You should adjust your content strategy to compensate for the times.
COVID-19 took us by surprise. It forced us to adapt to our new norm. Our collective lives will never be the same. Never had businesses been forced to limit their operations, people are encouraged to practice self-quarantine and isolation, and the future of the economy seems to be hanging by a thread. The impact of COVID-19 to businesses is unprecedented; that’s for sure.
Small and medium businesses are the most affected and hit the hardest, with their margins of profitability up in the air. As a knee-jerk reaction, businesses have slashed off the marketing budget first. The truth of the matter is, this should not be so. At times like this, all the more that businesses should keep their customers engaged and informed. Why? The current scenario dictates more people are spending time online to keep themselves busy, connected, entertained, or informed. The marketing efforts should not take a backseat.
This article offers you insight into how you can communicate appropriately during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. We have included actionable content strategy tips, and content marketing and strategy best practices to help you navigate your efforts at this time.
Best Practices For Your Content Strategy During A Crisis
This time isn’t the time to lie-low while waiting for this pandemic to end- your business should continue to flourish, and your content marketing strategy must be more robust now more than ever. You will still be doing content, but your purpose of doing so should be different.
There are three things you need to do when dealing with crisis communication: you should provide reassurance, relay critical information, and lay down plans for the future. But how should you communicate to your audience without sounding apathetic, unconnected, and unintentional?
DO: Know Who Your Audience Is
Empathy is the heart of marketing. The main reason why you should be improving your content development is the need to connect and tell stories. But how can you connect if you don’t know who you are talking to? Often, we overlook the value of customer empathy, more so at times like this- and this applies whether you have been doing internet marketing for a long time or not. Now is the right time to reevaluate who your ideal readers are.
- Profile your ideal customer
- What are their interests
- Income level
- Age location
- Know their concerns now
- Are they working at home?
- Are they helping their kids
- Are they focused on getting fit?
Once you’ve done this, analyze what changed because of COVID. The more you know your audience, the better you’d be able to get your story to them.
DO: Become a Resource around Your Readers’ Specific Needs
Everyone’s sending out and putting crisis-related emails and posts. Instead of copying their social media strategy template, provide a better twist to the information by delivering specific topics. For example, if your audience is into fitness, give content that includes information about exercises that can be done at home during the quarantine. Or you can also write about the diet recipes they can cook while being just at home. Another example is how to care for the pets during this pandemic. You don’t explicitly mention this crisis but provide solutions to your readers’ needs.
DO: Take a Breather from Automated Messages
It just doesn’t make sense to have automated messages during a crisis. What makes sense, though, is reevaluating your copy, so it covers the sensitivity of the situation. Auto-replies can save you time. But, at times of crisis, these messages can tick a lot of people and cause you a public backlash. Check your email marketing copy, blog content, and social media posts. If the content is not appropriate at this time, consider rewriting them to suit the situation.
DO: Become More Adaptive
The world is becoming more volatile. Your content strategy should be to become more adaptive to what’s going on. The same goes for your content writing strategies. You’d win this crisis when you take baby steps in the right way. You must be quick to create content that’s relevant in the now- and by that, it means on that day because the crisis won’t last long. Anticipate the bottleneck of demands and needs from your audience once the crisis is over. When that happens, you should be ready. The only way to navigate this is by being adaptive while you are tackling the crisis.
DO: Widen Your Influence Using Owned Media
If the crisis is taking a toll on your business and you’ve got ad sense to weigh in too, the best strategy is to reduce your ad spend cost and temporarily divert your efforts to organic search and optimization. Take advantage of blogs, emails, and social media presence now that more people are spending time online. Organic SEO is an inexpensive tactic that allows you to reap excellent long-term benefits. Search for keywords commonly used in your industry and add them implicitly to your copy. If you haven’t done it yet, create a robust content marketing plan with short-term and long-term goals.
DO: Diversify Your Content
Not all people prefer reading. Some want more graphics, and others prefer videos. Analyze which types are preferred by your audience or market during this time. It would be a futile effort on your part to create content in places where your audience doesn’t even bother visiting.
You can use webinars to engage your clients and share information with them. To keep them more focused and engaged during your webinar, include high visuals, polls, and a question and answer portion for more interaction. Show your human side, so it doesn’t become too businesslike. Avoid phrases such as “join hands” or any words that suggest people coming together. Also, don’t add images of people gathering in crowded areas. At the end of your content, provide a call to a. You can suggest your recently written blog or a transcription of your webinar.
DO: Communicate Empathically
Email marketing is one of the most compelling ways to communicate and stay connected with your employees and subscribers. During a crisis, you must pivot your message from converting and selling to helping and updating everyone about your company’s safety measures. You must understand that the way to communicate effectively is a case-to-case basis. You can add insightful and engaging topics that provide information on how to deal with the current crisis in your email. You should also include how you are supporting your clients during this time.
Your products may not be their priority at the moment, but by giving them solutions to what they need now, you are still providing value to your customers. Another way to approach this is by informing your clients or subscribers of the changes and plans. Think about issues that your readers might have at the moment, and include solutions to these issues in your email. Also, you can ask your subscribers for feedback on what they want to hear from you by replying to emails and adding polls and surveys.
DO: Choose Your Words Well
There is a high risk of being perceived as insensitive or exploitative when you’re doing internet marketing during a crisis. How do you avoid this scenario?
- Avoid humor
An overly casual tone can put off some people. Your content should be kept in a conversational, positive, and inspirational manner.
