COVID-19 has changed the world. 

The virus is spreading at an alarming rate, infecting hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

Brands have also been affected, as they pivot their tried-and-true digital marketing and ecommerce strategies both on and off Amazon in this unprecedented time.

In the midst of that, we want to help brands—whether you sell on Amazon, off Amazon, or both—navigate this tumultuous time and help you preserve your business and find your customer in crisis.


On March 18, Amazon announced in Seller Central that they would be temporarily prioritizing household essentials. In their statement, they classify essentials as “household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers.”

Amazon will not accept shipments to their fulfillment centers for any other products. If your non-essential product is still in their fulfillment center, you’ll be able to sell it, but will not be able to restock if it sells out before April 5, 2020.

On March 24th, Amazon then started extending shipping & delivery windows for non essential products, even for Prime members. In other words, if you are trying to sell a non essential item, it may not deliver for ~a month from now. 


Obviously, these announcements are throwing a wrench into many people’s plans and sales. Here’s what we’ve noticed across our 100+ clients. 

What we’ve noticed

Winning Product Categories 

From skincare to makeup, the beauty industry as a whole is doing really well. In fact some brands are seeing sales lifts of over 70% compared to earlier this month.

Additionally, wellness teas have seen a boost. One tea brand we work with saw a 42.5% increase WOW, and sales of their immunity tea increased by 148.5%!

Games & puzzles seem to be working due to everyone working from Home. One of our brands saw an 8X increase in puzzle sales in the past few weeks! In addition, board games have increased in popularity. A game brand we work with has doubled their sales YOY for March!

A global microscope brand is advertising at 14% lower ACOS since the beginning of March! In addition to that, they’ve also seen a 5.1% increase in ad sales and a 25.3% increase in conversion rates.

No toilet paper? No problem. Bidets have absolutely exploded in popularity due to toilet paper shortages. In a statement from their CEO, bidet seller TUSHY noted that their sales are “10X  what they were since word spread of toilet paper shortages.”

Losing Product Categories 

Across the board on Amazon, apparel brands are struggling. Four clothing and apparel brands we work with saw decreases month over month in their sales, averaging –51.4%

In the midst of self-isolating and social distancing, large events have all but been cancelled, so party supplies sales have also been suffering during this time. One party supply brand we work with saw a decrease of 74.4% MoM.

Amazon Marketing Strategies we recommend

If your products are selling less, keep advertising, no matter what. 

Your first instinct might be to pause all advertising to save cash. If you stop advertise you stop ranking. The facts are, your products don’t rank in the top 3 organically. You need Advertising to “pop up” in most cases. That’s the pay-to-play platform Mr. Bezos created. 

Instead of turning off the spigot completely, keep spend focused on high-converting products/keywords and pause any ad spend that is not performing well. BUT! Pausing everything would be a mistake. Dig into your campaigns and pause at the keyword level or ad group level. If you pause the entire campaign, you could have killed a hidden gem. 

Pro tip: Make sure you download a copy of your bulk operations file before making mass changes! This way you’ll be able to revert back to your old bids and keyword statuses when things return to normal. 

People are still shopping for nonessential items, albeit less so. Even though fewer people are shopping in general, you want to be there when they do search. Advertising is key. 

Pause non-profitable ad spend

During this uncertain time, it’s best to pause all ad spend that isn’t serving you. Most likely, that’s some kind of exploratory search or DSP campaign. That being said, keep lower-funnel search ads on if you have to choose between search and DSP. You’ll get a better return on search!

If you’re experiencing shipping or fulfillment delay’s due to Amazon’s temporary pause on nonessential items, you might notice a decrease in your CVR, since people might be clicking your ad, but not purchasing because of the delayed shipping date. On that same note, make sure to keep a close eye on your order cancellation rates for FBA and FBM – customers might be changing their minds about ordering once they see it’ll take weeks for delivery. 

