COVID-19 came and strangled our 2020 marketing plans and most of us are still struggling with pivoting. The biggest debate online during the initial days of this pandemic was “Should we continue marketing our products/services?” Well, the final verdict was pretty obvious – we marketers cannot afford to stop marketing our wares.
But at this point, it is critical how we go about promoting our products or services. Every marketer, whether it is B2B or B2C, is forced to think twice before planning his/her next move. In these testing times when individuals, irrespective of their geography or age or other demographics, are under tremendous pressure, it is time for marketers to act responsibly. Times like these and your actions now can make or break your brand.
Here are some interesting statistics from Econsultancy on marketing trends across the globe during this pandemic:
Nearly half of global consumers are hesitant to shop from a brick & mortar shops post this pandemic
Retail email rates showed a 40% increase in open rates during March- April
Global social advertising trends recovered in April after a dip in March
A 27.4% decline was observed in the usage of imagery of human interactions
TikTok crossed 2bn lifetime downloads powered by a surge in Q1 2020
These statistics show that every marketer needs to revisit their 2020 plan and pivot them to align with current scenarios. For example, an entertaining TikTok video planned in January 2020 by your brand may fall flat or even cause a backlash now on the platform. We all must invest some time and effort into understanding the sentiments of our target audience and connect with them accordingly.
So here are 10 hacks for your content marketing efforts to adapt to the “new” normal:
1. Revisit Your Buyer Persona
Buyer personas are the most valuable tool for every content marketer and they serve as the signposts for every move. We fall back on these personas to guide us with the type and format of content to prepare and even the keywords to incorporate. The 2 most important ingredients of the buyer persona that helps our content marketing efforts are the goals and the challenges faced by our persona while going after those goals.
Why this hack is important? You might have performed your buyer persona exercise a while ago for sure. I am pretty sure that the scenarios and environment were completely different from the current one. Your target audience might not have had the goals like keeping their business alive or running their business without layoffs then. So to cope up with the current challenges, it is imperative that we, content marketers, take time to revisit our buyer personas and align ourselves with their current goals and challenges. This helps us in producing content that might help them mitigate the effects of their current challenges.
2. Leverage Video To The Maximum
One of the key trends observed during these testing times is the adoption of digital platforms to deliver brand messaging. As in-person events got canceled abruptly, the number of virtual events jumped up drastically. If you scroll down your LinkedIn feed, you can witness an increase in video content and virtual events yourself. Video has been a content format in demand for the last couple of years with 51% marketers feeling that it brings in the best ROI.
Why this hack is useful? For brands who have been playing safe or not even started exploring video as a content format, this is the ideal time to jump onto this bandwagon. Trends in the past and the current psyche of your audience will make video the best candidate for your content marketing torchbearer. The best starting points will be live videos on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, content repurposing videos, and behind-the-scenes videos.
3. Ask Your Audience For Help
The best reliable source of feedback and focus group for your content marketing efforts is your audience. Every content marketer understands the importance of audience feedback for their course correction. This has become the need of the hour for all marketers at the moment. Marketers cannot afford to invest time and energy in producing content pieces that either fall flat with their audience or end up offending them.
Why this hack is critical? The best way to help your audience during these difficult times is by understanding their goals and preferences now. And the best source for that crucial piece of information is your audience themselves. So seek their advice in preparing the content that will align with their current challenges and goals. Seek out your audience’s guidance before investing your time and resources into content which you presume to work.
4. Experiment With New Formats
Adapting your content repository to your target audience’s preferences might demand to explore different formats. Nowadays it is not uncommon to observe brands investing not only in traditional blog posts, social media content but also new entrants like live videos, infographics, etc. If your brand has been orthodox with the content repertoire, this is the ideal time to experiment with your content.
How this hack can help? New formats that can be brought into life with minimal efforts must be explored at this point. This will help you reach a wider audience with much wider content preferences. Also, this hack can help you kick off all those content projects which were kept on hold due to time constraints.
5. Invest Time In Guides (Super Useful Ones But)
Guides or ebooks are a good format to educate your target audience on a particular topic or your products or services. With guides, marketers can help their audience solve their challenges via a detailed explanation. So ebooks play the role of excellent lead magnets and are used by marketers at various stages of the customer journey.
Why this hack is advised now? Once you are clear with the current challenges and goals of your target audience via the revisit to buyer personas, you can plan detailed guides for them. These guides can take up those challenges head-on and present newer ways to solve them. Your audience will be pleased to see such nimble and innovative thinking from your brand.
6. Involve Leadership In The Process
The biggest challenge faced by all content marketers while producing or planning for thought leadership content built around the organization’s leadership team is the time constraints. Most of the leadership team hardly can dedicate time to content creation efforts. So utilize this downtime for involving your leaders in your content marketing efforts and plan.
How this hack will help you? Having your leadership team as part of your content plan helps showcase the true culture of your organization. Your target audience will be able to gauge the dedication and the purpose of the individuals behind your brand. This authenticity helps in building trust and will also help in generating a buzz around your brand.
7. Be 10X Empathetic
As Rand Fishkin says “Great Marketers have immense empathy for their audience”, this quality can change the game for you. Empathy always helps marketers to genuinely relate and connect with the audience. Your content marketing efforts can bring in much better results if they are built on a foundation of empathy.
Why this hack is important? I recommend 10x empathy during these testing times because your audience can use all the support they can get. Whether you are a B2B or B2C marketer, your audience is likely to be struggling with their day to day affairs. So your increased empathy can help you understand your audience better and align to their needs well. The content prepared with this alignment will be the one your audience will welcome and consume even during these difficult times.
8. Showcase The “Real” You
Every modern consumer would love to get to know the “people” behind the brand they engage with. Every content marketer needs to understand this and make genuine efforts to showcase the “real” side of your brand. By showing the true nature of your brand and people associated with it, you earn genuine respect from your audience.
Why this hack is important now? Being true and authentic now is very much needed as your audience also will be vulnerable and would appreciate some authenticity. By sharing your true story, your chance of connecting with your audience goes high. Your content can help you showcase the authentic nature of your brand via good storytelling.
9. Don’t Sell, But Help
Let’s pause a moment and understand the challenges our target audience might be facing during this pandemic. Purchasing your product or service may be the last thing on their mind. So it will be a good step to keep selling as the secondary goal and making helping your audience your primary one. By identifying your audience’s needs at the moment can help you craft your content and the themes for your messaging.
Why this hack is significant? No marketer would want to attempt to sell their wares to the wrong audience. So if you don’t understand the current pain points o your audience, you might just end up doing the same. So plan all your content with the sole objective of being helpful to your audience and nothing else.
10. Make Analytics Your Best Friend
If you ask your marketing colleagues, you will hear them saying that their website traffic has taken a hit due to the COVID19 pandemic. That means every content marketers need to tread carefully ahead with their efforts. Creating more content may not be the solution whereas investing time and efforts in creating useful content will be the key. So rely on your analytics data to make the call on what is working and what is not.
Why this hack is super beneficial? By leveraging your web and social media analytics data, you can understand which are the content pieces that are getting traction whether it is visits or engagement. This analysis can help you invest your time and resources in the right place and on the right form of content. The result will be better content marketing results for you and an audience who are thrilled to see useful content from an empathetic brand.
So times are tough for all the content marketers across the globe. So depending on hacks like these can help you produce good results even during such uncertain times. Always keep in mind that your audience will always remember your brand if you put in the right efforts in the right place with the right intention.
Stay Safe; Stay Healthy. See you on the other side of this pandemic.
Great ideas for you