In this guest post, Yoghurt Digital senior SEO and content strategist Jia Yoong Lee offers her thoughts on how brands can “pivot” their content strategy amid the coronavirus crisis…
Along with COVID-19 cases, the one thing spreading throughout the world at a rapid-fire pace is confusion. We’re living in strange times, and it feels like we’re running on a treadmill – we don’t quite know when it’s going to end, or whether we should hop off and try something different.
As digital marketers, we have to switch gears and adapt to an ever-changing situation. While there’s a lot that’s out of our control, we can control the content we’re sharing with our audiences.
Understandably, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s all about what works for a particular brand. Just look at Archie Rose whipping up hand sanitisers, and Woolworths prioritising the elderly and disabled by giving them dedicated shopping hours so they don’t get stampeded on in the toilet paper aisle. They’re very different approaches, but equally effective.
Here’s how to improve, adapt and overcome the challenges of COVID-19 and push out the content your customers want.
Find out what your customer needs right now
Think of this as a new relationship. What might have worked in the past probably won’t work as well now – and for good reason. Your customers’ entire world has changed, which means they might have new priorities and problems.
And they’re also keeping up-to-date with the news more than ever before. According to Nielsen, media consumption is up by a whopping 60%, and people are spending up to 12 hours a day across various content channels.
It’s your job to find out what your customers’ goals and values are. Because if you can tap into their needs at this moment, you’ll have a much better chance of capturing and keeping their attention.
To do that, ask these questions:
- How does the COVID-19 impact our business offering?
- How is the COVID-19 outbreak affecting our customers?
- How can I help them?
- How can we change our content to reflect our customers’ shifting priorities?
- What kind of content is our customer engaging with? Do they have an appetite for “business as usual” content, or do they prefer to focus on COVID-19 at this time?
By figuring out the answers to these questions, you’ll identify whether you need to add, delete or change anything in your content schedule. Chances are, content strategies have to be tweaked to find a balance in keeping up with viral updates while still promoting the business’ offerings.
Reinvent your business offering
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be agile.
So, how do you promote yourself to customers who a) might not want or need what you’re offering or b) don’t want to spend right now?
The key is to help, not sell.
All business is about making money, so this might be a hard pill to swallow – but now’s the time to think about how you can help your community while running your company.
Think about ways you can adjust how you deliver your product or service. Given social distancing measures, can you switch your customer service to live chat or take your 1:1 consultations online? And, what about free shipping?
Beauty giant MECCA is a shining example. They quickly launched ‘Virtual Consultations’ and a 24/7 beauty broadcasting service to keep their brand on their customers’ radar while their stores are closed.
On a similar note, Deliveroo launched contactless delivery to keep their customers ordering, and fitness studios are doing a great job of moving their workouts online – and strengthening their community bonds at the same time.
Consider what you can do to add value to your offering. Discounts for the sake of discounts are a band-aid solution. They might harm your brand in the long-run, so explore other complementary things like guides to using the product or service in this new environment, additional accessories or tools to make their experiences better.
With people spending more time at home (and online), there are plenty of opportunities to connect with loyal and potential customers. You could also look at focusing on the “interest” and “awareness” part of the sales funnel, instead of trying to boost conversions and drive sales.
Create useful content. And then post it in the right place, at the right time
We’re helping, not selling – so focus on creating relevant content for your customers. Currently, between the news and social media, they’re being bombarded with information, meaning you need to find ways to cut through the noise and give them the content they want to consume.
Right now, authentic and honest content is key. The pandemic is unprecedented and no-one really knows what to do or what to expect. So be open and transparent about that.
Rather than pushing self-serving, salesy messaging, create honest content around these questions:
- What is our brand doing differently during the COVID-19 outbreak?
- How is our brand supporting the community?
- How are we rethinking our USPs to help our customers?
- What is our assurance to our customers and how can we amplify it?
- What is our attitude at this time? Where are we finding inspiration and strength?
- What can our customers expect from us in the weeks to come?
- How are we handling major changes, like store closures and refunds?
Then, post it in the channel where you have the most engagement – whether that’s your blog, social media or in an EDM. We call this the ”silver bullet” platform, and it should be your go-to if budget is tight.
When you have that down pat, start planning and creating content to push live when the pandemic is over.
Communicate during the crisis – even if you don’t have much to say
Silence is the worst response right now. Don’t be paralysed by fear, don’t abandon your customers, and don’t lose your digital presence.
Look at this strange period as an opportunity. This is your chance to engage with customers while they have the time.
Again, focus on them, their wellbeing, and how your business can help them during these trying times. Check in often to see how your customers are doing and ask them how you can assist. Then listen to their suggestions on ways you can tweak or improve your business offering.
Let’s be real: Nobody has all the answers right now, so the best thing we can do is get feedback from our customers.
There’s a place for content that isn’t related to COVID-19 too. People are craving a sense of normalcy, so try to post both informative and escapist content.
Empathy is the key. Everyone’s worried about something, so you don’t want to alienate your customers by posting tone-deaf content. Denial doesn’t work. Aim to acknowledge what’s happening, and show current and potential customers alike that your brand cares.
With the above, you may be able to continue posting your scheduled content as long as it makes sense in the current landscape and you balance it out with “real world” content.
Focus on what matters
Like everyone else, marketers are trying to get their bearings and figure out how to survive and thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not easy, but the best thing to do is go back to basics. Spend this time focusing on people and cementing those customer-brand relationships you’ve worked so hard to build.
Because when the masks come off and people start resuming their pre-COVID-19 lives, the brands who stood by their customers amidst these uncertain times will be the ones that remain top of mind.
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