Commerce in the UK has been massively suppressed since the UK government started introducing social distancing measures and social restrictions in March. Almost every business has felt the effect of the crisis financially, and many companies are now, in effect, closed and hibernating – hoping to survive on their resources and the government’s financial assistance long enough to be able to reopen and recover in a few months.
So how has this sudden and dramatic action by the government affected website traffic levels, and the number of enquiries for UK SME’s?
Have people stopped going online to search for services while they don’t have the financial power or confidence to make purchases? Or are they using the extra time created by the business slow down to go online more often and research new products and services as solutions to business challenges?
We set out to try and find out, by going to Google Analytics and comparing the total number of website visitors and conversions (people who have called, filled out a contact form, subscribed to a newsletter etc) in March 2020 vs February 2020 (well, February plus the last two days of January to ensure an equal number of days were being compared). We did this for 46 businesses, in a range of different industries, plus our own website of course.
Our Own Results
Our own experience is that we ARE seeing more traffic and more leads, seeing:
- An 11.51% increase in website visitors
- A 160% increase in leads
But what were the general trends?
Website Traffic Down 13%
As predicted, website traffic overall has dropped – but interestingly, not by much, and certainly not as much as general spending in the economy at large.
Conversions UP 11%
So across all of these companies, we saw a net increase in website conversions of 11% - so people have actually been more willing to engage in websites, fill forms in, make calls etc.
Was There A Difference Between B2B & B2C Results?
The B2C websites targeting the general public/consumers in our sample have done well, with a 23% increase in conversions and just a 5% drop in traffic. Of these, the Ecommerce sites are showing the strongest results – perhaps unsurprisingly.
B2B websites had a 17% drop in traffic and a 6% drop in conversions.
How Did Different Industries Perform?
We grouped the different businesses into 4 main categories:
- Construction – including building services, home improvements and construction/building products – these businesses saw a steady level of traffic (just a 2% drop), although conversions down by 19% – so this suggests people still researching and reading up, but less likely to enquire at the moment. This makes sense, as many of these businesses require an on-site visit, which is off limits currently.
- Manufacturing and engineering – this sector seems to have been hit hardest, with traffic 13% down and 24% fewer conversions.
- IT and technology/software companies – these saw a 1% increase in conversions (and just a 6% drop In traffic), with IT service companies doing especially well (comparatively) due presumably to the rush of IT problems created by companies having to have lots of staff working from home for the first time.
- Professional Services – this was an interesting sector, with a significant drop in website visits (down 21%) but a big increase in conversions (up 9%). So fewer people going online, but the ones that are motivated/serious prospects.
What Does This Tell Us, & How Should Businesses Adjust Their Marketing Strategy?
There seem to be big differences between sectors and specific industries, but overall it is clear that buyers are still out there researching, even if fewer orders are being placed right now.
In general, there are 3 main strategies to take with your marketing to respond to the crisis:
1) If your business is still trading and your customers are still paying or you have contracts and ongoing revenue in place, then you can simply maintain your current strategy and wait for the tide to turn.
2) If no-one is placing orders or making direct enquiries – then you can focus on lead generation, and building your mailing list/opt-in database of prospects who are researching your products/services and trying to nurture and stay in touch with prospects by being helpful. This can help you line up sales for later in the year to make up for the months lost to Coronavirus, and also help you build market share.
3) If you have seen a surge in interest for a particular product or service, then lean into it – create more content, campaigns, and advertising around that product/service and consider even increasing spend.
As we’ve said in previous articles on the crisis, you may well find that your website and online marketing now becomes more important than ever before – even if buyers are not placing orders right now. How you market your business now can determine how fast and how high you bounce back when the restrictions are lifted and the health crisis eases later this year.
Image source: Pixabay