All Articles Marketing Report: Digital marketing agencies during COVID-19

Report: Digital marketing agencies during COVID-19

An Uplers survey of digital agencies around the world looks at how the industry has pivoted and adjusted during the coronavirus pandemic – and points to a desire for outsourcing to try to be flexible for market conditions.

5 min read


Report: Digital marketing agencies during COVID-19

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The impact of COVID-19 was felt by agencies large and small across the globe. Read to find out what more than 130 digital agencies in the industry think about the impact of the outbreak and how they plan to navigate their business going forward.

COVID-19 versus digital businesses

The uncertainty of the prevailing coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt the digital ecosystem worldwide. 

As the world economies try to reopen, many industries, especially those in the advertising and marketing sector will face large scale ramifications and challenges going ahead.

More than 20% of business executives estimate that the effects of the pandemic will be felt for more than a year. These and more such findings coming out of “The Impact of COVID-19 on Digital Agencies” survey launched by Uplers is the culmination of the perspectives and experiences of marketers from organizations across the globe.

Fifty-seven percent of businesses expect the effects of the coronavirus pandemic to last until the end of 2020.

The rest believed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic could be felt for even longer and will have its effects on business until the mid of 2021. The future outlook on business after COVID-19 was diverse. Different regions had slightly contrasting perspectives, with Australia and New Zealand having the most optimistic view of the future wherein,

  • 43% of Australian businesses expect COVID-19 to affect their business until the end of September or into early October. 
  •  19% of digital firms in the USA and 20% of businesses in the UK expect the pandemic to affect their business through the end of 2021. 

Revenues take a hit

According to the survey, coronavirus poses acute fiscal challenges for digital organizations. For example, almost 68% of digital agencies reported having experienced a decrease in their overall revenue over the past few months.

Of the 68% of businesses, 9% experienced a significant nosedive with their revenue dipping below 50%, while 25% saw their revenue plummet 30% to 50%, and 32% experienced a revenue dive of less than 30%.

On the brighter side, 16% of respondents said they actually experienced an increase in their overall revenue.

There were a few clear winners in terms of which industries were growing the most. The technology sector emerged as the leader, seeing a 16% growth, closely followed by e-commerce at 15%, and then the health care and retail sectors at 14% and 11%, respectively.

Impact on leads

Of the 66% of companies that saw a significant dropoff in leads, 29% were small businesses whose employee strength ranged from 1 to 5 people.

Conversely, 14% of marketing teams saw their leads increase. 

More interestingly, 90% of these companies said they were actively spending on marketing efforts across multiple channels.

Digital businesses look to educate clients

Thirty-five percent of businesses recommended their clients pivot to new marketing messages and cash in on the decrease in competition.

Other than that, 34% of digital agencies suggested their clients increase their investment in digital marketing during COVID-19, while 24% of them recommended pivoting to new channels altogether.

Another common recommendation was to revise the core message being sent to audiences. With the market uncertainty arising out of COVID-19 ramifications, the practice of keeping customers updated with the status of projects, meetings or any other part of the business was seen as time well invested.

Increasing flexibility

Marketers have the unique responsibility of not only growing revenue but also determining the right time to do so. Surprisingly, the aftermath of COVID-19 didn’t bring about any stiff price policies from the respondents. On the contrary, 58% of agencies offered flexibility in contract terms, while 28% reduced their fees.

Of the surveyed companies, 33% located in the UK and Europe offered the highest price reductions.

In general, 30% of digital agencies claimed to have reduced their fees to accommodate clients and help them cope with the situation while also retaining them. Agencies with a maximum strength of 25 to 100 employees offered the most flexibility in terms & conditions when compared to agencies on either side of them.


Perhaps the most definitive trend to emerge out of the survey is that 80% of respondents said they will either explore, continue or increase outsourcing. Respondents said that the ability to scale up and be agile as per demand constitutes better security during unprecedented times and can often be the difference in businesses surviving or dying out.

True to this belief, 80% of the surveyed agencies who saw above 30% revenue growth indicated outsourced jobs, while another 24% of agencies said they were going to either explore or increase their outsourcing demands.


While it is given that the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic will have long term implications, there’s always the possibility of turning a tragedy into an opportunity.

Now is the time to gauge the change in the trends of the audience’s behavior and notice everything from the places they go to, the priorities they have, where they’re putting their money and how they’re spending it.

Marketers have the chance to redefine their business goals, get extra focused, keep an eye on the trends and strive to evolve continuously. 

Aayush Gupta is senior manager of Brand & Marketing at Uplers. He likes to stay on his toes when it comes to marketing and doing things worth risk-taking. He loves traveling and exploring local cuisines. In his free time reading books with coffee is all he wants.