How to Use Content Marketing During a Crisis | Pepper Content

How to Use Content Marketing During a Crisis

Team Pepper
Team Pepper
Posted on 28/03/217 min read
How to Use Content Marketing During a Crisis

Pre-pandemic content marketing trends show that 86% of B2C companies adopted this form of marketing as part of their overall strategy, while 91% of B2B businesses were already leveraging content marketing to boost business outcomes.

Table of contents

  • Content marketing importance in crisis time
    • Strengthening SEO
    • Thought leadership
    • Real-time information and updates
  • How online content marketing supercharges brand loyalty and customer retention
  • How some brands leveraged content marketing to their advantage during the pandemic
  • Tips and tricks to establish an effective content creation strategy
  • The dos
    • Focus on educational content
    • Keep communication lines open
    • Stay relevant
  • The don’ts
    • Avoid aggressive marketing
    • Don’t overshoot your budget
    • Don’t be tone-deaf
  • Key takeaways
  • Conclusion
  • FAQs

Pre-pandemic content marketing trends show that 86% of B2C companies adopted this form of marketing as part of their overall strategy, while 91% of B2B businesses were already leveraging content marketing to boost business outcomes.

With COVID-19, January 2020 witnessed the onset of a crisis the world had never seen before. Offline operations came to a grinding halt because the pandemic triggered a global lockdown and forced everyone, individuals and businesses alike, to stay home. People all over the globe turned to their devices for work, news, entertainment, and education. Screentime soared through the roof, surging up to nearly 7 hours a day post-April 2020 (a spike of 25%). In such an environment, content marketing importance is increasing, and it becomes essential to leverage a content marketing strategy

Brands had to scramble to get their affairs in order. They could no longer rely on traditional channels to grow their business; they had to embrace digital transformation. They had to recalibrate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to align with the online-first approach and find new ways to connect with audiences to stay relevant. 

The answer? Content marketing. 

Pre-pandemic content marketing trends show that 86% of B2C companies adopted this form of marketing as part of their overall strategy, while 91% of B2B businesses were already leveraging content marketing to boost business outcomes. Revenues from content marketing are poised to reach $137.2 million by 2026 growing at a healthy 16.2% CAGR, no doubt catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Content marketing importance in crisis time

It is vital, then, to look at why it’s important to incorporate content into your marketing efforts during times of crisis. The idea is not just to build a creative content marketing system that connects with the consumers but also stays relevant to their changing lifestyles. Here are a few reasons:

Strengthening SEO

With the world practicing social distancing, it was time to make a digital splash and to make your presence felt online. And by that, we mean upping your SEO game. According to HubSpot, as many as 60% of marketers feel that inbound is their best quality source of leads. This essentially means traffic that they get via SEO and their content efforts.

Travel restrictions have led to a spurt in ‘near me’ searches as people are afraid to venture out and look to find stuff in their vicinity. This is why it’s imperative to keep your Google My Business listing up-to-date as well as be active on other hyperlocal discovery platforms. Your content should bolster your ranking on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) for your target keywords and help you pop up during relevant online discussions.  

Thought leadership

In times of uncertainty, be the voice of reason. Show domain authority through your content. Your audience is seeking solutions to their pain points during a crisis, and the onus is on you to give prompt answers and be a beacon of light, in general. About 50% of B2B marketers say that thought leadership helps customers trust their organization, and this number is almost 83% among actual consumers. 

If consumers remember you guiding them out of a tricky spot or lending clarity in any way, they will flock to you when the crisis is over as well. Helpful content goes a long way in positioning yourself as a ‘good guy,’ and goodwill trumps everything else.

Source

Real-time information and updates

During a crisis, oversharing information and over-communicating can be a good thing. This is especially true in the times of social media, where you must be available round the clock to address customer queries or announce any feature updates. Focus on providing important information ASAP because your competitors are just a click away. 

A certain marketing study found that 76% of brands said that real-time marketing increased audience engagement, and 56% felt it also led to higher customer satisfaction and positive brand sentiment.

If you’re a food brand, make it abundantly clear if you deliver on Sundays. If you run a SaaS service, have a chatbot talk to customers and answer basic questions before handing them over to a support agent. Timeliness is everything during a crisis.

A great example of how food delivery chains innovated and communicated their efforts during the pandemic

How online content marketing supercharges brand loyalty and customer retention

Content marketing trends show that visuals can boost brand recall to a mammoth 65% as opposed to just 10% in 3 days for pure textual content. It is common knowledge that it’s five times cheaper to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one. This metric becomes all the more important during a crisis – as loyal customers can be your evangelists during a tough time. Content marketing can help you retain these bottom-of-the-funnel customers. A good example is an outdoor-gear company REI, which has painstakingly created a huge repository of utility content and how-to guides (over 500 resources). They aim to become the Khan Academy or Lynda.com for all things outdoors. Their commitment to being the best teacher and the go-to place for online education is reaping the rewards via increased sales of their tents, backpacks, mountain bikes, and other hiking equipment.

Source

What increases content marketing’s importance is its ability to enhance brand perception. If your brand image was that of a money-hungry corporate, a thoughtful content campaign could change all that steadily. Take the case of Ford; the American automaker launched an ad campaign to offer assistance to customers whose lives had been disrupted by the pandemic. It stopped promoting its vehicles and shifted completely to service-oriented content, thus making an impression in people’s minds as an empathetic brand, full of integrity and values. 

How some brands leveraged content marketing to their advantage during the pandemic

The year 2020 saw brands come up with innovative content marketing campaigns to catch the attention of the masses.

