5 Ways to Freshen Your Content Strategy in the Age of COVID

April Clarke

April Clarke

Strategist w/Encompass Clarity, Inc.

Let’s face it. This is our new normal. That said, as content marketers, we are now presented with a new opportunity to create a content strategy that embraces the audiences we serve, further instills a sense of community and offers ways to incite joy and surety in a time of pain and uncertainty.  

After all, our job as content marketers is not simply to provide engaging content. It is to provide relevant content, delivered in ways our audiences can appreciate. This matters now more than ever. 

According to the results of the recently issued 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report on brand trust and the pandemic,

Edelman 2020 Trust Barometer Special Report

83% of consumers want or hope brands issue statements expressing empathy and support to those impacted by the pandemic. And, 66% of U.S. consumers are comforted and reassured by what they hear brands (they use) are doing to respond to the pandemic. In addition, 83% expect or hope brands will work to connect people and help them stay emotionally close during a time where social distancing has kept many physically apart.  While this data can be applied more broadly to all brand communications, we can definitely apply it to the content we serve.  And, it matters now that we take a look at what the impact of the pandemic and other social trends will have on our society and content strategy in the months and maybe years ahead. 

So, if you haven’t taken a look at your content strategy for how it will impact your audience for the long haul do so now. 

Below are 5 things to consider to get your strategy in shape for the long road ahead.

 

Review Your Content Strategy Vision For Alignment With Our New Normal

Last month, I saw a post by a mom-focused brand on Facebook that made me question the brand’s true motivations due to how out of touch the post was with today’s mom. Sure, it spoke to the needs of a working mother of two who needed advice on how to manage it all in January, but in August 2020 (and even now in September) the post simply was unsympathetic, unrealistic and failed to address the real needs of the audience. 

Being a mom of three, I fully understand what those needs are. Among other things, they include empathy from the brand and a real offer of help that does not overlook the real exacerbated conditions the working mom is now facing during a pandemic. Needless to say, the reactions were the stuff of nightmare for a content marketer. It would have been better if the article were not posted at all.

The post made me think about how our vision, if not revisited, can cause us to remain stagnant in an environment that needs us to adjust. The aspirational nature of a vision allows us the latitude to move forward in a direction that helps us to support the brands we develop content for and loyally serve the audiences that come to us to meet certain needs. But, if our vision doesn’t allow us to be nimble in an environment that requires change we cannot fully support our audiences. This is how we miss serving their needs. 

To avoid missing the mark with your audience during this time, revisit your vision statement. Is your team able to look to this vision for inspiration to do a better job of addressing the needs, desires and values of your audience during uncertain times? For example, with the insight that mom’s lives have been drastically changed by the pandemic, it makes sense to produce content that aligns with their new normal. 

A site that does this very well is  MotherHonestly.com. Not only has the site’s content team produced very necessary and valuable content to working mothers like me, but it has quickly adjusted to this new normal and seemed to provide a seamless transition to providing useful content for this moment.  This says to me that the vision wasn’t simply to address the needs of a working mom through content, but to be a resource for every aspect of life that has been impacted by a working mom’s decision to work; an all encompassing view that even addresses the needs of working moms impacted by or born from the current pandemic. 

You see, your vision gives you the inspiration to “be”.  What does your vision allow you to “be” during these challenging times?

Refocus Your Editorial Mission Statement to Meet Your Content Vision

First, if you don’t have one, now is the time to write one. To start, think about your content marketing vision. To realize this vision, you need a mission that will direct the strategy you employ to do the job. You may have had a successful editorial mission before COVID, but post- first wave of this pandemic, ask yourself these questions.

Is the content I’m producing eliciting the response I desire?

Can my audience trust me to provide the kind of content they need consistently in this moment?

Because your editorial statement directs your content creation and delivery,  determine whether your current statement can successfully direct you to support your vision, thus addressing the evolving needs of your audience for the rest of 2020 and beyond. Again, if you don’t have one, write one.  Or, adjust the statement you have by following these steps.  

