Is Covid-19 Being Blamed For Your Marketing Shortfalls?

Is your website traffic down? Sales down? Organic search rankings down?

Looking at marketing performance data for 2020 can tell a number of different stories.

If you have seen a downturn in website traffic this year, normally the first finger to be pointed is at Covid-19. By taking a deeper and more intelligent look at your data, you may find some gaps and opportunities which were simply being missed due to the pandemic masking things.

Top 12 reasons your website traffic is down:

  • 1. Your analytics is not set up correctly

We see approximately 80% of client’s analytics accounts have errors in how they are tracking website data. It can be extremely misleading and lead you down a garden path when analysing and troubleshooting.

To start with, make sure you have the code on every page. It may sound stupid but I have seen this so many times. Missing code means missing numbers. Then check that it is firing when the pages load. If the implementation is correct the next place to check is the settings, to make sure they are all up to date with the current website. If you changed from http to https – did you update the settings? Do you have the latest version of analytics code on your website? Do you have old and new tags on the site and hence are double counting or even tracking in two different accounts?

You won’t believe how many organisations we have worked with that have given us access to the old analytics account.

  • 2. Your website has changed

How many times have I heard someone say;

 

 “We used to be getting these amazing numbers through the website, but they dropped off”.

 

Then when I analyse their data I realise they had different pages on the website that no longer exist and those were the ones driving traffic.

 

“Oh yes, we changed the website last year”!

 

Well that obviously had a bit of an impact! From there you need to identify what had the impact, why and how to rectify it. Equally you need to clarify if the old traffic was any good in the first place – see here to understand more about good or bad traffic to your website.

  • 3. Your website is broken

Maybe your pages have broken links, or are linking to the wrong place. There may be dead ends on your website where users can’t get back to where they started so they leave. Maybe the pages freeze or load so slowly they time out. Perhaps the site is unsecure and doesn’t work on some PC’s with firewalls.

If your website is not loading correctly, this could mean your analytics tracking code is not firing correctly and therefore not tracking the numbers. The list goes on…so check your website for issues.

  • 4. You have turned off some marketing activity

Do you remember that test ad campaign you ran last year on LinkedIn? Oh yes, well that is when the peak was last year.

This is not always as easy as it sounds to recall, if there is no internal process and employees have changed then it can be easy to overlook a marketing campaign. However, this is where your detailed analysis of data is so important.

Make sure you are segmenting that data by source – figure out what sources are up or down when comparing your date ranges. Only by doing this will you be able to identify potential hot spots to investigate further in order to answer your questions.

  • 5. You have a filter on your data

Oops, you left the filter on, or didn’t put one on when you next compared the figures. Could it be that the traffic isn’t actually down?!

We have all been there, either the incorrect date comparison, or you have filtered out all traffic other than UK but are analysing it as if it is everything! Maybe you filtered by organic traffic only, but forgot the filter is on so start making sweeping assumptions about the whole website.
Coming from 18 years experience, we have all been there – check your filters.

  • 6. The weather

Depending on what business you are in, the weather may have huge impacts on your business and traffic. There are the obvious products such as selling paddling pools and bikinis – guess what people want when it’s hot and sunny! When it is cold and miserable not so much.

If you sell stock pots or casserole dishes and it’s a cold winter’s night, you might see a peak.
If it’s raining outside, people tend to stay in and search. If it’s sunny they may be in the park or at the beach doing other things, the time of day they search for you may change.

Quick tip – use annotations or integrate weather apps with your data to keep track.

  • 7. SEO rankings have decreased

Has your content changed? Has Google’s algorithm changed? What is different now to then and why might you have been penalised?

As we know there are 101 reasons why your SEO rankings may have changed. It depends on the competition and the keywords you are ranking for. It is also not always a bad thing. As we have seen before, lots of bad traffic can be as bad as low levels of good traffic!

In most instances a decent agency can run an SEO audit and rather than telling you all the issues you already know, they can help you address the problems.

  • 8. PPC competition has increased

What is your competition doing? Are they spending more? If so maybe there is a reason, they could be seeing a positive return? Are they stealing your market share?

Try using the auction insights report in Google Ads as a starting point. If the competition is ramping up and you are not, then you are likely losing traffic to them.

  • 9. You stopped posting regular content

You didn’t realise people were actually quietly consuming your content. They perhaps didn’t visit the website straight away from a blog, article or video, but often users return via other sources such as organic search or direct. This means on the face of it, it may look like your content isn’t having the desired effect of driving users to the site. However, they may just be viewing the content now, then clicking through via another source at a later point.

Without knowing this, if you stop posting regular content, you might see a decline in visitors to the site.

  • 10. The content you are posting is poor

No one is interested in reading poor content. If it doesn’t interest them, add value or give them insight, why would they want to consume it? Make sure you are hooking them in. Give people a reason to listen to what you have to say.

boring content

Give your content the best fighting chance against all the millions of other content pieces being posted by getting the title right. Even if it is the best blog I could ever read, if the title isn’t engaging, I am not going to read it. An engaging title can make or break a good piece of content.

  • 11. You are comparing completely different data

All too often people compare apples with pears!

comparing apples with pearscomparing apples

You need to make sure what you are comparing is actually comparable. E.g. last month to the previous month may not be comparable in your marketplace. If your business sells to schools, then school holidays are going to have a huge impact, therefore comparing September data to August is not comparing like for like.

Equally sometimes there’s not a like for like comparison. If your website changed year on year, then comparing data year on year will be skewed.

When you do compare data, make sure you are looking at the right data. Use filters or relevant date comparisons to give yourself the best chance of making sense of the numbers.

  • 12. Current affairs including Brexit, Covid-19, elections… 

Ok, now if nothing on the list above is out of place then I think these may be the reason for your decrease in traffic. However…..if you have addressed the points above – you should already be on the up again!

Always Question Your Data

Always question your data

It is easy to jump to conclusions and assumptions about data.

It is easy to blame the Covid-19 pandemic for underperforming marketing, however don’t let it hide a plethora of marketing sins.

If you need advice or help on any of the points mentioned above, then get in touch and tell us a little more about you.

Rachel Mepham
With over 15 years’ experience in Digital Marketing, Rachel heads up the team at Digital Clarity. With a deep skill set in the Paid Search, Social Media and Analytics, Rachel is regarded by both clients and peers as one of the most experienced and prolific women in the UK digital space. Her approach and application to digital strategy planning has been used by some of the biggest brands as well as leading advertising and marketing agencies.