In times of desperation, do you stick to the path you were on or forge a new one? The COVID-19 crisis has changed the world for everyone, personally and professionally. Deciding where to go with your brand initiatives in this new climate can lead to some pretty tough decisions. When it comes to marketing your brand, should you stay or should you go? Speaking to business owners and experts in content marketing, varying thoughts emerged.
Stick to your content marketing plan
Content marketing is a long-term strategy. We don’t write a blog post today and reap the ROI tomorrow. It can take months and even years to see revenue generated from the content you create today. Having a good content marketing plan has statistically been shown to be the key to marketing success. While it may seem like a great idea to ditch all current content marketing plans to protect the budget when you have decreased revenue, doing so could be detrimental for you in the future. Keeping to your current plan will ensure that when all of this is over, your head is still above water.
Katie Gootenberg of Digitally Enhanced says, “Whatever you do, don’t stop! Our natural reaction is to slam on the brakes when we come across the unknown. I get it. However, while disrupted, the market’s still going, people are buying things and there are still things to be done.”
Rebecca Graham of Best Company is invested in creating both trending and evergreen content, “By tweaking my blogging strategy while putting down evergreen roots where I can, I hope to be on track with my content marketing goals when the world shifts yet again to the next new normal.”
Ramp it up
Even better, you might want to consider increasing your content marketing budget just for the plain fact that everyone else is decreasing theirs. Engagement online is way up, simply because more people are home, are jobless and need something to do. As well, if you choose to reduce your content spend, you may see a drop in the organic search rankings, now and later.
Kevin Miller of the Word Counter says, “I am increasing content spend because many others are slowing down. Also, writers have a greater capacity to get new topics completed. It helps me plan out the entire years’ worth of content and get it at a cheaper rate. Additionally, It feels great to give work to people who are really in need right now and allows me to feed money back into the freelance writing economy that can use it.”
Jason Lee of Our Best Dating Sites says, “For us, we’ve actually ramped up our content output to try and get a leg up in the SEO trenches and expand our overall reach. People may be at home, but they are still engaging in reading content and commerce.”
If you can capitalize on this by increasing your online presence, you could come out of this crisis in a better position than you were before everything seemed to get derailed. Doreen Vanderhart of Knap Creative says, “What you do TODAY will determine where your business is in 3, or 6, or 12 months. When things turn around (and they will!) where do you want to be? For us, there’s no question – TOP. OF. MIND.”
Flynn Zaiger of Online Optimism says, “There’s truly no better time for content marketing. Everyone is working remotely, and that means there’s more time than ever that people are dedicating to self-improvement.”
Ramping it up seems to be the strategy of choice for many of the people we spoke to. Stephen Greet of BeamJobs says, “Right now our business is doubling down on our SEO efforts. Since consumer spending is down we are focusing on writing content that will pay-off with organic search traffic in six months. As our competitors are writing short-term content focused specifically on how COVID is affecting our customer base we see an opportunity to zig while they zag. This is not to say we’re ignoring COVID related content, we’re just investing more in the long term and for us, that means focusing on SEO.”
Focus on brand awareness, not selling
Rather than be aggressive in your sales tactics, focus on brand awareness. Get your brand to be top of mind for your customers by increasing your social media posts (in a helpful way).
Bill Joseph, Founder at Frontier Blades says, “As internet usage has increased substantially due to the majority of the population remaining indoors, I have shifted my approach to prioritize social media engagement for elevating brand awareness.”
Jeremy Owens of Seriously Smoked agrees. “The main goal of your content marketing, however, is to build brand awareness instead of promotions.”
Focus on COVID
Experts believe all of your new content should address what is happening right now, which means that your articles and social media content should be relevant to the current pandemic. Amit Raj, Chief Link Builder at TheLinksGuy says, “A good content marketing strategy we’re using is quite simply—creating content or content angles that relate our project to COVID. However, to stop it being too gimmicky we’re thinking about it more as changes in consumer behavior, and attitudes, rather than being explicit about Coronavirus.”
Dara Greaney of LED Light Expert says, “No matter what kind of product you sell, you can find a way to tie content into COVID and its effects on all of us.”
David Walter of Electrician Mentor agrees by saying, “The variety of the new content you can produce in relation to the coronavirus is really immeasurable, it all depends upon your level of creativity. That’s not to say that we’re taking advantage of the pandemic, but simply that we’re providing our customers with answers to questions they may have, which have probably never been asked before.”
Even better, if you can incorporate pandemic-relevant keywords, you may actually increase your organic search traffic in an unconventional way. For example, keywords that people are searching for are things they are currently concerned about, like health insurance, home exercise, remote work, etc.
