The global pandemic had a significant impact on content marketing strategies during the first half of the year.
However, with consumer behaviour now normalising and lockdowns easing, will the spectre of COVID-19 still dominate major content trends for the remainder of the year?
One thing that is likely to remain prevalent into 2021 is the need to deploy more affordable organic content campaigns to support key objectives. The loss of in-person events is a blow, but companies can pivot to online digital experiences to drive high levels of customer engagement and support brand loyalty and retention.
A recent study claimed that “content is still king” and this will remain true during the final five months of the year. Regardless of the channels and formats you use, the quality of content will be central to success, both for SEO and generating click-throughs and traffic to your webpages.
Outside of an organic push, there are several other trends that will be keenly felt by marketers and agencies during the late summer and into autumn.
Consumers are fatigued by COVID-related content, but there remains a demand for content that informs them about ethical and societal issues. People want to buy into a brand that is doing things right, whether that’s providing excellent working conditions for staff or setting up schemes to help those in need. The other major news event of the year has been the resurgence of Black Lives Matter, which saw many brands come out in support for the movement.
Content marketing remains one of the best tools for getting into these trending conversations. With just a simple social media post and hashtag, brands are able to communicate and respond to crises in a meaningful way. Consumers are also more likely to vocalise issues that are important to them on social platforms. During late 2020, brands will take more time to use content to show that they care.
Creating insightful added-value content has been a trend in content marketing for a while now, and it is particularly pertinent in today’s climate where customers want useful information that can help them to adapt to changing situations. Pushing hard sells and heavy brands to one side in favour of empathetic and advisory messaging will be the objective for marketers heading into the autumn and winter.
While restrictions have eased for now, there are certain limitations that are likely to be in place for at least the next 12 months, and content remains one of the best ways to help and advise consumers. For example, B&Q recently detailed in-store safety measures and other useful information for customers ahead of its reopening via a series of Instagram Stories.
Optimise for B2B
Being useful also extends to B2B relationships, but there is a difference between business-client interactions and the content that is required to meet the end user’s needs. While B2C often involves a short buying cycle and a focus on deals and entertainment, target audiences in B2B marketing are more comfortable with longer buying cycles and are more value driven rather than looking for immediate personal gratification.
Marketers who juggle different campaigns will achieve success by selling stories at the right moment and creating multi-layered content with text, images and video that can support end users wherever they are in the sales cycle.
Virtual experiences have really come to the fore this year, being crucial in the absence of more traditional events and marketing that have been cancelled in the wake of the pandemic. Brands are becoming more accustomed to relying on digital for everything they do, both for marketing and wider business processes. This has resulted in a boom in live streaming and other forms of virtual interactions.
Brands that managed successful digital transformation strategies before 2020 are the best placed now to make the most of the switch. With a dearth of real-world experiences, marketers must look to enhance their branding and online storytelling during the final five months of the year. Marketing can also support newer digital ad products that allow customers to view and purchase products during a video.
As marketers become more comfortable with virtual, you can expect to see more cutting-edge experiences arrive during the next few years. Brands will look to use augmented reality and AI in mobile apps to drive engagement and publish content with more interactive elements.
Consumers are craving a more authentic human touch from brand communications, both of which can be conveyed via videos on social media platforms. This is good news for start-ups and SMEs as expensive, overly produced and commercial ads are being eschewed in favour of content that is more grounded, affordable and relatable.
You can tap into this trend by, for example, focusing on short-form videos that go behind the scenes at your workplace. You could also start employing user-generated content alongside your daily or weekly publication of news and blogs on social media. Merely asking customers to share their experiences, either in a clip or via a message, will provide you with content that can be used to highlight the strength of your brand. All of this can be done at a much lower cost than prestige video marketing.
High-quality digital experiences require excellent content design. This is an area that webmasters and SEOs are paying attention to in 2020, especially after Google recently revealed its Core Web Vitals, which are a set of quality signals that are closely linked to delivering a great web user experience. Google also continues to push its preference for fast-loading, intuitive mobile content.
The need for high speed, ease of use and simple navigation is all to do with web design and optimisation. Brands can remain a step ahead by optimising for technical SEO factors and general web design best practices during the rest of the year. This is the perfect time to make the necessary changes, with Google’s switchover to a mobile-first index now slated for March 2021.