The Impact of COVID-19 on Digital

Share on facebook
Share
Share on twitter
Share
Share on linkedin
Share

The current COVID-19 crisis has dramatically affected several nations. With over thousands of cases worldwide and countries on lockdown, it’s safe to say that this pandemic has rocked the whole world to its core. We see cities implementing Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), preventing people from leaving their homes and limiting their movements only to do the essentials. The ECQ has also forced companies to restrict their operations, affecting all employee ranks from bottom to top. 

With all the challenges the outbreak brought, some digital businesses have managed to thrive despite the difficulties. While enterprises that deal with physical transactions are struggling to sustain their trade, digital companies have integrated agile and innovative ways of working to continue their operations. More than ever, digital businesses have shown resilience and adaptability in coping with “the new normal”. 

So how has COVID-19 affected digital businesses? We look at it through specific examples.

How Did Digital Agencies Operate Before COVID-19?

Despite the nature of work being digital, employees are expected to work in a physical office to promote productivity, collaboration and ease of communication. Some companies provide flexibility to do a work-from-home option once-a-week, a telecommuting strategy that helps relieve employee stress.

Some companies and digital agencies, such as LeapOut, operate using a hybrid method that combines face-to-face interaction with both clients and team members while applying project management tools and online applications for working with customers remotely. Though the company requires some of its members to be in the office physically, it can easily switch its processes in working purely online when the need arises. 

In trying to contain the spread of COVID-19, companies had to make adjustments to continue their operations. While others had a difficult time adjusting to the situation, the agility of digital-centric companies proved advantageous to their trade.

In the case of LeapOut, Managing Director Marvin Ortiz had this to say: “We had a headstart given that the majority of our work-force are digital natives. The tools to manage remote work effectively are not new to our team since we’ve been supporting some offshore clients.”

The Effect of Coronavirus on Digital Businesses

The economy is expected to slow down due to the pandemic, and digital businesses are presumed to become a catalyst from trimming the shock to expediting the economic recovery. 

Image of Philippine Stock Index Performance

Screen capture from: Investagrams.com

The economy is expected to slow down due to the pandemic, and digital businesses are presumed to become a catalyst from trimming the shock to expediting the economic recovery. 

We can see order taking and delivery apps enable trade during the ECQ, as well OTT payment transactions increasing; however, for the digital industry in general, sales demand has been significantly less during the COVID-19 crisis.  

As Ortiz points out, it’s harder to tell a brand to start advertising at this present time. “Everybody is a bit worried that they may come out insensitive during the ECQ. There are also concerns that digital ad budgets will go to waste since people are only purchasing only the essential things,” he says. 

Still, he points out that there are new opportunities on the horizon, as people have time and can pay more attention to relevant messages. “People know about COVID and they’re already scared about it. Our audiences need content that can inspire them and make them feel better. We might not get purchases now, but it’s an opportune time for business to win customers’ hearts.”

People know about COVID and they’re already scared about it. Our audiences need content that can inspire them and make them feel better. We might not get purchases now, but it’s an opportune time for business to win customers’ hearts.

This isn’t just exclusive to the digital front, however. Conversions in various industries have also declined because of the pandemic, according to Neil Patel, with food, health services, and media are the only ones getting an increase in demand. Even in figures important to awareness and conversion, such as website traffic, you can see these industries rising alongside finance. This showcases the priorities of the general public lies on a limited set of essentials, namely: food, medicine, money, and news. This is why clients have reduced their advertising efforts. Ligo Sardines, in particular, has allocated that chunk of their budget to help relief operations instead.

However, not all clients have been conservative in their digital campaigns. Ortiz shares that some have taken the opposite route by pushing more digital initiatives and re-allocating their budgets on digital in order to serve their customers with significantly less physical contact. Servicing these types of clients is what keeps agencies busy amidst the outbreak.

Several brands have also taken advantage of the situation to promote their Corporate Social Responsibility and brand image while still maintaining tastefulness in their execution. Bud Light, for example, has held virtual concerts the same way pop stars have done so in the comfort of their homes on Instagram Live, Facebook, and other streaming platforms. Miller Lite also launched their #VirtualTipJar campaign to raise money for bartenders out-of-work due to the outbreak. This shows that brands can still leverage their presence online without sacrificing the human quality needed during these hard times.

What Does it Mean for Digital Businesses Post-ECQ?

While possible cures and vaccines are underway, the pandemic is expected to continue up until next year. With this development, it seems likely that this working situation will last during a good part of 2020.

Digital companies like most businesses will survive the downturn so long as they stay relevant and create value for their customers. According to Ortiz, this is a chance for brands to show humanity beyond their company logos and exercise compassion. Both the public and private sector are encouraged to do anything they can to lessen the blow of COVID-19 to our citizens, as well as keep communicating to their audiences on social media

On how other enterprises should act at this time, Ortiz encourages companies to evaluate the situation accordingly, plan thoroughly and consistently, and, above all, value the safety and health of employees. Once the dust has cleared, he also pushes for other businesses to bounce back harder and make up for their losses during the coronavirus outbreak.