit with just the UK slice of the sample.

Source: Majority of marketers delaying campaigns as coronavirus fears escalate;

3. March 18, 2020: Email spikes for virus-related terms

As the severity of the pandemic began to sink in, the email volume for topics around preparedness, response, safety began to spike, according to SparkPost:

“As identified by certain subject line keywords, related message volume tracked on our platform has grown enormously. From mid-February, weekly volume went from about 3,600 campaigns to more than 40,000.”

There were, however, caveats:

“Almost half of related messaging belongs solely to the Social Networking sector, where network members receive notification emails regarding various Tweets, newsfeed-type items, and related shares.”

But also, a big upside in email engagement:

“The average read rate within these volumes is almost 24%; that is, nearly one in four recipients are opening these emails. This is strong email engagement by any standard.”

Source: Benchmark Assessment: COVID-19 Email Activity and Engagement

4. March 20, 2020: Spending continues in paid search

Advertisers have cut spending in some areas and are increasing spending in others, according to a survey of 200 marketers by Advertising Perceptions.

Where are they cuts?

Advertising on “display (47%), paid social (45%), digital video (43%), linear broadcast TV (41%) and linear cable TV (34%) have been paused, canceled” or reduced.

Where are they adding?

“…only about one-quarter (24%) of advertisers have pulled back the reins with paid search. Indeed, paid search is the channel for which the largest share (24%) of advertisers are retaining or even increasing budgets.”


Source: The Coronavirus Effect on Advertising; (opens in PDF)

5. March 23, 2020: To pump the brakes on marketing or not

Fairly early on in the timeline, GlobalWebIndex, polled 12,845 Internet users around the world about marketing behavior. “When asked if brands should carry on advertising as normal, just over a third agree, just over a quarter disagree and just over a third aren’t sure.”

eMarketer, whose graphic is nearby noted of the survey, “the global results were on par with those in the US, at 37%, 36% and 27%, respectively.”

Source: Coronavirus: insights from our multinational study

6. March 26, 2020: Shifting budgets to top of the funnel

“Most companies these days are more focused than ever on increasing the top of the funnel, with larger companies also putting resources into expansions to create new bookings,” according to a survey of marketers at 62 Israeli tech companies by Viola.

Respondents said they are shifting marketing budget in the following ways:

  • 32% to producing more content;
  • 24% to webinars and virtual events; and
  • 18% to social media.

Source: Viola Data Coronavirus Survey 3: Effect on Marketing

7. March 30, 2020: Brands to the rescue?

Some 62% of “respondents said that their country will not make it through this crisis without brands playing a critical role in addressing the challenges,” according to a survey of 1,000 people in 12 different countries (each or 12,000 people) by Edelman.

Why?

55% “said that brands and companies are responding more quickly and effectively than government.”

How?

  • 90% want brands to “protect the well-being and financial security of their employees and suppliers, even if it means substantial financial losses until the pandemic ends”;
  • 85% “want brands to use their power to educate”; and
  • 84% want “advertising to focus on how brands help people cope with pandemic-related life challenges.”

Source: Edelman Trust Barometer – Special Report: Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic (opens in PDF)

8. April 6, 2020: Marketing messaging modified

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) surveyed 196 association members and found 92% adjusted their “creative messaging for marketing since mid-March when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.”

Nearly half (46%) said “those adjustments have been substantial” while another “42% called them “moderate” and the remaining 12% said messaging changes “were minimal.” However, the vast majority (89%) “plan on adjusting the creative messaging for marketing going forward in view of the current environment.”

Producing new creative assets – ostensibly with those modified messages – was a challenge for 39% of respondents (4 or 5). About one-third (29%) were on the opposite end (1 or 2) and indicated there were still getting work done. The remainder (32%) were in the middle (3) suggesting the modifications were neither hard nor easy.

Source: Creative Messaging Development and Production Given COVID-19

9. April 16, 2020: Nips and tucks on the marketing budget

The research firm Gartner surveyed 360 marketing leaders and found 67% “expect a decrease in marketing budgets due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The uniqueness of the COVID-19 pandemic has rendered predictive models based on historical data useless,” the company said in a published statement. It suggests, “marketers must work together to develop strategies that can gain alignment and support with less data than they’re accustomed.”

Source: Gartner Survey Shows Marketing Budget Cuts Due to Coronavirus to Have Significant Impact on Advertising

10. April 14, 2020: Marketing budgets reallocated

The newsletter B2B Marketing Zone and Webbiquity, a marketing consultancy, polled 456 B2B marketers and many marketing budgets are being modified. For sure, that survey, and follow on polling 30 days later show budgets are being cut. However, in both cases, the smart money is being reallocated.

