Winter is coming: How to prepare your content strategy for a COVID-19 winter
- With the number of cases of the novel coronavirus rising once again, content marketers face a resumed challenge to meet consumer needs.
- Sales around the holidays will need to be approached sensitively, as unemployment rises and families are forced to tighten their belts.
- Creating empathetic and emotionally-driven content will be more likely to appeal to audiences during these times.
- The potential for future lockdown measures will see a potential increase in the demand for video content, particularly tutorials and explainers for new skills and products.
Although the last few months have seen quarantine restrictions being eased around the world, a resurgence in COVID-19 cases has led to a new round of measures being put in place to quell the spread of the virus before winter. However, now that scientists have a greater understanding of the nature of the novel coronavirus, it seems more likely that these new rules will be less all-encompassing than they were the first time around — pending any drastic rises in numbers, of course.
What this does mean, however, is that people in lockdown are likely to still be looking out for content that’s relevant to their current situation. We already talked you through what businesses learned about content marketing through the first phase of the pandemic, and the ever-changing state of things shouldn’t stop you from maintaining something close to your regular content schedule.
But based on what we now know about the virus, and what has and hasn’t worked with content strategies during the pandemic, there’s a lot your business can do to prepare for the winter ahead. Here are four key things to consider.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Traditionally the day for huge savings on big-ticket items, Thanksgiving weekend accounts for around a third of consumers’ entire holiday spend. But with Turkey Day fast approaching, many consumers are not even sure how (or if) they’ll be able to see family safely. Stores are having to come up with new ways to mark the occasion and give their customers the discounts they expect. Fortunately for most businesses, this primarily means giving their online offerings a shot in the arm.
In the midst of a huge global economic downturn, however, businesses will be wise to approach content around sales and promotional offers extremely carefully. The products you choose to put on sale at a discount may have to change to meet the different demands customers have had and will continue to have, during the pandemic. Consequently, writing copy that will emphasize your business’s reasons for doing this could help potential customers see eye-to-eye with your motivations, and help demonstrate an understanding of what consumers need on a wider level.
Going beyond Thanksgiving, the other focal point of your fourth-quarter content marketing campaign will likely be Christmas, but this festive season will clearly require a different approach from previous years. In particular, as The Drum points out, “how brands give back to communities and people will be a huge influence on shoppers this year.” This means that in addition to the keyword research you conduct to determine what you write about, how you write your Christmas content will be just as important.
Beyond the economic impact, most are feeling as a result of the pandemic, which is highly likely to shift consumer behaviors, people are far more likely to be reevaluating what is important to them during this time of year. The possibility of not seeing friends and family as they would on a normal.
Christmas means that the content your business releases will need to be sensitively-written, and seriously take this into consideration. However, Retail Week recently reported that nearly two-thirds of shoppers are more willing to “explore new products” at this time of year than any other time, so combining the emotional appeal with consumer appeal is critical.
This doesn’t only apply to customer-facing companies, however, no matter how easy it may be to forget that real people are responsible for the decisions a business makes. In the wake of the pandemic, emotionally-driven B2B content has been widely discussed and strongly recommended. One Linkedin discussion which took place in early May noted that “B2B audiences share the same fundamental human priorities and are just as interested in seeing their personal experiences reflected in the content.”
The most effective form of emotionally-driven content your brand could put together for the holidays is through video, which has seen a huge increase in viewing times since the onset of the pandemic. This has been the case across all sectors, and Econsultancy reports that video ad spend has increased by between 60% and 74% since the pandemic began.
As a result, it’s never been more important to start preparing easily-digestible video content to promote your products, explain your brand’s values and give people something fun to watch. But your work isn’t going to be done once you’ve completed the final cut — taking steps to carefully optimize your video content is essential if you want your videos to be seen.
Tutorials and explainers
From makeup tutorials and guides to making your own facemasks, to step-by-step advice on developing new skills, video content has been particularly beneficial during the lockdown as people seek out new ways to pass the time and feel a sense of accomplishment. DIY learning resources have become big business, and the most-searched-for terms — which YouTube has publicly claimed are “astonishing” in their consistency — mainly revolve around picking up new hobbies or coping mechanisms.
These have included baking (particularly sourdough), yoga and guided meditations, and home improvements, all of which would be useful in less fraught times, but particularly centering now. And brands which wouldn’t otherwise be providing this sort of content are getting in on the act, with the likes of Nike and DoubleTree Hotels diverting their budgets and strategies to give searchers the kind of useful content they need. With no clear end in sight for the most recent round of restrictions, videos of this nature are likely to continue being an excellent entry point for bringing new customers to your brand, so finding relevant subject matter will stand you in good stead through the holidays.
Edward Coram James is an SEO professional and the Chief Executive of Go Up Ltd, an international agency dedicated to helping its clients navigate the complexities of global SEO and the technical aspects of delivering location-specific pages to targeted audiences.