Happy 2021, the year whose buzzword is definitely “content marketing” because one thing is for sure, as brands increase their marketing dollars on content marketing, content creation and amplification, this function is going to become more important, and it will be more difficult for you to outperform your competitors if you don’t have a content marketing strategy in 2021. But if you don’t already have a plan, here are some content marketing insights for marketers like you, consolidated from experts worldwide, and an analysis of the trends over the past one year.
Content Marketing Strategy in 2021
(1) Providing Your Target Audience with Real Value and Content
Most organisations, especially the bigger ones, should have some form of content marketing strategy already but most, if not all, have built their focus largely on their own products and services. This year, it might be a good idea to shift away from marketing promotions on products and services, and start giving something of real value to your target audience.
Cara Cannella, senior brand editor advises marketers on Contently to share more content and stories of corporate social responsibility, and highlight people and programmes that are focused on sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and community involvement.
(2) More Emphasis on Paid Ads
Frankly, any viral content or videos on the internet has done some form of paid advertising, and last year, more companies in Singapore are putting in more budget on advertising such as Facebook ads or AdWords, and getting a good return on investment on their content.
As we inch deeper into 2021, I believe more and more companies will be putting more emphasis on content promotion and publicity. In particular, as Facebook’s organic reach starts to shrink to less than 2%, its paid offerings have become more attractive for businesses to promote their content. Also becoming more popular as it integrates with Facebook’s advertising platform is Instagram, where you can target specific groups of audience.
(3) A Focus on Influencer Marketing
A good content marketing plan needs to include influencer marketing, but this year, this trend is likely to escalate ever more, with more companies spending more money to engage influencers in their niche. But managing influencers is not as easy as it seems, as there are many factors that you have to take note of, such as regulations and fake influence markers such as fake shares, likes and comments, and hence it might be better to engage a professional agency to manage them if you have the budget, rather than approach each influencer individually.
(4) More User-Generated Content
According to AdWeek, 85% of users find that visual user-generated content (social shares, reviews, comments, YouTube and Vine videos) is more influential than brand photos or videos because trust is the number 1 reason why users share content. Such users are influencers too, just that they are not the mainstream influencers that you need to pay to engage. Just give them a reason to share, and they will.
This year, more companies will realise that importance and start to embark on this tactic.
(5) Integration of Online and Offline Content
This year, many businesses are going to create a more integrated brand strategy across all their platforms, both online and offline, streaming down to their physical outlets or services. A proper content strategy this year needs to include all platforms, and speak or convey one message, so that consumer experience can be maintained across all touchpoints, hence increasing conversions.
(6) Different Content for Different Platforms or Devices
Although there is a need to speak one message, brands must still create or repurpose content for different types of platforms and devices, and this must be done after research and analysis of insights into the most appropriate channels and the types of content that will best engage audience, who will in turn give the best conversions.
According to The Content Marketing Association (CMA), experimentation with various content platforms should be conducted with care, as for certain brands, formats such as Snapchat or Instagram Stories will definitely not be the best channels for them, and can even alienate audiences.
(7) The Rise of Other Types of Content, Especially Visual Content
Although blog posts, articles and ebooks will remain as important, visual content will become more important as search engines start to better analyse and read moving and static images and pictures. Hence, other types of content such as infographics and images, and videos, in particular live videos and 360 degree videos on Facebook will rise in popularity as a form of new content.
With live videos, content is expected to be created more rapidly, resulting in more ad hoc face-to-face interviews, behind-the-scenes happenings, and event clips, and as users will be able to interact in real time with the brand, businesses need to engage someone with enough experience to handle such a channel, as sometimes, customers can ask tricky questions or make potentially harmful remarks.
Mark Schaefer, college educator and author of marketing books such as The Content Code, said that virtual reality (VR) videos will be mainstream in a few years, and this will change the way we tell our stories and connect to customers. Also, platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest that are visual will likely get more traction.
One note of caution, however, because although visual content are an important form of content, do not invest a big chunk of your marketing dollars into if you do not already have a long-term plan, with really valuable storytelling in place.
More than ever, brands will need to be more “human” in their marketing, as fans will want to know the people behind the brand, said Donna Moritz, a social media strategist at Socially Sorted, in her interview with Writtent, a website that provides writers for content.
