Why content marketing is going to be an important tactic post-COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused chaos around the world and businesses larger and small have felt the impact of lockdown restrictions and changes in the way people go about their day to day lives. For those businesses lucky enough to be coming out of the other side of the pandemic, content marketing is going to become a hugely important part of a brand’s marketing mix in 2021 and beyond.
No industry and no businesses have been immune from the impact of COVID-19. These are extremely challenging times for businesses big and small and one of the first things to go during cost-cutting exercises is typically the marketing budget.
Content marketing is one of the most cost-effective tactics in the marketing mix. It’s also an area that is on the up. Traditional paid advertising is going the other way. Even pre-COVID, fewer companies were investing in printed publications and making a switch to digital and the pandemic has only accelerated this decline. With a decline in print comes a decline in advertisers and we may well see traditional media outlets continuing to close their doors in light of the pandemic.
Content marketing is helping to fill that void left behind by print publications. This has been especially true during periods of lockdown around the world. People turn to the internet as a source of information and entertainment and those who had already invested in strong content marketing platforms could reap the benefits.
What should content marketers focus on post-COVID-19?
Most business owners and marketing professionals are now starting to understand that the way they approach content marketing has got to change.
Old content calendars are out of the window. A new outlook is needed in order to be successful in the modern landscape which includes a comprehensive social media content plan and a well thought out content marketing approach.
Whilst content marketing is definitely an area of the marketing mix to focus on in 2021 and beyond, you need to take a strategic approach and focus on the areas that are going to bring the biggest return on investment, whether that’s financial or time. Here are some of the key areas to focus on:
Be authentic and be transparent
Authenticity has always been an important aspect of content marketing, however, now more than ever, authenticity is imperative. COVID-19 has disrupted the idea of brand loyalty. In a 2020 survey by Shopkick, reported in AdWeek, 85% of Americans indicated that brand names do not matter during times of crisis.
In a further study by Alix Partners, they reported that 30-45% of Americans would stick to a new brand they tried during the pandemic.
Whilst this is not good news for many brands, it does open up new opportunities for businesses and authenticity is a way to reach out to prospective new customers through your content marketing channels. This is an opportunity to create an authentic connection with a new audience and secure their loyalty as we move beyond the pandemic.
Add a human touch to your voice and create content that resonates with the way people are feeling. Be transparent. Don’t try and hide sales messages in your content marketing. Talk about the challenges you face and how you are working to overcome them and talk to your prospective customers about how you can help them.
Gather user-generated content
In a bid to aid your authenticity, call on your current customer base to help with your content creation. User-generated content (UGC) has always been the backbone of successful content marketing strategies and this is more true than ever.
UGC helps to build user-to-user bonds and at a time when people cannot meet up physically, these online interactions and opportunities to engage with fellow customers is a great way to help to showcase authenticity and transparency.
UGC can be used to improve your social proof, user trust and create opportunities for human connection.
As well as targeting your customers, you can also reach out to your staff. Showcasing the people that make your brand great really resonates with your audience and shows a vulnerability that allows customers to see the human side of the business.
Deliver uplifting content
With the amount of online content being consumed during this time, it’s important to focus on delivering uplifting content. The media is full of negative stories and consumers start to tune out of those negative news stories.
Keep your tone positive across all platforms – from your blog to your social media channels. Consumers are far more likely to share something that has a positive focus than something that is negative. They are also much more likely to remember your brand for the positive news you produce in a sea of negative content.
In a time when everyone is watching the purse strings, you need to be able to showcase value through your content marketing. This will often require a shift in the focus of your messaging, and this will sometimes go against the overall marketing goals of the business.
Instead of focussing on conversions, focus instead on building customer relationships. Don’t simply focus on customer acquisition. Focus on customer retention. Never has the old adage about the cost of keeping an existing customer versus attracting a new customer been more relevant. Thank customers for their loyalty and reward them when you can. This will help to build a strong foundation for the years ahead.
Stand out in a crowded content marketing world
We will not be the only agency talking about the value of content marketing at this time. And that’s why it’s important to stand out in a content marketing world that’s going to be getting more crowded by the day.
If you follow the four previous steps and focus on adding value to your existing and prospective customers, this will help to form a strong foundation in helping you to stand out in the crowd.
SEO is an important consideration in any content marketing activity. Understanding which keywords might help you to drive more customers through your content marketing activity is crucial. Make sure you research the top performing pages for the keywords you are targeting and look at how you can create content that is 10x better than the content that already ranks. Tools like SEMrush’s Content Writing Assistant can help to automate this process and provide you with insights about your content with suggested improvements.
Content marketing an important part of the marketing mix for all businesses post-COVID. Focus on authenticity, transparency and positivity will put you in a strong position to take your content marketing to the next level, attract and retain more customers and drive your business forward post-pandemic.