The COVID-19 crisis has been a watershed moment of our lifetime, the Black Swan event that happens once in a century and changes the entire course for mankind. The world is now forever divided into pre COVID-19 and post COVID-19 narratives. It is likely to change the way we live our lives, the way we conduct our personal tasks, the way we drive our professional journeys et al. It is going to challenge fundamentals of every business practice and function. Functions which are at the forefront of managing growth and revenue will have to scramble for newer ways to connect with and convert prospects. In this scenario, content marketing will likely emerge as one of the most important levers for a marketer.
With consumer confidence index likely to be at its lowest, given the uncertainty and disruption following the COVID-19 outbreak, businesses and brands will have a herculean task of driving consideration and purchase. Content will play a pivotal role here.
With mobile and social media revolutions, we are now living in an age when content finds its way to the user. Gone are the days when a piece of content from a brand had to find channels to reach out, often in a one-way mode, and hope that it was absorbed and worked with its intended target. Content marketing is now a multi-purpose vehicle used for driving consumer acquisition, retention, deepening engagement with consumers as well as cross-selling and up-selling.
Here’s how brands can use content smartly to connect and convert intent to sale in the post COVID-19 era:
Communicate who you are and not just what you sell: There will be a fundamental shift in consumer behaviour and how consumers look at brands. Brands with a purpose and meaning will resonate more and better with consumers looking for all possible reassurances. Therefore, it is time to communicate exactly that. Who are you? What’s your story? What drives you? Brands will have to humanise themselves to connect at a basic level. Any messaging which is only about what you sell will see an outright rejection from consumers.
Remain contextual and dynamic: With the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown to be felt over a long period of time, things will change and change frequently. So will a consumer’s priorities and preferences. It will be important for a brand to be as contextual and dynamic as possible since contexts will see a shift every now and then. How will brands adapt to these frequently changing parameters and remain agile will separate the winners from the rest.
Meaningful and actionable content: In an uncertain world, no one will have time for generalities and good to know material. Consumers will look for information which could help them in navigating their situation better, and decide better. Brands would need to keep their messaging meaningful as well as actionable. Every single piece of content will be seen from the prism of ‘what’s in it for me’. While content marketing has come a long way, there is still a gap between what consumers are doing online and how brands are trying to engage with them. While no one size fits all, content marketing helps drive hard ROI. Paired with solid practices, content marketing can yield the long-term results you’re looking for.
From generic to targeted messaging: The days of ‘spray & pray’ are gone. The digital revolution and its impact on traditional channels means brands can sharp-shoot a consumer with a message. This minimises spill-over wastages and helps improve the message performance as well. Smartly planned content and sharply planned targeting are a lethal combination in every marketer’s arsenal today.
Mobile content revolution: Smartphones are just not receivers of information but transmitters as well. This by itself single-handedly changes the game. The ‘viral’ phenomenon of content + platform ensures its transmission from one mobile to another in no time. This increases ROI manifold and potentially can deliver to a marketer an opportunity of a lifetime
Consumer churn led by technology: The rise of new-age technologies like AR, VR, holographic projections, etc., are also helping brands convert consumers at POS and churn sales. These technologies are helping brands sell an immersive and interactive experience to consumers at the POS. Story-telling could never be more powerful. Consumer engagement could never be so deep. Brand experience could never be so immersive.
Content marketing can change the way brands approach consumers. It encompasses every brand lever, every channel, every cohort and every single consumer. Make no mistake, brands that survive and thrive in the post COVID-19 era would be the ones that would have cracked this one element – content marketing.
(The author is CMO, Magicbricks.com)