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Ian Lowe Posted by Ian Lowe April 10, 2020

Scaling digital content during coronavirus: Daily website edits reach 8.8x regular volume

The coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted businesses across every sector. We're seeing the rapid transition from digital-first marketing to digital-only, as the web becomes the main channel that most organizations are using to reach their customers.

Companies around the world are responding to this unprecedented transition by ramping up the pace of their online communications, especially through websites. Because Crownpeak is a true multi-tenant SaaS web content management system, we're able to see the volume of changes across our portfolio of clients, most of whom are upper mid-market and enterprise scale organizations.

Publishing volume analysis

Let's take a look at what's happened with editing volume by examining publishing volume using the following analysis:

  • Because Crownpeak is decoupled (see our blog post on headless 2.0), publishing means producing output by merging content and presentation and delivering it to a serving environment
  • The output is most usually HTML for direct web consumption but can also be JSON, React or Angular code, binaries or other formats as required to execute in headless or complex environments
  • We count a publishing activity when an output asset is produced and delivered
  • Crownpeak in general only publishes content that has been edited or edited content dependencies, so these counts will reflect content that has been changed
  • We will compare this to baseline activity from January to see the comparison of a similar cohort of businesses

What we're seeing

In Crownpeak's normal operations, our infrastructure needs to flex and scale depending on the demands of our customers' websites. Therefore, it was easy to notice a rise in publishing activity during February and March 2020. When we looked at the data, we've seen a truly remarkable growth in the volume of content changes responding to the coronavirus news. In February, average daily edits were up 41% from baseline and in March, a remarkable 76%.

assets published per week chart

We took a further look and found that the rising volume of editing has followed some ebbs and flows as the COVID-19 situation has developed. In the graph below, you can see the volume of edits against baseline on a week-by-week basis since the beginning of the year:

total items published per week

After a rather furious ramp through February, we saw volume recede slightly (although still 50-60% higher than baseline) for the first three weeks of March. During this period, many organizations were adapting to work-from-home policies and reacting to the developing situation.

The volume of edits started ramping again in the final week of March as companies around the world adjusted their messaging and content to address the changing macro-economic situation, their business continuation policies, and marketing strategies for a changed world.

Weekend increases

Businesses have identified updating their web channels as mission critical, as we can see with an even higher increase in weekend activity. We normally see weekend publishing at about 1/5 the rate of weekday publishing. This makes sense as while most web marketing teams don't work on the weekend, there will be some content scheduled to publish on a Saturday or Sunday with some occasional edits needing to be made in real-time.

As the coronavirus and macro-economic situation reached critical levels at the end of March, we saw an unprecedented volume of edits on weekends and Sundays in particular.

weekend increases

On March 22, we saw almost 9 times the normal volume of edits for a Sunday.

Messaging in real-time

To recap what we've seen:

  • Brands are engaging more directly on web than normal
  • Our customers are frequently driving 1.5-2.2x the normal volume of edits, peaking at 8.8x normal for Sunday editing volume on March 22
  • Organizations of all kinds need to deliver custom content for this experience. Best example companies are making changes daily.

These trends show how aggressively some of the biggest brands are responding to the coronavirus situation. Our recommendations during changing times like this are to:

  • Move to a daily stance on the review of the current situation internally and externally
  • Proactively review and update the content on your site, especially your home page
  • Update your operations, processes and technology to accommodate the rapid pace of change at the current time

Marketing, like every other discipline, is flexing daily to provide customers the most timely information relevant to their needs. Helping your teams adjust quickly to these changing times goes a long way toward keeping the interests of your customers at heart.

Having trouble scaling editing, publishing, or delivering web content? We can help.