Let’s talk about content marketing.
How are you doing in 2021? Where could we go this year and next? Is it still the king?
Content marketing continues to flourish for a very simple reason: It’s what people want. You don’t want intrusive banners, ads, and popups.
They don’t want irrelevant messages and products that have nothing to do with them. You don’t want spam to clog your inbox.
People want high quality, useful, relevant, and engaging content about things that are important to them.
Craig Davis, former chief creative officer of marketing communications firm J. Walter Thompson, put it best:
We have to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.
That’s content marketing in a nutshell. And yes, it’s still king, but it’s evolving. Consider:
If you’re still not convinced, any blog post about content marketing stats will quickly change your mind.
It works out. Very good.
But content marketing – as with practically everything digital – is constantly evolving and changing. Tactics and channels that worked for the past year or even the last month may not produce the same robust results today.
Digital marketers need to stay up to date and pay attention not only to what the competition is doing, but where people are spending their time online and what they are consuming there.
So what happens in content marketing, version 2021? Let’s find out.
Content Marketing: Current Trends in 2021
To operate under the assumption that content marketing will always be like that, it fails. Terrible. In the early days, you could post a 500 word and keyword blog post and get a lot of traffic.
No longer. Content marketing is about both watching trends and creating and sharing content.
Social media metrics (and their impact on content marketing)
In 2014, social media became the place to post your content. In 2021? There is no more debate. Facebook is the primary content distribution channel.
However, a simple post is not enough. You need to promote and measure. Seven years ago, just under 25% of marketers measured their social media campaigns at the content level.
If you’re not monitoring your content, you can also toss your marketing budget out the window.
Great marketers measure, manage, and optimize. And I’m not just talking about clicks, likes, and favorites, which are often referred to as vanity metrics.
Today it’s more about comments, approvals across multiple channels, discussions and actions – or engaging with your content – and conversions.
In a perfect world, you would be on the pulse of all three to capture the most detailed and comprehensive vital signs of your campaigns. Today, 56% of marketers rely on engagement metrics to determine campaign success, while 21% focus on conversion data.
This is an improvement over four years ago, but even better are vanity, commitment, and conversion. Between various analysis services and integrated functions of the social media platform such as Instagram Insights, you have the tools to collect, analyze and use the important data.
So use it.
2021 video and live streaming
Video is the number one form of media in content marketing.
In fact, it has been the most common answer to what marketers want to include in their tool belts over the past few years. YouTube and Facebook videos are becoming must-haves in the digital marketing game.
The Search Engine Journal found that Facebook Live posts were 178% above average compared to regular posts, increasing referral traffic by 213% in the two months of their study.
According to HubSpot’s recent “Not Another State of Marketing,” the two most important types of video are advertising and branding stories.
Why? Marketers are increasingly relying on videos because people are increasingly watching them:
You don’t need a fancy recording studio either. Your phone’s camera is good enough to get started
Explore YouTube, Facebook Live, LinkedIn Live, Animoto, Periscope, Instagram, Wistia, PowToon and more.
Recorded video used to be the preferred format, but the pendulum is definitely swinging towards live streaming. Facebook Reports Users watch live video three times longer than pre-produced ones, and LinkedIn Reports live video earns 24 times as many comments.
The point is that video – both recorded and live streaming – is a top tactic in both B2C and B2B space. And online internet users love to watch it and consume it.
So give it to them.
How many words are important in content marketing in 2021?
Quality is still more important than quantity, but the length of blog posts has steadily improved over the past few years. This continues.
The average blog post was 808 words in 2014, but 1142 words in 2017. This corresponds to an increase of 41%.
In 2020, the average length of a high-level blog post is 1,447 words.
It might not sound intuitive. Our attention spans keep getting shorter, and we hop from page to page, from website to website – but people are still willing to invest the time in a comprehensive and well-written post. (Like this one).
Remember, we don’t talk about words for words’ sake. Consumers want quality. They want detailed, relevant, and useful articles. And they’re not afraid to spend some time with them. More words = more success – but only if these words are relevant.
So do it.
There are other trends that need to be at least passively monitored, from interactive content to the emergence of micro-influencer marketing.
Trends are coming. Trends go. But if you really want to be one step ahead of the competition, you need to make some educated predictions.
2021 Content Marketing: The Predictions
Recognizing trends is one thing. It is a different matter to accurately predict trends before they happen.
But when you do, you are on the front line and ahead of the curve. What content marketing could 2021 have in store? It’s time to get your crystal ball out.
Long-form original content
Blogs are getting longer. Video is gaining ground. But I’m not talking about that here.
Big brands like Apple, Google and Facebook invest a lot of money in the original programming, with the revenue being split between the platform and the developers.
A service like Facebook Watch – the social media giant’s on-demand video room – provides a platform for content creators to find their audience and build a community. These are two of the biggest goals of content marketing in one fell swoop.
The advantage of this tactic, along with its popularity, reach, and potential, is the ability to monetize the content on your own.
The old way had created content and passed it on to thousands or millions of people. This may still work depending on the quality and subject, but there is a better way on the horizon.
Enter ultra-personalized Content.
As we create more and more data points, and as we develop more tools to collect and analyze those data points, the ability to create and push personalized content just gets easier.
For example, tools like YouTube’s Director Mix allow brands to personalize videos and video ads for hundreds, if not thousands, of different audience segments based on a variety of data sources and user behavior. And all of this automatically.
Dynamic content can help users find exactly the type of content they want.
Content has always been about relevance, but expect relevance and personalization to be the focus for the next 12 months.
Ultra-local content marketing
Large brands and chains can create content in Site A and publish it for use in Site B.
The problem is that Location A and Location B can be in different cities, countries, or even continents.
What if the same content created at A isn’t reused, but given a local flair before sharing at B? Consumers are looking for relevance and personalization, and geography plays a big part in that.
Locally produced content is not always possible. And even if it does, it isn’t always done.
It should be. Content from headquarters?
Give it a local twist. If possible, create some of your own local content. Resist the urge to produce generic content to appeal to the broadest possible audience … at least sometimes. If you are offering products or services locally, make your marketing a good mix of global and local.
The axiom when buying these days is “buy locally”. For marketing? It will be “local”.
Delivery channels of the future
Amazon Echo. Google Home. Siri. Your fridge?
The Internet of Things means that your content is delivered through channels outside of the usual social media platforms and websites.
Less text-heavy, more video and concise verbal answers. Deploy the content that works with the evolving deployment landscape. Both schema markup and structured data help. Use them.
The ability to ensure uninterrupted and focused time with consumers will continue to exist, but it will be harder than ever to respond. To capture hearts, minds, and ultimately wallets, the smartest brands will realize they need to stop thinking like advertisers and start thinking like media companies in order to deliver value to their core audiences beyond the products they offer and services.
~ Jesse Greenberg, former Chief Strategy Officer at Ackerman McQueen
Companies are moving away from company-oriented content towards content that is tailor-made for the customer – sometimes down to the individual level. Relevant to them. Personalized on it. Useful to you.
This is the present and future of content marketing.
This is not an exhaustive list. Artificial intelligence, voice search, augmented reality, remarketing and indexing of passages are likely to have an impact on content marketing from 2021.
Getting started with content marketing trends is good. Do that.
It is even better to get in on the ground floor by anticipating the next trend. Do that too. The signs are there. All you have to do to create it.
Did I miss something What do you think are the biggest trends in content marketing for 2021? What predictions do you have about the future?