Articles Overview
6 May 2020
Dennis Kenis

How digital advertisers limit the financial impact of COVID-19 with their e-commerce strategy


The pandemic has unleashed an economic tornado and we can’t help but think back to the financial crisis of 2008, when the economy was at an all time low. At that time, Klaus Lommatzsch (Founding Partner, Duval Union) was running the advertising agency Duval Guillaume and saw many clients pull back their advertising budgets. However, a few of them, mostly Belgian companies, decided to go the extra mile, instead of freezing their activities. The consequence? A higher share of voice, due to less advertisers and interesting rates. These companies turned out to be ‘the winners’ when the crisis passed, as they bravely swam against the stream. In this article, digital performance agency Grava shows you how they handle the current corona crisis. They have come up with creative ways to turn their client's revenues around.

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The corona crisis hit hard in Belgium and the federal government announced drastic measures to contain the virus. As from the start of the crisis, Grava was on standby for its clients and offered strategic advice, intensified client communication and altered campaign strategies, ads and budgets whenever relevant. All to counteract the economic impact as much as possible. 

Responsiveness and creative thinking can certainly make a difference, especially for advertisers that combine e-commerce activities with brick and mortar stores. Only by focussing on the digital activities, they were able to lower the financial impact of a crisis as much as possible, all while learning about digital marketing and its potential.

It is obvious that the “corona-effect” is not over yet and will have an impact on the overall revenue of these companies. But we can also see that a quick and creative action can lead to better than expected results. It even resulted in more digital maturity for those who dared to focus, choose and act in an agile way. Something our clients ZEB en Neuhaus weren't afraid to do.

E-commerce cases during COVID-19: ZEB and Neuhaus


Multi-brand fashion store ZEB is one of Grava’s clients that relies on a well-functioning web shop and a solid online marketing strategy. Nevertheless, collective shock caused less online sales in the first days of the corona restrictions. It was clear that the population had to recover from the measures. In this first week, the online revenue was rather disappointing for ZEB. Fortunately, ZEB and Grava were able to reverse this trend with joint forces.

While ZEB reviewed their commercial strategies, Grava worked hard to optimize the SEA campaigns to find the right balance between visibility, position and ROI in this new context. Clever use of Google’s bidding strategies proved to be the right approach, also in the generic SEA campaigns.

For the social campaigns, the most conversion-oriented campaign layers were scrutinized in search of good optimizations. This is an approach that Grava believes in and has been using for much longer. Now ZEB is feeling the results of this approach in a sustainable manner. When all physical stores were closed until further notice, the web shop sales picked up again. With a lot of unknown parameters, such as income loss and anxiety for the virus and the financial consequences for our economy the outcome was extremely unpredictable. Relying on a solid, well-thought-out e-commerce strategy is an advantage for any advertiser in this type of situation. The results were extremely positive. Between March 19 and March 29, ZEB's online revenue increased by 183% compared to the same period last year. By the end of March, the increase was even higher with a 311% growth YoY.


Let’s take a look at another client with a mature digital strategy. Easter is a crucial period for Neuhaus. Many of their shops were closed since mid-March, which had a serious impact on the half-year results of 2020. Luckily, this Belgian chocolatier has been building its digital presence and online marketing strategy for years and Grava has been enthusiastically helping them with it since 2018. The case of Neuhaus proved that it’s convenient to buy Easter eggs, and chocolate in general, online. The online success didn’t compensate for the loss in the shops, but thanks to an already present and mature digital workflow, the pill wasn't as hard to swallow.

So how did Grava manage to sell more online despite the corona crisis? This was also the result of joint forces. By handling this situation wisely and empathically, Neuhaus was able to make a difference. Grava guided their way by altering the messages, focusing on the most converting strategies and ensuring the best possible ROI.

Together, they dared to switch strategies and it paid off. For the SEA campaigns, they switched to a ROAS bidding strategy just before the Easter period. This meant that the gates would stay open for as long as cost efficiency was guaranteed. By doing this, Neuhaus’ search and shopping campaigns were able to generate nearly 30 times more online purchases compared to last year’s Easter period while the ROAS (Return on Ad spend) was 13 times better. In their social campaigns, the focus was shifted to online sales, free shipping and the gifting experience, contributing to this online Easter success.

How digital advertising can uplift your e-commerce strategy

These cases show that with the right message, digital strategy and advertising partner, the COVID-crisis shouldn't equal a bad financial result. On the contrary it can even mean growth for your e-commerce channel.


Inspired by these cases? You want to know how Grava can uplift your digital advertising?
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