In 2020, stay-at-home orders and the shutting down of brick-and-mortar businesses led us to the Internet more than ever before. E-commerce grew by 44 percent, the highest year-over-year growth in the US in two decades, says Digital Commerce 360. And just as significant is the online content that’s an integral part of the sales funnel — an essential function of the buyer journey. Now that the year has passed, we can take the experiences of the previous year and translate them into the marketing strategies we should focus our efforts on. Take a look at the top 10 content marketing trends in 2021 for you to integrate into your strategy.
Today’s consumers look for verification from other buyers that a product is going to live up to its claims before they make a purchase. This is especially true with Gen Z consumers. Influencer marketing is part of the strategy to meet this need, but user-generated content may be even more effective in 2021. Find the social media posts your customers are making about your products and services and make them part of your content marketing strategy. Encourage your customers to post reviews as well as share them to their social media accounts to bring about valuable user-generated content.
With AI advances progressing from voice recognition to voice understanding, optimizing your content for voice search in 2021 should be on your checklist. COVID-19 has accelerated the popularity of voice search, with 32 percent of consumers interested in hands-free tech to avoid contamination, reports Gartner.
People search by voice differently than they do by text. “Weather Dallas” works well in Google search. But people are more likely to ask Siri, Cortana or Google Now, “What’s the weather like in Dallas today?” To adapt your content creation to voice search, learn how to use conversational long-tail keywords. You should also get acquainted with schema markup and create rich answers to FAQs.
Along similar lines as voice search, content in 2021 also needs to be accessible to all users. This includes blog posts that are written to the reading level of your target audience, so the text is clear and actionable. You should include descriptive alt text for images so those with visual impairments or a slow Internet connection can still gain value from pictures. Add subtitles to your videos and create transcripts for them as well. And be sensitive to using easy-to-read font with distinguishable and contrasting colors on your website, social media posts, newsletters and other content.
One positive outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is how obvious the benefits of live video streaming (think Zoom and Google Meet) are in facilitating communication and holding events. Many brands are adding live video streaming to their content creation strategy in 2021 as a result. Use live webinars to educate your audience and address their pain points. Hold live Q&As and panel discussions to interact with people and boost engagement and brand awareness.
Twitch and YouTube are the main live streaming channels that likely come to mind, but you also have plenty of other avenues to reach your audience. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok and Snapchat all have Live features. And additional options include Uscreen, Wowza, Vimeo Live and Brightcove, among others.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO is always an essential component of effective content marketing. But what’s trending in 2021 is that niche-specific, long-tail keywords are what will help put you ahead of your competition. As more brands are realizing content needs to be an integral part of their marketing plans, the competition to rank in search results is thicker. Broad topics are taking a backseat to more specific search terms.
For example, “best coffee grinder for french press” is less competitive than “coffee grinder.” But someone using the long-tail keyword is more likely to buy your French press grinder that’s hyperlinked in your content. That’s because they’re farther down the sales funnel and know exactly what they’re looking for, so you should create content for them.
Once you’ve created content for one platform, it makes sense to distribute it across multiple channels. Repurposing content saves you time and resources and helps you reach a broader audience and create a cohesive user experience. Transcribe your podcast into a blog post, newsletter article and several social media posts, for example. Break your live streaming video into 15-second vignettes and post to TikTok, Instagram and all of your other social media channels. Apply the same strategy to infographics, ebooks, round tables, webinars, conferences, product releases and so on.
The events of 2020 have also made more of us aware of the value of human interaction. And that’s translating in part to consumers wanting a more personalized experience from brands — being treated like an individual instead of a number, so to speak. Marketers can do this in 2021 by leveraging technology to create personalized content for their audience. For example, enable chatbots to deliver on-request content to answer queries. Use advanced analytics tools to track what article a user has read and then provide related, follow-up content when they return to your site.
Be aware that consumers turn to blog posts, video tutorials and other content to solve immediate needs. With endless amounts of information at our fingertips, we want — and are able to get — immediate answers to our questions and needs. Make sure you are creating effective content, as opposed to filler, fluff and ultra-trendy content. Google reports that 90 percent of its users look for help and inspiration when they’re in the middle of a task. Be the brand that stays in tune with what your audience is looking for and provides solutions for them.
Digital Marketing Team
Brands that are seeing success from their content marketing efforts are employing a media publishing approach instead of flooding consumers with content, according to Neil Patel. The key to this approach is expanding your content marketing team beyond good writers and editors and adding the following talent:
- Audio editing and production
- Communications and branding
- Content promotion and distribution
- Graphic design, editing and illustration
- Campaign management, strategy development, execution and SEO
- Video production and editing
We’ve mentioned AI a few times already, and there’s a reason for that. Artificial intelligence is developing more and more, and 2021 is the year to make sure your brand is part of the trend that’s here to stay. One development we may see this year is AI-generated content. That’s where advanced AI tools can transform data into captions, summaries, contextual images, realistic chatbots and full blog posts.