It seems that every day brings its own set of challenges with the Coronavirus crisis, and with that comes new questions from consumers and organizations at-large as to how they should proceed with digital marketing. With the impact of COVID-19 magnified by the largest Civil Rights demonstration in history and major economic recession, it may seem very appealing to want to rip up your “2020 Roadmap” and throw your previously planned content strategy straight in the trash. But just because the times are quickly changing, it doesn’t mean that your content marketing campaigns have to suffer negative consequences. We put together a list of five steps marketers can use to find surefire success with their COVID-content strategies, even in times of great uncertainty:
- Define Your Goal with Each Piece of Content
It’s even more important to make sure that each piece of content that you create and distribute has a defined objective within the greater digital strategy. Is its intention to provide valuable resources to your audience? Tips to handle life during quarantine? Check that each piece of content is in-line with your larger brand mission & specifically serves a bigger purpose. In case you’re still searching for what those overarching goals should be, we recommend considering the below:
-Serving as a resource for the greater community.
-Growing brand awareness & strengthening loyalty.
-Driving traffic + actions onsite.
-Generating leads + building a first-party audience.
- Re-evaluate Shifts in Consumer Needs & Behavior
As we’ve mentioned in previous COVID-content posts, now is not the time to try and pitch your product or services to consumers. Instead, readjust your content strategy to really understand what this new COVID-consumer looks like and needs from you as a brand. According to data gathered by HZ Digital Group, since the start of the pandemic:
-63% of consumers have increased their social media usage.
-54% have completely abandoned limiting their time online.
-89% are using social media to communicate with friends + family stay up to date on current events, or both.
-Three specific patterns of communication have emerged as trends: fantasy (escaping from daily realities), virtual communities (digital experiences that allow consumers to do things “live” with each other), and utility (seeking out resources that empower consumers with information).
Tailor these larger consumer shifts in behavior with the specifics of your brand’s consumer base, and really tailor your content strategy to meet these new needs everyone is looking for answers to.
- Re-tool Brand Messaging
Every brand has had to take a moment to retool their brand communications to make sure it’s appropriate for current times. What verbiage and positioning do you take with your digital messaging? According to Edelman’s Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic, what consumers want most from brands right now is tangible and helpful action, rooted in transparency, empathy and compassion. While it may seem like an opportune time to try your hand at the humorous content route, it’s recommended to save that strategy for another time. More than half of Edelman’s survey respondents also noted that they want brands to stop running campaigns that are too light-hearted in tone.
- Focus on Giving, not Taking
Another key action item to make note of is ensuring that their content is focused on giving to consumers, not taking from them. As marketers, our job has always been to understand the consumer mindset and reflect that in the content we create + distribute. But as Content Marketing Institute defines it, “True brand empathy is about creating a shared journey between your brand and its audience.” It involves a deeper connection o understanding your audience on a deeper level, something that consumers are craving more than ever. Be human in your messaging and look at ways you can provide resources for your community, and definitely don’t try to sell right now.
- Stay Agile & Ready to Pivot If-Needed
Agile marketing is becoming an increasingly important skill for marketers in 2020: with global pandemics, racial injustice and political hostility infiltrating all of our lives, it’s essential for brands to quickly adjust their strategy if/when-needed. A great way to understand this is by looking at the “80 Percent rule” during times of instability: Make effective & efficient decisions about what content you’re utilizing, make sure it meets the moment appropriately, distribute it + then go back to optimize. In order to do this though, it’s important to make sure all content strategy decisions are rooted in building brand equity. One way to stay aware of the ever-changing shifts in consumer behavior is by “Social Listening;” defined as tracking online consumer conversations across social platforms to help form a crisis response strategy. We love these recent recommendations from Merkle supporting a social listening strategy, and how just a few simple steps can provide reliable data to meet the evolving needs & expectations of consumers.
What ways has your brand adjusted course with its COVID-content marketing strategy? We’d love to hear any thoughts or suggestions below in the comments.