How Has COVID-19 Changed Digital Marketing?

There has been a lot of talk about how COVID-19 is changing people’s daily habits, so we wanted to look specifically at how that relates to digital marketing.

Below, we outline a few ways COVID-19 has changed digital marketing as a whole, so you can take them into account for your digital marketing strategy.

The commuter admin hour is no longer

For some people, this is a huge relief. More free time, less money spent on overpriced trains, and no more having to stand next to a stranger’s sweaty armpit.

However, it’s also true that the commute used to give people anywhere between half an hour and two hours (ouch) to get personal stuff done. While some people chose to use that time to read or listen to a podcast, a lot of people also spent it on their phones. If you were sitting on a commuter train into London, the chances are that at some point you were on your phone doing some sort of ‘life admin’.

For example, the major UK banks revealed that 7am was the most popular time for people to be using online banking apps.

People browsing on their mobile devices were particularly susceptible to adverts at this part of the day, where their focus was on personal life rather than work. Then, once they were in the office, it was work time and there was no need to worry about what they needed to buy.

Plus, while the debate about whether people should check their work emails on the commute was always raging, there’s also the fact that people had this portion of time to check their personal email, including any marketing emails from brands about sales, new products, and so on.

In short, people had a condensed period of time on their commute where they were online and susceptible to digital marketing strategies, whether that’s adverts, emails, organic social posts or search marketing as they browse. And that leads us nicely onto our next point…

B2C advertising works throughout the day

With a large number of people still working from home, the lines between work life and home life have undoubtedly become a little more blurred.

More people are working on their personal devices such as laptops or, even if they are on work equipment, they feel more able to have a personal device such as a phone close by to them. Out of the office environment, people are browsing more often throughout the day and are therefore susceptible to advertising throughout the day, rather than just at certain periods such as before and after working hours.

Spending habits have shifted

While it’s important to note that many people will have been hit financially by the pandemic and won’t be in a position to have disposable income, there are those who are actually saving money.

Previously, package holidays were the main source of ‘recreation and culture’ expenditure by a long way for people in the UK. Also fairly high on the list were trips to cinemas and theatres.

Without money to spend on the commute, their daily takeaway lunch, or their annual holiday abroad, a lot of people are considering spending this portion of their income in other sectors. E-commerce brands have a big opportunity here to market to those who have that extra bit of money they hadn’t quite bargained for.

Online retail sales have experienced significant growth since the pandemic, and in July 2020 they were over 50% higher than in February 2020. According to Retail Week, over a quarter of UK adults (28%) say they’ve been spending more online, and a third (32%) say they intend to make more use of online shopping or delivery. 

It’s all about getting fit!

This might not be the case for everyone, but a lot of us have a new-found interest in exercise and keeping fit and healthy as a result of the pandemic. In fact, a UK survey found that 28% of respondents aged between 18 and 24 years were engaging in a little more physical activity than usual, while a further 12% were doing a lot more physical activity than usual.

This change has opened up new opportunities for brands in the health and fitness space, who are now able to reach a wider audience. Plus, with the closure of gyms, an increased interest in gym equipment for the home emerged, as well as in virtual memberships and classes. In fact, one article found that home gym equipment sales spiked by a massive 5813% since the UK went into lockdown on the 23rd March.

Staycations over vacations

Domestic tourism has benefited from the increased interest in staycations (once lockdown restrictions were lifted), particularly private accommodation in the UK including cottages, caravans and other rental properties. With a number of countries still on the ‘quarantine list’, it seems likely that a lot of people will continue to play it safe and opt for a holiday in the UK.

This shift in holiday habits doesn’t just apply to travel brands but to any brands who may have used overseas holidays as a part of their marketing strategy, whether that’s through content or on social media. For example, fashion brands may find it easier to market cosy ‘staycation’ sweaters rather than beachwear for winter getaways!


Of course, we are all hoping that this pandemic will be over soon and we can return to some form of normality. But, it looks like these trends could be here to stay for a little while at least. Plus, who’s to say that working from home, keeping fit and choosing staycations over vacations won’t become the ‘new normal’ for some people forever?


If you’re looking to implement a new digital marketing strategy and need any help with SEO or Google Ads, you are always welcome to get in touch with us!