Most respondents (80%) plan to cancel at least some events over the next six months. Some 39% said they plan to move budgets for events to content creation (43%); online events (40%) and search marketing (33%)

Source: How COVID-19 is Impacting B2B Marketing (opens in PDF)

11. April 14, 2020: The top COVID-19 challenges facing marketing teams

A global survey of 100 marketing leaders, commissioned by NewsCred and conducted by Sirkin Research identified the top challenges facing marketers during the pandemic as follows:

  • 52% said managing shifting priorities and strategies;
  • 48% said providing visibility and managing fluid plans;
  • 42% said a lack of bandwidth to quickly create new content;
  • 41% said realigning budgets to new initiatives;
  • 40% said realigning people with resources to new initiatives;
  • 39% said effectively managing or prioritizing new requests; and
  • 38% said the increased focus on customer communications.

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

12. April 15, 2020: Greater impact on advertising than the last recession

A survey of advertising buyers (n = 296) and advertising sellers (n = 176) by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) found that both groups think the adverse effects of the Coronavirus will be greater than the financial crisis central to the last recession. About three-quarters of buy-side (76%) and sell-side (76%) believe this pandemic will at least somewhat more adverse than the financial crisis.

The IAB found “98% of sellers anticipate US ad sales revenue to decrease – including supply side/ad network revenue – against original 2020 plans due to Coronavirus outbreak.”

The pandemic has presented publishers with a unique problem. Despite “massive growth in news consumption, but publishers are unable to monetize it” because brands have little appetited to have their pitches juxtaposed with pandemic coverage.

Source: Coronavirus – Ad Revenue Impact on Publishers & Other Sellers (opens in PDF)

13. April 27, 2020: Engagement with brands on social media increases

The level of output by brands on social media has been mixed, according to an analysis of 11,038 brands reviewed between January 1, 2020, and April 15, 2020, by Sprout Social. However, engagement appears to have grown, “during April 2020 compared to Q1 2020.”

“Incoming engagements increased on average by 44 engagements per day across all networks and industries. On a per-post level, they also increased by about 7.3 engagements per post per day.”

Source: How COVID-19 has changed social media engagement

14. April 28, 2020: How digital consumption habits have changed

By now marketer’s know people are spending more time online. A survey of 1,200 people in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and upstate New York by Drive Research and Advance Local placed this into context.

Consumers indicated they are spending 50% to 60% more time with “streaming, social media, online search, smartphone apps, and even news websites.” The chart below breaks the numbers down by percentage and generational cohort.

Source: The Economic Impact of COVID-19: Where are Consumers Spending Time and Money?

15. May 11, 2020: Brands still adjusting social media activity

Most brands are posting less on social media, according to a survey of 237 brands by the Influencer Marketing Hub. The survey found “74% of brands surveyed are posting less on their company social accounts at present.” Interestingly, some have switched their focus on platforms too. about one-third (34%) “of respondents have shifted social time from Instagram to Twitter.”

Source: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Marketing & Ad Spend Impact: Report + Statistics

16. May 12, 2020: Characteristics to get through a crisis

Flexibility, creativity and resilience. Those are the skills entrepreneurs from small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) say are required to get through a crisis, according to a survey of 1,200 by 99designs.

More specifically, when asked about the most important characteristic during a crisis, respondents said:

  • 36% said flexibility;
  • 28% said creativity; and
  • 25% said resilience.

Source: Creativity, entrepreneurship and COVID-19

17. May 13, 2020: Creatives taking the change stride

Most creatives and designers – the skilled professionals that breathe life into marketing concepts – largely took the transition in stride. A flash survey of 62 creative professionals by inMotionNow found most (64%) said the transition to remote work has had little to moderate “impact on their ability to work.”

It should be noted, that doesn’t mean the transition hasn’t been without challenges:

“The influx of projects directly related to COVID-19, while undertaking major projects like website redesign and email system migration and having to prioritize projects daily,” wrote one respondent in open-ended comments. “Figuring out how to collaborate and harness that ‘creative connection’ that comes from working face-to-face with the team virtually. Some of the team has had to figure out how to set boundaries so as to not work 24/7, while others have not put in their full time because of the nature of remote work.”

Source: How Creatives and Designers are Responding to the Coronavirus [Survey]
[Disclosure: inMotionNow is my client]

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Challenging as it may be to make the case there is evidence to suggest that marketing in a recession has several advantages. You can and should, “Find the sweet spot between silence and storytelling.”