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Consumers have changed and evolved, and it’s imperative that your content marketing efforts reflect their current needs. Deloitte’s 2021 Global Marketing Trends reports the trends that can help organizations connect, engage and grow in our post-pandemic era, which include:
- Purpose: Knowing why and who you’re serving.
- Agility: How agile is your strategy?
- Human experience: Your organization must be a mirror for your audience.
- Trust: Are you building and maintaining trust?
- Participation: Engagement is more important now than ever before.
- Fusion: Consumers want innovative experiences.
- Talent: Are your workflows, technology and teams able to handle this work?
While not all of this is new, many of the basics that have been easy to overlook in recent years are now more important than ever. However, it’s not as simple as making a few small changes and considering the work done.
You must implement new best practices in line with the current state of the world to be sure you’re actively and effectively reaching your ideal customer or client with content marketing.
Here are a few strategies to help you with effective content marketing today:
Understand your place in the conversation
At the start of the pandemic, so many companies reached out with the same message: “We’re here for you.” While all of these statements were well-meaning in a time of crisis, some consumers were left wondering why they should care about their email provider’s COVID-19 sick leave policy.
In an opinion article for the Baltimore Sun, Eric Heavner even spoke out against “pandemic cliche fatigue,” or phrases that have lost their meaning from overuse. Before you jump into the conversation, understand your role in it. Ask yourself:
- What do customers actually need to hear from you?
- What can you say that isn’t just empty promises or words on a page?
- How can you provide value to the overall conversation?
For another example, consider the rash of anti-racist statements by companies in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests last year. Are they taking action against discrimination a year later?
Post-pandemic content marketing isn’t just about talking the talk but walking the walk — and doing so according to your brand values.
Focus on your current customers
Don’t forget to focus on customer retention as part of your content strategy — because your business won’t grow without long-term loyalty. This means you need to focus some of your content marketing efforts on the customers you already have.
Here are a few best practices to keep customers coming back:
- Use content to improve customer onboarding. With the right content, you can shorten your time to value — in other words, the time it takes for your customers to see value in your product or service.
- Update your content to reflect current customer wants and needs. Use a survey to determine how customers prefer to consume content. If video is preferred, you can focus part of your strategy on creating video for current customers.
- Don’t ignore value- and content-based email marketing to current customers and subscribers. Consumers still read email newsletters. What’s more: the unsubscribe rate is extremely low for email newsletters. Newsletter-based emails have just 0.11% unsubscribe rate compared to 0.21% for autoresponder emails and 0.43% for triggered emails, according to GetResponse.
Don’t ignore engagement
Consumers are craving human interaction and engagement post-COVID-19, but what kind of engagement?
Salesforce’s 2020 State of the Connected Customer report found a few key details that guide engagement best practices post-pandemic:
- 76% of customers want to hear from you on different channels, depending on the context of the message.
- 52% of customers expect that your offers are always personalized.
Considering these key engagement preferences, you can update your content marketing strategies in a few ways, including:
- Don’t ignore personalization via email and even on social media. When responding to a comment on Instagram, use the person’s name. When sending email, include personalization factors like the customer’s name, include suggestions based on most recent purchases and more.
- Make sure your support team or social media team is able to stay active and consistent on all channels. If you can’t support engagement on all channels (i.e., social media, email, phone and chat), reduce where you’re active so you can be readily available to the audiences you are serving.
- Don’t schedule one mass post for all social channels. Customize every post for each channel. For example, video content may be better suited for your Instagram followers while text-based content might be preferred by your Facebook community.
Focus on educating
Trust is one of the top trends for marketing in 2021, and you can use your content marketing to build this trust. One way to do that is to focus less on selling and more on educating. Luckily, content is the perfect medium for educating. You can create educational blog posts, social media content, videos, podcast episodes, webinars and much more.
If you’re not sure where to start with educational content, ask yourself these questions:
- What questions do our customers regularly ask?
- Which topics regularly come up in our communities on social media?
- What educational content are our competitors creating, and how can we fill in the gaps?
By building an education-based content strategy using the answers to these questions, you can build trust while maintaining a value-first approach. Bottom line: give before asking for anything in return.
It’s no longer optional to speak authentically and engage meaningfully. It’s critical that what you share is based on your company’s values — not based on trends or to simply address “hot topics.” In doing so, you may actually hurt your brand and marketing efforts.
In fact, according to Merkle’s 2020 Consumer Experience Sentiment Report, “brands that released a statement at the same time as other brands in a response to a world event or social causes seemed the least authentic to respondents.” Furthermore, one-third of respondents said they have received messages that seem offensive or tone deaf.
If your brand is considered inauthentic, you risk losing customers. To avoid this issue, it’s important to continually check in with your customers and audiences using surveys and polls. Get to know what they care about so you can make sure your messaging resonates as authentic and real.
Key takeaways: Practice mindful content marketing
Use Deloitte’s trends as a foundation for your content strategy post-pandemic and then tailor your strategies to your brand and audience. While there’s no blueprint for getting it right, there are many new factors to consider in reaching new and current customers.
Use these best practices and strategies to make sure your post-pandemic content marketing is effective, authentic, agile and valuable so you can build trust, stay connected and boost your company’s bottom line.
Originally published June 23, 2021.