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Apples to oranges: comparing marketing metrics during the coronavirus pandemic

When an event as drastic as the coronavirus pandemic changes customer behavior, you can no longer compare apples to apples when measuring the success of your marketing. It requires a new approach. Examining your marketing metrics from before and after the start of the pandemic can help you determine how your audience is reacting in this new environment and how to shift your marketing for maximum effect.

How to compare time periods

Examine where you were

Examine your marketing metrics during a period of time before the coronavirus pandemic started affecting your customers. If you already track metrics, consider examining additional reports or segmenting your audience to provide a clearer picture of what was working and for whom.

Measure weekly

Check your performance metrics more frequently to keep up with all pandemic-related developments and how they affect your audience. Note key dates for the areas you serve, including when stay-at-home orders were implemented, when restrictions were lifted or resumed or when any relief bills were passed, to provide more insights about consumer behavior. You should also mark any changes in your marketing strategy or messaging that could have impacted your marketing’s performance.

Review in two steps

First, examine your marketing metrics as a whole to note any major changes in customer behavior. Then, examine each metric separately, accounting for different segments of your audience or buyer personas to determine which groups are driving these changes. This will help you determine the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on your marketing so you can shift strategies accordingly.

What to look for (and how to fix it)

Compare your metrics side by side, looking at all aspects of your marketing campaign, like distribution method, content subject matter and time of publication, to determine what’s behind any differences in performance. Customer surveys can provide insight on what may have impacted how they interact with your marketing.


Note the subject matter, intended audience and performance of each piece of content you published to determine changes in customer priorities. You may see a resurgence of old content that customers are finding useful once again. Online keyword search programs, like SEMrush or BuzzSumo, can also help you choose the best topics for your future content.


Customers going through the buyer’s journey may be looking for virtual alternatives to satisfy their needs, like e-commerce sites or digital product demos, for minimal contact exposure, so make sure your marketing draws attention to how you stepped up to meet these challenges. Improve sales by emphasizing products and services that increase the value of previous or current purchases, such as maintenance services or an online customer data tool.


Examine your content distribution and the ads served around that content. Keep in mind any spikes or sharp drops in performance that correlate with the key dates you noted previously. For example, some podcasts may have lost listeners when many people stopped commuting and began working from home.
Put more resources into using distribution methods that have maintained or increased in popularity. You should also pay attention to your competitors’ strategies and be ready to compete with them on new platforms.


Because the workday may look vastly different for your customers than it once did, experiment with the timing of your advertisements or content marketing to find the new times that most people are at their screens. The timing may differ depending on the platform you are testing.


The coronavirus pandemic, like other external factors, can drastically change your marketing’s potency. Compare the performance metrics of your marketing before and after the start of the pandemic to gauge how customer behavior has changed and how to shift your marketing campaign for improved results.
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