The challenges, disruptions, and abrupt changes we all saw starting in 2020 show us that no one can “fully” predict what’s going to happen next. One thing we can’t deny, though, is that content marketing is here to stay, and there’s no such thing as “normal” anymore.
Analysts predict that, between 2021 and 2025, we can expect to see over a $400 billion growth in content marketing. There are constant changes in consumers, what they expect, and what you can do to improve their digital experiences.
How Content Marketing Continues to Evolve
Content marketing strategies help brands shape their identity, attract interest, and maintain audience engagement. Brands use these strategies to establish authority and build trust with their target audience. While these factors play integral roles in your content marketing’s success, it’s essential to know how marketing efforts continue evolving and what factors contribute to that.
Bolster content marketing efforts using Google Analytics. This tool helps brands improve their content strategies by showing:
- What content performs well
- What topics or content brands should produce more of
- The effectiveness of a brand’s past marketing efforts
- Which content performs best in Google’s SEO algorithm
- How long the brand’s users read content
- If users skip content
The Social Media Nexus
The average American spent over 1,300 hours on social media in 2020. That statistic shows that users use social media platforms as part of their daily routines, presenting unique challenges for content marketers. The main reason is that when target audiences are using social media, they consume content passively.
What that means is, that when someone is on their preferred social media platform, the content finds its way to them—unlike when they use a search engine to find content. Marketers can curb some of that by creating attention-grabbing, shareable content to help spread their message quickly across social media platforms.
Videos Ranking High in Popularity
Every day, YouTube visitors watch over one billion hours of video. Yes, you read that correctly—over a billion! We also learn from HubSpot that 54% of consumers prefer seeing videos from brands compared to other content forms—with .pdf content ranking last at 17%. Why this preference? Digesting and understanding video content is more manageable than long-form blog posts, newsletters, and other written content.
Content Marketing Trends to Watch
If done correctly, content marketing drives brand awareness, demand, and revenue. It’s all about showcasing the highest quality content and remembering that strategies aren’t static—they must continue evolving. Remember that content plays an integral part in your marketing plan regarding brand growth and increasing reach.
Build Topical Authority
As Google continues shifting how it emphasizes search results, marketers must task themselves with flowing with these changes. For example, link building used to be the bread and butter of increasing search engine traffic. However, Google now emphasizes a brand’s topical authority. Build topical authority by creating content that consistently alights with your site’s context. You can achieve this goal by:
- Building content around pillar pages
- Collaborating with subject matter experts (SMEs)
- Creating in-depth, long-form content
- Identifying content gaps
There are several benefits to developing communities, including expanding your brand’s reach, improving metrics, and increasing engagement by connecting with other like-minded professionals in your field. With sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Slack, there are more than enough opportunities to grow your content marketing efforts with communities. Take Slack, for example – that site alone has over 10 million active daily users! Content marketers can take things a step further by creating communities specific to their brand. Lego is an excellent example—their community, Lego Ideas, allows community members to share, present, vote, and comment on visual ideas and creations.
Embrace Interactive Imagery
Creating dynamic and interactive imagery is trendy now, and we can expect it to continue for the foreseeable future. Think about the social media platforms teens love right now—Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. And YouTube is the most popular among U.S. adults, with 81% using this site. Take advantage of reaching your target audience by creating interactive imagery, including:
- Creating stories using AR filters
- Creating GIFs and memes
- Posting branded imagery on social media channels
Go Live—Videos and Live Webinars Rule
With the changes we saw during 2021 with events, it’s no wonder live videos and webinars take center stage. The ebb and flow of in-person restrictions mean marketers are strategizing ways to present information to their target audience where they can still engage and participate—including communicating messages using live, on-demand, and pre-recorded videos and webinars.
Because guests are used to asking questions and offering feedback during in-person events, going live gives brands an interactive approach to creating the experiences their target audience wants.
Long-Tail Keywords for the Win
Did you know that up to 70% of all internet searches contain long-tail keywords? Find (and use) long-tail keywords using:
Showcase Your Brand’s Value (Stop Gating Mediocre Content)
With the average American spending over five hours on their mobile phone daily and nearly 80% of U.S. adults stating they have broadband connections at home, it’s no wonder we’re experiencing information overload. Because consumers have access to an endless supply of information, they’re pickier about what they choose to consume. That means it’s in a brand’s best interest to stop gating as much content—especially if it isn’t your highest-value content. Instead, it’s beneficial for brands to showcase their best content to their target audiences immediately.
Improve User Experience (and Stop Catering to Google)
No one likes navigating to a site where they see flashing ad panels or pop-ups. Research conducted by G2 reveals that over 80% of their surveyed respondents hate pop-ups. That tells us that, as soon as they see a pop-up, they navigate away from the page or close it out without reading what it says. Improve your target audience’s user experience by:
- Encouraging them to stay on your website (fewer ads and pop-ups)
- Creating content that they love reading
- Helping them find solutions and products
- Offering tactical calls to action to courses, podcasts, videos, webinars, and more
Share, Share, Share (Free Infographics, Checklists, Templates, and more)
Drive more traffic to your site by generating free infographics, checklists, templates, worksheets, and other downloadable materials. These “free download” libraries help your target audience solve a problem and move forward in the funnel. For example, if your target audience is searching for help with organization and time management, you can create templates for meeting agendas, setting goals, and more.
The Art of Repurposing (Leave No Content Behind!)
Nearly 60% of content marketers reuse content two and five times to create “snackable” content. Embracing the art of repurposing means you’re creating content in more than one form so that you can reach as many people in your target audience as possible. For example, if you host a webinar, you can repurpose that content into social media posts, blogs, guides, newsletter mentions, and more. The idea is to create multiple assets from one piece of content—that way, you’re not “only” targeting blog readers or video watchers, for example.
Be a Good Storyteller (Turning Raw Data into Compelling Material)
Creating “stories” is an excellent way of increasing visibility because they show up in Google Images and mobile searches. For example, using Google Stories helps brands create accessible content that’s easy to embed on their sites or share with their audience. You can find “story” features across many social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Use these features to create guides, offer special incentives, talk about upcoming events, showcase highlights from past events, and more.
With every passing year, content marketers see (and embrace) new trends. Even though some trends remain static year over year, others move to the bottom of the pile as new platforms and technologies enter the web. Understanding what’s new for content marketing helps you streamline your content strategies and plan for the upcoming year.
Content Marketing FAQs
What is the future of content marketing?
The future of content marketing includes more than posting blogs. It includes building topical authority, developing communities, embracing interactive imagery, going live, using long-tail keywords, showcasing your brand’s value, improving UX, sharing freebies, repurposing content, and storytelling.
What are the best content marketing trends for 2021?
Trends include creating value-driven content, dominating digital using video, developing hyper-personalized content, building topical authority, taking advantage of voice search, using AI-powered chatbots, and atomization.
What is the future of content creation?
Don’t forget that your customers are your niche, and you should be creating content catering to them. While written content will always be a mainstay, embracing digital trends (AI, video, GIFs, and more) is beneficial.
Is Content Marketing Dead?
The short answer—NO. Even though it’s changed throughout the years, that doesn’t mean it’s not a critical piece of your brand’s marketing strategy. Avoid generating click-bait titles, understand that there’s an increase in competition, and track your content’s performance (so you can eliminate what isn’t working and showcase what is).