COVID-19: How Digital Marketing In Malaysia Is Affected

by Aiman

The latest and ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted many lives in many ways, industries such as the tourism and airline industries are taking a major hit from the current situation at hand. Recently the IMF has stated that the world may be inbound to another great recession, worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s as governments all around the world try to grapple with the pandemic at hand. 

Being a firm that provides digital marketing in Malaysia, we are of course keeping a close eye on how this pandemic would affect us and marketing as a whole. We are also careful on how we approach the situation. We know that the Covid-19 pandemic has negatively impacted many lives as the amount of reported cases reaches nearly 2 million worldwide and the number of reported deaths are at 147,360 as of the 17th of August, 5:20 PM. In Malaysia alone, 2,332 people are currently in treatment and 84 people have passed away due to complications as a result of the virus at this time as well.

Unfortunately, that number may increase and the pandemic may stay here for a while.

This article will cover the many ways the current Covid-19 Pandemic will affect the industry of Digital Marketing in Malaysia. And we will also look at how we can work our way around the situation at hand.

That being said let us start with our own situation, the situation here at Sterrific

How Covid-19 has affected Sterrific

Ever since the start the the Restrictive Movement Order issued by the Government, we at Sterrific have been doing our parts in staying at home to help reduce the amount of new cases. And we really think you should be doing the same too if you are still out and about.

Initially, when the order came out, we assumed that it would only last for two weeks, but as more people got infected, the RMO had been extended twice, at the time this post is being written, I am still currently working from home.

digital marketing malaysia
Source: Mashable SEA

It is safe to say, that all digital marketing firms in Malaysia will have a dent in productivity while the RMO lasts, not just us. But even though we are all staying at home, we try our best to meet the demands of our client’s digital marketing needs, as well as our own. The cities around the world may be sleeping under the lock-down, but we know full and well that digital marketing never sleeps.

So at home, on our own computers, we still try to update our articles, still try to keep our SEO in check and so on. One good thing about digital marketing is that it will still remain active online, and since more people are online, the situation we have may not be as bad for our firm. 

But that being said, we do hope to return back to our office eventually and hope that this thing blows over. 

But now, we move onto how digital marketing, as a whole, will be affected by Covid-19.

Where Does Digital Marketing in Malaysia Stand?

Although a lot of industries are taking a big hit due to the current Covid-19 situation, other industries seem to be benefiting from it. While most offices, schools and other public places close, online based businesses can still run.

Take for instance online streaming services or food delivery services like GrabFood or FoodPanda, their industries are doing quite well in these times as more people are staying at home, watching Netflix or AstroGo and ordering take-out form restaurants that deliver. And let us not forget the health industry as well, as they are needed more than ever.

But, there is similarity between these delivery companies and streaming services which help keep them afloat, and that is their presence online. Although cities may fall asleep, the Internet is still there and maintaining it’s availability. Being a business that relies on online platforms is crucial in surviving even in times like these. 

And since, digital marketing in Malaysia is mostly online based, the industry still has some ground and can potentially run strong, all albeit in different ways perhaps.

But, this can be on a case to case basis, or it can all depend on the clients which digital marketing firms are assisting. For example, if you’re digitally marketing for a client whose company is involved in travel, it is most likely that no one will be visiting travel sites while international travel has been halted. So any moves to improve the SEO or the have PPC campaigns for travel companies will be useless as the conversion rates for said companies will be low at this time.

Affected Industries

digital marketing malaysia

As you can see from the graph above, sourced from, it shows which industries have had a decline or growth in online traffic because of Covid-19. The graph shows that the travel industry has taken the biggest hit, as suspected, but you also notice that even the advertising industry is suffering too. 

While it may not be suffering as bad as travel, it is safe to say that advertising will find itself in a rough spot for a while. Perhaps, this is caused by the fact that the majority of industries are in decline, so advertising at this time will not be their top priority. 

