- 2020 forced marketing teams to alter set plans and produce new content.
- Having a flexible content strategy allows your team to proactively respond to market changes.
- A content roadmap’s built-in freedom to adjust prevents plans from being compromised.
- Audiences are on different platforms and actively communicate with brands. Embrace these new platforms and two-way messaging. Content is more alive than ever.
- Inclusivity and diverse team building offer more authentic connections and multiple perspectives to content issues.
- Communication with your clients, audience, and team during difficult times can be the perfect humanizing touch and trust-building moment.
To say 2020 was different is an understatement. To save you from speeches about the sweeping world-altering changes of day-to-day life, let’s focus on things from purely a marketing perspective. 2020 gave marketers, internal teams, and external firms, like Redefine Marketing Group (RMG), plenty of reasons to question whether existing content strategies still have the correct focus and are capable of consistent results.
We quickly realized that the past year’s volatility put an overwhelming emphasis on flexibility and adaptability of content. Now, heading into 2021 and hopefully a post-COVID 19 world, we have to figure out how to build a content plan when volatility and not knowing what’s going to happen with your business – or the world – for the foreseeable future.
We’ve compiled some expert content marketing tips to help make a flexible content strategy capable of addressing the key issues and initiatives in the coming year and any other murky times.
The benefits of flexible content marketing
An integrated marketing strategy allows your business to have a fallback plan and enables an organized plan for the future. Many brands build out their strategy up to a year in advance. RMG likes to build out our engagement roadmaps for six months in advance. We feel that six months offers the right level of foreplanning and great flexibility (more on roadmaps later). The SEO space is already shifting with Google algorithm updates and evolving customer needs, so the more flexibility the better.
When COVID-19 reminded people of the importance of pivoting a brand’s strategy, we had some pre-built systems in place. That doesn’t mean we haven’t had to adapt, just that having a flexible marketing strategy allows us to invest more into successful campaigns, explore new options as they arise, and address failing strategies/metrics or reallocate resources to other marketing efforts.
Read on to learn some actionable content marketing tips that address how to make your marketing strategy more flexible.
Plan your content strategy as a roadmap
Not to toot our own horn, but we figured we’d start our list of content marketing tips with one we’re familiar with and continue to receive praise from clients.
A content marketing plan provides a high-level overview of the methodology, strategies, and tasks selected to help a business reach its content goals. Frequently, content strategies are rigid or even cookie-cutter in nature as a means to ensure efficiency and punctuality. However, by organizing content as a road map, tasks, deliverables, and even methodologies are not set in stone.
A marketing team can quickly change directions, provide alternate routes, and change gears to match a moving set goal. More importantly, this option gives the team peace of mind. The built-in freedom to adjust without the plan being completely compromised makes it easy to keep morale and productivity high.
Regularly monitor content performance
Flexibility is as valuable as the speed to which you adapt. If your brand can adapt but hasn’t noticed the need to, is it truly flexible?
There’s nothing particularly special about these content marketing tips — check your strategy’s performance monthly and tally what’s performing well and what isn’t. However, keep in mind that content and individual tactics – such as landing a featured snippet – could take months to produce reliable results. When starting from scratch, regular content monitoring can help shape the growth of your efforts. When your brand has a backlog of content, monitoring content performance can help trim the fat, develop replicable campaigns, and help pivot your past top performers towards continued success.
(Note: Most analytics software, including Google Analytics, offers automated reporting. Set up an automated report and make it easier to keep track of performance.)
Refresh and repurpose existing content
These content marketing tips go hand in hand: reporting and repurposing.
Times requiring flexibility do not necessarily mean you have to trash your content calendar. Instead, view your planned content with a new lens and ask yourself if your concept is still relevant or useful. Don’t be upset if most of it needs to be reworked; some might only need minimal tweaking. If a piece of content is not performing well, off-topic, and not worth a refresh: it’s time to prune it.
Luckily there are a few ways to salvage your planned content. Alter blog copy, rework graphics, or update data points to make those upcoming projects relevant in the new environment. Additionally, this is an excellent opportunity to audit your existing content. If any old content has a new level of relevance, now is the time to give them a facelift and promote them to the front while you develop your new content. This strategy uses under-utilized assets to buy your content team some time to shift gears.
