Understandably, most businesses are focusing their attention on operations right now. Many are retrofitting to be able to continue delivery of goods and services to customers while sustaining as much revenue as they can. For businesses running with a lean staff, it may be all they can do to keep their heads above water.
For another category of business—those with more available resources to help weather the storm—the greatest challenge may be how to effectively pivot from their usual activities towards a model of customer engagement that is better suited to our current reality. Simply put, one in which customers have less disposable income and more free time to engage digitally.
Businesses with the luxury of being able to operate on a longer time horizon can acknowledge that now may not be the time to drive customer transactions. Instead, they have a unique opportunity to do something with customers’ increased attention and create lasting, positive brand impressions. Perhaps it’s time to educate, or at least entertain.
Here are a few reasons why now is the time to invest in content.
It’s something you can do right now that has real value
Many marketing departments are continuing to work, though forced to abandoned planned campaign activity. Economic uncertainty may be driving a reduction in paid media budgets, even for businesses that continue to sell. Other businesses have money to spend but are struggling to maintain target reach while channels such as out-of-home are no longer delivering the same number of eyeballs. Customers are engaging digitally, and will continue to do so at an increased rate.
Content investments are often deferred because they take effort and attention, and the payback occurs on a longer time horizon, such as it takes to drive organic search lift. However, when there is uncertainty about the next best thing to do, publishing is an effective way to stay in motion. Data from Hubspot indicates that 1 in 10 blog posts are compounding, meaning the organic traffic they drive increases over time.
Changes in search behavior create an opportunity to connect with new customers
It is heartening to see how many of us are using this time spent in isolation to better ourselves by acquiring new skills. Whether it’s an interest in home exercise, learning to bake, or just general lift in searches beginning with “how to”, our intent to learn new things is clearly measurable across a variety of categories.
Creating content to address this surging demand is a great way to drive brand visibility in organic search, and the businesses best equipped to actively monitor and respond to relevant search term trends will be able to increase their share of voice.
Consumers reward the teaching brands
A study by Conductor found that 66% of consumers felt more positively about a brand after consuming a piece of its educational content, and were 131% more likely to purchase from the brand.
It isn’t hard to understand why this type of content drives affinity and engagement if we consider why customers may otherwise visit a store—to obtain expert advice. For example, if a parent is interested in understanding which bicycle is the best choice for her six-year-old, would she not be more likely to favor the retailer who walks her through all the relevant options?
At a time when consumers are forced to be more fiscally conservative, any purchases they are making will require more decision support. The right content strategy will plan across the entire customer journey to begin building a relationship with potential customers as soon as they have the inspiration and motivation to begin their research.
The usual KPIs won’t chart an effective course
If consumers are able to spend more time and less money engaging with our brands, we need to think differently about how to measure and optimize. This should impact how the organization draws insight from data, as well as strategies for using AI to achieve goals. Optimization strategies that chase transactions as the goal may find themselves without a great data set to leverage right now.
As an alternative to the typical sale conversion focused KPIs, now is a good time to increase the weight of engagement KPIs such as views of key content, time on site, average page views, video view completions, social engagement and sharing, and email open rate.
Quality content will remain relevant
While the demand for educational content is surging right now, it won’t disappear when we all settle into the relative normality of our post-pandemic lives. The majority of “how to” themes related to your business will prove to be evergreen topics, and many will deliver the aforementioned compounding traffic effect. Even pieces of content produced specifically to address the needs of the home-based economy can easily be adapted later on to remain valuable assets.
Right now, consumers have elevated expectations for content that educates and entertains. The brands who will win in the long-range customer experience battleground are the ones who will consistently deliver in line with these expectations.
Not sure where to start? Let’s talk.