Low-cost content is ideally suited to the survival tactics that many companies are deploying to keep their marketing campaigns afloat amid the pressures of a pandemic. While there may be layoffs and budget cutbacks, content can play a role in stabilising your company and pushing it forward as new business models and ways of working emerge over the summer.
Decline in traditional paid ads
Content marketing is on the up at a time when traditional paid ads are heading in the opposite direction due to the shuttering of physical print publications and the growing costs of TV placements. Content is now the go-to method for engaging with target audiences. More than two-thirds of top performers say that articles and blogs help to nurture subscribed audiences while also driving new leads and sales.
Cloud computing giant Salesforce offers a case study on how content can play particularly well to B2B audiences. Just a month ago, it started publishing blogs in a series called ‘Leading Through Change’, which offered both thought leadership and the information its audience needed. There were no hard sells or brand-centric pushes.
The blogs also ended with a call to action to prompt readers to engage with the brand in a more concrete way. Including a link to a webpage or asking the reader to do something after they have finished reading is a good idea. When consumers enjoy content, they are more open to giving something in return, such as signing up to a newsletter, contacting your brand directly, or even visiting your website to complete a purchase.
Acting like a publisher, even if you are not a media corporation, will entice more people to drop by each day or each week when you have a new editorial or blog. In today’s economic climate, this is a much better strategy than relying on paid ads to do most of the heavy lifting. It is cost-effective and will deliver sustainable results over time. It will also give your webpages greater visibility in search results.
Content serves social media
Paid advertising is in a difficult spot right now due to marketing budget cuts and the need to focus on core business tasks. Data shows that social media usage has soared recently but paid ads have not. Twitter usage, for example, has spiked by 23% on a daily basis recently, but analysts have forecast a 20% decline in revenue from ads on the platform in March. The same trend is evident on Facebook.
Paid ads have a place in marketing but only after the fundamentals of content marketing are in place. A recent study stated that there is currently a “literally captive audience” waiting for new experiences and content. The popularity of social media supports this conclusion.
To capitalise on this shift, you should take a closer look at how social media is aligned with content strategy. Are you ready to take advantage of the usage increase? Nine out of ten top-performing content marketers will be, as a separate report found that this successful group is able to put forth content not only when a person most needs it but also when they are most likely to see it.
Another case study, this time involving Office Depot, showcases the benefits of relevant content. On Facebook, the office supply retailing company has been able to serve up relevant tips in helpful articles and has used links on social media posts to drive more clicks to its website.
One of the big pluses for content marketing right now is its cost-effectiveness. Unlike other marketing strategies, content does not require big investments to get going or to manage in the long term. For micro businesses and SMEs, content campaigns can be managed either in-house or with the help of an agency without a significant outlay.
Smaller teams composed of internal employees and third-party freelancers are already commonplace. A study found that the majority of businesses with up to 1,000 employees are only using a few people to support content marketing. This means that in times of crisis, it is easier to keep everything running smoothly.
Scale up and down, mix formats
Video camera enterprise GoPro has used content in the past to drive a massive increase in income. During a single year, it managed to invest only $50,000 in content and other forms of marketing, but that spend helped to double its income to almost $25m. It was then able to double it again a year later by spending less than double the original amount on marketing.
GoPro tapped into a new trend of user-generated content on social media to get the job done, but that strategy won’t work for every brand. Fortunately, there is a variety of formats available to engage target audiences across a range of platforms. Like Salesforce, you could benefit from managing a weekly blog or posting daily news articles.
You can even dip into previous output and upcycle content. During these difficult times, you may find it easier to repost an old blog, especially if it is relevant to customer needs. Just adding an editor’s note at the top can be enough to shine the light on a high-quality older piece.
Content is the future
The global pandemic will have an impact on marketing in 2020 and beyond, but content marketing as a whole is well positioned to weather the storm as brands are already recognising its value in the here and now and for the long term.
This is because content is versatile. While some audiences may not be ready to purchase products or services right now, they do want informational, educational and entertaining content to get them through. You can do this in a way that aligns with your brand. You can provide audiences with what they crave and lay the groundwork for closer relations down the road. They will trust you and be ready to engage again when the time is right.
Content marketing has always been king and that’s unlikely to change in a post-pandemic world.