Jared Ebrahimoff of Lavari Jewelers says, “Related keywords to the pandemic are also taking a massive portion of the searched queries, which make it the perfect reason to invest in producing content with pandemic-incorporated information.”
Ruggero Loda of the Running Shoes Guru says, “To keep up with the changes, I’ve started diving into my analytics dashboards and doing extensive keyword research to see how things have changed. This is helping me figure out how to shift my content to serve my visitors better through this difficult time. What I’m finding is informing the titles and topics of my posts, and keeping my site where it needs to be in the SERPs.”
Using resources like Facebook groups and Quora to see what common questions are being asked and how you can target your audience with the resulting keywords is a fantastic strategy, now and always.
Daniela Andreevska of Mashvisor says, “We started using these trending keywords even in our regular blogs, which focus on general real estate investing topics and the features of our platform. In this way, we have been able to quickly recover the lost traffic and continue bringing readers to our website.”
In that same vein, you should produce solution-driven content. “Even if it’s publishing working from home tips, or things businesses can do to improve their profitability in these tough times. Whatever content they had planned pre-pandemic should definitely be reviewed to see if they can produce anything more relevant for the current climate”, says Beth Noll of Gift Observer.
This doesn’t just have to mean you tell your readers how to deal now, but give them strategies now for the things they’ll have to deal with when this over.
Torben Lonne, Chief Editor at Dive.in says, “Content strategies during COVID times should try and emphasize constructive and engaging content that can help motivate people. Since everyone is home and has plenty of time to read and research these days, it’s a good time to produce quality content that has the potential to really sink-in with people and help stay motivated during these times.”
Or… Don’t focus on COVID
There are two sides to the pandemic content coin. Everyone knows the state of the world right now, so trying to find a different slant to talk about while still addressing the crisis is the key to not boring or overwhelming your customer base.
Anastasiia Khlystova of Help Crunch says, “At first, our marketing team tried to brainstorm some content ideas that would be helpful and considerate. However, we quickly noticed that the internet is overflowing with numerous work-from-home tips and generic recommendations already.”
The trick here is not to be gimmicky or predatorial, but instead, concerned and helpful. That being said, ignoring what’s happening and just producing the same type of content you were before the crisis will probably render you irrelevant.
“Be clear about understanding what your audience needs from you and deliver that. Adaptations can both be in tone (e.g. maybe there needs to be a move towards more compassion), topics and content types (e.g. your audience might have loved whitepapers historically, but now need fast facts and want checklists),” says Gootenberg.
Carrie Eddins of The Blondepreneur says, “I am going for a less-is-more approach and using more storytelling in my content, purely because I believe that people are overwhelmed with this situation, and some are even super stressed and traumatised. Therefore, for me, creating an emotional connection with our content through laughter, light-heartedness, kindness, generosity, and making a difference is more important to focus on rather than tips or strategies on how you can help people.”
Review your past content and promote it
If you are facing decreased revenue and don’t have the budget to sink into new content, promoting the content you already have can help you get through these tough times.
Hansvan Gent of User Growth says that now is the time to step back and have a look at your content and reflect on what’s working and what isn’t. “Which content has been bringing in the most traffic over the last 6-12 months and what can we do to optimise that content to rank even better and turn into a lead magnet? Which things can we add or create, like a checklist, a whitepaper related to it, etc. that helps make those top-performing posts bring in more leads for the business?”
Repurposing, updating and enhancing old content is always a great strategy that keeps your content marketing budget-friendly, uses the resources you have already committed to, but then provides new value to your readers. Search your database of articles for ones that would be relevant in these times and add the COVID slant to them.
One thing you shouldn’t do is try to use the articles you had in the works before COVID took over the world and just try to add a different introduction to it. It will seem forced and your readers will resent you for it. Zaiger says, “Some organizations have clearly tried to continue utilizing content that was written beforehand, and no amount of longer introduction or adjustments to calls-to-action will make it work. You need to face the facts, and put that content off for likely a few months at a time.”
With many people having lost their jobs, there may be a market for cheap talent. Problem is, shunning your usual writing resources and hoping to save a few bucks on someone else may lead you down a road you don’t want to go down. That cheaper talent may be less experienced, and/or unreliable.
Ask how your business can help
Your audience is going to be watching how you are helping during the current crisis. Share how COVID has affected your business so your customers can more easily connect with you. Don’t focus on what they can do for you though, focus on what you can do for them.
Justin Grau of Best LED Devices says, “This is a good time to build up trust with your audience and customers. One of the best things you can do right now in terms of content is to let people know how you can help them during this time.”
With mass layoffs, businesses shuttering and many people scrambling to survive, now is the time for compassion. Just as you are stressed, so are your customers. If your business has the extra resources, or even if it doesn’t, you should be finding out how you can help your customers.
