Content marketing will continue to provide ample return on investment and drive an uptick in key metrics when managed correctly in 2021, but there are certain formats, channels and strategies that will make it that little bit easier for brands to achieve success.
With the new year just a month away, industry experts have weighed in on what trends they expect to take hold and shape campaigns in the not-too-distant future.
Live video boom continues
Live video has become a primary asset for marketers this year amid a dearth of in-person, physical events, and while a potential vaccine is on the horizon, industry experts expect the recent boom to continue.
Research by Wyzowl for the ‘State of Video Marketing Survey 2020’ found that positive return on investment has jumped in recent years. While in 2015, the figure stood at just 33%, this leapt to 83% in 2019 and again to 88% this year.
Many marketers have been finding their feet with live video this year, but Spendesk’s Patrick Whatman believes that strategies will mature during the next 12 months and more innovative approaches to webinars will come to the fore.
He notes: “Small, exclusive AMA sessions and masterclasses, fireside chats, and more interactive approaches will be more popular. People are less and less interested in sitting through 30+ slides. They want to be able to ask questions and interact.”
Whatman believes that blog posts are still better for delivering information in a faster, more digestible manner but that focused group gatherings can uncover interesting insights.
Content experience comes to the fore
You may have already taken notice of Google’s recent laser focus on the page experience, but its importance bears repeating again, especially with the arrival of UX-based signals in search in early 2021.
When the busy holiday period is over, you should have an opportunity to start building a better webpage and content experience. Both the quality of your content and technical factors are important here. Everything needs to load fast, be intuitive, and be free of annoying pop-ups and ad panels.
Content expert Adam Enfroy says that the overall aim should be to make users stay on your website, and he believes that “learning pages” can support this aim. These learning pages can include a mix of blogs, articles, videos, webinars and tactical internal linking and calls to action to drive lead generation.
Content that supports product launches
Content marketing is primarily focused on building trust and authority via materials that are more closely aligned with the customer than the brand. However, 2021 could see a rise in content being created that ties in directly with product and service launches.
While top-of-the-funnel and middle-of-the-funnel content is great at engaging and informing prospects, bottom-of-the-funnel content is crucial for getting potential clients and customers over the line. At this stage, marketers should attempt to inspire confidence in purchase decisions and set out reasons why a brand is superior to direct competitors.
Converting customers isn’t easy, but copy that is data-driven and packed with pertinent information can do the job. Understanding how content can align with buyer personas is also important, according to G2 marketing manager Lauren Pope.
She adds: “This makes it much easier to attribute content marketing directly to influenced revenue, plus it supports so much of the amazing work our other internal marketing teams produce.”
Building better content communities
Marketing teams have started using Slack and other forms of business communication platforms to a greater extent in 2020 due to stay-at-home work measures. One effect that this has had is building out of content communities, many of which were largely isolated to smaller, internal teams only 12 months ago.
These communities will make content creation and sharing easier in 2021 and allow marketing teams to improve the reach of their processes with fewer resources. G2’s Lauren Pope believes that this will enable content teams to “hit peak velocity”, which is great news whether you are working in-house or outsourcing to agencies.
This peak velocity will make it easier to create more content without there being any discernible drop-off in quality. Community reach can be expanded yet further through effective social media management as platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook host a potential audience of billions.
SaaS marketer Masooma Memon expects this greater reach to translate to greater brand awareness and an uptick in important metrics such as engagement. She adds: “Whether it’s content for social, your blog, or a webinar, it’s going to continue focusing on making your audience feel like a community.”
Further investment in SEO
Content marketing and SEO go hand in hand. Therefore, it’s no surprise to see industry experts predict greater investment in SEO to work in tandem with the uptick in content creation and distribution.
Sales Hacker’s Brooklin Nash believes that “high quality SEO” will be a “critical piece” of the content marketing jigsaw and that “second movers” who have analysed best practices and come up with their own bespoke strategies will be able to differentiate themselves from the heavy hitters in search.
Key to this will be using long-tail keywords, which are typically associated with lower search volumes, within text and copy to drive traffic from people who are more focused and committed to seeking out niche services.
Brands can get a head start for 2021 by refreshing SEO strategies based on more in-depth content that can support these long-tail opportunities.
Even more repurposing
Making the most of what you have already got has been a popular trend in 2020, with the benefits of upcycling and reusing content being regularly espoused by experts. You can expect much of the same next year.
Repurposing content across a variety of channels will always make sense, especially if you are crafting excellent, engaging content. You can publish a blog you have invested time and money into just once, but you can really make it go further by using that blog as a jumping-off point for more format-specific content.
Brooklin Nash concludes: “In 2021, content teams will start figuring out how to most effectively use content from webinars, round tables, podcasts and conferences to stoke the content bonfire.”