  1. Nike: Nike made full use of the lockdown to craft a campaign around making the most of your time indoors. It opened up access to its flagship Nike Training Club app. The free subscription enabled users to watch workout videos and fitness advice from certified trainers. It also had a dedicated page to share its commitment and initiatives in tackling the crisis. This move paid off handsomely, enhancing Nike’s street cred and reputation.

Source 

  1. IKEA: IKEA, the Swedish furniture giant, delivered a content marketing masterclass with its beautiful #StayHome campaign that urged people to reconnect with their homes in the backdrop of large-scale mobility constraints. The 30-second video was not just a brazen product placement but instead tapped into the public sentiment and made people fall in love with their homes again. It was a clever tactic that added value to people’s lives without coming across as opportunistic and commercial.

Also, IKEA Russia released a slew of ads that helped people get creative at home with their products. They gave out instructional ads on recreating playhouses from childhood using IKEA products and easy-to-follow instructions.

  1. Other honorable mentions: 
  • Netflix kickstarted an Instagram series titled Wanna Talk About It?” to promote self-care and mental well-being during the pandemic. 
  • Harvard University created a ton of online video lessons on ‘Mechanical Ventilators’ to equip frontline medical workers with the tools and knowledge for dealing with COVID-infected patients.
  • The Metropolitan Art Museum gave free access to its library of over 1600 art books to give people an outlet for creative expression and spend home quarantine-time fruitfully.

Now that you have seen how a lot of brands adapted their digital content strategy to COVID-19 and created a connection with their target consumers using wit, it is time to create a template to solve content marketing problems. The template will also highlight content marketing tips with a focus on simple yet effective dos and don’ts. 

Tips and tricks about making an effective content creation strategy

The do’s

1. Focus on educational content:

The pandemic has resulted in ‘work from home’ searches skyrocketing by 300%! This means you need to figure out lucrative search terms and craft evergreen educational content around it. Headspace did it brilliantly, using their Instagram page to educate followers on the correct hand-washing techniques while also plugging in their service subtly.

2. Keep communication lines open

Another thing that you shouldn’t forget is to give regular company updates via email and/or social media channels. During a period when businesses are shutting overnight, this can serve to reassure your customers that you are still alive and kicking—and thriving. Levi’s parent company nailed this to the letter.

3. Stay relevant

As your consumers’ lifestyles and choices adapt, it becomes critical to adapt with them. To talk how they would and to work how they would. This is incomplete without the creation of a new and improved content marketing strategy that clearly communicates how you are also adapting to the new world order. Your content creation strategy also needs periodic updates based on the latest trends. For example, as the world practiced social distancing, so did many brands in their own ways. 

The don’ts

1. Avoid aggressive marketing

A crisis is a tough time where everyone’s main objective is survival. It would be totally inappropriate then, as a brand, to resort to pushy, in-your-face strategies. Ditch the hard sell, put yourself in the shoes of your customers, and do whatever you can to help them tide over the crisis.

2. Don’t overshoot your budget

Funds can dry up swiftly during a crisis, so frugality is the need of the hour. Watch your expenses and make sure you’re not splurging on low-ROI mediums. Viral, organic content is your friend in need.

3. Don’t be tone-deaf

The crisis is perhaps the one time when brands are harshly judged. In such a time when the world needs hand sanitizers, advertising perfumes is probably not a good idea. However, brands can emanate solidarity and set the stage as Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton did in early 2020 by announcing it would shift to more responsive production and churning out hand sanitizers for Parisian hospitals, thus setting the stage for other brands to make shifts of their own. 

Key takeaways

  • Content marketing adds value to your customers daily life 
  • Content marketing is not about making a sales pitch 
  • Content creation should be based on the needs of the target audience 
  • Avoid technical industry specifics 
  • Have a unique tone of voice and stay relevant 
  • Avoid being tone-deaf
  • Know your brand personality and brand values 
  • Be different, do something new 
  • Learn and optimize over time  

Conclusion

While the benefits of a killer content game are many, so are the risks. Content marketing’s importance can’t be overstated, but it can’t be underplayed either. It may help increase your search traffic, establish your brand as an expert or even help close gaps in the conversion funnel, but it can also take it all away with one wrong move. 

As such, content marketing strategy is a delicate ballgame, one which you should play with extreme caution. Done right, it can unlock new opportunities and take your business to the next level. But even a small misstep can sound like a death knell for your business. Hopefully, this guide can save you from a business disaster and teach you a trick or two on how to utilize content marketing effectively during a crisis.

FAQs

1. What is content marketing, and why is it important?

Content marketing helps brands maximize the bang for their buck by ensuring their content assets reach the maximum audience.  

2. How do you market a crisis?

You stay relevant to your audience, communicate with empathy, become part of the solution, and help stay positive, among other things like putting your short-term sales goals on hold.  

3. How should businesses communicate with customers in times of crisis?

Primarily the first thing becomes creating appropriate communication and establishing an approach to inform customers and employees about best practices.

4. What are the challenges of content marketing?

The challenges of content marketing, especially while adapting the content marketing strategy such as in a crisis, are:

Generating high-quality content consistently 

Understanding buyer personas and creating content relevant to those personas

Producing content in suitable formats and measuring content ROI 

5. What are the 3 components of content strategy?

Successful content marketing strategies focus on thought leadership, creating content based on consumer insights, and adding value to the customer. 

6. How do you manage media in a crisis?

Some components of managing social media during a crisis are: 

Have a social media policy in place 
Establish a crisis communication plan
Don’t be tone-deaf 
Stay relevant to the changing consumer 
Keep a positive tone

7. What are some content marketing best practices?

Content marketing practices essential to every business are – 
Strategizing and planning your content creation 
Research content and base content in consumer insights 
Focus on content that is relevant and timeless
Create audience personas and personalize 
Test and optimize over time 

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