Marketers turning to new content platforms during the COVID crisis, despite budget cuts

by | Nov 4, 2020 | Covid-19, Public Relations

Content has long been king, and times of crisis are when a king’s full power is put on display. Smart communicators are taking notice of the rising reliance on digital during the COVID pandemic, and are reaching their audiences by boosting their digital content output with multimedia storytelling efforts, according to new research from media hosting firm Wistia.

The firm’s newly released 2020 State of SMB Marketing & Content Creation Report, conducted by research partner Qualtrics, examines content creation priorities and challenges during the pandemic, as well as a general outlook for the industry in the coming year. Among the key highlights is that small and midsized business (SMB) marketers are accelerating investments in content creation in 2020 despite significant budget cuts and other constraints—including a fast pivot to podcasting.

Podcast concept.

While 68 percent of marketers experienced budget cuts by an average of 19 percent, original content creation has increased as finding new customers has become a bigger priority during the pandemic. Additionally, 73 percent of SMB marketers are hopeful and expect budgets to increase in 2021.

“Despite budget cuts, marketers aren’t slowing down content creation and are even accelerating the development of new content across new platforms,” said Chris Meador, VP of marketing at Wistia, in a news release. “During these tumultuous times, marketers are recognizing the value of their owned channels. They’re creating more content than before the pandemic, and are finding new, effective ways to tell their brands’ stories.”

A businessman selecting a Content Concept button on a clear screen.

Marketers are re-focusing efforts on driving growth across owned digital channels

While increasing organic traffic and growing a digital presence were marked as top priorities, marketers are struggling with finding ways to reach new customers and growing their customer base. Forty-nine percent of respondents said increasing organic traffic is their number one or two priority over the next 12 months, yet one of the biggest challenges facing marketers is finding new ways to reach customers with 59 percent of respondents saying this was their biggest challenge. Thirty-three percent of respondents ranked growing their digital presence as their first or second priority for the next year.

Visual contents concept. Social networking service. Streaming video. communication network.

Despite budget cuts, marketers increase investments in original content creation

Even with budgets shrinking, original content creation is on the rise and is seen as a necessity to increase customers in this increasingly virtual world. Nearly a quarter of respondents (24 percent) didn’t create any original content including videos, podcasts or other assets pre-pandemic, but that has dropped to 11 percent during the pandemic.

Marketers know they need to reach audiences in new ways and are prioritizing new tactics, including 55 percent saying they have utilized virtual events and 53 percent saying video content. Video content is the most popular form of content being created, with 51 percent of respondents having created product and webinar videos pre-pandemic and 59 percent of respondents saying they’ve recently created product videos.

Two young men in smart casual wear talking while making new video indoors

Podcast launches have also increased. Pre-pandemic, only 14 percent of respondents had created a podcast and this has risen to 29 percent who have now launched one.

Marketers eye podcasts to tell specific stories, expand brand recognition and highlight company culture

Almost all respondents (87 percent) are considering launching a podcast in the next 12 months, with many having reported already launching one. Respondents reportedly launched a podcast primarily to increase brand awareness, with 69 percent of respondents ranking this as their first or second priority. Highlighting company culture (45 percent) and reaching a specific audience (28 percent) were also noted as main reasons for launching a podcast. Nineteen percent ranked podcasts as a necessary marketing channel for their industry as a primary reason for launching one. Challenges to launching a podcast included 47 percent ranking it not being on their radar as their top first or second barrier, followed by 41 percent thinking their company is too small and 35 percent who aren’t sure how to get started launching one.

Young woman recording a podcast in a studio, close-up.

Wistia’s national study was conducted online by Qualtrics between September 9th and September 22nd of 2020. The sample included 311 senior marketers (CMO, VP, or Director or Manager or Marketing Function) who are at least 18 years old, have at least five years of work experience, and work for a company between 26 and 1,000 employees. The survey results have a margin of error of 6%, at a 95% confidence level. 

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter