How Coronavirus Has Affected B2B Content Consumption: Volume III

Today, the U.S. is still trying to grapple with the realities of the virus and its widespread impact on everything from our healthcare systems to our grocery shopping habits. Every business vertical has been affected by COVID-19 to varying degrees. Those who run (or ran, rather) live events were left holding the bag while digital businesses were suddenly even more convenient and in-demand than perhaps they’d ever been before. 

As we’ve been tracking in our COVID Impact Series, this has led to a surge in content consumption related to remote work, collaboration software, IT bandwidth, security, and the ripple effects on HR & the like. In this edition, we’re looking at what happened during the heart of the Summer — June, and July — to see how interests have evolved and what it means for your business. 

Total-Content Requests Rose by 26.73%

In comparing NetLine’s year-over-year data, we found that the total demand for B2B content rose by 37.7% and 16.84% for June and July 2020, respectively, versus the previous year. 

Removing total Coronavirus downloads from May’s raw totals still equates to a 13.8% increase in overall demand – a steep decline from the 41.6% we reported in our last blog. Of course, this means that just shy of 80% of all B2B content being requested is for materials outside of the influence of coronavirus. 

All in all, NetLine has observed a 28.71% average increase in YOY consumption between April and July.

How much has #COVID19 driven #B2B #content consumption? Between April & July 2020, overall demand increased by an average of 28.71% compared to the same period in 2019. Click To Tweet

Let’s Talk About Coronavirus Content Demand

When we published the original COVID Impact blog, we had reason to believe that demand in this arena would subside, only to be followed by additional waves of interest. Based on the areas of the country that had yet to feel the realities of coronavirus, we felt this was nearly inevitable. 

In looking at the data depicted below, it could be argued that this is partly true, though it never approached the second level of interest we’d anticipated. If anything, June was the closest thing to a true second wave of demand.

While there was a minor increase in overall consumption in late-May, with another pop in June, weekly downloads never exceeded 10,000 after mid-March. The week of June 8th represents the closest we’d ever come to hitting this milestone again, as of mid-August, with total demand just shy of 9,500. Interest truly dwindled once we hit July with downloads bottoming out at 3,500. 

Google observed an even more precipitous drop long before we did, with search volume inching upward ever so slightly in June, only to settle back into its three-month plateau.

Granted, there certainly was a fair share of Coronavirus related news that occurred within the last two months, but nothing really shifted from a medical standpoint which would have triggered another round of COVID content production and demand.

WFH & Collaboration Software Demand Soars, Only to Fall

In the middle of May, there seemed to be a resurgence in interest around content relating to work from home and collaboration software topics. As the calendar turned to June, demand plateaued, spiked, and then dipped before the end of the month.  

Then we hit the first full week of July. Suddenly, the demand for this content was at an all-time high.

Why did the week of the 6th see such a massive jump in WFH downloads? 

Our most educated guess would be that after weeks of steady reduction in national COVID cases, the rise in mid- and late-June lead business leaders to reevaluate plans to potentially return to their physical offices. Given the massive dropoff and subsequent leveling out in downloads in the following weeks, it’s difficult to isolate one specific event, news story, or asset as being the primary driver. 

Have Legal, Insurance, & HR Pros Kept Their Interests?

In short, yes they have — lawyers especially. Here’s how their interests break out by topic.

COVID-19

Similar to our observations from April and May, Human Resources professionals were the most active group over the last two months, accounting for an average of 21.4% of total HR consumption. Tailing Human Resources were audiences from the Legal, Insurance, Marketing, and Quality Assurance fields, respectively.

Conversely, the IT audience was the least involved with coronavirus content, along with professionals from the Security Services, Agricultural, Engineering, and Design fields.

WFH & Collaboration Software

As we saw with total coronavirus content downloads, the IT audience just isn’t finding the need to consume this content. COVID content did account for nearly 4% of total IT downloads during the third week of June and the first week of July, however; otherwise, COVID never exceeded 1.5% of total consumption for the group.

Those working in the Legal field continue to be the greatest consumers of WFH content, averaging just shy of 10% of total downloads for June and July. The Real Estate audience, the next closest group in terms of interest, saw large upswings of demand throughout July, especially during the last week of the month. On average, their total demand was less than half of the Legal audience’s.

How Has Consumption at the Job Level Evolved?

At a high-level, novel coronavirus content has a greater hold on overall interest compared to WFH & collaboration software. Despite the fact that each topic is seeing overall demand dwindle, coronavirus content requests outpace WFH & collaboration software content by a near 4:1 ratio.

COVID-19

June and July saw most of its activity from higher-level management and other senior employees. The VP level was the most engaged, with COVID content accounting for 11.7% of their total consumption during this period. 

One of the most interesting juxtapositions comes from the Senior VP job level, the group that finished just behind the VP level for the top spot. It’s intriguing to see that although they were quite involved with coronavirus content, they had little interest in WFH and software collaboration content.

