Content marketing is still a critical part of any organization’s marketing strategy, and this isn’t about to change in 2021.
As an industry, it is fast-moving towards a worth of more than $400 billion, which just goes to show the kind of confidence and investment brands and businesses have put into it.
Since 2018 when significant changes were first realized in content marketing, companies today use different types of content such as blogs, videos, infographics, whitepapers, newsletters, podcasts and more, through various media to create brand awareness.
They’re also able to achieve other brand objectives such as driving revenue, personalizing the customer experiences and achieving cost efficiencies. This just goes to show that content marketing helps brands and businesses do more than just marketing.
With 2021 just around the corner, it’s about time we took stock and analyze the things that have worked for content marketing this year, and those that didn’t quite fix the chop. It’s also good to analyze the surprises and what’s in store in the next few months ahead.
Not only does this help to keep up with current and upcoming trends, but it also helps businesses determine the right style of content marketing to use for specific seasons and marketing campaigns.
As content gets better thanks to smarter strategies, researching, creation and publishing of the same, we’re careering towards a brighter future with more prospects of great and helpful content that aligns with the consumer’s habits, tastes, and search needs.
If you’re in the midst of planning your content marketing strategies for 2021, here are some of the biggest trends to anticipate.
1. Voice content strategy
It’s no longer an option to not have a voice content strategy in place; as such content opens a whole new channel for more engagement with consumers.
In 2018 alone, the adoption of smart speakers grew 38.9 per cent, with about 26.2 per cent of U.S. adults having access to at least one smart speaker.
It also saves the hassles and expenses that come with having a clunky website, plus the budgetary spend required for social media ads just to reach your target market or customers.
Content will also be voice search optimized as 2021 will see as many as half of all online searches done by voice.
One of the easiest ways to optimize your content for voice search is to ensure it gets to the featured snippet section on search engines, and know the kind of searches that end up there.
As consumers increasingly use smart speakers for interactions in 2021, the voice-activated content businesses have been creating that was grounded in giving information that’s helpful and valuable, will get an extra layer of nuance and specificity.
2. Increased prevalence of Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) is poised to increase in the coming year and going forward. In fact, by 2022, the number of mobile AR users is expected to grow to about 3.5 billion worldwide, which is 44 per cent of the current population, with about 15 billion in projected revenues from AR ads in social media.
Smart content marketers know all too well the kind of opportunities that AR will bring based on the current trends, and it’s on an upward trajectory from here on.
3. Mapping digital customer journeys
One of the trends that will continue to grow into 2021 is mapping digital customer journeys.
A study showed that 73 per cent of B2B businesses say they map their customers’ digital journeys, compared to 55 per cent and 56 per cent of B2C and B2G businesses respectively.
If you’re not familiar with it or haven’t tried it yet in your business, customer journey mapping is simply portraying the customer’s experience graphically with your business across touchpoints.
It’s a holistic approach that helps businesses understand the flow of consumer experiences with different businesses.
You can use pictures to represent the process from when the customer searches for a particular product online to the moment of purchase, in a way that words can’t quite capture.
4. Artificial Intelligence may replace Content Marketing agencies
While it may not be easy to completely detach the human involvement from technology, such that robots and other AI-powered devices take over routine tasks, it’s possible that as it advances, some businesses like content marketing agencies may be adversely affected.
A good example is the lingerie brand, Cosabella, which replaced its agency with Albert, an AI engine, which handles the marketing and media buying processes for the company, including email, search, mobile, display and social.
The company reported seeing an exponential increase in revenues and decreased costs. As AI advances, agencies need to reconsider their operations and become more creative to stay ahead of the curve.
5. Visual-forward platforms and content will continue trending
Video has been a huge deal in 2019 enticing over 90% of marketers. It will continue being so especially with YouTube’s popularity, AR, and dynamic imagery. In 2021, it’s expected to rise because it’s one of the types of content that’s consumed thoroughly, and pay attention to a lot more.
As consumers’ habits and tastes move more into video, marketers need to step up the quality of the storytelling to engage their audiences even more.
Live video is also going to stabilize and rise as a popular form of content, including search results in 2021.
Interactive content that requires consumers to participate and be actively engaged more than just watching or reading will also rise, but to reach a wider audience, companies will probably throw in a few rewards in return for that engagement like games, AR lenses, sweepstakes, animation and more.
6. Burgeoning of messaging apps
As of March 2019, the top three most popular mobile messaging apps in the U.S. were Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and WhatsApp. This trend will continue into 2021, where the apps are expected to proliferate as they come with several new opportunities for content marketers.
They’ll also include many content aspects, with the hopes of clinching the billions of active messaging app users.
If you’ve not yet considered messaging apps in your content strategy, think about the over 3 billion consumers spending hours on there.
7. Tik Tok will be essential
Instant gratification media, such as TikTok, is becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s society, and with 850 million users which are growing all the time, businesses are just starting to catch onto how useful it can be for marketing, not their products and services, but themselves.
With the conjoined growth of Gen Z and the exponential popularity of social media, marketing is no longer about selling a specific item to customers. Instead, the focus is on building a ‘community’ of fans that are loyal to that company. People love to feel as if they are part of something, but they have to want to be part of it – which is why pre-existing visual marketing methods don’t translate to TikTok very well.
For example, Chipotle has whole-heartedly embraced the ideology of TikTok and grown an audience of 1.3 million followers. They’ve also partnered with TikTok stars, such as @daviddobrik (who himself has 24.2 million followers) to create funny, relatable content.
It’s not about selling one burrito to one person but creating a culture where someone’s first choice is Chipotle. For brands to effectively evolve as the market changes, companies need to been seen as an interactable individual, rather than a faceless corporation.
8. Podcasts are a good strategy
Podcasts are one of the most easily consumed forms of media, which makes them a brilliant choice for marketing. Combine this with Chartable’s prediction that we’re entering the ‘golden age of podcasts’, and this presents the perfect time for companies to experiment with new ways of marketing and get ahead of the curve.
Because podcasts aren’t an instant media format, listeners who do choose podcasts are prepared to fully engage with the topics of discussion. This may be a reason why consumers aren’t as open to podcast advertisements. A break in their sense of immersion damages their enjoyment, and consequently, may negatively impact their perception of the business.
The question then is, how to market your company without advertisements? One effective method seems to be sponsoring podcasters to mention a specific product organically, since this gets listeners thinking about the product without it feeling like an ad. It may be worth marketers considering the development of unique content, to be seamlessly embedded into a specific podcast, rather than shoehorning in pre-recorded audio tracks.
With around 25% of US adults switching on a podcast at least several times a week, the podcasting format is a great way to let consumers experience intelligent product placement at their own leisure. Organic marketing can easily take advantage of this and convert listeners into consumers if executed effectively.
As a content marketer or business owner, 2021 brings a lot more than just these six trends, but you need to know what inspires your target audience and how you can engage them.
Make sure you add them as part of your planning process going forward. The future of content is here, and it looks good!