It’s hard to imagine that just a year ago, COVID-19 did not exist in the average person’s mind. Entering 2021 armed with our sanitizer and masks, the words ‘unprecedented’ and ‘pandemic’ have become a part of daily life, sprinkled everywhere from news briefings to Zoom calls.
Marketing has certainly not been immune (pun intended) to the pandemic, and content marketing has seen some interesting changes that nobody could have imagined.
What are five ways you need to adjust how you approach content marketing, thanks to the impacts of COVID-19 on society, on markets, and your audiences?
Educate, Don’t Sell
This is something you probably already consider when building your content strategy. In many respects, content marketing is all about value. While conversion may be the ultimate goal, you want to nurture the consumer and ensure that they find value in all the content you provide.
Depending on where your consumer is in the sales cycle, you may create and send out content that either educates or sells your product. But, this has changed as lifestyles have been impacted throughout the world.
According to Adweek, COVID-19 has disrupted the concept of brand loyalty, with over 50% of consumers switching to new brands. Consumers are more aware of when a company is trying to push their product, instead of focusing on the customer.
Hubspot did a great study where they aggregated data from over 70,000 companies to look at how business metrics are shifting because of coronavirus. They found that emails focused on sales had an average response rate of 2.1% - hardly ideal. On the other hand, emails that tried to educate and provide awareness had an impressive response rate of 25.5%! So really, it’s a no-brainer.
Support your Peeps
Speaking of no-brainers...in these unprecedented times (yep, we did it!) your employees are dealing with all sorts of struggles. From financial challenges to pets jumping into Zoom calls, we all need to make allowances.
Aside from making you a good person, consumers want to see that you care. A study from Mintel discovered that 73% of consumers are influenced by charitable giving. This may still ring true, but the pandemic has also transformed the workplace and placed a spotlight on healthcare.
The more recent research from Kantar found that 78% of consumers expect the brands they choose to take care of their employees’ health. 62% want to see that their brands have implemented flexible working.
So make sure you’re looking at both external and internal ways you can best support your community and people!
Adjust for the Times...
Change is scary, we know. But if you haven’t already, it’s high time you adjust and update your content calendar to keep up with competition.
While nobody enjoys talking about COVID-19, most brands have had to make changes and acknowledge it in one way or another. It’s time to get creative and find the right balance for your brand. How do you address the pandemic while staying away from the negativity it inspires?
A great example is Nike. As a sports brand that generally encourages outdoor activities, they made a fantastic pivot last March to encourage social distancing. The campaign reads: "If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play inside, play for the world."
...But Be Sensitive
We know, we just said it’s time to address the elephant in the room. But as you do so, keep in mind that it is a sensitive subject. You can’t be a bull in a china shop (too many animal analogies, we’ll stop now) when it comes to a matter like a global pandemic.
Kantar found that 70% of consumers want brands to “offer a reassuring tone." Additionally, 75% of respondents said brands “should not exploit coronavirus situation to promote the brand." 40% also said brands "should avoid humorous tones."
Be compassionate and show empathy wherever possible. The situation is grave; the worst thing you could do right now is make a bad joke about it. It’s going to be too soon for a long time.
All While Standing Out!
The over-saturation of content is not a new challenge to any marketer. Digital media consumption has increased drastically, leading to content overload for consumers. Now, with organizations across the board changing their messaging strategy to deal with the pandemic, there’s a new hurdle; it’s getting even harder to distinguish yourself!
Your brand needs to find unique ways to reach customers. Now more than ever, you have to keep in mind the golden rule of all marketing - getting the right content out there at the right time.
As Kantar’s study shows, consumers are still receptive to marketing efforts. But, they want to see “how your brand is helpful in the new everyday life" (77%).
Focus on the value you create for your customers, and then find a way to catch their attention in the sea of content marketing!