Content Marketing in the COVID Era: 3 Crucial Strategies
By Julie Rutherford
Successful Content Marketing Takes Adopting a Daily Communications-focused Approach
COVID-19 turned the world upside down a year ago, impacting businesses and individuals in profound ways. With work from home still in place, content is the medium to stay connected with current and potential clients, site visitors or your social followers. So how does this affect your content marketing strategy?
If you haven’t already, trash the old playbook of having employees on new, longer-term, time-consuming content projects, versus more immediate, routine client communications. With current events shifting so fast, it’s more important to focus on concise, helpful information to keep clients up to date on changes that could affect their work with you.
Be Current and Correct
Before COVID-19, web content was typically evergreen, with blogs, articles, videos and even interactive web experiences lasting months to a couple of years. Now, its shelf life is a couple of weeks or months or, at most, a year given fast-changing external factors.
Don’t try to keep pace with a pre-COVID rollout schedule of monthly, quarterly or even more frequent original content. The key now is to repurpose content—even to an extreme—and avoid mistakes.
A less aggressive original content publishing schedule plus repurposing of past original content enables you to focus your content marketing on what’s most important during this time: current, updated and correct info your clients need to engage with your business. People expect site information to be accurate and up to date the second they read it. This week alone, I’ve seen sites of summer camps, luxury spas, law firms and tech vendors with outdated pandemic-related information about their businesses. It’s annoying, and it registers—even subconsciously—as sloppy. Double down on “correct” versus “creative and abundant.”
Think Economy (and Realistic Deadlines)
Bosses will often tell their writers, “Make it short and sweet,” or “This should be relatively straightforward,” when assigning them something—and concise, to the point writing is what’s needed right now. At the same time, it’s important to remember that succinct, clear writing requires clear thinking, and thinking takes time. Wordy and longwinded text is quicker to push out than succinct and sparse text.
To help take the pressure off on these seemingly “straightforward” short assignments and speed up the process, give your writers a reasonable timeframe and build into it a review by one or two more experienced team members. This enables your writers to put together a fairly finished draft for review and editing—and it helps them agonize less over every word. At the end of the day, the more eyes on the text before its live, the quicker it’s well-written.
Revisit Tone and Style
A less talked about subject is the magnitude of hitting upon the right tone and style to put forth an appropriate image and message, considering the times we’re living in. It matters even for the seemingly immutable professional services sector. All clients—existing and prospective—have been at least indirectly affected by the toll the pandemic has taken. As such, they expect to see copy that isn’t flippant, overly formal or casual or oddly upbeat. At the same time, try to avoid defaulting to overly officious or dense prose, in a bid to appear tactful and appropriately sensitive. It’s like all of a sudden, unforced errors are how you win a grand slam instead of match-point shots.
Remember in communications and content marketing positive statements are more persuasive than rigid, procedural-sounding ones. Consider this regardless of whether it’s thought leadership, photo taglines, image headings or any perfunctory communique. You can get a lot of return out of a gently worded message expressing that responses to customer requests may take longer than before. I can’t tell you how caught off guard I’ve been when a firm says nothing about stuff like this, even though it’s operating differently today. On the flip side, companies who’ve communicated this well have stuck in my mind—in a good way—when I’m the client.
Your potential and current customers are looking to businesses like yours to provide content that meets their needs and makes it easy for them to know when, where and how to communicate and work with you. In the age of COVID, focus your content more on “news they can use” vs. elaborate original content projects. It’s ok to recycle quality older content so you can focus on information that’s crucial to your customers. Think concise, accurate information all delivered in a manner appropriate to these stressful times. This approach will make you more of a trusted partner than ever—something we’re all looking for right now.