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Digital marketing’s effectiveness during the coronavirus

A resource for brands to better understand what audiences are gravitating toward amid the coronavirus crisis. Original research by SmartBrief.

3 min read


Digital marketing’s effectiveness during the coronavirus

Many SmartBrief subscribers are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.  Health care providers are rushing to save lives; essential workers are managing the grocery and supply chains to get food on our shelves; educators are developing curricula for distance learning; and technologists are working on new ways to work moving forward. Therefore, we decided to assess current subscriber engagement, advertising messaging and performance trends across all our publications to better understand what is engaging our readership right now.

Our goal is to provide a resource for brands to better learn what target audiences are gravitating toward amid the coronavirus crisis.  From our data, we have a better understanding of the advertising messaging capturing the attention of our audiences. We also looked at how solutions are being promoted and have compiled a short list of advertising campaign best practices for consideration.

From March 9 to April 6, 12% of SmartBrief advertisers ran an advertising campaign with COVID-19 messaging. Of these advertisers, 42% mentioned COVID-19 directly and 58% mentioned timely topics in response to the pandemic.

It was not surprising to see that nearly 70% of those advertisers represented the Education, Health Care/Life Sciences and Finance industries.

A shift in advertising messaging did indeed result in a higher performance as audiences are looking for product or service solutions in response to the coronavirus. For those ad campaigns that mentioned COVID-19 directly, compared with advertising messaging that did not mention COVID-19, we saw a 174% higher click-thru rate.

We also investigated how these product solutions or services are being promoted through SmartBrief’s digital channels. Many advertisers are using webinars, product messaging and white papers to showcase their solutions and resources. Specifically, promoting a COVID-19-related white paper resulted in a 58% increase in performance.

After analyzing these key data points, we compiled some best practices for advertising messaging to formulate your digital marketing plan and communicate with your target audience amid the coronavirus.

  • Offer Resources and Solutions
    Explain how your product or service can help companies shift to a digital workplace or improve continuity plans adapting to the coronavirus.
  • Lead with a Call to Action
    High-performing ads often include Read, Watch, Download. Use clear and concise language to ensure audiences discover your solution.
  • Be Authentic to Increase Brand Trust
    While being sensitive to the ever-changing business landscape, remind your customers you are here to support them in times of fortune as well as crisis.
  • Use Eye-catching Graphics to Engage
    Consider creating imagery with webinar participants or your company’s thought leaders and experts.


Download the complete infographic for even more information and data on the effectiveness of digital advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic.


*Source of all data being cited: SmartBrief internal subscriber database