A research last year by Forrester Consulting showed that 67% of senior marketing executives from the US and Europe used behaviour-based data to develop content based insights and emotions, though as much as 60% of them faced challenges with content creation. But with more marketers and agencies becoming more experienced and in tune with content creation, brands will be better able to deal with such challenges. MyCustomer offers 4 ways that you can use personalisation in content marketing.
(9) More Niche Content
With millions and millions of content spread across the world, content are expected to become more niche. It will also become narrower with lower volume but higher quality engagement, according to Adrian Cordiner, the director of Digital Rhinos and Prozely. Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group, told Writtent that brands will begin to target even individual preferences, desires and interests, with valuable content.
Hence, headlines such as “How to Attract Online Traffic” will properly not resonate much with your audience, but “How to Attract Online Traffic: A Massive Guide for B2B Marketers” will help you magnify your amplification much more.
(10) An Emphasis on ROI and Performance Metrics
This year, your chief marketing officer will be breathing down your neck for a keen return on investment (ROI), as he will be anxious to know the success of the amount of money pushed into content marketing. There will be more emphasis on measuring the value and return of your content efforts, using key performance metrics such as Google Analytics’ page views, bounce rates or sessions, or email signups, for instance, and across the board, this practice will become more of a norm soon.
(11) Less Belief in Sensational Headings and Titles
“50 Extraordinary Women You Won’t Believe Actually Exist”, “Shocking Truth About Piranhas Revealed! – The New York Times” – these headlines are so sensational and effective that even The New York Times used it. It does not help that there are many of such headlines generators out there that churn out the same kind of titles. So gradually, millions of content will start to look and feel the same, and people will start to click away from them, as they have been overused and the majority of the content do not warrant the headlines at all. Consumers will become smarter and not be persuaded into wasting their time to read such content anymore.
(12) The Year of Mobile
With more people accessing content on mobile devices such as smart phones, tablets and smart watches than desktops in the last 5 years, your content has to be suited and easily digestible on these devices. Already, clients are asking for more mobile apps to be made, and for websites to be mobile-friendly, so mobile will definitely become a high priority in 2021 and beyond.
(13) Email Marketing – A Move Away from Promotional Content to Real Content
It used to be the case that the majority of the email marketing content of businesses were all filled with promotions or sales messages in the past decade, but come 2021, I expect that most companies will start to add in a lot more real content that are beneficial to their target audience, and not just spammy, promotional emails. Brands will develop more targeted and relevant e-newsletters to their customers to grow their audience.
(14) The Disappearance of SEO Businesses
In the last 2 to 3 years, businesses that used to do just SEO are also offering content marketing services, though mostly are able to do only articles. But this has surely been the trend in the last few years, both in Singapore and overseas.
This year, the more business savvy ones will realise that they will not be able to survive just by doing SEO, and will also start to transform their businesses into content agencies. There will come a time where these SEO companies will disappear totally, only to be replaced by full-fledged setups that they named ‘content marketing agencies’.
(15) Higher Rates for Professional Content Creators and More Outsourcing
Companies have erstwhile been using random copywriters or designers to help them in their content marketing, but more people will start to realise that the content they are creating actually represents their brand, and this process needs to be handled more professionally. Most of them will then start to see the value in investing in premium content creation.
As a result, professional content creators will be in higher demand, and also command higher rates. It is very easy to find or hire cheaply a junior marketer, copywriter or designer to help you create your content, but many content marketing plans have not seen the light of days due to hiring inadequate people for their organisations. You may think that you have the capability to create an internal newsroom, but it is definitely not that easy to find someone who is marketing-trained and is able to develop and execute a professional content marketing plan to create real experiences. Hence, more companies will start to outsource this function, and those that start building this now will reap their rewards faster and in bigger quantum than those who are still doing it themselves, with limited or incapable resources.
Finally, executing a content strategy can be tricky, and if you are creating it for the first time, be realistic and know your resources and limits within your time frame, as being over-ambitious might result in negative effects on your business. Also note that quality is better than quantity, and what will work for 2021 is a complete, cohesive and structured strategy for content that incorporates genuine inventories that come from your heart and targeted channels to reach your consumers, and brands that have already embarked on this will be the winners.
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