However companies that are still doing well in terms of traffic are the finance, food, healthcare, media and pharmaceutical industries. We list down why that may be the case down below:

  • Finance:
    The increase in traffic for finance companies may be caused by the amount of people doing online banking at home, like making fund transfers, donations, checking their savings etc. This might be the case because going out to the banks might not be as appealing as people are worried of contracting the virus, plus, it is more difficult with the numerous roadblocks and restrictions on the roads in Malaysia’s cities. 
  • Food:
    Although no one can go out to food establishments in the meantime, restaurants are still allowed to operate takeout and delivery services. Restaurants which have an online presence and websites which allow for deliveries can still be well off. This is especially the case for fast food chains like KFC and Pizza Hut, I mean just the other day, me and my family ordered a large KFC meal online, and it was glorious.But for those restaurants which are not as big as fast food chains, they can be assisted by delivery companies such as GrabFood and FoodPanda.
digital marketing malaysia
  • Healthcare:
    Hospitals, public and private are on the clock working with the many patients who might have or have contracted the virus. Firms which supply equipment to hospitals are at the double trying to produce more in order to keep up with the current demand. But not only that, healthcare sites are also being visited more often as people are trying to find out as much information as they can on the current health situation. So traffic to those sites will surely rise.
  • Media:
    People are now dependent on the media more than ever to provide them with ongoing and current information regarding the situation in our areas and in the country. So if anything, the media has got their ratings turned up and their websites are getting more than enough traffic in these times. 
  • Pharmaceutical:
    People are trying to find out where to get a batch of face masks, hand sanitizers and other relevant items while they wait out this lock down, along with trying to load up on Vitamins to keep their immune systems in check. So naturally, pharma companies and their websites will have a lot of traffic as people try to seek health and sanitisation items.

How can Digital Marketing Firms Relate?

digital marketing malaysia
Source: Forbes

You may be looking at the above information and asking, “OK, so how does digital marketing come into play in all this? How does digital marketing relate to it?” 

Well, by looking at the industries which still have a chance to prosper, we can find potential clients even if business is slow. Digital marketing firms can still yield results for clients in the prospering industries. 

Firms could perhaps assist food websites with their web design as more people are coming in, we can allocate pay-per-click campaigns for companies that are providing essentials and so on. 

In all, by looking at prospering industries, digital marketing companies can reach out to those companies and offer packages. They get the clients, and the clients get better digital marketing, it’s a win-win.

But again, it may rely on a case-to-case basis, perhaps these companies are too focused on other things like keeping up with demand.

Preparing for a Downturn

Experts are warning that the world economy is going into another downturn and that we may have another recession in the midst. So what should we do? Is this truly our doom? Well, hold on, don’t lose hope just yet! 

According to Neil Patel, now is the best time to double-down, as others are not. He states that competition tends to be lower in these times as companies may go bankrupt or bought out. This just means it would be easier and faster to obtain results and perhaps better deals in cost-per-click campaigns can be found? But this can only be the case if your company itself is sitting on a comfortable reserve of cash or is among the companies in the prospering industries. (Although, you might have competitions with other firms in the same industry too). 

Digital Marketing Tips

For those of you who are marketers for your own company, you can still try to help with your marketing efforts. There are still ways that you can reach your audience and your customers during these times, it may perhaps help your company in the future or find opportunities to further expand your brand!

So here are some digital marketing tips you can follow while the world deals with the pandemic. 

1. Engage more on Social Media

Since more people are online and on social media during this time, you should seek the opportunity to engage with your current customers as well as potential future customers. But remember, this is not the time for you to be pushing out sales and being pushy in general, it is a rather sensitive time for some people, so pushy language in a time like this would not be very recommended. 

digital marketing malaysia
Source: John Hopkins University

Instead, now is the time to be more empathetic and find ways to help out your customers or potential customers anyway you can. This could involve having donation links to Covid-19 research or giving discounts to “front-liners.” Along with helping your community, doing these things can increase your brand awareness and put your brand in a nice light. 

2. Ensure that your Company is Present Online

This is something you should have even when there was no pandemic. Without a presence online, companies could fall behind in this digital age. But since more people are stuck at home and surfing the web, search traffic has increased as people scour the web for information, for news, for online shopping and for entertainment. 

This means that a company that is online can be seen more than ever, this provides an opportunity for brands to slowly reel in potential consumers when they can. If there was ever the time to brush up on your company’s Search Engine Optimisation, it would be now.

