I told you some time ago that the future of marketing is in content and building meaningful relationships with your audience. That proved to be true. Now the question is what's the future of content. Or in other words - how to market in 2021?
In this article I'm focusing on 10 main content marketing trends that grew in influence the year we all stayed home and will continue to rule in 2021.
1. Dynamic, Adaptive, Personalised
Our world has changed forever. We knew that augmented and virtual reality will become a main drive in marketing some time in the future. What happened in 2020 was the accelerator of that process. AR and VR will not only grow as trends in content marketing but will also dictate it. Those are the technologies that allow marketers to make their content more dynamic, adaptive and personalised. It's what consumers want and get impressed by.
Here comes a little paradox. People are very conscious of the data their share on the Internet. They don't want to be targeted for ads and promotional content. At the same time, however, they are hungry for a personalised experience with every website, every social media and every digital interaction with a brand. Dynamic and personalised content will not exist if marketers don't have access to users personal data, such as age, gender, geolocation, interests and behaviours.
2. Content Selling
Finally, we are about to see a change in sales and marketing I've been waiting for so long. These two processes have always been interconnected and kind of dependent on each other. The better your marketing, the higher the sales volume. Lots of sales justify marketing efforts and the release in more funds to go back to marketing. But for years marketing people have been in a silent (and sometimes not so silent) war with sales people.
Sales guy goes: Come on, man, take it up a notch, you are just wasting my time. I have targets to meet.
Marketing guy: Stop rushing me, dude. People need time to buy.
Both of them are right and both of them are wrong.
It's all about the content you put out there. Some content is meant to attract people to become your fans and begin a relationship with your brand. Some content is meant to maintain that relationship. And some content is just meant to sell.
Content Selling is an important 2021 trend that will finally blur the lines between marketing and sales.
The sad part is some people will lose their jobs once this merge is finally complete. On the bright side, a talented copywriter has never been more valuable addition to any business team than now and for the future.
3. Emotional Content
Speaking of talented copywriters, it's not enough to be crafty with your words. You need to really know the audience you are speaking to. Empathy is a keyword in 2021.
Emotional content has the enormous power to sway opinions. We've seen this play out in the 2016 US Presidential elections, the Brexit referendum, the Black Lives Matter campaigns and their opposition. It's shocking to see how different people process information that has been purposely fed to them.
On the business side of things, emotional content is no less crucial. You buy when you feel connected. People are willing to spend money with a brand that they can identify with or relate to.
Creating content that evokes certain emotions is not down to talent and research. There are some rules you need to follow and understand the anatomy of emotional content. If you want to learn how to write copy or create videos that affect people's feelings and attract them to your offers here's a great online course on Emotional Marketing and Content Creation Techniques.
4. Stronger Brand Values
All in line with being relatable to your audience, as a business, you need to work really hard on defining and sticking to your brand values. In 2021 people want to associate themselves with organisations and individuals that have a strong position on certain topics, issues or principles. This post may be helpful to identify and solidify your brand values. 👇
5. Repurposing is King
Content is always king. Repurposed content rules longer.
It is important to be current in your communication with your audience. What does that mean? Create blog posts or social posts that reflect news, present situations and hot topics. But as you give it your best to be current you also need to stay relevant at all times.
Your content strategy should include a mixture of articles, videos and posts reflecting on things that are happening now and then you should also have timeless content. These are evergreen topics that people would want to read or hear about at any given point.
No content should ever be lost. Update articles and videos you've created a few months or years ago. Change their formats and use on different platforms. Blog posts, could easily become videos or a series of tweets. Long form videos could be divided into snippets and shared on Instagram. Tips you shared as text posts on Facebook can become an infographic on Pinterest. Your options go on.
6. Podcasting and Audio Content
If you had a look at Websites of the Future: Website Design Trends in 2021 & 2022, you would have noticed that I mention audio search as a continuing trend from previous years.
This is now stimulating the growth of podcasting and audio content as a whole. Do you remember how vlogs almost replaced blogs 5 years ago? Something similar is beginning to happen now, but this time audio articles and podcast are trying to take over.
The good news is people will always have different preferences. There will always be readers, there will always be watchers and there will always be listeners. Your job is to create options for all of those groups.
7. Stronger Analysis
Data and content become best buddies in 2021. Stronger analysis will be a leading content marketing trend in the future. The winning formula:
What your consumers want + What your brand cares about = Converting Content
8. Systems and Tools Matter
You need to work on your content production processes, as well as the systems and tools you use. Automation is a big trend because it saves time and makes everything more organised. When you plan and schedule your content in advance it easier to scale it.
What do you have in place and what do you need to set up to win in content marketing?
9. Human Content Marketers are Under Threat
We can't close our eyes to the enormous advance of technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in particular. It will be naïve to overlook the growing trend of replacing human content creators with algorithms and machines.
Yes, that's happening. And it will continue to happen in a much larger scale. However, before all human content marketers become extinct to the advantage of technology, AI has a long way to go. AI is still very far from perfect and causes errors all the time. Until it evolves, technology's imperfection plays into the hands of experienced professional copywriters and content creators. They could charge a higher price for their services because the quality a human writer can provide is much higher than AI could currently offer. Editors and proofreaders may also be in high demand.
10. Messaging Platforms on the Rise
Content delivery channels are one of the biggest things you need to consider.
Although emails are safer for you as a business (you own your email list), they don't seem to be the preferred channel of communication for most people. The younger generation doesn't really engage in email conversation. Instead, they are a lot more responsive to instant messages - WhatsApp, SnapChat, Messenger, IG DMs and so on.
This trend is rising exponentially.
I would say, to be really smart about it, engage in instant messaging to cater for the need and preferences of your audience. At the same time, though, continue to build your email list and keep it as a commodity. You never know when a social media platform is going to go bust, no matter how unrealistic it looks at the moment. It has happened before and it can happen again. Play it safe.