How to Build Your Content Marketing Competency for a Post-COVID Future

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Varnished tale can’t be round –coronavirus did us dirty. There’s probably not a single human on this planet who wasn’t affected by the changes brought by the pandemic. And, for better or for worse, these changes are staying.

Digital marketing, like many other industries, also went through a rapid transformation, as consumer behavior changed over the course of the first couple of months of quarantine. This transformation made companies switch from certain marketing strategies in favor of different ones.

However, one strategy that seemed to only get stronger despite all the disruption is content marketing.

What’s the Current State of Content Marketing?

Brands around the world seem to put even more emphasis on producing content for marketing purposes. However, the majority of brands had to change their content marketing strategies altogether to keep being relevant.

According to the research by Content Marketing Institute involving B2B companies, 94% of the respondents had to drastically change their content marketing efforts, as many of them reported major to moderate impact from the pandemic:v

Image credit: Content Marketing Institute

The good news is that 4 out of 5 marketers say that the changes they made were successful. Moreover, 86% of the respondents expect these changes to stay in effect even after the pandemic is over.

This research shows that if you want your content marketing strategy to remain competitive, you need to recognize the changes and adjust to them as quickly as possible. Today, there are already quite a few COVID-inflicted trends that seem to have a significant impact on content marketing and are expected to stay in effect even after the pandemic is over.

So, let’s take a look at these trends and discuss how they can help you build your content marketing competency for a post-COVID future.

1. Put More Focus on Data

When you suddenly see the effects of your marketing efforts plummeting, what’s the first thing you check? Of course, it’s your marketing data.

The impact of data analytics has only increased in the wake of the pandemic because it has shown to be effective in helping businesses track the results from their marketing efforts and predict their success in the future. As a result, 76% of small businesses said they are upskilling in data analytics to remain competitive.

Which benefits can data analytics bring to content marketing?

  • helps analyze your audience’s demographics and psychographics
  • allows predicting content preferences
  • personalize marketing campaigns
  • improve customer engagement
  • assists in analyzing audience behaviors and predict them

Here’s an example to illustrate how data can help tackle some of these challenges.

If your business is active on social platforms, you might already have all the answers at hand, thanks to social data.

Social data is the information that internet users share publicly, mostly on social media. This data usually includes details on:

  • demographics
  • psychographics
  • audience feedback, likes, shares, and so on

Social media platforms usually mine this data in real-time and make it available to you through the Analytics tab. There, you can find the answers to different questions related to content marketing.

For example, if you are preparing content for your social media channels, you can take a look at your audience’s content preferences. Here’s how it looks on Facebook:

As you can see from the image above, you can get social data on the reach of your posts and also check out the engagement to understand which types of posts your followers prefer the most. These insights can provide you with great content creation ideas and help you build a content strategy for your social platforms.

You can’t deny the huge value that you can extract from data analytics. It can have a huge impact not just on your content marketing strategy but also on your email marketing, sales, etc., helping you remain competitive in the post-COVID future.

2. Level up Your SEO Efforts

Google is slowly but surely changing the ways it presents and categorizes information to the public.

Since the initial outbreak of the pandemic, Google had to deal with a lot of misinformation about the novel coronavirus. And since its goal is to provide people with only relevant and trustworthy information, it was the main task of Google to find a way to put such information first in the search results.

For example, if you start searching for the keyword “coronavirus,” at the top, you will see the links to news articles as well as information on symptoms from CDC:

Even if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, it still contains only the most trustworthy resources, including governmental institutions and research centers:

And, even on the 6th and 7th page of the search results, you will still have access only to credible resources. This is the prime example of Google’s efforts to shield its users from information and would create misunderstanding or even panic.

However, the most interesting feature that Google has introduced to everybody who’s searching for this keyword is the categorization of data:

Some SEO experts think that such a categorization of information will stay even after the pandemic is over because it makes search results easier to navigate.

According to Franco Valentino, the founder of Narrative SEO, Google will introduce the categorization menu to the search very soon, and it will impact how brands do search engine optimization and will consequently impact their content marketing strategy since it’s closely connected to SEO.

However, Mr. Valentino notes that even if Google doesn’t include the categorization feature on a permanent basis, one trend that is now impacting and will define the way companies do SEO in the post-COVID future is search intent.

Let’s look at the topic of search intent a bit closer. Consider you’re researching a keyword “custom coursework writing” for your next blog post article. First, you go to your keyword research tool to see the search difficulty and the overall search volume:

Normally, your research would stop here, but now you will also have to take into consideration with which intent your users would look for the keyword like this.

Are they simply looking for information?

Is there a landing page on the internet under this keyword?

Are they looking for an opportunity to purchase coursework?

Or are they simply trying to compare different services?

These four questions define the four main types of search intent: informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial. You will have to adjust your keyword to match one of these search intent types for Google to categorize your page and put it in the relevant search results.

