5 Content Marketing Trends For 2021
Surely you must be as excited for the start of 2021 as I and the rest of the world are. If not, 2020 can have ya!
Even though we don’t know what “the future holds” (dear God, please be anything BUT a pandemic), it’s pretty clear what trends are going to pave the way for content.
This year, we’ve seen a large focus on engagement, conversational content, and video. You could say these are trends that have carried over the past few years, but it wasn’t until 2020 that they truly touched all industries.
B2B’s are getting sassier, chattier and (shocker) more vulnerable with livestreams and podcasts. Yes, yes, yes! More of this please.
Going back to 2021 though, if you want to make sure your content stands out, engages your audience, and builds a brand that generates new clients, these are the top five trends to follow.
- Interactive Content
First you have to be engaging, then you have to be conversational, and now interactive!? Yes folks, doing anything you can to pull readers in and keep them “in conversation” with you for as long as possible is essential to making the most out of your content.
Think back to your school years. In most of your classes there was a combination of ways teachers taught. I’m sure you can remember times when you were working on an experiment in Chemistry, or had to take a quiz after a presentation. I bet the ones that bored you to death or perhaps you even struggled with were classes that had a barely-there element of interaction.
Quizzes, presentations, small groups, tests all are ways teachers help you interact with the material they’ve presented.
The same thing goes for your content.
Typically when we think of interactivity, we think of something like an embedded calculator on your insurance website, or a call to action button that spews confetti once someone has signed up for your membership.
To make your content interactive you can add quiz questions, polls, surveys, or even start a contest. Think of it as taking your engagement efforts (ie. asking a question at the end like I will on this blog) to the next level.
- Personalized Content
This is another trend that we’ve already seen budding to the surface but will be imperative moving forward.
Why? Well, and I hate to be this person, but if everyone’s doing it and you’re not? Eh, not the greatest way to stand out in this scenario. With marketing, consistency is key. If users are used to a certain symbol meaning something across the internet, and you don’t use that symbol, it’s not creative, it’s confusing. With personalization, if they aren’t greeted with that same connection they’re receiving everywhere else, you’ll come across as cold, hard to connect with and will repel visitors.
The easiest way to create personalization is in, for example, emails where you can use tags to ensure each email includes that individual’s name. Likewise, sending emails from personal accounts (with your name as the sender as opposed to your company) increases open rates.
In your content, think about who you’re specifically talking to. Use the demographics you have such as location, interests, behavior, referrals, products or pages they’re interested in, and so on, to make the content speak exactly to your reader.
It might feel uncomfortable to target a reader head on, but it’ll only cue up more engagement, loyalty, sales and conversions. And hey, about 90% of US marketers have seen improvements after adding personalization to their messaging, and over half saw an increase by 10%.
Sounds like a solid win to me!
- User Generated Content
Okay, I know this term gets thrown around alot and might have you scratching your head.
“User generated content? I don’t even have users… how do I get them to give me the goods?”
If you’ve been focused on engagement the past year, then you’ve already saddled up some great, user generated content. Anytime someone leaves a review, a comment, asks a question, shares your content with a comment, or tags your business in a post, you’re getting user generated content!
Lengthy reviews and comments are king when it comes to Google. Reshares, written testimonials or video reviews are glorious for market validation and reaching a larger audience.
Plus, it makes creating content a lot more simple when all you have to do is use the words your market is saying to spread the word about yourself! It’ll also help you validate your copy. Are all of your reviewers speaking about your product in a way that you’ve never thought to describe it? Better yet, is a culture starting to sprout around your brand with audience members creating hashtags or slang words about your business or product?
You’ve hit the jackpot. It’s every brand’s dream to have users do all their talking for them. If you need help getting your peeps to speak up and shout your biz from the rooftops, I’m happy to take a look at your current strategy and suggest how to optimize for reviews, testimonials and non-stop comments.
- Video And Voice
If you’ve been praying for this trend to die for years, your prayers won’t be answered. Personalization, conversation, engagement… people want to connect. End of story.
Hearing the voice behind the business, hearing real conversations, hearing the CEO use a slang word or fumble his words are big money makers.
Why? It lets your audience get to know you. No, not just the ‘you’ that is your business… you. The old game of C-Suite execs and decision makers staying behind closed doors is over. And for anyone in sales, think about how much easier your sales call will be if someone has ‘gotten to know you’ through your podcast, or a few YouTube videos.
Speaking of videos, if your business isn’t creating videos regularly, you’re falling behind. Yes, video needs to be a part of your strategy, but more so you need a strategy behind your videos. Videos can’t just be dry, professional sales demos. Videos can, however, be customer testimonials.
You need to educate, entertain and engage your audience. Risky and uncomfortable? Yes. But it’s a much easier way to generate sales.
Most businesses aren’t gung ho on video right off the bat not because they don’t have the knowledge to share, but because they don’t have a solid brand voice. Make sure your brand voice is one that potential customers can connect with otherwise you’ll waste hours staring at yourself in the camera for nothing.
Novel idea: kill two birds with one stone! Start a podcast and film the interviews. Listen to my interview on creativity with Hollis Citron as an example. Some of your audience will love being able to watch that content while others will love listening. You don’t have to recreate the wheel, just serve up slices of the pie how individuals want to eat them.
- The Test Of All Time…
Email! Okay, okay, you probably were expecting more out of this blog since we’re talking ‘trends’. But ‘trends’ doesn’t necessarily mean trendy. Brand activism, Instagram Reels, going live, nostalgia, shopping on social… all are very trendy right now, but will they last? Eh, let’s just say you don’t want to ask me! My opinion might not be so popular.
But email is going stronger. Then. ever. Year after year, too!
And honestly? We’ll continue to see a big push in 2021 because with all the noise out there it’s the one thing you can control as a business. It’s your own medium, media and private conversation with just you and your prospect or customer.
Emails tend to be the overlooked conversation your audience is craving from you. 80% of B2B marketers generated leads from their emails and have found it increases transactions over six times.
You can cover all of your bases with email: generate leads, nurture leads, convert leads and engage buyers. Plus, with the multiple hyper-segmentation available, you can customize your emails so they are ultra personal and specific. The more your reader feels like you, the person behind the brand, is having a one-on-one, behind closed doors only, conversation with them, and only them, the faster their beating hearts decide to pull the trigger.
Less ad spend, happier customers, faster conversions, and measurable metrics… doesn’t sound like that’s going away anytime soon!
Of course we’ll see more trends come and go (re:trendy) this next year. AI will have a big effect on what we do with content. But try to not get caught up in the glitz and glam of graphics, Reels, chatbots and gamification unless it’s truly working (and you can measure it).
Also, don’t give up on your brand tone of voice and putting personalization (and conversation) first. No amount of hip and trendy marketing can make up for what really matters.
Which of these trends do you see fading away and which do you see as imperative to 2021? Comment below and give me your opinion.