We noticed extended delivery dates were affecting a few of our brands as early as March 21, with noticeable sales drop offs beginning on March 23. Clicks were increasing, but sales were decreasing, likely due to the fact that customers were browsing around for shorter delivery dates.

**insert charts sent in email

The impact of this trend has continued, and we have had to evaluate which ads to pause. For one client, we limited the account’s daily budget, focused our spend on keywords we wanted to maintain organic rank on, and paused Sponsored Brand Ads. For another client, we shifted focus to their products that did not have an extended delivery date, increasing those bids and budgets while decreasing bids and budget on products with longer delivery times.

Take advantage of Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM)

Since Amazon has delayed fulfillments and shipments of all non-essential items, sellers who only use Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) and aren’t able to fulfill their non-essential orders through Amazon. However, brands who utilize FBM are currently winning, as they don’t rely on Amazon for their fulfillment.

FBM has always been a recommended backup option to FBA, in case you run out of stock, but now only brands who were equipped to use FBM are seeing better conversion rates because they are actually shipping within the next few days, as opposed to weeks out using Prime.

Increase Budget Where You See Profitable Results

If you’re seeing high sales and low ACoS, increase budget. Take advantage of the moment while you can. Imagine how many sales you’ll get during a moment of high demand and how many reviews that will lead to? On the other side of COVID19, you’ll be in a stronger position than your competitors because of it. 

Example: Amazon has been a great alternative to beauty brands that traditionally rely on retail stores that have had to close their doors amidst the quarantine. Many of these brands are increasing their Amazon advertising budget in light of this.

Stats at a Glance

Updated April 9, 2020

  • A snack brand is pacing to triple their sales YoY for the month of April.
  • A children’s apparel brand’s sales are up 50% YoY for the month of April so far.

Updated April 8, 2020

  • Average CPC -3.35% WoW ($0.86)
  • Average ACoS -7.52% WoW (30.09%)

Recent Wins

Updated March 25, 2020

One tea brand we work with saw a 42.5% increase WOW, and sales of their immunity tea increased by 148.5%!

From skincare to makeup, the beauty industry as a whole is doing really well. In fact some brands are seeing sales lifts of over 70% compared to the beginning of March.

Amazon Updates and Strategies

Updated April 8, 2020

Inbound shipments to FBA are still delayed for some merchants, while others are able to move product. There is now a tool in Seller Central that allows you to see whether your products are affected by the delay.

For updates from Amazon, check out their COVID-19 FAQ.


Should I run ads on Amazon during COVID-19?

Many of our clients have requested to pause ads during this time, especially when Amazon was not shipping FBA orders. We urged clients not to do this, as it can be detrimental to your business! 

Now that Amazon has started fulfilling and shipping some non-essential products through FBA, it’s important for brands to up their spending once again, so their products can maintain their ranking.

Should I ignore my Amazon spend budget during COVID-19?

We’ve had a couple brands who have very strict budgets they stick to. In the midst of this crisis, many still haven’t wanted to deviate from that, even when sales are booming! They’re hesitant to spend more money, which is understandable.

We have been encouraging clients to lean into their successes—so if their products are selling really well, foregoing their typical budget in favor of a more aggressive budget that will match their sales volume. Why cut yourself short for the sake of sticking to an arbitrary number?

Should I increase my Amazon ad spend during COVID-19?

If your product is selling well and is shipping, we encourage you to lean into that success and increase your ad spend.

In this uncertain time, you never know how your supply chains and customers will be affected down the line, which could impact your future sales. So lean into your high-selling products while interest is high, allowing you to preserve your business if sales ever decline.

What should I do if my FBA product still isn’t shipping after April 5?

Updated April 9, 2020

Amazon has slowly started to roll out shipping for some non-essential items. Even though the projected date for shipping was April 5, some sellers are still experiencing delays as of April 9.

If you’re still experiencing delays, you’re not the only one.


Ecommerce sites are being impacted as well. Some for the better, some for the worse. Brands are scrambling to pivot their marketing and advertising strategies to accommodate. If you are a brand that has brick and mortar presence (either owned-stores or through retail), online has never been more important. 

