Content Pivots During COVID: Getting The Most Out Of Your Strategy
The impacts of COVID-19 for businesses across the globe are significant. As a digital marketing agency with clients of all sizes, industries, and business models, we’ve been uniquely positioned to witness firsthand how different businesses have been impacted by the pandemic. For example, many of our e-commerce clients are boasting the best numbers they’ve ever seen (beating out even holiday numbers), while others (like gyms, restaurants, event companies, and other service-based businesses) have not been so lucky.
Regardless of what end of the spectrum the business falls on, one thing has remained the same: we’ve had to throw out our pre-COVID marketing strategy and adopt brand new tactics to acclimate to this “new normal”. In this blog post, we’ll be uncovering just how much the marketing landscape has shifted in recent months and how to adjust your strategies accordingly. Let’s dive in!
Evolution Of The Search Landscape Through The Pandemic
COVID-19 has heavily impacted consumers’ everyday lives; people are working from home, spending more time on hobbies, and looking to improve their health. Because of this, the search landscape has shifted significantly with new trends in product demands and information sought after.
For example, gym closures in many states have impacted fitness routines, and thus people have turned to online workouts at home. According to Honcho, search queries for different types of workouts increased by up to 45%. The stay-at-home orders in early months also led to more time spent at home and an increase in movie streaming consumption. This was shown by a 73% increase in searches for different streaming services.
Aligning Strategy With Trends
As you can see, COVID has impacted areas of everyday life and as a result, the things people search for. In order to take advantage of the changing climate, it’s important to remain agile with your content strategy and optimize accordingly. This means optimizing your existing content to meet the changing landscape or creating new content for it.
A great example of aligning strategy with search trends is with a company called Possible Finance. Possible Finance offers payday loan alternatives to ensure financial fairness for all. With over 100 million people being laid off due to COVID-19, financial-related searches saw a spike in interest. More specifically, Google reported an almost 100% increase in search volume for “loan” related keywords between March and April, when comparing it to previous months. Possible Finance took advantage of this spike in interest by creating COVID-related blogs on financial support. Their two blogs published on this topic drove 107,974 sessions and 98,526 new users to their website between March and April.
How to Identify & Utilize Search Trends
When creating new content, there are a number of ways you can identify and stay on top of rising search trends. The following are some of the most commonly used.
Using Google Trends
You can always rely on Google when it comes to identifying search trends. With Google Trends, you can look at daily search trends, real-time search trends, or enter in any given topic and adjust the timeline of search history. To get the most out of this data, check out our guide on how to use Google Trends to get better marketing and SEO results.
Diving into Reddit
Digging into Reddit is a great way to find what people are interested in and what types of questions they’re asking. An easy way to identify trending topics is to do a general topic search and search through the subreddits. These sub-forums can reveal a number of relevant content ideas that your brand can leverage in your content strategy.
Discovering Trending Topics With Exploding Topics
This tool allows you to identify trending topics and segment by industry and time frame. With the changing climate and uncertainty of every industry, using Exploding Topics is key for identifying unique topics that are gaining traction.
For example, above you’ll see how in recent months, the topic of “maskne” has gained popularity in the beauty industry. Beauty brands can take advantage of this trending topic by creating content accordingly, such as a blog on How to Combat Maskne.
It’s not enough to simply do keyword research. Staying on top of trends will allow you to get ahead of the curve with your content strategy and pivot where needed.
Pivots During COVID (Getting Scrappy With Content)
The ability to pivot quickly and track ROI are two big draws of a digital campaign. In today’s climate, those items are more important than ever. One key strategy to help catalyze the results of your marketing funnel is launching a landing page that narrows in on the thoughts, fears, and buying considerations today’s customer is faced with. One brand that did a great with this is Sunday Scaries CBD. Key items they called out included:
- Shipping direct to your door (no need to visit the store)
- Turning isolation into inspiration
- Focusing on self care
- Calming your racing mind during uncertain times
When it comes to sales copy, it always has been a best practice to engage with the inner dialogue of your customer and speak to their outcome vision. Today’s recommendations are no different. If your target audience is experiencing financial trouble and looking for a solution you offer, it’s important to level with where they are at and paint the picture of a brighter future and the feeling associated with it. If your target audience is struggling to hit their stride with at-home workouts, you’ll want to speak to the ease, accountability, and results of your program. Call out the stumbling blocks they may be encountering and how you can help them break through (Ex. loss of motivation due to uncertain times, snacking at home, lacking proper equipment, etc.). By quickly pivoting and standing up a landing page that resonates with your audience you’ll be able to increase your conversion rate and overall return on investment without paying a premium.
