People are scared, the economy is in trouble, and no one can say for sure what the future holds. If you think the rules of the game for marketing have changed completely, well, you’re half right. It’s not business as usual anymore. But one thing will always be true, coronavirus or no coronavirus: people want to be treated like living, breathing humans with needs and wants, not like data or dollar signs. Content marketing has always been a powerful tool for building businesses and brands. Right now, it’s the #1 way to connect with your customers.
Content marketing is about building ongoing relationships with customers by giving them something of value at different touchpoints—email marketing, social media, blogs and videos, even the copy on your website. It’s how you communicate your brand identity and connect with the people who need what you sell. Now more than ever, people are looking for content that inspires, educates, entertains or informs them. And with web traffic currently up more than 20%, you have a lot of opportunities to serve that need.
Below are seven ways to use content marketing to strengthen your brand, build customer loyalty, and attract more potential customers in the time of coronavirus.
1. Make it personal.
Use your email marketing or social media to share an authentic and compassionate message, maybe in the format of a personal letter from your company founder or CEO. We’re all in this together, and now is the time to let people know that you care. Customers will remember that when things got ugly, you showed genuine concern for their welfare and acted like a human being, not a business.
2. Ramp up your market research.
Engage people in conversation on your social media platforms, and learn more about what your customers care about. The more you understand about your target audience, the more value you can provide with your content marketing. Ask about needs or problems that are related to your brand’s values or offerings. Most importantly, treat your customers like you’d treat your friends, and respond to every single comment.
3. Make your emails more engaging.
For the love of mailchimp, stop with the canned messages. You have a unique brand and a singular personality, so let it come through in your emails. Now is the time to think about new ways you can contribute to your customers’ lives, like by providing entertaining stories or educational info that’s related, even tangentially, to your company’s focus. As an example of how to be generous and come across as a real human being, here’s the intro from a recent email by the #GIRLBOSS herself, Sophia Amoruso:
4. Teach people something.
We’re all stuck at home, many of us with extra time on our hands. Now is the time to keep your brand top of mind by providing content with real value. What might your customers want to learn about? What are their ongoing needs, with or without a crisis? What can you teach people to do that’s related to your products or services? Here, I have an example of a hit and a miss:
Hit: Peg & Awl, makers of beautiful bags, stationary, and more, has started a series of videos showing you how to do bookbinding at a home. They’re encouraging folks to share their creations on social media with the hashtag #quarantinebookbindingclub. And, oh yeah, they also happen to sell a couple of bookbinding kits, though they also tell you where to find supplies separately.
Miss: Kenneth Cote, my wonderful hair salon. They just launched an online store while the salon is closed down, which is a smart move. What they could also have done, and hopefully will if anybody reads this, is to create a video or two showing us how to use their root touch-up products at home. It doesn’t matter if there are already hundreds of videos on the topic already—what matters is that you put your own content out there with your name on it. It encourages people to buy products directly from you and keeps you top of mind down the road.
5. Spring clean your old content.
You don’t always have to create content from scratch. Take a look at your blogs, whitepapers, emails, e-books, infographics, whatever. Which ones got the most social shares or backlinks? Which get the most traffic on-site? Give them a refresh with new introductions, updated info, new CTAs (calls to action), and additional links—especially if you can add internal links to new products or services. Most importantly, think about how to improve their search rankings with high-value keywords. Then reshare the content via emails or social media, framing the topics in a way that’s relevant to people right now.
6. Optimize your site content for search.
You can put out the world’s most amazing content, but it won’t do you much good if no one knows it exists. With all the increase in screen time right now, you absolutely have to get yourself found in online search. So, work on maximizing the SEO value of your content to catapult your site to the top of search engine results. Search Engine Journal does a kick-ass job of covering the basics, and I love their article with 5 easy optimization tactics.
7. Use video to stand out in newsfeeds.
If you can write it, you can record it. This could be anything from a series of daily tips to quick instructional pieces. Need some help coming up with topics? Check out our 5 low-tech hacks for content ideas. Chances are, you can do a lot of this right from home. You don’t need fancy equipment or an expert crew to tell a fun or compelling story. However, there are some basic ground rules for creating videos that people will actually watch. Check out this super helpful blog from wave.video for DIY techniques to make your videos look more professional, no matter where you’re shooting them.
At some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, the coronavirus will pass. When that time comes, do you want to be starting from scratch with your marketing? Or do you want to be well ahead of your competition, building on the efforts you put in now? Invest in your content marketing now to build momentum for what matters to your business in the long run.
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