Jacob Landis-Eigsti of Jacob LE says, “Our focus is on helping small business owners market their business, so most of our content is focused on marketing strategies that can be done from home. Our new posts are centered around providing resources, posts, and training on how small businesses can make it through this storm.”
Rather than updating your social media feeds with valueless content, put out a simple call for ideas on how your business can help. You’ll show your customers you care while also helping out your community.
“By providing awareness to your customer, you are instilling some reassurance that your customers can safely purchase from you knowing that they will receive their items. This simple but effective content marketing strategy doesn’t take long to implement and can have a potential for your eCommerce store to stay afloat and come out on the other side of this pandemic,” says Marco Baatjes of Bottom Line Cents.
If you are continuing to write new content, helping your customers could be a major focus.
Tying in content that focuses on topics that are related to what the world is going through with your brand objectives is a great solution for any content stagnation. For example, DIY, homeschooling, budgeting, etc., are all on people’s minds as they are stuck at home in quarantine with their children out of school and them out of work. Even if you can’t work these topics into your current niche, you can still write content that shows your readers how you’ve helped others. Case studies of your current and past customers are a good example of this and a budget-friendly way to create content that shows your altruistic and solution-based side.
Nika Lawrie of Insurgo Creative says, “It is extremely important that brands use this time to highlight how they can help during this crisis. Meaning they should adapt their content marketing strategies to highlight what they are doing to provide service and support to their community and consumer base (no matter how large or small it is). This doesn’t necessarily mean they have to build ventilators or make masks. They can provide free content online, teach classes, hold virtual social meetings, or offer to help in some other way.”
If you can find a way to incorporate your brand’s value while offering them something of the same sleight in your content, this is a win-win. Creating content that helps your audience grow personally and professionally while they await freedom is going to be very valuable.
If you are a business that is taking action to help those in need during the crisis, let it be known. Share stories about how you’ve helped your customers. Emphasize client success stories. Provide more emotional content, yet highlight the positives that are occurring around the tragedy. Inspire people. Keeon Yazdani of We R CBD says, “One of the main things all companies should be doing is looking out for their customers.”
Focus on generating traffic and not revenue
With the exception of some key industries (and not just the toilet paper industry) consumers are not spending, especially when it comes to B2B. Switching your current content marketing focus from revenue generation to traffic generation is going to help you in the long run. This is a great time to build some trust with your audience.
Stacy Caprio of Her.CEO says, “I am creating content that will generate traffic during and after COVID, without worrying about revenue generation. I know that ad, affiliate and eCommerce revenue tend to be down in my area across the board, so my focus is only currently on rankings and traffic, with a focus on revenue postponed until after everything is back to normal.”
Change up how you produce content
The typical strategies may not apply as well right now, so now is a great time to change up how you produce content. Create content that your audience can engage with. We know they are home, they are online, and they are looking for something to do, so give it to them!
Online events, quizzes and live videos are all really smart ideas for engaging with your customers. Visual materials will be shared and garner more engagement than text-based content. “Written content is undoubtedly useful but today visual materials such as infographics or videos are outperforming for content repurposing and they will continue to be one of the most frequently used content marketing strategies for 2020”, says Rameez Ghayas Usmani of Pure VPN.
Although, with people having more time on their hands, Peter Thaleikis of Bring Your Own Ideas suggests that long-form, in-depth articles will be fully read over the traditional “quick and dirty bites” we’ve been used to creating in a fast-paced world. He says, “If your content is yet-another-quickly-put-together post to keep the posting schedule up, it won’t attract many eyes, [and it will] get few social media shares and backlinks. It will be abandoned in favor of the next one quickly.” We do know that Google loves long-form content, so this will give you an advantage in the SEO game.
Continue to be promotional
You also shouldn’t feel like you can’t be promotional. People are still buying, and in some sectors, they are buying more than ever. Vanderhart says, “Put your offer out there. It’s MORE than okay to serve your audience with paid offers. People are still buying—let’s all do our part to keep this economy humming!”
Keep the economy going by letting your customers know you are open, that they can buy from you and why they should. But, give them more bang for their buck and reduce your prices, tailor your offers so they aren’t overly-aggressive and offer them more free resources so they feel like you actually care.
Morgan Taylor of Let Me Bank says, “The best tactic right now is to post a very informative but brief video ad on Facebook, just reassuring your potential customers that you are still available to help them if they have any issues, or need to talk. Next, you can retarget those video watchers with a normal ad, at least closer to normal. You have already won them over with your first video, so the follow up doesn’t seem like you’re just grabbing for money.”
Content marketing in the COVID-19 age has definitely brought us into some uncharted waters. We’ve never experienced anything quite like this, so making decisions based on history won’t help. Trust in the experts, do some test runs and keep the content machine churning.
Comments on this article are closed.