Digitization took off during the lockdown. E-commerce received a lasting boost and many companies did in a few months what they normally take years: bring their entire business online. What does all this mean for content marketing?
The corona crisis accelerated digital transformation. Especially at companies where turnover suddenly dried up, they had to switch quickly. Restaurants started to deliver en masse, brokers did live viewings via WhatsApp and Facebook and supermarkets also did good business online. And while online spending on services declined due to the impact on the travel and events industry, online spending on products grew by 19%, the Dutch Thuiswinkel reports. In May, online spending even increased by 50%, especially luxury items sold like hot cakes. The number of web shops increased significantly in the first and second quarter, according to CBS.
The growth in online presence sounds like good news for marketing agencies, but companies large and small are keeping their fingers crossed in anticipation of certainty. TV advertising revenue, for example, is -23% compared to last year and Google recorded its first ever revenue decline due to declining advertising revenue. And while Facebook’s advertising revenue increased by 10% (despite an advertising boycott), the question is what this looks like for the Netherlands. According to the Online Ad Spend Study by IAB Nederland, a 20% decline in ad spent will bring the era of 10 years of digital growth to an end.
What does all this mean for content marketing? I see three consequences.
Content marketing is more important than ever
Media consumption increased sharply during the corona measures: on the one hand, we were looking for substantive information about the virus and on the other, entertainment. Media consumption also increased after the easing in May, according to AdAlliance. Companies had to act quickly and create a brand story that matched the situation: focused on well-being and empathy. Not only to customers, but also to our own employees.
Brands that lost revenue due to social distancing remained in the picture with content marketing. For example, Nike made its Training Club app available for free and hotel chain DoubleTree by Hilton shared its secret recipe for chocolate chip cookies (in this video). Permanent attention, especially in difficult times, is one of the merits of the trend for companies to become publishers.
Companies are starting their own content marketing
Due to loss of revenue and budget, the focus of the marketing teams is shifting. Hard-hit industries are concerned with survival, the vast majority focused on recovery. With less advertising budget available, the choice to do content marketing yourself is logical. Due to the coronavirus, there is a need for more communication to certain target groups and there is also more time available and less budget to spend. The consultant who normally only works on the customer’s shop floor now (finally!) has the time to write out those best practices.
The decline in advertising budget forces companies to grow their own or earned reach. As a result, more attention is being paid to cost-efficient SEO, building a mailing list and launching new content platforms. This allows you to build direct communication with your target group without handing over your data and the privacy of your customers to the big tech platforms. For larger consumer brands, this involves claiming a domain of knowledge and attracting and entertaining customers. For webshops, such a content platform looks more like the top floor of IKEA: focused on products, inspiring and seducing. So-called branded commerce, with which you can convert your webshop from a boring shopping warehouse with filters and photos into an inspiration platform that appeals to customers earlier in the marketing funnel.
Exceptional content requires long-term thinking
To be effective, your content must tick all the boxes: quality, fits your brand identity, connects to the interests and needs of your target group, supports your marketing objectives and is delivered in the right form and through the right channel. This not only requires a thorough content marketing strategy, but also continuous measurement of the effects and adjustment accordingly. For most companies, this is where the biggest turning point lies: content marketing is therefore shifting from short-term to long-term.
Because not every marketing team thinks about filling the marketing funnel with thought leadership articles and inspiration blogs. With lower advertising budgets, there can be a strong tendency to choose performance marketing over brand awareness. Crisis forces short-term thinking. By focusing on the last contact before the purchase, you should be able to expect more ROI from your advertising budget. However, most markets see lower consumer spending, which means that there is simply less turnover to be achieved. The ROI is directly linked to brand awareness and brand preference: by cutting back on this, you can reduce your marketing funnel and replace your branding with competition on price. And if you cut your advertising budget completely, you will remove all clout in your market. In this way you become the plaything of a shrinking market.
Although media consumption has increased (B2C is still 30% higher in July, according to Comscore and B2B content consumption also remains high), that does not immediately mean that your blogs are read more by your target group. You compete online with Louis (The New Grumpy Cat) and 2020 memes for attention for your brand. Only by continuously measuring and improving your efforts can you work on optimal content that delivers better results.
So what is the best strategy?
The corona crisis is not over yet, and the dark clouds of an economic crisis are everywhere. You would almost forget that there is also a climate crisis going on. Marketing with countercyclical budgeting is the best strategy, but it just isn’t possible for every company. Even if it is a crisis, do not forget the long term. Make sure everyone still knows your brand when they can spend money again. Branding with content marketing in your own channels is the appropriate strategy for this.