What we’ve noticed

With the huge influx in the amount of time people are spending on social media, it’s natural that paid social ads would be doing well too. Social platform messaging is up 50% across the board, and Facebook noted that in Italy, one of the countries who has been hit the hardest by the virus, usage across all Facebook apps is up 70%. Prime opportunity to find your customer on social media. 

Beauty and skincare is doing very well given the current circumstances. One skincare brand we work with has had two record sales days in the past month, despite the economic downturn—up 54% and 76% versus the previous highest sales days!

CBD has risen in popularity in recent years, but it’s been another product area that has maintained or risen in sales in the past few weeks. One CBD brand we work with is up 134% over the previous 7 days.

Paid social ads really driving the majority of revenue for health and wellness brands. One supplement brand we work with has seen 40% of their total revenue coming from paid social.

CPMs are 15% lower MoM on Facebook. We believe that competition in ad auctions may be decreasing due to fewer advertisers actively pushing significant budget.

Service-based industries and brick and mortar stores are all being impacted the most heavily. One high-end remodeling company we work with has seen their leads decrease 25% MoM and 44% PoP. And spa chains have been forced to shut their doors, unable to make any sales or operate at all.

What we recommend

Pivot Ad Budget to Social

Many of our brands have seen between a 20–50% decrease in cost per people reached in the last 14 days. Because many brands have paused all of their advertising efforts, that creates room for your brand to take advantage of a less crowded marketplace and maintain a lower CPM.

Like we mentioned earlier, one of our brands is seeing 40% of their revenue come from paid social. As people are scrolling through their feeds at an increased rate, your brand has an opportunity to connect your product with the right customer.

Evaluate all ads/posts

Hopefully you’ve done this by now, but you should go through all of your current ads, scheduled organic social posts, and future content calendar to check for any copy or imagery that might come across as tone deaf.

For example, pause anything that mentions traveling (travel sets, jet setting, vacations). Even some of your evergreen copy might need to be tweaked to be sensitive to the current situation.

With that being said, we’ve polled many social followers of the brands we work with, and the majority of people want to see their usual content, not content that is completely focused on COVID-19. Just be sensitive—and don’t be the CDC. We recommend clients steer clear of recommending anything medical related, and to focus on tips for how to work from home, etc. If you want to share verified information, link directly to the CDC website.

Offer discounts

Many brands might be hesitant to discount during this tumultuous time, especially if you’re a luxury brand. But people are looking to stock up on certain categories of items—beauty, health and wellness, etc.—and offering a discount will give good incentive to buy now and increase sales during a potential downturn.

Offering discounts can also be an opportunity to help people who want to buy your products but can’t afford it at the time due to an uncertain financial period.

Pause drip emails

Reevaluate all of your drip emails. Some of them might come across as tone deaf in the midst of the current situation. Even if it’s innocuous, a simple sales email might seem out-of-touch. Plus, with most businesses scaling back their spending, you might be better off pausing them until we’ve reached a more stable time.

If you’d like to still keep up your email marketing efforts, consider providing an email update about what your company is doing to protect your employees, and giving an update about which facets of your business are still in operation (e.g., if your brick and mortar store is closed but your ecommerce site is still shipping).


If your brand can afford it, consider donating a certain percentage of every purchase to a charity that is helping people affected by the coronavirus. Nonprofits like Feeding America are popular, but you can find one that is a cause you care about!

Especially if your brand is seeing a lift in sales during this time, you can take this opportunity to really make a difference and use your profitability to help others who are not so fortunate.

Brands who partner with retailers to sell their items have stepped up during this time as well. Since many brick and mortar retailers have had to shut their doors, some brands are taking the opportunity to share a portion of their online sales with local retailers that sell their products. This is a great opportunity to build strong relationships with your retailers, and support local businesses!

Stats at a Glance

Updated April 9, 2020

  • Social engagement and growth for March were higher than February.
  • Luxury brands are taking the biggest hit, as individuals are cutting out unnecessary high-end purchases.