3. Look into PPC (Pay-Per-Click)

Again, more people are online, so the effectiveness of a PPC campaign may increase. By quickly expanding your PPC campaigns during these times, you can give your company a head start among your competitors. It also seems that PPC costs are going down during these times, so you would be able to save some money on PPC campaigns as well! As long as the lock-down issues are still in place, the Cost-Per-Click for PPC campaigns will either stay low or decrease even further, this basically means it will cost less for your company when people click on your PPC advertisements, so take this opportunity to really flesh out your company’s PPC advertising. 

4. Provide Special Offers

This tip can relate to the first one. To show your connection with the community and to your customers, providing special promotions in these times can be a welcome action. It will garner the appreciation of your customers as well as keep the money and business moving. So while people are at home browsing the internet, promote special promotions in any way you can to them, either through social media, through content or PPC. But remember, try not to use language that is overly pushy, as that could send a wrong message and highlight your company as being insensitive. 

5. Stay Ahead

You can help increase your brands organic traffic with the help of proper SEO strategies and this could place your company ahead of the others. So although we may all be at home during this lock-down, saddened that we cannot go out to our local mamaks, we as digital marketers must keep up in our SEO efforts, so that by the time we are out of lock-down, we have not lost much ground and it will continue to be effective. This is important because SEO does take some time and effort to be fully effective, so never let your SEO guard down, even now.

6. Prepare for when things Return to Normal

This point is sort of a continuation of the point before. It may not look like it now, but eventually, the pandemic will die down, the cases will reduce and soon, business is back to usual, as traffic jams fill our roads in rush hour and we all have lunch at our favourite kopitiam

So, we must remember that SEO is a long-term strategy and what you do now in your SEO efforts will have an impact on your companies position on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). So as said before, get on top of your SEO to ensure that your company will be effective in your digital marketing efforts as consumers eventually return to their old spending habits. 

7. Local SEO is Key

Knowing that most people are confined within their local areas, you must also look at where your own business is placed and start making moves on keywords and phrases that relate to your area of operations. Say you are a burger shop located in Petaling Jaya, you must then invest more time in ranking for keywords that are relevant to Petaling Jaya. As no one in other places would be able to come to you. Ranking for “near me” searches will offer great help in this. Many people right now are looking for convenience so ensure that your business is all about it, helping those within your local areas. 

8. Understand the Importance of Reviews

Your online reputation, regardless of whether there is a lock-down or not, is something you need to consider as well. These days, online reviews can determine the amount of conversions your brand will get. A badly reviewed brand may be unattractive for the consumer who has never heard of you, and because of this, they will look at other brands in the same field. 

There are many ways to boost your reputation with good reviews, the most obvious is actually providing a decent product. But, other ways can include reaching to your audience through platforms on social media, listening to their suggestions and responding appropriately to their criticisms. 


So it seems that digital marketing in Malaysia has not taken a downfall as hard as we expected, I mean after all, since there are more people online, more companies are taking to investing more into digital marketing, according to this Forbes article.

So as digital marketers, we must ensure that we keep at it with our efforts. The beauty of being online is that we can work wherever there is an internet connection, so even if we are stuck at home, we can still try to keep our digital marketing game up.

A good digital marketing strategy could mean a make or break for many brands and companies, so to you digital marketers out there, we wish you the best of luck…

Things Will Get Better.

We have to go through the worst before things can get better, but things will get better. 

Although we may all be in our homes, waiting for this situation to blow over, I feel as though many people in Malaysia are more united, as we appreciate the work done by our front-liners, from doctors and nurses working in the hospitals, to delivery riders and supermarket employees still working at the essential stores. 

So remember, do your part in helping Malaysia reduce those Covid-19 numbers and stay at home, ensuring that you follow these health guidelines.

We here at Sterrific hopes that you stay safe, and keep your spirits up, as we are all in this together!

If you are looking for an online agency to assist in your marketing needs, even during these times, Sterrific offers excellent branding and marketing packages which can help your brand grow. So be sure to drop us an email or a call here – and we’ll be in touch!

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