Oasis has gone into administration. Debenhams may be closing down. The coronavirus pandemic has certainly put brands in a very difficult situation, what with large numbers of customers under lockdown, with many being furloughed or laid off, and therefore having to restrict their purchases and think about their long term financial health. But that doesn’t mean customers aren’t out there. Simply, engaging effectively with customers requires new approaches. In this blog, I provide content marketing strategies and general guidance on how to reach out to, and continue to convert customers during coronavirus, in a sensitive, yet constructive manner.
Adapting your messaging is of the utmost importance, as is creating purposeful, quality communication for your audience. If you’re a brand known for inappropriate humour, sorry, but now is not the time. Covid-19 has impacted individuals on a personal level across the globe, so the risk of coming off as insensitive or even exploitative is pretty high right now. One false move could spell negative consequences (*cough* Sports Direct *cough*) for future success, and this all starts with your content. It’s best to stay clear of humour, wit and sarcasm for the time being, and consider more positive, inspirational and helpful tones.
Along the same lines, you should check your content for potentially insensitive words. As WordStream points out, ‘‘there are several words and phrases that prior to COVID-19 were completely harmless’’. These include:
- Killer (as in a “killer deal”).
- Contagious (“how to create contagious content”).
- Health or checkup-related terms (“give your budget a pulse check”).
- Spread (‘’spread the word about…’’).
- Infectious / Infected (‘’our brand values are infectious’’).
- Viral (‘’how to create viral marketing strategies’’).
- Gather (‘’gather together and make yourself heard’’).
- Event (‘’the event of the century’’).
Be digging out that old thesaurus if you’re struggling with alternate wording.
If your business is still operating and relevant, it’s also important to be careful with your positioning. For example, a bank that claims, ‘’Take advantage of the recent low interest rate now!’’ suggests an insensitive message, whereas something along the lines of ‘’Let us help you navigate this unstable economy’’ suggests a sense of support, and an understanding of this unfortunate situation. If you work in advertising or marketing, you should also be reaching out to your clients and making them see the importance of being visible and accessible right now. It’s not about capitalising on the current situation, it’s about being there for those that need them. I myself have received flyers through the door of local takeaways who are helping to take the strain off the supermarkets. Without their flyers, I, along with many in my local community, would undoubtedly think they were closed. If you’re unsure how to go about this, use words in your messaging such as ‘’contribute,” “connect,” “play a role,” “navigate,” “cope,’’ and “respond”. Words to steer clear of include: “capitalise,” “advantage,” “offer,” “gain,” and “profit”.
Using Credible Coronavirus Sources
When releasing COVID-19 related content, you must ensure that the information within it is accurate and trustworthy. Inaccurate information about the coronavirus is everywhere, so make sure you get your facts straight when writing new blogs and website pages, as well as social media captions or ads that can get shared. Reliable sources include:
In an effort to minimise the spread of inaccurate information, Canva came up with a range of free print and social media templates using information from the World Health Organization. You can access their Coronavirus Awareness Collection here.
Call To Actions & Conversions
Using CTA’s such as “Call now” or “Book now” in your content is still fine, but using phrases such as “Don’t miss out!” or “Grab your spot before it’s too late!” is not going to resonate with consumers or businesses right now. Come on, nothing is as urgent or as important as coronavirus, and this tone of voice may make your business come off as self-indulgent, or even unfeeling.
Consider adjusting your content so that it’s more aligned with COVID-19 safety measures and necessary lifestyle changes. For example, using words that reinforce the safety of your audience, such as “contact-free,” “virtual,” “remote,” “in-home,” “downloadable,” “delivery,” and “online’’ will encourage greater uptake, as will CTA’s such as ‘’Learn more’’.
Ensuring your content comes off as well-meaning is only the start. How you create this content and express yourself to the world needs to be carefully planned and continuously monitored.
Developing Specialised Content Hubs
If content is a big part of your website (i.e. you regularly produce blogs) then organising this content into hub pages can be much more helpful for readers. A company that’s doing this well is Zoom, who have seen a great increase in users during coronavirus. They’ve seen the need to educate the masses on how to use the program to connect with work colleagues and loved ones. If you visit their site, they direct you to a COVID-19 hub page full of tutorials and demos, as well as a full library of content around working remotely, educating using Zoom and hosting virtual events. It’s a fantastic resource, and one which you may be able to imitate yourself. For example, a bank could create content on how to pay in cheques remotely, internet banking and how to send money online for birthday presents. Regardless of your industry, you’ll be able to create blogs and helpful resources that show an understanding of your clients’ needs during coronavirus.
If you find yourself struggling with this, helpful resources include:
Providing Status Updates
During COVID-19, one of the best ways to alert users of important information is by using a banner on your homepage above or below the navigation. If you have users that are affected by COVID-19, they should easily know where to find useful information. For example, eCommerce sites may want to update customers on any delays in delivery, and reassure them that they are still working hard to provide the best possible service during this strange time.
Considering your site’s architecture is also a good shout, placing new and more topical pages higher in the site structure so that they rank better too.
Always Be Communicating
We’ve seen restaurants go online and promote recipes through social media channels such as Facebook and YouTube. We’ve seen fitness studios and gyms use Instagram Live feeds to help people exercise at home. You have every online tool at your disposal, so use it to show your audience that you want to talk to them. Some further ideas include:
- Consultancy Services: Hold Q&A sessions on Google Hangouts with prospective clients.
- Makeup Brands: Endless possibilities here with ‘’How-To’’ videos.
Ultimately, if your content can educate, inform and make your audience’s day a little brighter during this tough time, then you should go right ahead and create it. And if you’d like any further advice and guidance on how to do just that, then we at Embryo Digital would like to make your life a little easier too.