First, make sure you state what you want your audience to see, think, feel and DO!, when they consume your content during this time. Next, state exactly how all of this will elevate the perception of your brand. Also, state how your team will guide stakeholders to achieve your brand’s overarching goals for the rest of 2020. Finally, describe the kind of content you want to produce to fulfill the first three statements. The distinction between your vision and mission now becomes clear. Here you develop an action plan that allows your content vision to become a reality.

Segment Your Audience

No matter how you treat your audience, it is not homogenous. And with the world changing so fast and impacted by so much, the needs and desires of your audience have definitely changed a bit or a lot between January 2020 and now. It is a content marketer’s job to understand these differences and create strategies to address them. At the same time, you have to stay true to the brand and help achieve larger company goals. This can be quite difficult if your knowledge of your audience is very general at best.

For a while now, the conversation around segmentation has appropriately lingered at going beyond simply understanding demographics to capturing the customer’s intent. This means taking a deep look at various moments along the customer’s journey to making a purchase, maintaining a relationship with your brand and making additional purchases during the relationship. Knowing the detail on these key moments and just how much, if any, impact the pandemic has had on them, can give you a wealth of information with which you can segment your audience. Start by getting answers to the following questions.

Segmentation questions to ask during COVID-19

You can elicit responses by polling and surveying your audience, using social media and your customer lists. Most likely, your audience, like most of the population, varies drastically in their rational and emotional needs during this time.  The data will guide you to match your content and delivery to these needs.

Take a Deep Dive Into Your Metrics

When was the last time you took a deep dive into your content marketing metrics? Besides grabbing those few KPIs, have you taken a deeper look into what pieces of content are working or not working and why? Have you looked at those numbers by segment, season, time period, pre & post the start of the first wave of the pandemic? 

While KPIs (key performance indicators) are essential to any content marketing strategy, they primarily include indicators of success with larger, overarching goals. A deeper dive gives you the who, what, where, when, and why you realize (or don’t realize) leads and conversions. You must know:

  1. What tactics are working?
  2. Who they work for? Which segments? And, who they don’twork for.
  3. Why they may/may not be working?
  4. When they work or don’t work?
  5. What channels work better than others?
 

If you haven’t taken a look at ALL of these questions for ALL of your customer segments, then you must do so NOW! Take care to review your numbers pre and post the start of the pandemic. Look for opportunities to adapt your content to the ways your customers have adapted to this pandemic. Your discoveries may lead you to trying new kinds of content and delivering it differently. Or, your team may decide to focus on segments that better align with how your company has chosen to adapt to the disruption brought on by the pandemic and social trends. How and who you deliver content to could be one of the most important decisions to make at this time.

Refocus Your Newsletter

Newsletters are a still a primary tactic for B2B and B2C content marketers to engage with their audiences effectively. They provide a way to continue telling your brand story and provide customer value in a way your audience appreciates and comes to rely on. 

Using the information from your audience segmentation research you are able to create and publish content specific to your audience segments in their specific stage of the consumer journey. Remember, this will require you to truly understand your audience segments. So, engaging with your audience in a sincere attempt to get to know them is key.

Once you start to deliver content designed and cultivated for these segments you can begin to measure the effectiveness of your tactics. A process of trying and measuring new content and even trying new platforms will provide you a continuous way in which you can discover what works and doesn’t work for your audience. In this way, you can be sure you deliver extremely relevant and valuable content on a consistent basis that will allow your customers to feel good about their ongoing relationship with your brand.

All of these tactics can be used to freshen up your content for a new world impacted by many factors that right now are here to stay if for only a short amount of time. But if a short amount of time is 6 months to a year (or more), then we have to get serious about how we are delivering content to our customers and how we are doing that effectively.

 

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April Clarke is a marketing strategist with Encompass Clarity, Inc and specializes in various aspects of digital and integrated marketing including content marketing. She splits her time being a dedicated mom to 3 wonderful children and a dedicated member of her Encompass Clarity family.

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