(Note: If worse comes to worst, and your calendars are now obsolete, be transparent with your clients and the larger team while you come up with a backup plan that you can turn around quickly.)
Content marketing is not a one-way conversation
Traditional content marketing was seen as convincing people what they want and why they need it. Many think of it as a one-sided conversation, the equivalent of the salesperson with a megaphone speaking to the crowd. Now, more than ever, content is a conversation. From blog comments to social media likes, video saves, and Yelp reviews, customers are signaling, and sometimes outright telling you, what they like and don’t like. Content must adapt to customers’ and potential customers’ experiences and expectations of a company.
A whopping 88% of consumers trust online reviews as valuable representations of a company’s reliability and product quality. If your brand isn’t embracing and encouraging this new two-way avenue, these content marketing tips are especially for you. Your content should encourage interactions, address concerns, and highlight positive customer experiences.
- Ask questions in social media captions to drive engagement.
- Check reviews for sentiment and make content that addresses any actionable patterns.
- Develop Livestream panels to address updates and address audiences in real-time.
Embrace technology and new ways to communicate
As a company that spends more than a couple of hours a month writing blogs, these next content marketing tips pain me to say, but we have to be honest. Blogs are not the “end all be all” of content.
Mobile internet use outranks desktop. In other words, your content must appeal to the device it is displayed on. That’s significant for content creators because most smartphone use is spent on apps like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, versus desktop users, who spend more time reading blogs and visiting websites. Embrace this change and make content that speaks to your audience where they are.
Not to mention the last year has seen an exponential rise in people getting more comfortable with shopping and interacting online. Waves of people jumped on Zoom meetings, ordered groceries on Instacart, shopped online, and looked for new ways to cope and thrive during the pandemic. Your customers are becoming more tech-savvy and comfortable. Your content team needs to embrace the change with them.
Let us be clear; the blog is not dead. A blog is still a great place to interact with customers, build authority, establish thought leadership, and gain subscribers/leads. However, ignoring the changing tide and focusing exclusively on creating blog content is no longer the best strategy.
Content has to serve the needs of an audience and function on their preferred channels. It may be time to measure content effectiveness differently, perhaps by looking at consumption measures and feedback indicators versus volume and pageviews.
Inclusive content begins with a diverse team
Content should always speak to an audience authentically – something your content can’t fully achieve if you fail to include diverse perspectives. While we’re not suggesting you gut your marketing team, it’s something that employers should embrace moving forward.
Suppose your content team doesn’t have representation within emerging market communities. In that case, they lack a vital perspective that allows empathy and understanding of how your audience sees the world and how they make meaning.
A positive of the shift towards remote workplaces has essentially opened the door to more extensive hiring searches. If your company has successfully shifted towards working from home, you no longer have to rely on finding talent in your area for hire. We can now look for talent everywhere. In a way, it’s not about content, but it is about getting your team and representing them in the right way.
Diverse representation in content, made possible by equal hiring practices, ensure content can respond to new experiences and emerging markets with the authenticity that creates real connections.
Final thoughts on transparency
Many of these content marketing tips emphasize developing value and understanding current users’ shifting needs. During times of uncertainty or disruption, new customer acquisition may likely stall, or the purchase cycle might see heavy delays. Flexible content should then focus on building trust and fostering safety and continuity in customer relationships. These efforts will pay off down the road when things stabilize. Your actions can address what’s needed short-term while developing long-term growth.
One of the best ways of maintaining trust with your audience is by keeping your customers in the loop about a crisis that you are facing. Fostering honest and open communication can strengthen the bond with your audience. Reminding your customers that your company is composed of real humans facing similar struggles offers a personal connection that may have been difficult to establish before. Our clients have provided product availability/shipping delay updates because Winter Storm Uri continues to wreak havoc across the continental United States. We’ve had clients make official statements explaining how you are keeping your employees and customers safe while under quarantine.
So long as your content is organic and authentic, your audience will give you the benefit of the doubt and appreciate your willingness to communicate.