Updated April 5, 2020

  • FB Link CPC +0.48% WoW (2.26)
  • Google CPC +5.24% WoW (2.07)
  • Overall ROAS +10.12% WoW (2.95)
  • Overall cost-per-reach -31% since the beginning of March (11.04 vs 14.47)

Recent Wins

Updated April 9, 2020

  • A skincare brand’s friends and family sale did extremely well this past week. Looking year over year:
    • Revenue is up 300%
    • eComm conversion rate is up 209% 
    • Transactions are up 364%
    • Revenue from new visitors are is up 492%
    • 1.45 Prospecting ROAS on Facebook
    • 6.33 Retargeting ROAS on Facebook
  • Another skincare brand launched a new product that is returning at a 2.8 ROAS. This same brand’s sales have increased 280% and ROAS has increased YoY 145% for the last 30 days.

Updated April 5, 2020

  • Grande Cosmetics raised over $50,000 for Feeding America by donating 15% of all purchases to the nonprofit. They’ve now doubled their goal to raise a total of $100,000!

Industry Insights


We’ve consistently noted that beauty sales are doing well, or at the very least maintaining, because people are willing to pay for self-care during this time. Because most people are social distancing at home, they have more time on their hands, and are willing to dedicate that spare time to themselves.


Updated April 9, 2020

  • Don’t delay product launches
    • In this time of uncertainty, you might be hesitant to launch a new product.
    • If you’ve spent time cultivating and optimizing audiences, those will likely perform just as well as they always have.
  • Don’t profiteer off the situation
    • One of our skincare brands has employed a strategy that allows them to share their efforts to fight COVID-19 but also not profit off those efforts. They’ve decided to steer clear of copy that focuses on staying at home in their paid social, but instead save that kind of information for their organic social
    • This strategy has worked well for them and helped their brand maintain a good relationship with its customers. In fact, when we retarget organic social engagers, those ads are returning at ~6!
    • It’s not always in poor taste to market your product to people who are stuck at home, if your product will really reach someone who is looking for it. (Think standing desk for those newly working from home, workout bands for people exercising in their homes, etc.)

Updated April 5, 2020

  • Offer online consultations
    • If your brand typically does in-person consultations, consider transitioning your consultations to video instead. You’ll still be able to keep up with clients and help them get the products they need.
  • Promote self-care
    • Since most people are staying at home, focus your copy on self-care, working from home, or maintaining your skincare routine at home.


The health, fitness, and wellness spaces have seen a surge of popularity in the past month, as individuals look to maintain their physical health at home. At-home workouts on IGTV or YouTube are becoming more popular, as is home gym equipment such as resistance bands and yoga mats. And, since more people are cooking at home, cooking recipes and videos are increasing in popularity.


Updated April 9, 2020

  • Rely on your tried-and-true audiences
    • You might think that branching out into a new audience at this time will give you opportunities to prospect new customers who might be searching for your product as they adjust to being at home. But that might not always be the case!
    • Your tried-and-true audiences will still likely work well. Facebook has already optimized those audiences, so they will likely continue to perform. If those are working well, you might consider sticking to those rather than switching your entire ad structure for new audiences.

Updated April 5, 2020

  • Offer free content
    • Many people are turning to at-home workouts during their quarantine to maintain their fitness level and combat lethargy while working from home.
    • Share healthy recipes (that may or may not use your product) using common pantry ingredients that people likely already have.

Home Improvement

One of our clients created an entirely new content calendar that is specifically created for the COVID-19 situation. They’ve created taglines to accommodate the message and relatable topics for everyone staying inside. They’re totally deviating from their usual content and are using this opportunity to really connect with and speak to their audience.


Updated April 9, 2020

  • Make the most of this downtime
    • As shelter-in-place orders have prevented many construction projects from continuing, now is a time to take a step back and look at ways to improve your business.
    • You might choose to redo your website, as one of our renovation clients is choosing to do, since their operations are completely shut down. Since organic traffic to their site is down 50% (30 days PoP), it’s a great time to work out all the kinks that come with launching a new site.
    • Or, you might focus all of your efforts on creating relevant content, like another one of our clients in this sector. They totally scrapped their content plan and created 8 weeks of new content that is relevant to the current situation.