How can you research search intent?

Unfortunately, no SEO tool will help you define the search intent for your keywords, you only have to do the research yourself. Here are a few approaches you can include in your keyword intent research:

  • Browse and compare Google search results. This means you will have to go through at least the first five resources in the SERPs to see how they use the keyword you’re interested in and which topic it is related to.
  • Take a look at what people also search for. This will not only help you better understand with which intent people are looking for certain information but will also give you additional keyword ideas:

  • Search Reddit, Quora, and other forums for ideas. People often look for information on public forums rather than Google because there they can get expert opinions faster. You can browse such forums using the keyword you’re interested in to see with which intent people are looking for it:

There is no doubt that search intent will define SEO in the post-COVID future as well. We’ve already seen how Google optimized the search results page for coronavirus, making it fully informational, without any transactional or commercial intent.

Besides, if Google decides to make the categorization feature permanent, search intent will play a huge part in it because Google will use it to classify all the resources. So, get ready for these changes right now and level up your SEO game to remain relevant.

3. Invest in Interactive Content

Because of the pandemic, the main focus of the consumers has shifted from entertainment towards more value. This was one of the reasons why brands in the research we discussed a bit earlier had to change their content marketing strategies so rapidly.

As a result, when the pandemic ends, brands will be in need to re-engage their customers. But since value rules the minds of the consumers now, brands will have to use it as a focus for their post-COVID content marketing strategies.

One of the ways to combine both value and entertainment is by creating interactive content. Over the past couple of years, this type of content has proven to be effective in generating new leads and retaining existing customers. But most importantly, it’s proven to deliver huge value to consumers.

Reportedly, 45% of B2B buyers say interactive content is in their top three preferred content types because it helps them decide which information they want to view according to their current needs.

Apart from bringing you more attention from the consumers, interactive content also brings more diversity to your overall content marketing strategies. Brands can choose from a variety of interactive content types, including:

  • calculators
  • generators
  • quizzes and games
  • polls and surveys
  • multi-touch photos and videos
  • e-books

Another great type of interactive content is an infographic. It can be especially beneficial for B2B companies who often have to visualize data in an engaging way, which can be quite hard to achieve.

Surely, you can make infographics static, but interactive infographics will deliver more engagement and have more value proposition. Your customers will be able to choose which information they want to learn, and it will also contribute to customer retention since you’re offering something unique and useful.

Besides, if you decide to diversify your SEO efforts with a link building strategy, interactive content is the best content type to build links to because of its uniqueness. People would always like to link to something that’s one of a kind, so if you want to remain relevant during the pandemic and in the post-COVID future, start investing in interactive content right now.

4. Switch Focus to Videos

Surely, the content preferences of the major public have changed over the course of the pandemic, and these preferences will impact how brands are doing their content marketing strategies.

The World Economic Forum did interesting research studying the current content preferences affected by the pandemic divided by different generations. And, among different content types, there’s one that dominates all of them – online videos.

According to this research, 51% of Gen Z-ers, 44% of Millennials, and 35% of Gen X-ers named online videos as their top-preferred content type to consume during the pandemic.

However, to be honest, video content was at the top of content marketing before the COVID broke out. However, with the onset of the pandemic, people started consuming more videos, being locked down at their houses, sometimes without an opportunity to leave the houses.

People use videos for everything – learning, interacting with brands, and, of course, looking for new products and comparing them. This makes a video an especially valuable resource of information, and it, most likely, will remain the same even after the pandemic.

So, if you want to successfully build your content marketing competency for a post-COVID future, start researching your video content opportunities and invest in marketing videos as soon as possible.

The growth of global video content consumption is another point why you have to focus more on this content type. Just take a look at how drastically the global mobile video traffic will increase by 2022:

Image credit: Statista

With all this data, you can’t deny that videos should be an important part of your strategy if you want to build your content marketing competency for a post-COVID future, as this type of content has proven to be relevant regardless of the situation we are in.

5. Create a Community

To wrap up all out points in this article, your main focus should be on creating a community when implementing each of them to optimize your content marketing strategy for our reality after the pandemic.

You might have noticed how, over the past few months, people have been putting more and more effort into uniting against the virus, which has also impacted content marketing.

Many brands started putting together marketing campaigns aimed at fostering a sense of community and people supporting each other to help get through the tough times. Guinness’s Saint Patrick’s Day campaign is a great example of it, calling people to be kind to one another:

Video credit: Guinness

So, no matter what changes you make in your content marketing campaigns during and post COVID, do it with a sense of community in mind.

Over to You

We all know that change is hard. But it’s also necessary to help us move forward.

Content marketing has changed as well, and it will keep changing under pressure from the pandemic. It’s all about how you tackle these changes and how well you can use them to prepare your brand for the future.

Hopefully, our tips and insights will help you build your content marketing competency for the future after COVID and facilitate the growth of your brand.