- Replace insensitive words in your copy. When you have words such as “capitalize,” “gain,” or “advantage,” try to rephrase your sentences to include words such as “respond,” “cope,” “contribute,” or “connect.”
- Check your grammar. The wrong words can undermine the value of your proposal. Worse, the message can sound off. To help you use terms related to COVID, you can check out this AP Guide on how to use specific words associated with this pandemic.
DO: Choose the Appropriate Channels to Reach out to Your Readers
Creating content in all your platforms may not be in your favor. Take the COVID-19 pandemic, for example. Your followers have been advised to stay at home to lessen the chances of contracting the virus. As a result, sending flyers and brochures or invitations to a conference is not advantageous at all. Instead, focus on sending newsletters that contain helpful tips and information about the crisis and how to deal with it. You can also conduct webinars by going live on social media platforms where most of your audience is active.
DO: Append Your Digital Marketing Efforts in Your Crisis Communication Plan
COVID-19 did catch us by surprise. Nobody was ever ready with the impact of COVID or any crisis on many businesses, small or large. One of the content strategy best practices is to create a crisis communication plan or a set of guidelines to be implemented during a crisis. How your company communicates with your stakeholders right before, during, and after a crisis are the highlights of this plan. If you already have a crisis communication plan set up, why don’t you include your marketing efforts to it? If not, here are some tips on how to create your crisis communication plan:
- Identify your potential risks
- Identify the possible crisis scenarios
- Identify the recipient of that communication plan
- Identify key persons who can create fact sheets
- Identify common questions that might pop up during the crisis
DO: Include Topics Closely Related to the Crisis
If you are curious, what are the best practices for content strategy during a crisis, having topics related to that crisis should be part of your content strategy, but this should be dealt with caution? In this article, we always reiterate the importance of knowing the problems your customer is facing amidst the crisis. While it might be helpful to some to provide tips on particular topics such as working from home- and that’s perfectly fine- it is more beneficial to give solutions to issues that are impacting them as of the moment. However, you should strike the right timing.
DO: Tweak Your Content Calendar
Perhaps you have your content calendar set up for a couple of months, but with the crisis outbreak, you need to tweak your calendar to suit what’s more relevant now. You should act fast as the crisis is affecting everyone’s lives by the minute. Reassess your content. Edit the ones that are not relevant right now. If there are insensitive words, replace them with sympathetic ones.
If you belong to the essential industry profoundly affected by the crisis, pause all other marketing campaigns, and focus all your efforts to target crisis-related content. You don’t need to be direct about it, instead, play around on ideas that might help them as they cope with the crisis. For example, you don’t just discuss COVID all the time; you can write about the things your audience can do while being cooped up in their homes.
DO: Start Community Marketing
You might find it rather strange that community marketing is included here. The truth is, many of your customers are seeking human connections in times when isolation is the norm. How do we create your tribe at times like this?
- Create podcasts where people call you in to ask questions about some topics you know
- Tap into the power of webinars
- Look into already existing social media communities where people share opinions and issues with other people with similar challenges.
DONT: Capitalize on the Crisis
It’s done in bad taste if you still create conversion-focused content during a crisis. People are anxious about their safety, the country’s economy, and the likes, that the last thing on their minds is a company that’s trying to sell them something. If your content is self-serving, then the buzz you’d be getting is the buzz that you don’t want.
DONT: Pause Your Paid Advertising
Canceling all your paid advertising may not be a great decision. Remember that any crisis is temporary. Once the ordeal is over, those that decided to cancel their paid advertising are going to lose their lead. Take this time as an opportunity as more people are online so, chances are, you are still in an advantageous position to do business. This also means people are always looking for your products and services. Instead of cutting off, you should look for your best performing campaigns and focus on them this time. This is also your opportunity to become more marketing-creative. Can you think of ways of attracting more leads to your site? How can you be more relevant during this time? How can you add value to your products and services?
DONT: Take for Granted Your Social Media Accounts
Your social media newsfeeds might be flooded with news of the crisis, but this should not deter you from stepping up your social media marketing game. This current crisis enhances the role of social media in making people more connected despite the distance.
People are spending more time online, so this is also an excellent opportunity for you to grow your followers. The secret here is to find the most appropriate time to post and do this regularly. Make sure that your posts are relevant to your brand. Being relatable to the current situation also helps you gain more trust from your followers. You can give updates on how your business is faring during the crisis as well as the plans of action you intend to do. Your social media accounts are also great platforms to have live sessions where you can answer questions from your followers and reaffirm your commitment to them.
DONT: Actively Convert
Non-essential businesses often carry the brunt of the crisis more. How do you stay relevant when you’re part of the non-essential business? The answer is to contribute to helping your audience amid the crisis instead of selling business to them up-front. Your goal is to nurture them so they may become loyal customers once the ordeal is over.
Going overboard on experimentations on your content at times of crises can be viewed as callous and insensitive. Being mindful and intentional about the topics you write during times of crisis. Try to avoid words that seem insensitive and uncaring. Don’t add images to your copy that encourage the convening of people, among others.
DON’T: Be Afraid to Delegate
You and your team are one, even if each one is working at home. The tasks are daunting for just one person. If you are not used to working remotely, you’d probably find this entire experience intimidating if you’re working alone. You can delegate tasks to your dedicated team.
Amid unpredictable times, we at ITDwebdesign.com are here to support you in your journey to success. We have a dedicated team who can professionally assess your business and marketing campaigns. We can devise a plan to help you get through this COVID-19 pandemic. Please feel free to reach out and contact us at 1-888-760-0878 or email us here.