Updated April 5, 2020

  • Schedule consultations via video
    • Don’t let your leads slip through the cracks. If you can, video chat with leads to consult about their latest project. Although you might not be able to start or complete a project currently, you can still take the necessary steps to get the project rolling.
  • Q&A with owners
    • CEOs whose schedules were once packed full with meetings and consultations might find themselves with more free time than they’re used to. Capitalize on this time and do a Q&A with them!
    • You can ask them questions about how they’re adjusting to working from home, what their schedule is like, and how their business strategy is changing during this time.
  • Alter posts/ads to show only finished products
    • Posting an in-progress construction shot—even if it’s not current—can come across as disingenuous in a time when people are stuck at home and construction workers are unable to finish their jobs. Instead, post finished shots of interiors or projects as inspiration for people to DIY.


Should I offer a discount during COVID-19?

We’ve recommended that brands run a sale during this time—not only to move product, but also to make it easier for consumers who are tight on finances to purchase products. Even if you’re a luxury brand who doesn’t typically run sales, you should at least consider it.

We’ve seen mixed results from clients who have offered discounts. One beauty client offered 15% off, and their sales have been ___. But a higher-end fashion client ran their largest discount ever, and could barely move product.

At the end of the day, you have to determine whether a discount will temporarily boost sales, or if it won’t make a large enough impact to make it worth it.

Should I pause my advertising during COVID-19?

If you can afford to keep advertising, you’ll likely notice that cost-per-reach and cost-per-click have gone down. Many brands can’t afford to advertise or paused their ads in a panic, so you can take advantage of the low cost and high engagement that ads are seeing.

Because people are spending more time on social media, social ads are a great investment at this time. Just make sure your ads are sensitive and timely.

Should I offer tips for staying safe during the pandemic?

Many brands want to stop the spread of misinformation, but in the process end up confusing their customers. We typically recommend that brands link to the CDC website so customers get the most up-to-date information, and steer clear of offering any kind of medical advice.

That being said, your brand can certainly offer tips for working from home, cooking consistently, and working out at home—whatever works best with your brand.

Should I email my customers letting them know about what we’re doing internally to combat COVID-19?

Transparency is key here. We recommend sending out an email or social media update as soon as you feel comfortable, and creating a page on your website to clearly share updates with your customers.

You can update your customers on how you’re protecting your employees, if you have delayed shipping dates, and steps you’ve taken to preserve your business. (Organizations who haven’t been completely transparent or don’t offer paid sick leave have seen backlash.)

How can I help other brands during COVID-19?

Small businesses are banding together like never before! Create a network of like-minded businesses who you can partner with.

Send a weekly newsletter to your network, listing local businesses and how best to support them (ordering takeout, buying gift cards, etc.). Encourage other businesses to do the same, and ideally include you on that list.

How can my brand help those affected by COVID-19?

Many brands are donating a percentage of all purchases to nonprofits, such as Feeding America. Others are donating masks to doctors, or donating their products to healthcare workers on the front lines.

Be creative, but make sure you stay within the recommended guidelines.

Bottom Line: Be Human

In the past few years, everyone has been talking about how brands need to be human. Now’s the time to embody that more than ever.

Do the right thing. Many brands are donating a portion of their sales to nonprofits to help people affected by the coronavirus. If your brand can afford to do that, or at the very least share links of how to help, do so.

Be honest. If you’re out of stock, give realistic restock dates. If your shipping is delayed, let people know. 

Post valuable RELEVANT content. Many brands are sharing content for free or giving extended free trials to help people get through quarantine. For example, workout brands are sharing free exercise routines to help people stay fit!

Need help finding your customer? Reach out to the team at Blue Wheel. We’re working from home, but we’re still working!