Correlation between COVID consumption and WFH consumption often go hand-in-hand, though it’s certainly not a given, clearly. Still, it is nonetheless surprising.

WFH & Collaboration Software

We’ve already discussed the fact that Senior VPs weren’t as engaged with this content. Those who were, however, were the C-Level — who once again finished at the top of the pack in this category — followed by Owners, Consultants, and Supervisors. Seeing as the majority of the downloads again came from a Senior audience, perhaps the SVP level was instructed by the C-Suite to find new avenues to expand business or simply keep things running as smoothly as they could. Whatever the narrative you insert here, it’s clear SVPs were looking elsewhere.

As we near the six-month mark of “The Pause”, executives are having to grapple with the long-term realities of having the majority of their employees work from home. On July 27th, Google announced that they were permitting their entire workforce to operate remotely until at least the Summer of 2021. 

Decisions like these are not made lightly, considering the fixed costs of physical office spaces and the ample resources available to employees. It makes sense then why the C-Level was the most interested audience in WFH content. 

Considering many businesses lost significant revenues during Q2, the prospect of remote work may be seen as a boon now that the stigma has worn off. 

Legal Organizations Stay Active as Information Technology Organizations Log Off

No matter when we analyze certain industries, some narratives remain the same. 

COVID-19

Once again, the IT field finds itself at the bottom of one of these lists. 

While their demand was nearly 1/4 of the Legal group’s, it would be disingenuous to say that the Computers and Technology group was completely uninterested in coronavirus content. The audience had three separate periods where COVID content represented more than 7% of total consumption. Telecommunications also wasn’t eager to download content related to the virus, further highlighting that professionals who were able to work from just about anywhere before March had less of a need, organically.

Just as we see with WFH content, the Legal audience was the most active set of professionals during the last two months. In a 9 week span, the Legal group was only out “downloaded” twice, finishing in 2nd for total demand each time. As we discussed in the previous COVID Impact post, Legal teams are under near-constant pressure. No, it is not the same pressure that frontline workers may find themselves experiencing, but they are tasked with understanding how to best keep employees and employers safe during this period in time.

WFH & Collaboration Software

Regardless of industry, WFH content made up for an average of 2.2% of all downloads. The Legal industry alone saw 14.2% of their total downloads stem from WFH content. As if we needed further proof of just how serious lawyers and their colleagues are taking the shift in remote work, this stat highlights it.

While it’s not too far off the pace of the average, the Retail space being the smallest consumer of WFH content isn’t a surprise in the slightest. Even with eCommerce, Retail and Consumer Goods are best observed and therefore sold in person. As retail locations begin to reopen across the country in more permanent, safer ways, the idea of WFH for this group is a bit silly.

Other Details Worth Noting

We’ve reviewed all of the big pieces from our data deep dive but there’s still more to parse through.

Smaller Organizations Are Still Mighty Curious

During April and May, we noted that businesses with 5 or fewer employees were responsible for the majority of WFH downloads. In June and July, companies of this size were still relatively active, but not nearly as engaged as those with between 10-24 employees. Organizations of this size were the most consistent and engaged with both content categories, especially when it came to WFH content. 

Larger companies likely have full-time employees to handle things like IT, HR, and in some cases, legal. Smaller shops don’t have this luxury, of course. Instead, decisions to work from home for an additional, unknown period of time might pose a significant risk to a business’s bottom line. Leaders want to keep their employees safe, of course, but they also want to make sure they’re making the best decision possible.

The Most Popular Keywords in Coronavirus Content Titles

Understanding which words compel users to take action is always a good thing to know. One of the things we’ve pondered since the pandemic began was how general content marketing rules — so we decided to look into it a little bit.

We took a look at more than 760 keywords to better understand how often their titles or descriptions featured the word “Coronavirus” or “COVID”. Below, we have the Top 10 words or phrases for each category.

Titles Descriptions
Impact Outbreak
Business Investment Research
Data Driver Health
Customer Plan Customer
Remote Business Indicator
Work Indicator Research
Employer Lead Business
Digital Catalyst
Managing Object Storage
Webinar WFH


So, What Comes Next?

With America still so divided and undecided on how to combat this virus, there’s no telling how much longer this way of life, this way of working will last. 

One of the Job Functions that had a minor uptick in consumption (although meaningful in the big picture) was the Real Estate profession. As businesses allow their office workers to operate remotely for indefinite periods of time, the need for giant indoor spaces diminishes rapidly. This will lead to another economic issue in a few month’s time, providing another opportunity for big-money investors to come along and secure real estate at a discount. 

This is just one example of what could happen. 

We expect to produce one more COVID Impact piece in the Fall to get a sense of where the content market has gone during August, September, & October. Beyond that, we’ll see where we are. Who knows — maybe we’ll all be comfortably together on Thanksgiving without worry. Now wouldn’t that be something great to give thanks for?