Elevate Existing Content
The majority of content marketing strategies are focused on publishing new content consistently. However, what often gets overlooked is the level of opportunity that exists within your existing blog inventory. Many times, there’s a plethora of hidden gems just waiting to be found, and if discovered and optimized correctly, can open the floodgates to new traffic and conversions.
The biggest component of successfully optimizing existing content is the conscientious blend of SEO best practices and high-quality editorial standards. In order to maintain a dominant position for relevant search queries, your content needs to match ‘user intent’ in an engaging, useful, and practical approach. However, as most marketers painstakingly know, content loses organic traffic quickly due to time (relevancy) and freshly published content from competitors eying the same keywords and themes you are targeting. A steady cadence of elevating existing content is a resourceful and effective method to combat these consistent threats. Let’s look at a few actionable solutions you can implement into your content marketing strategy today.
Focus on Keywords in ‘Striking Distance’
Identifying keywords in striking distance (i.e., keywords that are currently ranked on Page 2 and in a good position to move up to Page 1), is an often overlooked keyword building strategy.
The strategy is simple:
- Identify your Page 2 Rankings for an Existing Blog. You can use SEO software tools such as Ahrefs and SEMRush as an easy way to consolidate your findings. Take, for example, a search term with 20,000 monthly searches that currently resides on Page 2; optimization around this keyword to bump its position onto the top 10 SERP results would yield a significant increase in traffic. Once you’ve identified the search terms to optimize toward, you’re ready to move onto the next step.
- Build Relevant Content Around A Targeted Theme. Your topical capacity to produce timely, fresh information on a particular theme is key to moving up in the rankings. Focusing on building content around the subject matter of the targeted keyword vs. the keyword itself is crucial to successfully executing this step; so, be sure to analyze the intent behind the query, fill in the content gaps with relevant information inspired by reputable sources and competitors, and become a valuable resource to your audience.
- Pass Link Equity Throughout Your Existing Content Inventory. Interweaving internal links throughout different articles of your blog while using the ‘striking distance’ keyword (or a natural-sounding variation of the ‘striking distance’ keyword) as anchor text is a quick and easy way to support this strategy. Take 30 or so minutes out of your day to run through your existing articles and identify half a dozen or so opportunities to internally link back to your targeted keyword.
Case Study: Vario Productions
Around the beginning of March 2020, the U.S. really started to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. With this new and unknown virus spreading at an exponential rate, the immediate course of action was to social distance and stay at home. One of the first industries to be hit by the pandemic impact was the event space.
With music festivals, business conferences, and sporting games being canceled all over the world, event companies had to quickly adapt their strategy if they wanted to make it through. A great example of event companies that executed this well through digital marketing is Vario Productions.
Vario was one of the first event production companies to pivot to virtual meetings and hybrid events as a safe and effective solution for their clients. To introduce people to their unique offering, they leaned into Content Marketing as a reliable top of the funnel tactic.
Typically with content marketing, you can estimate your expected success by looking at the search volume around keywords you are targeting along with the competitive nature of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). In this instance, keywords related to the pandemic were so new that they wouldn’t appear in most keyword research tools so Vario had to turn to Google Search Trends to find emerging topics that were highly relevant. Certain topics that were uncovered from Google Trends include:
- How to practice social distancing at events
- How to find a job in the event industry during COVID-19
- Virtual event checklist
- How to hold productive virtual meetings
- What is a hybrid event
The product that was created from this content marketing strategy included three different content clusters around virtual events and conferencing, adhering to COVID-19 safety guidelines, and hybrid events. Typically when you publish a new blog post, it takes 2-3 months to really gain any significant keyword rankings or traffic. In the case of Vario’s content marketing pivot, they saw immediate wins for a number of blog posts right off the bat.
The blog titled, “Virtual Event Checklist: The Steps You Can’t Miss When Planning a Virtual Event,” has driven 476 sessions in only three months from being published when typical blog posts for Vario would only gain around 100 sessions in that time frame.
While conversions aren’t a target metric of success for content marketing, certain existing blog posts that were extremely relevant to the COVID-19 landscape started to drive conversions, including “Hologram Presentation: The New Normal” and “What are the Benefits of Live Streaming Events.”
All in all, content marketing, as it is rooted in SEO, is usually a long term play. Evergreen pieces that will continue to be relevant over time and drive traffic to your site are the bread and butter. That said, in the case of a pandemic or other life-altering situation, if businesses can adapt their strategy and lean into what users are searching for, they will likely see some quick wins that can get them through hard times.
As you can see, COVID has had a huge impact on businesses of all shapes and sizes since it began rearing its head back in March of 2020. However, with just the right amount of creative thinking, strategic pivots, and ongoing analysis, many businesses can continue to operate, and in some cases, even grow significantly during these unprecedented times.
Wondering how your business can overcome COVID with an innovative marketing strategy? Get in touch with us today!